Eduselling: The Role of Customer Education in Selling to Corporate Clients in the Sport Industry. (Research Paper)

Article excerpt

Abstract: Eduselling is a unique form of selling as it combines needs assessments, relationship building, customer education and aftermarketing in a process that originates at the prospect targeting stage and progresses to an on-going partnership agreement. Results of proprietary research indicate that certain professional sport organizations fall short of educating corporate clients with respect to all of the benefits and attributes of the products they offer: these results led to the development of a nine-step conceptual framework designed to assist corporate salespeople in professional sport. Future research should focus on specific selling activities and attempt to identify those activities that lead to higher retention rates of corporate sponsors.

Keywords: Sales, Sponsorships, Professional Sport Franchises, Relationship Marketing

Executive Summary

Sales people in professional sport organizations are compensated more for attracting new clients than they are for retaining current clients. This has led to a vision of the sales process as being one of closing the sale as rapidly as possible allowing the seller to move on to the next conquest. As a result, little time is spent ensuring that the purchaser knows how to truly utilize and capitalize on the purchase -- usually tickets and media sponsorships -- to the best of their ability. After the purchase, the purchaser is usually left to his/her own devices as regards the ways in which to best "activate" the firm's involvement with the sport organization. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to develop a sales process designed to continually provide information and assistance systematically to the prospective purchaser.

Proprietary research has shown that a significant cause of non-renewal of tickets and sponsorship purchases in professional sport settings relates to non-use, or failure to capitalize on the potential product because of lack of expertise in sport marketing practices by the purchaser. Eduselling, a term that has been coined to describe the sales process and the "partnering" relationship and activities that follow the sales agreement, seeks to increase product utilization and satisfaction by educating the corporate purchaser with regard to how to use tickets and sponsorships to achieve business objectives. In this process, sport organizations are recommended to view each sale in terms of its potential lifetime value to the organization and to act accordingly to assist the purchaser in terms of how to best use the investment to enhance their own business. The authors offer a procedural model of a proposed eduselling process that could be adapted by professional sport organizations to enhance their sales efforts and provide a higher yield in terms of annual renewals and long term relationships. This nine-step systematic approach to educating the consumer is presented in the context of a minor league ice hockey franchise in North America.

With the plethora of sport marketing opportunities available to the business and corporate community, the sales process must evolve. This evolution must move from relying on the purchaser to understand what is being offered and how to use it, to being an ongoing partnership between the seller and the buyer that features definitive stages of the relationship and regular contact. This will require organizations to view the corporate sale not as a short-term business activity but as an effective relationship that benefits both parties in terms of value, exposure, utilization and business development.

Introduction

The purpose of this conceptual paper is to extend the previous research in the areas of relationship marketing and customer education. Results of proprietary research conducted by Audience Analysts (1998, 1999) indicate that certain professional sport organizations fall short of educating their corporate clients with respect to all of the benefits and attributes of the sport products they offer (e. …