CRM/Database Management Perceptions & Trends

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger Emily Huddell from Turnkey Sports and Entertainment.

In November 2010, Turnkey invited representatives from all 138 teams in MLB, MLS, the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL to participate in an email-based survey regarding database management in the sports industry.  CRM, ticketing systems, and list purchasing were the study’s primary topics; however, additional aspects of database management and segmented marketing were also addressed.

Respondent Profile:

  • 55 individuals completed the entire survey; an additional 15 finished some of the questions but did not proceed through the entire questionnaire.
  • All of the “Big 5” leagues were well-represented in the study results. MLB teams led the pack, accounting for 29% of all respondents, while the NFL (26%) and NHL (21%) followed close behind.  The remainder of respondents hailed from the NBA (16%) and MLS (10%).
  • 84% of respondents identified themselves as being involved with CRM at their respective organizations, and 80% reported involvement in ticketing.
  • Most respondents’ jobs were classified within their organization’s Marketing, Ticketing, or Database Management divisions, though several respondents reported to other departments (IT, Corporate Sales, etc.).

Key Findings from the Study:

82% of respondents reported that CRM/database management is perceived as “extremely” or “very” valuable within their respective organizations.

  • NFL respondents were more than twice as likely as respondents from MLB to identify CRM/database management as “extremely valuable”: 67% did, vs. just 28% of MLB respondents.

– CRM initiatives support literally every area of business at some teams; however, they’re utilized most frequently by the Ticket Sales, Premium Sales & Service, Marketing, and Sponsorship/Corporate Sales Departments.

Teams who have CRM currently invest an average of $73,076* annually in CRM hardware, software, service, and consultation, and have official “Database Management” departments of fewer than five people. (*Note: this figure does not include any salaries or expenses associated with internal staff.)

– When asked what most influenced their satisfaction/dissatisfaction with a particular CRM system or database, respondents cited “flexibility”, “customization options”, “integration capabilities”, “reporting capabilities”, and “ease of use”.

Nearly 6 of every 10 respondents identified Microsoft Dynamics CRM as the best CRM system in the industry.

  • Their feelings on VARs (Value Added Resellers) weren’t as clear: 76% of respondents had no opinion regarding which VAR is the leader in the sports space.

– When asked to rate their own CRM systems on various aspects of performance and use, users gave their platform the highest scores while Archtics users rated their systems lowest

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM users’ scores fell in the middle, slightly below SalesForce’s.

– Respondents cited the Philadelphia Flyers as the professional sports team with the most sophisticated CRM/database management initiatives, followed by the Dallas Cowboys, Phoenix Suns, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Seattle Mariners (all tied with the second most-votes).

84% of clients identified Ticketmaster as the best ticketing company in the industry.

– Teams don’t have preferred list vendors/sources; however, they are more than three times more likely to name Acxiom as the industry leader in appends/reverse appends than all other companies combined.

If you’d like to view the raw data associated collected via this study, please contact Emily Huddell, SVP of Client Sales & Service at Turnkey Intelligence, at or 856.685.1450.

Emily Huddell has spent the previous five years employed at Turnkey Sports & Entertainment working with all three of the company’s core products and overseeing all team sports business. She is a graduate of the UMass Sport Management MS program.