8 Ways to Support Your Retention Team for 2020 and Beyond


Retention of our clients is at the top of importance along with Sales when it comes to sports teams.  When the team is doing well, the renewals seem to beat our door down.  When the team is not doing well, it seems like a revolving door. Sales and Retention should go hand in hand; we should be selling based on needs instead of ‘pitching’ so that the client feels they have made a wise buying choice, thus making it easier for our partners, the Retention team, to retain the client during renewals.  There is nothing worse than having clients pitched to for the quick sale, then leaving the mess for a Retention team to try to renew.

Many teams consider their Retention team as fixing in season problems, adding on tickets when needed, and renew as well as hosting a season ticket holder party and making sure they get an experience during the year.  Unfortunately, we are not utilizing the talents of a Retention department when we tell them how to do their job.  Why? Those who work in Retention are generally people who are nurturing, like to fix problems, like to create unique experiences, and like to bond with their clients. All of this strengthens the bond between the client and the team.  So how can we best support our Retention team?

Have the Retention team help redefine their role.  The goal of the role isn’t the number of renewals…that’s the end result of the goal.  The goal of the role is to help our clients feel VERY valued. So the question that should be asked isn’t how can we do the renewal process this year, but rather how can we help our clients feel more valued? Everyone should have a personal way of doing that. Everyone should get to know their clients well enough that they can provide the answers to this question.    Now define your role in doing that.  This enables our Retention team to focus on what they truly should be there for…the servicing, care and providing value to our most important fans, our season long clients. 300 clients is manageable.  3000 clients is not. Maybe just maybe, the start of creating value is to increase our department so the client can they feel they are not one of 3000. Enable them to create value that everyone will want, no matter how the team is playing.

Make sure the team is part of the process.  When building a house, specialists put in the drywall, specialists build the frame, specialists put on the roof, and specialists put in the floors and carpeting.  When retaining our clients, why do we simply do what we’ve been doing?  Our retention team should be our specialists.  They are the ones talking to our clients, they are the ones, listening to their concerns, they are the ones visiting them at the games, they are the ones fulfilling the events.  Why are we not asking them to come up with a list of ideas as to how to do things a little differently? Why are we not letting them create their own strategy for their group of clients? Why does it all have to be the same? Why do we have to have our renewal program the same way it’s always been? Why can’t we empower them to create a way to go after renewals that is unique, enticing and more motivating for the client to respond? Why are we not asking them for their ideas?

Encourage them to use CRM to tell us a story about our clients.  So many teams view CRM as a time waster and punishment, yet CRM can and should be our best friend.  In our sales meetings, why aren’t we including a couple of ‘stories’ from our Retention team about our clients?  Stories that are put into CRM over time and help us see who our fans really are, and stories they want to share with us. When trust is built, clients feel valued and like to share with us.  That should be in our notes. Tell a story.

Ask for their help in creating an off-season method for touching base with our clients…not just coming to our facility but how can you reach out to our clients in their areas?  Out of sight, out of mind.  Yet we can’t just throw something together and expect them to show up. Calling them in the off-season doesn’t have the same impact.  Challenge your team to create a way to reach out in person with events that can be fun, entertaining, and subtly screams ‘we care about you!!!!’

Stop the yearly client shuffle.  Many teams mix up their clients yearly and redistribute; some drop 20% and fill them in with someone else’s 20%.  Explain to me how that says to the client ‘you are so valued, we have given you you’re personal concierge to work with.’  What it does say is ‘we are changing it up because we can…with little or no thought to you.’  One of our sales ‘perks’ that is on nearly every website is that you get your own personal sales representative.  A lot more important is your very own customer service representative…a concierge. I’ve had many clients tell me they dropped their tickets because they were tossed around from year to year and didn’t feel valued.

Ask their help in redesigning the season ticket holder ‘appreciation’ event.  If you’ve been doing the same thing the past few years, it’s getting old. Ask the team to start asking more questions with their clients, ideas they have for feeling more valued, if we could do one crazy fun event for them, what would it look like? Give them a goal to discuss and share ideas, then create the event.  There will be more energy from your Retention team as they will be doing something clients really want, and that energy will reenergize the season ticket holders.

Why do we place sales goals on our Retention team?  If we insist on them selling, then why don’t we give the accounts back to the AE’s and have them call them yearly to up sell? Yes, it makes sense when we are talking to our clients and suggest something to fill a need they are talking about.  But should they be actively selling?  A true Retention person is all about finding the clients needs upon the sale, fulfilling those needs, and taking care of additional requests.  If a client tells them that they are going to be hosting a retirement party for one of their employees, of course the Retention person should suggest hosting it at our venue.  But there tends to be a breakdown in trust and communication when we have Retention actively calling to try to sell them groups, more season and premium.

Enable the Retention team to create unique ideas to interact with our clients.  Not everyone wants to be called. Some prefer texts. Some would love to meet for coffee.  Some would like to group with others and have dinner. And some would love to have a fun video or two or three throughout the year.  Just because we’ve been doing it this way forever doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the right way.  Let your Retention team set up their plans for success for 2020 and beyond.

We wonder why we have turnover in clients. We search for new clients to replace the ones we are losing.  All we have to do is enable our Retention team to create ways to help our clients feel more valued, a part of our ‘family.’  Lets open the door to ideas and rethink how we view our Retention team.  They hold the key to whether the sales department adds on numbers or resells to keep the numbers.

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating, Chief Energy Officer

Sales/Retention/Leadership Workshops contact:  kathy@soldoutseating.com 

Join my blog…where you will find more info on sales, retention, and leadership articles; workshops; and a weekly mailbag of YOUR sales questions!  soldoutseating.wordpress.com  





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