Over eight years in sport sales across three organizations, I’ve seen various approaches to the Season Ticket Account Service role. Organizations have changed its name, to titles such as “Retention” or “Client Experience” and staff the role in different ways, but the role of maintaining (and growing) an existing account base is largely consistent across teams. Too often, this role is mischaracterized or even belittled by other ticket sales departments, something I experienced first-hand in my two years in Season Ticket Retention at the New York Yankees. Here are three of the largest misconceptions about Season Ticket Services:
1. Service reps’ ONLY role is to “build relationships” with current clients
What a load of X&%*&@. The vast majority of sport sales service reps come from Inside Sales programs, having spent at least a year in a purely outbound sales role. Their goal is generating revenue through face-to-face meetings, VIP sales events, and using the assets available to them to engage prospects (calls, LinkedIn, OneMob). While many service reps are initially attracted to service roles because the outbound efforts for new revenue are significantly diminished relative to the daily grind of Inside Sales, that does not mean service reps are not aggressively pursuing new business. Strong account managers are monitoring their clients’ businesses and networks to identify additional sales opportunities. We tend to think that the reps that are “great with their clients” should pursue these roles, but that seems to let other departments off the hook. Shouldn’t all our reps be great with their clients?
2. Service reps are not ELITE sellers and do not move into sales management roles
Of course, a service role is going to include time spent on responding to client requests and listening to client complaints, but the best service reps balance their time to best grow overall revenue. Top reps have an in-depth understanding of their client book; they know which accounts need the most attention to preserve the renewal, which are strong targets for upsell or cross-sell and spend their time accordingly. Weaker service reps may say they are too busy to pursue new business, but they most likely would prefer not to do so.
One of the best ways we encouraged this mindset at the Yankees is to compensate retention reps by total book of business. See the example below, using basic numbers to illustrate the point.
Book of Business - $10,000
Renewed - 80%
New Book of Business Total - $8,000
New Revenue Sold - $4,000
New Book of Business Total - $12,000
In this illustration, you are increasing your book of business and that should be the goal every year! Is renewing at 90% each year without any new business generating long term success for you and the company? What are you doing to gain back the 10% you have lost?
Finally, I am one of countless service and retention reps who have gone on to manage outbound sales teams. It is simply a myth that retention reps cannot move into more senior outbound sales roles or management.
3. Service reps are at the 'beck and call' of their accounts
It is critical for service reps to set proper expectations starting with the first interaction. This is critical to managing your book and your time effectively. There are clients that want more attention, want to be communicated with differently than others, and demand benefits not necessarily included in their membership such as seat upgrades, additional RSVPs to exclusive events, etc. Understanding the best way to communicate with each account saves you time and effort and provides the best possible service to the client. While part of the job is acting as a sounding board for client complaints, reps are not punching bags waiting all day for the client to call. Weaker reps let their day be dictated by their clients, rather than planning their day with time for both account management and new business efforts. As with all sales roles, time is extremely valuable and those with the best plan win the day. #BringTheJuice
James “JB” Bryant is currently the Senior Manager of Sales Development at the Colorado Rapids. He oversees the recruiting and training of the Inside Sales Academy and the training curriculum for the sales department. Prior to the role, he was the first sales representative hired as a Retention Sales Specialist for the New York Yankees with the responsibility of managing the largest book of business for over 2 years. JB started his career with Sporting Kansas City as a Sales Associate in 2010. To connect with JB, click on his LinkedIn profile here