Building client relationships the Thunder way

Mike Crandall, Sandler Custom Growth Solutions

You might think trying to sell Thunder tickets is possibly the easiest job in the city. In some ways it is.

“When I got here 5 years ago, 7 out of 10 people I spoke to were not NBA basketball fans prior to the Thunder,” said Scott Loft, Vice President of Ticket Sales, Retention and Database Operations for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “When we asked Oklahomans why they bought tickets, they said it was the right thing to do for the community. Today, I don’t think any of those people would change their reasoning for buying season tickets, but I can tell you they’re NBA basketball fans now.”

The Thunder has created a unity in this marketplace where you can wear crimson or you can wear orange, but everyone wears blue. However, at some point, the community and Thunder fans will have to make a decision. When a rainy day comes, the Thunder will need their fans to buy tickets with their hearts instead of their heads.

“In everything we do every day, we’re trying to engrain ourselves in this community,” Loft said. “Our goal from a sales and service perspective is to create genuine and meaningful relationships with our fans. We believe that creating relationships is what ultimately will carry you through the day. You need to have a product that meets the needs, but the relationships you have will carry you through the tough times.”

Loft says the Thunder segments season ticket holders into three groups: the A’s, B’s and C’s. The A’s are people who want to have a really proactive relationship with their account manager. They want to talk about what happened in last night’s game. They want to be involved and talk about everything related to the Thunder. Research shows this group makes up about 50% of Thunder fans. Another 30% are executional fans or the C’s. They want to buy tickets and go to a game. They don’t really want to grab coffee with their account manager over the summer. They don’t want to provide a lot of information about themselves. They’re buying a product and that’s what they want to do.

The remaining 20% are the B’s. And they’re more difficult to pinpoint. It’s hard to tell what they want and not knowing what a customer wants is the worst. You don’t want to waste time contacting these people six times over a two week period if they don’t want to go have coffee and talk about the game. Knowing how they’re using these tickets and if they’re giving them to them to their employees is absolutely critical from a sales perspective. It is as important as getting a yes or a no.

“We continually do research on all of our customers to determine what motivates them to buy season tickets and how we can nurture that relationship,” Lofts says. “As a business owner or sales professional, remember that building relationships with your customers has to be one of the most important aspects of growing your business.”

Thunder tickets photo by Levi J Patrick, some rights reserved.

Leave a Comment