Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

A Framework for Developing Customer Orientation in Ticket Sales Organizations

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

A Framework for Developing Customer Orientation in Ticket Sales Organizations

Article excerpt


Although ticket sales represent the most important source of local revenues for most sport teams, relatively little research has addressed the relationship of selling activities to marketing performance. Drawing on the sport marketing, sales, organizational behavior, and psychology literatures, this research produces an integrative framework that links the organizational and individual influences on the selling activities of sales representatives in sport organizations with the value-creating outcomes of higher customer retention that arise from customer loyalty and reduced turnover in the sales force. Four influences determine the extent to which salesperson orientation supports these organizational goals and are cultivated: organizational culture, employee selection, job-related attitudes, and motivation type. Additionally, commitment to team is examined for its potential effects on perceptions of person-organization fit, job-related attitudes, and motivation among the ticket sales force. Propositions are developed based on how a sport organization's culture influences these processes.


Ticket sales represent the most important source of local revenues for most sport teams. Revenue from ticket sales makes up at least 50% of all local revenues for the four major professional sports leagues in the United States (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL). For some franchises, the contribution of ticket sales to total revenues approaches 80% (King, 2010a). While other revenue- generating areas of a sport organization such as corporate partnerships and media broadcasting may attract more attention because of their high profile and high dollar amounts for sponsorship rights fees and broadcasting rights contracts, their contributions to the revenue base are far exceeded by the ticket sales department of an organization. In fact, one estimate puts revenue from ticket sales generated at $3 for every $1 of local sponsorship revenue generated (King, 2010a).

The financial value attached to adding ticket-buying customers is multi-faceted. In addition to buying tickets, customers will likely spend additional dollars on parking, foodservice, and licensed merchandise. If the behaviors are repeated over several years, the lifetime value of these customers further demonstrates the importance of ticket sales to a sport property. The impact of ticket sales extends to a sport property's sponsorship business. Increased attendance resulting from ticket sales efforts adds to the audience a sport property can deliver to its sponsors, potentially increasing rights fees that can be commanded.

Given the importance of ticket sales to a sport organization's success, one would expect that management of the ticket sales function would be a high priority. Surprisingly, that has not been the case over the years for many sport properties. Ticket sales has been viewed by many sport organizations' marketing departments as an entry level position, with a mindset held by many sales managers that most new hires will not last longterm. Indeed, the pressure to sell is great; it is estimated that five out of six people who are hired into ticket sales positions do not succeed and leave their employer (King, 2010b). Moreover, if a ticket salesperson does perform at a high level, he or she is often viewed as a candidate to be groomed for a "better" sales position.

The approach to ticket sales is changing in many organizations, however. Competition for consumers' discretionary dollars, sophisticated data mining techniques, and a desire to form strong long-term relationships with customers are forces that have prompted many sport properties to assess the contribution of the sales force to developing customer relationships. In organizations that seek to have their salespeople take on a greater role in relationship building, the ticket sales staff is shifting from a focus on telephone selling to using phone contact as an initial communication point. …

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