Today’s blog post is written by Jason Silverman, Client Cultivation Specialist, PatronManager.
Growing up in Chicago, IL, I was exposed to the arts from a pretty young age. There was one regional theatre in particular that I was, and still am, very fond of. I participated in their educational programs as a child and attended multiple performances with my family and school every year, thanks to affordable tickets and an exciting variety of production options. As a college student over my summer breaks, I worked in their education department as a camp counselor and later, a camp director. I was also interested in learning more about marketing, so I started to do additional part-time work for their marketing department. Before each performance, I would get out in front of audiences and pitch the next season to renew current subscribers and sign up new patrons. While shows were going on, I would be on the phone doing the exact same thing talking to current subscribers and multi-ticket buyers. To say I am invested in this organization’s success would be an understatement.
After I graduated college in New York, I knew I wasn’t going to be moving back home to Chicago, but I did not want to miss out on helping this organization with their annual season renewal campaign. So, how did I manage to convince them to hire me for this annual task working from a different state? This was in the nascent days of Google Drive, so I had a wild idea: they could import all of their subscribers’ information into a Google Sheet, password-protect it, and send me a cheap cell phone registered to the area code of that theatre. (This theatre’s clientele tends to lean older, and they are wary of a call that’s not coming from an area code they recognize, especially if that call is a sales call.) We decided to give this wild idea a try and… it was extremely successful. So successful in fact that I’ve now been handling season subscription renewals and donations for this theatre for seven years — a mere 800 miles away in the comfort of my own home.
Why has this worked out so well? Sure, you could do the same thing with an outside service, but I believe it’s the personal touch that has made me into a one-man subscriber renewal machine. When I call a subscriber, I’m calling from a place of experience. I know what the theatre provides and I can speak to what happens behind the scenes as well as what’s going to be onstage next season. I’ve been involved in some capacity with this theatre for almost 20 years, and that familiarity comes across as passion over the phone and people respond to that.
So how do you take my experience and turn it into a boon for your business?
- Think outside of the box for your salespeople. Nothing sounds worse over the phone than someone reading from a script or someone who has clearly just learned about your theatre and is trying to hit a sales quota. Find people who, with the right amount of training, could speak passionately to your organization and could inspire other people to join or re-subscribe to the next season. This might be a recent high school graduate who frequents your organization or a data-obsessed person working in another department. Try looking through some older data of who went through your education programs a few years back and still comes to your organization for entertainment. Gems are lying there in your community; you just need to figure out how to make them shine.
- Don’t shy away from the flexibility that technology can bring. People’s schedules are busier than ever and not every salesperson wants to be tied down to a desk making hundreds of calls in a night. People often feel most comfortable in their own home or environment, and there are multiple ways that they could work privately and securely from anywhere. In the case of PatronManager, we have employees working all around the country (and a few overseas) in a variety of office set-ups. As long as excellent customer service is provided and your patrons’ personal information is secure, the sky’s the limit in terms of WHERE, WHEN, and HOW sales can be made.
- Keep it simple. This old business adage still holds true after all of these years. When a subscriber says they don’t have a lot of time, I say that I can have them renewed and ready to go in less than 2 minutes. Train your callers to work efficiently and make it easy to confirm all of the customers’ information before processing.
- Invest in your future with a CRM. A CRM like PatronManager can make this process even easier because all of your ticketing orders, email marketing campaigns, and donor lists are all in one place. It can be easy to set reminder tasks to follow-up with interested customers and with real-time reporting, you no longer have to wait days to check mail-in renewals versus phone renewals. It’s about simplifying the backend process so you can spend more quality time talking with your patrons.
Seven years ago, I had this crazy idea about using technology to connect me with my hometown theatre from 800 miles away, and it has been a roaring success. They rely on me to do their subscriptions renewals year after year, and there are even some patrons who wait to renew so they can do it with me over the phone! By thinking outside of the box, I’ve been able to stay connected to a theatre I love and generate additional revenue from the comfort of my home for both myself and the organization. And you can do this too! Subscription renewals outreach no longer needs to be a daunting task that you outsource. Find those people within your organization or those on the fringes who are passionate about your mission, then equip them with a secure list and an affordable phone, and off they go!