Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks Turn to CRM to Boost Sales
New York Knicks fans like me - those of us who came of age in the 1990s - will always rank Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers at the top of our "clutch player" lists, as well as our "most antagonistic relationships with Spike Lee" lists.
Who could forget Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semis? The Knickerbockers cruising to a 105-99 lead with 18.7 seconds remaining . . . Miller hits a three-pointer with 16.4 seconds left . . . steals the inbounds pass, runs to the three point line . . . drains another one with 13.3 seconds left . . . now it's tied and nobody in Madison Square Garden is laughing . . . John Starks is fouled, then, but misses both free throws, and Patrick Ewing misses a 10-footer after rebounding the second of those misses and Miller grabs the board, is fouled . . . he makes both freebies . . . Pacers win 107-105.
It was horrifying.
But by then, 1995, I was a college student and my most rabid, die-hard days as a Knicks fan were behind me. Those were also the days that I used to have nightmares about what's now referred to as the United Center - home to the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks (hockey).
It killed me was when I was in high school and the Bulls seemed to meet the Knicks every year in either the conference finals or semifinals, led by the great Michael Jordan.
We had great teams back then, too - we had the Pat Riley Knicks, the Doc Rivers Knicks, the Charles Oakley Knicks, the Anthony Mason Knicks. These guys were a lot better than the Johnny Newman-Gerald Wilkins-Trent Tucker Knicks.
The only time we could squeak past the Bulls was in Jordan's "comeback" year - a season essentially lost to the great player's mourning for his father, shockingly murdered in 1993. (Jordan started just 17 games for Chicago in the 1994-95 season.)
Jordan would retire from the Bulls in 1999 and make a brief comeback with another team, but certainly sales for Chicago's NBA team took a hit as soon as its franchise player left.
And even we non-Canadians (I admit I learned most everything I know about hockey from EA Sports and SEGA) are aware of what a hit hockey took when the NHL players went on strike for the 1994-95 season. The Chicago Blackhawks were no exception, with ticket sales and TV revenues plummeting.
So it's not surprising to hear today about a customer relationship management, or "CRM"-based initiative that's underway in the Windy City.
We're hearing that Sonoma Partners, a provider of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, is bringing new technology to the United Center, delivering the Bulls' and Blackhawks' corporate sponsorship and marketing departments the fourth phase of a customer relationship management project begun last year.
Starting last year, we're told, Sonoma deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the United Center's "Prospecting and Premium Seating" departments to replace multiple existing Goldmine deployments.
"The goal of the initial CRM project to streamline sales processes and consolidate onto one Microsoft technology platform was an instant winner," we're told. "With the capability to reuse and easily update existing modules from one organization to another, the United Center saw immediate benefits from the cost effective and timely rollout."
Translation: the teams are using CRM to help bring in more customers and make more money, a win-win.
About 30 sales representatives from each department use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage prospect lists, customer information, track inventory data, manage contracts and follow up on activities with automated workflow processes. Users now have the ability to track sponsorship assets such as scoreboard and ribbonboard advertising, concourse signs, and TV and/or radio spots.
Robert Gorman, director of information systems at the United Center, said he chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM because his previous CRM solution was not scalable or flexible enough to accommodate separate businesses and existing technology platforms.
"Microsoft Dynamics CRM works much better for us because of its automated workflows, integration with Microsoft Office, SharePoint 2007 and other vertical market applications," he said.
Chicago's football team, da Bears, is now 2-1 after losing its first game of the young season and some key pieces. I have a lot of faith in emerging CRM technology, but is there anything that's going to help ticket sales more than a disappointing season in the city's other two major winter sports?
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