It’s no secret that selling a full season ticket is getting more and more challenging for most teams. Even a half season gets us excited. So we get excited when it’s sold. And then we have to renew it. And that sentence sums it up for a lot of teams…’we have to renew it.’
In the past few weeks, I have heard of at least 8 teams that are turning over their renewals to their newest influx of reps as ‘it will be a quick commission and an easy start.’ This tells me that either a) they are confident they are all renewing as they’ve done everything correct all year, or b) no one else really wants to ‘be bothered.’ But gosh…it bothers me.
What is it someone is renewing? Their tickets? Then don’t expect the renewal. If all value is placed on a ticket, there is not much chance of renewing that ticket. What has been the experience they’ve received? What has been the engagement you’ve had all season? Have you anticipated problems? Checked in with them frequently? Make sure if something was not right that it was fixed? Or have you sold it and moved on and now it’s (gulp) time to bring them back. How many season ticket holders have I heard from that have told me that they haven’t talked to anyone but maybe once or twice the entire season until renewal time…and then they are called twice weekly?!
So tell me…how do much do YOU value your renewals? Enough to:
- Start your new hires learning about the company, the mission statement, the values, how to sell, what is important to our clients, how to anticipate needs, how to find needs, etc. instead of ‘go forth and renew’? Unfortunately, the first time a client goes off on them for the lousy service they feel they’ve received, the poor new hire will have no answer. Renew? Probably not.
- Start the renewal process with the sale? By this I mean are you filling out your CRM with their needs and how you’ve fulfilled them? Are you able to go back one month into the season and see if the plan is working or has to be changed? Are you visiting them about 6 times a year, both in season and out of season? Are you creating your strategy of how/when to touch base to make sure that their satisfaction level rises as the season goes on?
- Not simply send out a renewal letter until you’ve made sufficient contact throughout the season? So many teams have no connector strategy and consequently with no plan comes no connections. So the client is right…they hear from you at renewal time for money.
- Looked for unique ways to continue engagement throughout the season/off season? I have encouraged teams to utilize their sponsors as added value..host events at their locations in the off season. Let them offer a special (I’ve had banks offer a special that night…open an account and create your own debit card with your child or you and the mascot or player, a special lease offer on a car from car dealerships, etc.) The point is, the more engagement, the more they feel a part of the family. It’s added value for the sponsor (who believe me, will eat it up and want to do more), and most importantly, it keeps them engaged throughout the year so it’s not a case of ‘renewal time…send that letter.’
- Do you call individuals prior to the renewal going out? In managements quest for a million calls a day, wouldn’t it be great to take a couple of weeks and make calls to the people who actually pay our paychecks instead of simply sending them an invoice?
If you are a sales rep, as I am, the LAST thing you want is to start the year selling that same seat again…and again…and… How do you best avoid that?
- Sell smartly. Sell based on needs not on a sale quota. Maybe a full season premium isn’t really fitting their needs but you shoved it down their throat. A win? Yes. But a loss in the long run. They probably won’t renew as it doesn’t fit their needs and you now have to sell that same seat again, thus starting in the negative.
- Stay connected. If you have a retention team, that’s great, as they should be solely focused on talking with their clients frequently, sending birthday/get well cards, calling to find out how their kid did in their games, etc. If you don’t, then part of your day should be spent connecting with those you have sold to. Simply put, CARE.
There’s so much more, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, I would just like to remind teams…it takes a LOT of hard work to get that season sale. Value it. Cherish it. Nurture it. Give it a reason to stay with us. And if you don’t have a retention team, then have your sales reps take the time to renew the people they brought aboard. THAT’S how much you should value them. Relationships BEGIN when they buyer says they’ll buy!
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating (SOS)
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