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Developing Sales Talent, Part 5: How Analytics Are Used

Developing Sales Talent

Travis Apple, Pittsburgh Pirates
Leigh Castergine, New York Mets
Charlie Chislaghi, Kansas City Royals
Bryant Pfeiffer, Major League Soccer
Jamie Spencer, Tampa Bay Lightning
Janet Duch, San Diego Padres
Moderator: Bill Sutton, Bill Sutton & Associates and University of South Florida

At the recent SBJ/SBD Ticketing Symposium, sales executives from across sports talked about building a successful sales culture.

Today, we feature Part 5, the final installment of the discussion. Below are links to each part of the panel discussion.

Click here for:
Part 1: How To Find It And How To Make It Fit
Part 2: How To Build A Sales Culture
Part 3: How To Keep Them Motivated, Energized
Part 4: How To Determine Hunters Or Farmers

SUTTON: We’ve really evolved from the art of sales to the art and science of sales, and we’re using analytics and different measurements. How are you incorporating that into your training and development, and how is the role of analytics making your sales people better, and helping your sales culture?

CASTERGINE: We have leads that my staff calls the “radiator leads,” which are our hot leads. The way that we have, especially in training and looking at our data, is we’re pulling in all of our purchasing data. We work with our friends over at MLB, and they run algorithms that kind of score our leads for us. We take that information and bring that back into our CRM system. Those populate into our radiator campaign. The radiator campaign is then divided amongst our sales reps. We track every single one of our campaigns, whether it’s a group sales campaign, a season-ticket campaign, a renewal campaign. We track that against each of our sales reps. Being able to see what sort of results they’re having within each campaign, how many of the calls that they’re making, where they are through their campaign. And each of the sales managers meet with their staff on a weekly basis to go through all that, so it really gives us a better handle when we’re trying to distribute better leads, or leads that we consider hotter, to the right people and match leads with sales effort, energy and success. Being able to measure that data with, “Joe Schmo is selling better to our corporate purchasers,” then we know when they get those types of leads, that’s the person we should be aligning those with.

Travis Apple explains how the Pirates' "golden ticket" promotion helps start a conversation with fans.
We use a similar system with the CRM and gathering multigame buyers and StubHub buyers and campaigns. Then when it comes to game-to-game selling, we actually do something that’s called the "golden ticket" where we pull about 100 a game, between canceled plans, radiator leads — we don’t call them that — the five-game buyers, the four-game buyers, and we stick a little golden ticket in their cupholders, where they can come up to our sales kiosk to redeem it for a T-shirt, which just starts the conversation. Having the ability to have access to so many of those good leads, we need to make sure we utilize them.

SPENCER: If you don’t know who they’re calling, that’s trouble. At least you know what activities, who they’re calling … You can’t help them if you don’t know who they’re calling. So one of the first hires we made, we had nobody managing our CRM. I saw a lot of scratch paper, post-it notes, and my stomach was upside down thinking, “how do we go from here?” We now have … he’s everybody’s best friend now because he’s sending those radiator leads. He’s sending pipeline reports, and these go all the way to our COO. These guys know that they’re being tracked and being monitored. What I’ve found is that veterans are the worst. They’re renegades, wild wild west, they fall into old habits. It’s amazing because you hire a new person, you teach them, they get it in one day. But the veterans are pounding their fist saying, “How does this work?” If you don’t have a database manager, somebody that’s mining your leads and shopping those… I used to dole them out and it was such a painful process, and I felt like I wasn’t as effective in my job because I was so entrenched in data. That’s an important person to have in your organization.

In general, it’s helped us with prioritization. The days of just sorting by number of tickets and revenue are over. Our staff is getting the best leads at all times, whether it be people clicking through our e-mails. … But on the service, for example, we do real-time assessment of risk. So our service team is getting monthly direction on, “You need to reach out to this group of people because they’re most at-risk based on tenure or attendance.” Kind of 2.0, UCLA did this study with us around the type of leads that our reps are having more success with. More importantly the type of people, than the demographic. So I think 2.0 is they’re finding that “John actually sells better to 50-year-old women that live in this part of the city.” So now we’ll be able to hand-deliver leads that people are going to have more success with based on past successes.

CHISLAGHI: If we can give our new hires the data that tells them why we’re training them to do this, it helps.

An analytics department is more than one person, Sutton says.
You better make sure that your analytics department is working for you. I’ve seen analytics departments of two or three people — it’s more than one person, so understand that. If you need to make an argument to your COO, or your president or your ownership, call me and we’ll help you.

AUDIENCE: Do you ever bring in managers into the academy and train them?

PFEIFFER: We’re starting to that quite a bit. We have a program where a young sales manager from any of our clubs can come in for 2 1/2 days and go through a manager shadow program, and really learn how we train.

AUDIENCE: Comment about how culture with Padres, other teams is impressive and important.

CHISLAGHI: If I can add to that. All the folks with whom I work with, they are focused on building real relationships with their prospects. Then once they become customers, you don’t drop that relationship, you grow it. These folks up here are living that.

SUTTON: Speaking from our sales combine experience last weekend in Pittsburgh … Whenever you’re sitting down with a person thinking about going into sales, we usually whip out our old trusty pen and say, “Sell me this.” They immediately start to say, “Well this is the best pen in the world, two pieces, black enamel, it’ll look really good in your suit …” And they just talk, and talk and talk. They don’t know that selling is questioning, and they don’t know that selling is listening. So a lot of what we do, is having to overcome that. That all relates to the perception of sales, they’ve seen a salesman in a movie, their father was a salesman, whatever it is. In our business, before we can actually develop our culture and our training process, we really have to overcome a lot of debris and misperception in teaching people in how to listen and ask questions. So it’s, did you ask him what he does for a living? Do you know how many pens he buys in a year? Does he give pens as gifts? Does he give pens to all his salespeople? Does he use them for advertising? So that’s not inherent, that has to be taught. So, go back, look at your sales training programs, look at your motivation, look at your hunter-farmer relationships, look at your analytics, and decide how you want to move forward.

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