Let’s go back to 2007. InviteManager (formerly TicketManager) was just getting off the ground: an easy to use, online application that would help companies put all of their sports tickets into one place. It was great timing; the economy was shifting, it was nearing the midst of the recession, and CFOs were coming down and telling their team to cut the fat. The first place they looked was sports tickets. It was an easy target, because sports tickets were often viewed as a mere nice-to-have item during those times. Yet, we saw some raised eyebrows when executives started asking about how their teams were managing tickets— their teams were scrambling around with their loosely managed Excel spreadsheets, Word docs, or worst of all, no tracking whatsoever. These companies couldn’t come up with answers. It was lightning in a bottle for us, because we were there to save the day.
Companies entered in droves to centralize all sports tickets, get immediate metrics, and help them make strategic decisions on what kind of ticket use was effective and what should be cut.
Now, almost 10 years later, we have entered a new space— one that goes far beyond just managing tickets. Companies want to centralize more and more processes across the board, and we are seeing a big shift toward centralization: not just for tickets, but all client entertainment assets. (Check out our overview video to learn more.)
Tickets have become a microcosm of this entire framework of client entertainment. Putting your events, meetings, dinners, conferences, golf outings, and invitations in one place is becoming more critical for organizations to capture the metrics around everything— not just sports tickets. There is a philosophy that we live by. It’s the key to our success, and it has enabled us to work with a large amount of Fortune 1000 companies.
Make It Easy For Your Sales People & Executives
The key to effective client entertainment management boils down to one underlying theme:
Make the process easy for your sales people and your executives— the folks who are taking out customers. This is key.
Ultimately, most of the goals I hear from CFO’s and CMO’s at Fortune 1000 companies are around better metrics, better allocation of assets so they are used properly, and minimizing waste. These are all vital goals that are instrumental for any organization that does client entertainment. But a lot of companies fail to conceptualize how to get there and it all centers around a very simple idea of having a system that is easy to use.
Trust me, you don’t want sales folks like myself thinking too much: you want me out there selling and closing.
By having all my entertainment assets in one place, I don’t have to think about where to go, who to call, or whether we have assets. When I am standing at a bar, in a meeting, or out to dinner with a client, I want to be able to quickly go to one place, get what I need, and get back to the conversation with my customer.
Most importantly, by creating such an easy process for me, I am willing to adopt the process and fill out the information my finance and marketing teams need:
- Who did I take?
- Why did I take them?
- What was the opportunity worth?
- Did they actually show up?
- Did I close them after the game?
- And so on
I am willing to take the time to fill out easy and quick forms so that I can get what I need to entertain my client. Again, making this process easy is the necessary ingredient and first step to a successful client entertainment management system.
Integrate and Centralize More Processes
Following the same idea of making this easy, a big success that we are seeing is not only putting all client entertainment assets into one place, but putting it into the applications that your company already uses. This is huge, and it’s the future of where companies are moving. Your sales people are already using certain CRM applications, expense management platforms, and mobile apps and they know how they work. So why not put this entire process directly in there?
The Benefits of Integrating with your CRM
This is the most common integration that I see— specifically with CRM’s like Salesforce.com. If you are already using Salesforce.com as a company, this is a no-brainer. There are two key reasons why this is incredibly important for your organization:
Enhancing your CRM. At Dreamforce (Salesforce’s massive annual conference), there are literally 180,000 people walking around San Francisco trying to find ways to make their Salesforce better, easier, and encompass more functionality. So by putting all client entertainment assets into your instance of Salesforce, it not only centralizes all your entertainment resources— it makes your CRM even more effective within your organization.
I spoke earlier about the importance of companies measuring the impact of client entertainment assets: remember, roughly 58% of all tickets and events go towards business development (see our Corporate Consumer Case Study here). Most importantly, these assets can be tied to some key ROI metrics that you are already collecting in your CRM, including:
- how much the opportunity is worth?
- how much that customer is spending overtime?
And so on. Why do it twice? It makes it harder on the sales rep and it opens up the door for conflicting data to enter two different systems. By integrating this process into your CRM, you are tying together all of this information in one, centralized place to not only strengthen your analytics, but to make it easier to measure everything.
Make It Easy For Sales People. Again, back to the central thesis of this article: You must make this process easy for sales people. The key to a native application within Salesforce is that this process is so cleanly integrated. The sales person doesn’t even know that a new application exists. As far as they are concerned, you have just made their existing CRM, which they live in everyday, better. They get what they need all in Salesforce, they never have to leave that application, and most importantly, they don’t have to learn a new system! InviteManager is the only native ticket and event application: See us on the Salesforce.com AppExchange.
Additionally, you have just centralized another key process for them so that they don’t have to go through multiple applications to get what they need. If I have to go through multiple applications to get the tickets I need to take out my biggest prospect, or call multiple people just to figure out what we have, I am just going to go buy tickets on Stubhub and worry about it later. Integrating this process into Salesforce helps me focus on my prospect, get them what they want, and work on closing business.
The Benefits of Mobile Apps
Let’s be honest, everyone is moving everything to mobile. Companies are working tirelessly and investing heavily in strengthening their mobile apps so customers can get what they need and have a better experience. The same applies here for your sales folks and executives who need to get tickets. We are on the go, we are in front of our customers and we need to be able to pull up our phones and find what we need anytime, day or night.
I’ll tell you where I beat my competition every time. When we both meet with Prospect A, and my competitor tells them “Let me get back to a computer or make a few calls to see what tickets are available to tonight’s game.” In this scenario, I have already beaten them.
In my world, I just picked up my phone app for all client entertainment assets, found tickets that my company has for tonight, along with a dinner and a cocktail hour. I requested them, received them as an e-ticket, and my prospect and I are now going to the game and dinner tonight. I did that all in 30 seconds, while prospect A and I were talking about the next steps to getting our deal done. This is where I am seeing the most traction and success with our customers. Check out our InviteManager Video to see how easy it is to use our mobile apps.
The Benefits of Integrating With Your Expense Management Program
This is another major shift that I am seeing with my customers. More and more companies are using expense management platforms like Concur. Much like integrating with your CRM, it is critical to streamline processes and avoid the need to use multiple applications to accomplish your goal.
I am pretty sure that everyone hates filing expense reports. It’s a process generally saved for when I am on the plane or late at night when I’m going through countless pictures on my phone trying to find the receipt for that lunch I had with my prospect three months ago.
I can take all of the information that I’ve obtained through my CRM and my client entertainment tool and push it directly into Concur with a single click. This information already exists in my CRM— why should I fill it out twice? Learn more about how InviteManager for Concur works.
Putting all your client entertainment assets in one place— on your phone, in your CRM, and in your expense management program —is no longer the future. It’s here and now. It is why over 4,000 companies, major leagues like the NFL, NBA and NHL, and over 60 professional and college teams use InviteManager.
We have tapped into something that is critically important for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Companies cannot make decisions based on gut feelings anymore: today, it’s all about metrics. Whether on your computer, your phone, or in the CRM you already use, we make it easy for you to make strategic decisions based on solid data.