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Georgia Tech’s Football Program Sees Spike in Fan Engagement Thanks to SalesLoft: A CRM Elite Customer Awards Case Study

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The Georgia Institute of Technology, more commonly referred to as Georgia Tech, is a 25,000-student university based in Atlanta and a long-time member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), one of the major conferences in college sports. Sports programs in the SEC, especially football, are hugely popular and massive revenue generators.

But that popularity does not magically happen; it must be nurtured. And the key is to engage the fan base to make sure that ticket sales and donations remain at high levels.

THE CHALLENGE

“Our biggest challenge was that we had a large database of people and we were not engaging with them at the level that was required for ticket sales and for donations to athletics,” said Jeff Keisler, executive director of annual funds and engagement at the school, in the March 2019 issue of CRM. The low engagement meant lower-than-desired ticket sales.

To boost that engagement, Keisler and Charles O’Donnell, Georgia Tech’s manager of sales and service, looked for technology that they could use with the school’s existing Saleforce.com platform to ensure that its new sales team leadership could be as effective as possible in driving better interactions with donors and ticket purchasers.

But as they were searching for the right technology, it practically landed in their laps: Georgia Tech alum and SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter contacted the athletic department about a suite for Georgia Tech football games. In the course of that lucky outreach, he ended up describing SalesLoft and how it worked, and Keisler and O’Donnell both knew it was exactly what Georgia Tech needed. “We had a lot of interest in working with a top company in Atlanta,” Keisler says, noting that SalesLoft had recently earned such recognition.

Keisler and O’Donnell also liked that SalesLoft wasn’t just another patchwork email program knitted awkwardly on top of Salesforce. Open APIs enable SalesLoft to work seamlessly with Salesforce, even though Georgia Tech’s versions of the software weren’t compatible out of the box.

THE SOLUTION

SalesLoft technicians worked with Georgia Tech to get the two dissimilar technologies to work together, and “now they work very effectively,” Keisler says. SalesLoft creates a contact workflow for the sales team and provides a framework for contacts. It also provides management with a measurable structure to help determine the effectiveness of different types of outreach. Regardless of whether the initial outreach is successful, an audit trail of all interactions is created, including which actions the software recommended and which actions the salesperson took. Such traceability and history is important because it can take several prospect touches before an actual sale occurs, Keisler and O’Donnell point out.

“Sales is a process, but before we added SalesLoft, we didn’t have [a process],” O’Donnell says. “Now we know what we are doing, when we are doing it, and why we are doing it.”

SalesLoft also provides sales teams with next best actions—emails, phone calls, even handwritten notes. The suggested content or scripts come from experience with buyers.

All of this newfound process and accountability has led to tangible benefits since SalesLoft was rolled out in April 2018. Last year, sales reps were able to connect with 500 accounts who either donated for the first time or increased their levels of commitment. “Our biggest gap was in our communication with donors,” Keisler says. “We didn’t have the right labor behind it.”

With SalesLoft, the number of active donors increased 40 percent, and sales of university ticket packages grew by more than 25 percent over the previous year, an even more impressive result considering Georgia Tech’s biggest rival, Duke University, wasn’t on the home game schedule. And even before the official announcement that football tickets were going on sale in January 2019, 600 season ticket deposits were already in, compared to none the previous year.

Relationships with season ticket holders and supporters improved through more sophisticated account development, according to Georgia Tech officials. And increased employee engagement continues to provide a more enjoyable experience for supporters at all levels.

REAL RESULTS

  • Connections with 500 accounts who either donated for the first time or increased their levels of commitment.
  • A 40 percent increase in the number of active donors.
  • A 25 percent increase in sales of university ticket packages.
  • Six hundred advance season ticket deposits, compared to none the previous year.

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