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  • Brett Zalaski

GROUP SALES MONTH: Breaking Down the Group Renewal Process

Group Sales Month on Empowerment of a Salesperson is sponsored by FEVO. FEVO is a sales amplification tool used by industry leading pro sports teams, colleges, and festivals. For more information check out FEVO.com.


Guest Author: Chris Spano is the VP of Team Business Services for the AHL. Chris has a distinguished sales background in the AHL, NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and on the secondary side.

The process to renew your Groups each year should be treated similarly to that of Full Season Ticket Members, but usually is not. Even if your organization does not have a formal process and touchpoint plan to renew groups year-over-year that does not mean that Sales Reps should not have their own process. Here is what I would recommend:


As you approach the final 1-2 months of your season, you’ll want to pull a list of all Groups of 10+ people that have come out to a game with you this season (and pull last years’ groups too if you can). This list will now serve, and live, as a campaign for you in whatever CRM that your team has. Before you begin reaching out, make sure that you understand the dynamics of each of your Group leads (i.e. how many people, what type of group, why did they choose the game they did, was there a fan experience involved, was there any value-add beyond the tickets, etc.).


Once you’ve digested all of this information it’s time to begin your outreach. This should be a recipe of phone calls, emails and text messages designed to establish 2-way contact with the Group Leader. The goal of this first re-engagement point is a “Thank You Again” for bringing their group out, acknowledging that you know how difficult it can be to round up groups for anything and gaining feedback on their overall experience. Now that you’ve done this, it’s time to talk with them about how to get on the priority list for next season. “Based on the demand that we’ve seen for our Hi-Five Tunnel, Weekend Games, Hospitality Suite, we have created a priority list for our preferred Group Leaders and I’d like to go ahead and get you on the list today.”

Ideally our organization has different prizes and incentives for Groups to place a deposit and get on this priority list, even if it’s simply an invite to an end-of-year Group Leader Appreciation Party. Additionally, and this would depend on the demand for Group Tickets, you can also look at having some kind of “Platinum Priority List” to which Group Leaders can pay more to be a part of. This list would elevate their priority regardless of when they placed their deposit.


Once you’ve had the priority list conversation, your next touchpoint can come approximately 1-2 weeks before the schedule is released. This touchpoint is designed to inform all Group Leaders that the schedule will be coming out soon and gives you the chance to talk through potential opponents, fan experiences, seating preferences, etc. You should come out of this interaction knowing (1) what time of year they’d like to come out, (2) do they prefer weekday to weekend, (3) what is their preferred price range, (4) roughly how many tickets will they need at the outset and (5) is there going to be anything valued added such as a Fan Experience, F&B element, etc. Do yourselves a favor and ask each Group Leader to think of at least 2-3 different game dates/price points/fan experiences in the event you don’t have their first choice you aren’t disappointing them entirely.


When the schedule is released, it’s time to connect with your Group Leaders again in the order they placed their deposits or signed commitment forms. By this point, you should already know everything that your Group Leaders want and if you’ve done your job thoroughly this touchpoint should be a pleasant experience for both you and your clients. Oh yeah, every touchpoint should be done with enthusiasm! We work in sports and we’re calling our clients to give them great news! “I was able to get your group tickets, all together, in one of the hospitality suites that you requested for Saturday October 5th against the Panthers! I’m so glad that we got you on the priority list when we did!” Once you’ve secured the seats you will have to talk headcount and run through your teams’ payment options and deadlines. These will vary drastically amongst each team but remember, the longer you give Groups to finalize payment, the more that could go sideways.


Now that you’ve secured your Groups’ tickets and have talked through payment, you should plan on communicating with your Group Leaders once per month until you reach 30 days to their game date. Touchpoints should include (1) updates on their group numbers, (2) are there events that you can attend to help them promote their event, (3) do they have all of the collateral they need, and (4) information on how other Groups that you’ve worked with have marketed/sold their events with you.


Once you’re 30 days out, you’ll want to increase your communication to every 2 weeks and discussions now include any final payments that need to be made and logistics for how their gameday will go. Devising an email at this point to send to your Group Leaders which includes information on game date, start time, doors open, parking options and costs, seating information, what’s allowed in your building and what’s not, your cell phone number, etc., will go a long way to enhancing your groups’ experience and managing everyone’s expectations. When you send this to your Group Leader, kindly ask that they forward this email onto the other members of the group AND copy you on the correspondence.


On gameday, you should ensure that your schedule allows you to meet as many Group Leaders as possible, if not all of them. Make sure your groups let you know via an email or text when they arrive so you can start planning your visits. If you’re working a sales table, inform your Group Leaders as to when you’ll be there and encourage them to come and say hello. If it’s going to be one of those really hectic gamedays, you can always leave Thank You notes on your Group Leaders’ seats and advise them to text you if they need anything during the game.


After your Group Leaders’ game has taken place, follow up calls and Thank You notes should be sent within one week. Along with thanking them on the call, inform them of upcoming promotions they could take advantage of as well as Season Ticket & Mini Plan options to get them out to more games. If you’re working your Groups over thoroughly then your Group Leaders and all members of their respective groups will have information on all ticketing options and each will have your business card as their point of contact.


For questions or more information please don’t hesitate to reach out: cspano@theahl.com.