Developing A Group Leader Partnership Summit That Works
When sports franchises reach out to their group leaders for sales, they do so in a silo setting. The majority of group buys are the largest sales, yet carry with them some of the most silent advocates of the entire sports brand. Because of that silence, and the way that groups are sold, they are often not catered to, or maximized, by the sports franchise.
Group leaders often are subjected to receiving an annual phone call from their ticket representative, asked for a deposit, and then informed of upcoming promotions as a way of potentially extending the group buy. Despite being one of the largest boons for sports business, especially the minor leagues, the majority of group sales are treated in difference to the cultivation of season ticket holders. Groups bring droves of people through the turnstiles for one game, while the season ticket holder sits in one seat during the entire season and wants to be showered with gifts for their effort.
The Dying Animal Of Season Ticket Sales
This is why a sports franchise should be setting up time in the off-season to establish several group partnership summits instead of focusing only on what season ticket holders want. It doesn’t mean that season ticket holders aren’t valuable, but their numbers are decreasing.
The majority of season tickets are either purchased by companies who use their tickets as cultivation tools or by brokers who split the tickets up and resale them on the secondary market. The old season ticket holder of yesterday is dying off, and being replaced by customers buying six-game mini-packs over a 41-game commitment. Call it membership all that you like, it still doesn’t negate the amount of time and financial buoy that has to be provided by a customer to pay for a full-season buy. Most individual season ticket holders end up following the broker’s methods, putting games up on the resale market, as financial aid to pay for their season membership buy.
Sports organizations should be pushing their relationships with group leaders regardless of what happens on the season ticket holder end. By creating a group leader partnership summit, it creates a dialogue between the franchise and group leader on what promotions attract them to their specific night, what issues they have that the franchise should correct in order to enhance the group’s fan experience, and ways to increase the benefits received by the group overall.
A group leader’s ability to increase their total ticket buy annually may be contingent on things that the ticket representative may not be offering them currently. Whether that be a facility tour prior to game time, or access to a club area during halftime, as it comes down to product availability and awareness. All of these issues can surface and be handled during a group leader partnership summit.
Information Enhances Sales Opportunities
Group leader partnership summits can also provide a lot of data on what your group leaders need as well as who the new group leaders may be if the current point-of-contact departs their position. In terms of C.R.M. capabilities, it may also yield several additional contacts within the group itself, ensuring that no one person controls the flock overall.
Ticket sales representatives should be present to gain a new, dynamic touch-point beyond the buying stage with their group leader. This is a crucial point. Often, the only time that a group leader hears from a ticket sales representative is when the group leader is putting down a deposit for a group night or sees that representative on the actual group night. The relationship should extend to the point to where the group leader feels that they have a bond with their ticket representative, enough that keeps the group leader from feeling like a number, and potentially taking their business elsewhere down the road.
Consider the other component of providing information at a group leader partnership summit. It also allows prospective group leaders, those currently being cultivated by ticket sales representatives, to attend the summit as well. For the cost of some refreshments and snacks, hosted at the venue, prospective group leaders can mingle with current group leaders, and see what the direct-value is to those who have already purchased the sports franchise’s ticket product. That is a powerful dynamic in sales, especially when peer-to-peer relationship building can foster additional sales for the sports franchise connecting both of them in their facility during the summit.
Appreciating Current Group Leader’s Efforts
Group leaders are rarely appreciated by the sports franchise in an effective manner. Generally, the point-of-contacts who are placed in positions of putting down the deposit for the group night, organizing the ticket distribution, coordinating their constituents to attend, have no real interest in consuming the sports product themselves. It may be hard for a sports executive to hear, but some people are buying the product for others, not themselves. Many group leaders are just doing “a job” when it comes to a group buy. Therefore, it is up to the sports franchise to find ways to show a greater appreciation for those group leaders who can always potentially take their business to a competing organization for a group experience next year.
Sports franchise executives often make the dire mistake of handing out additional complimentary tickets as incentives to their group leaders. Data would probably yield evidence that those tickets go unused or unwanted by the group leader for the majority of the time and carry no basis for why the group purchase is made in the first place. Sports executives should be focused on how to gain difference makers in their group leader incentives, by discovering what award the group leader actually wants, and then delivering that to them. Group leaders have the same characteristics as ticket representatives when it comes to the franchise, except they don’t ask for benefits or a sales commission. However, they can be incentivized into creating a larger scale of group tickets purchased, specifically by the sports franchise setting larger group leader prizes for hitting greater ticket buy goals.
If a group leader wants a spa package to a 5-star resort for their efforts, the sports executive should be able to do that if the group achieves a specific benchmark of success in the amount of tickets purchased. If the group leader expands their group sales guaranteed commitment by 200 percent over last season’s mark, then the sports franchise should have them entered-to-win for a trip to Hawaii along with every other group leader who achieves that similar mark. Thus, creating a competition to drive more group ticket sales into the franchise.
Acknowledge, Segment Group Leaders
Having the ability to acknowledge various group leaders in specific segmented categories during the group leader partnership summit is key. It pushes each group leader to expand, as well as continue, their business with the sports franchise. Having specific awards, based on categories of years, group size and industry/community segmentation, can carry an extra incentive for group leaders who want themselves, as well as their group, recognized the following year. Once they witness a competitor in their industry/community segmentation honored, for buying only 20 percent more group tickets than they did, many will step up to the plate. This creates an active hotbed of interest as groups continue to vie records or achievements in order to be recognized for their efforts.
This also allows an opportunity for the sports franchise to unveil new specific promotional nights on their upcoming season’s calendar. This can create its own dynamic incentive, allowing group leaders to actively bid against each other, at the group leader partnership summit, for those new, highly popular theme and giveaway nights on the new schedule before anyone else.
Get The Sale Now, Not Later
Consider the power of being able to lock-in groups immediately, during the group leader partnership summit, by showcasing a popular player Bobblehead, uniform theme night or Fireworks night during the season in mid-July? And only showcasing a finite amount of seats available for a group ticket buy for that game. Why not put it up for auction, in front of every attending group leader, where the group leader willing to pay the highest price per ticket, as well as guarantee the largest group ticket buy block, is able to lock in that night immediately, on the spot? All with the other group leaders and prospective group leaders bidding against them. This creates a new avenue toward looking at the group ticket sales system as a whole. It also has the potential of pushing other group leaders to expand their own efforts and ticket buys in order to keep up.
The whole basis for a group leader partnership summit is to help organizations with groups understand that there may be more than one opportunity to have a group night with the franchise during the season. While that information may be apparent to the ticket sales representative, it may need to be communicated directly in the summit in order to be received as effective messaging. Churches and religious organizations may want to perform additional buy-in games for a Faith & Family Night Series throughout the season where a religiously-themed musician concert occurs after the game. All of these options allow for group leaders to be segmented, catered to, by their specific themes of importance. It can help drive revenue specifically through them to the franchise, and create additional sales during the entire group process.