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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

This Sales lark is hard.....

For the vast majority of northern hemisphere professional sports teams - the summer is the off season (putting Major League Baseball and the quaint English Cricket counties aside).  Time for players to get a couple of weeks holiday and refresh their bodies ready for pre season training kicking in right about now....  Any self respecting sports club however is at 24/7 365 all year round, and whilst the players (and supporters) may be on off-season - club staff will be working hard behind the scenes to make sure they start the new season well.
With increasing pressure on everyone’s wallet - times are tight for us all - and there is more & more pressure on clubs staff to generate sales.  You gotta bring in the cash to pay for the improved players who will fill the new stadium which will allow you to bring in more cash....... (and so the Circle of Sporting life goes on).

So if you need sales - what (or who) do you need to generate those sales......???  A good salesperson right???
Wrong....  (although if you can find a good salesperson - then they will make a great part of the team).
Yes, the traditional “sell” is still part of the process - but as society evolves, and customers become more educated / more choosey and less wealthy - there is now a lot more work that goes into generating the “sales wealth” that clubs need to continue their circular life journey highlighted above.....

“Customer Management” is an ever expanding workload that is only recently being discovered in the sporting field.  Practices that are common place is more advanced businesses are still finding their boots in sports...... At the risk of getting into too much detail - I will just hit you with the headlines (for now) -
find 'em 
  • Customer Identification - it’s very well have a nice sales document, with charming sales-folk, selling a great team, in a spiffing stadium.  But if you don’t know who your possible customers are - then you are effectively ‘doing the proverbial in the wind’.  Capturing information about your customers (current and future) is now easier (and more interesting) than in years gone by - but still far too many clubs just don’t commit to what is needed.  Social Media has elevated the available options (the myriad of online paths to take is staggering) but at the end of the day, you need to know who your customers are (and what drives them) if you really want to make those sales.....
  • Customer Generation - the ‘car salesmen of old’ would sit in this category - but it is no longer good enough to have some handy patter and a sparkly suit.  There are an ever-growing number of ways to ‘generate’ and if you want to be good, ‘real good’ then you need to get a handle on most of them......   Promotions are too many to mention (check out the routes available now online aswell as traditional methods)....., Word of Mouth is now controllable, so control it... Use and methods of advertising shouldn’t be underestimated (especially with the web making it easier to monitor your success)...  all that community work your club does needs to be properly managed to ensure it delivers ROI....  and of course, you should not forget to stick on your shiny suit and get selling....
  • Keep 'em
  • Customer Retention....  It’s easier to retain an existing sale than generate a new one....  Whilst not always true - it certainly can be....  Old skool customer service is now far more scientific - people now expect a personal service, customers want a bespoke level of communication tailored to their lifestyle, your competitors are most likely offering a huge number of incentives to ‘join them’ - the (CRM managed) list goes on....
Lots to get on with huh....  And generally there will not be enough staff to ‘do it all’ - so you also need to be able to manage resources effectively to choose what to do and hence drive the numbers.  And finally, you also need to keep an eye on the ethos of your club.  You will be surprised by how many clubs can’t cope with people coming direct to them looking to buy..... (#toomanywebclicks / #notenoughinformation / #poorstaffknowledge #etc)
One last thing -  (wait???, there’s more....) - the above is just the first step en route to sporting club nirvana - ‘fanatic management’......  Sports clubs have survived (despite poor business practice in customer management) because of the passion that their “customers” invest in them...  They support you ‘coz they do’....  

Our job now is to introduce more ‘new people’ as customers..  help them become supporters, and then later on to become fanatics.....  There is a lot more work to invest in identification / generation and retention at each of these stages - and each category will have new challenges to face (your customers are not going to scream “Sack the Board” but your fanatics might)- but that’s all for another day.
For now, get your suit dry cleaned, clear your desk, and get ready - there’s a lot of work ahead this summer if you want to achieve your sales targets before the season starts!!

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