The Portland Trail Blazers
NBA Basketball Team Scores with Sales Force Automation Tool
The Portland Trail Blazers’ organization sells tickets to 41 home basketball games as well as an estimated 250 additional events per year. With professional sports, concerts, and family events to promote, the firm has developed an extensive list of customers and prospects. Advertising revenues exist for each of these events. As the team’s legacy Onyx CRM implementation neared its end of life, managers compared three alternatives to replace it. They chose Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM for its ease of use, adaptability, and scalability as well as its ability to increase efficiency.
The Portland Trail Blazers sales office focuses on two product groups. The first is tickets to the NBA team’s 41 home games a year as well as an estimated 250 additional events held at the Portland Rose Quarter campus. The 290 annual events draw all kinds of ticket purchasers—from sports fans to parents to teens anxious to hear the latest band in concert. The revenues from sponsorship sales make up the second of the organizations’ product groups. The above events have the capacity to pull in 1.6 million people annually; consequently, there is a high demand from businesses to advertise at these events.
The Trail Blazers’ sales cycle for team tickets begins in the spring and continues throughout the season. “We focus heavily on basketball season ticket sales, then multi-game package sales and finally individual ticket sales,” says Chris Dill, Vice President and CIO for the Trail Blazers’ organization. “By the first quarter of the year, we shift our emphasis to season ticket renewals. A robust CRM solution is key to the success of our sales team and to our service department for the season ticket sales renewal cycle.” Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers’ legacy implementation, Onyx CRM, was nearing its end of life and the organization had to implement a new one rapidly.
Dill’s team quickly narrowed viable options to three: Salesforce.com; SAP’s CRM solution and Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM 4.0. “Our evaluation criteria included ease of use, customizability, the ability to create different view/data access experiences for our various departments, scalability, and the flexibility to change and evolve as our organization grows,” states Dill.
There were two major reasons why the IT team chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “In my experience, people typically revolt against a user interface if it’s cumbersome,” explains Dill. “The familiar Microsoft look and feel was a big plus. Another thing we liked was the fact that we could adapt Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM to our business and processes. With our old application, we had to adapt our processes to fit into the software’s architecture.”
||With Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM [4.0] we have the right base tool in place to strengthen and grow our business.
Vice President and CIO, The Portland Trail Blazers
IT staffers worked with a Microsoft partner experienced with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to implement on the site a deployment of the three modules: marketing, sales, and service.
The Trail Blazers’ data model makes Microsoft Dynamics CRM a bridge between the organization’s ticketing and sponsorship sales inventory systems. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM pushes and pulls data and contact information to these two systems to give our sales people as complete a profile and history picture as possible,” says Chris Cook, marketing manager for the Trail Blazers.
Additionally, the solution is being integrated with the organization’s Eloqua e-mail marketing application. “We use Eloqua to do permission marketing,” adds Cook. “Data sharing between it and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is critical, not only to selecting the appropriate recipients for communications, but also to tailor messaging that appeals to them.”
One key question that constantly faces Cook is how to increase revenues per customer. He notes, “Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM can show us tendencies and trends that will allow us to maximize our relationship with customers over time.”
The Trail Blazers organization has a relatively fixed population to market tickets to in the Portland area. As a result, a large percentage of sales result from up-sell opportunities, such as parking, food, beverages, or merchandise. “A lot of what we do is progressive selling,” says Cook. “If someone has season tickets, we can approach them with better seats as they become available, for example. With Microsoft [Dynamics] CRM, we have a tool that empowers the sales staff to access the kind of information that allows them to be more proactive sellers.”
The solution has enabled a number of benefits such as system connectivity, sales force automation, and enhanced productivity.
Sales Force Automation contributes to productivity gains:
- The workflow engine encodes processes that allow managers to enforce consistent procedures and streamline the sales process.
- The organization has seen marked productivity gains from the full customer view that Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives its sales people. For example, they can mine the data and use it real-time in their conversations with customers and prospects to improve the customer experience.
- The solution cuts down on the number of clicks and manual processes that the sales people used to have to do to serve a customer or prospect. Shaving seconds off each of a salesperson’s 50–100 calls per day improves productivity.
Mobile data sharing to strengthen customer relationships: Microsoft Dynamics CRM makes it easy for Dill’s team to push CRM data to employees’ hand-held devices during events, so that they can personalize their interactions with customers to increase the intimacy of the relationship with the Trail Blazers’ organization. Moreover, as historical customer data is collected, the company will be able to push tailored messages directly to customers’ devices at events.
Ease of use assures enterprise-wide adoption: The feedback from users has been positive. They adapted quickly to the familiar Microsoft look, feel, and screen navigation.
Many-to-many relationship support improves efficiency: The new solution handles multiple ownership situations on accounts in a native way. This prevents sales people from stepping on each other’s toes and prevents infighting over commission issues.
Scalability and flexibility safeguards investment against obsolescence: The flexibility, extensibility, and integration capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM means that Trail Blazers’ managers will be happy with this system far into the future.