Fan (Customer) Relationship Management Solutions [Buyers Guide]

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

The SportsTech Match team has compiled this overview of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market in response to the growing number of enquiries we receive from buyers looking for solutions to better understand, manage and monetise their relationships with fans.

To find the right technology solutions for your fan engagement use case, submit your requirements today by answering a few short questions (takes less than 5 minutes), and our team will send you a matching report with details of the best solutions for you.


Introduction To CRM And CRM Solutions

Types Of CRM Solutions

Major Trends In CRM

Use Cases And Buyers Of CRM Solutions

Choosing The Best CRM Solutions For Your Needs

1. Introduction To CRM And CRM Solutions

CRM is a very simple concept but one that is perceived to be more complex than it actually is.

A CRM system simply gathers customer interactions across all channels in one place. Managing centralised data in this way can help sports organisations improve the fan experience, increase satisfaction and loyalty and grow revenue. It is a relevant strategy for both small and large sports organisations and there are “off the shelf” and custom solutions available in the market for all budgets.

Information from social media, your website, email, voice calls, and other channels are pulled into the CRM system to help you get more fans and keep the ones you have. They give you a single place to organise your workflows and business processes, so you can collaborate, create campaigns and sell more effectively.

CRM is more than software. For CRM to be successful as a strategy to improve fan relationships and drive revenue, it requires senior management buy-in as well as a fan-centric culture at the heart of the organisation.

Many CRM experts within sport warn of the dangers of applying CRM systems that are built for non-sport use cases to the context of sports fans who are typically much more emotionally invested in the relationship with their favourite team. This has led to a growth in the number of sports CRM specialist consultants and solutions and the rise of “fan relationship management” (FRM).

Fans are the focus of this buyers guide. However, a CRM solution is equally valid to manage relationships with other customer groups such as participants and sponsors.

2. Types of CRM Solutions

There are three main types of CRM solutions - sales, service and marketing.


A sales CRM is focussed on supporting sales processes e.g. pay-per-view events, tickets and merchandise. They focus on helping sales teams to build a sales pipeline, track leads, communicate effectively with potential customers, send proposals and close sales. They simplify workflows and help to manage customer-facing voice, chat, social media, and email touchpoints on a single platform.

Perhaps the most useful feature of a Sales CRM, is the ability to track where a customer is in the sales cycle which enables a more specific targeting of communication to their needs.


Customer service for a sports organisation is more important than ever with the increasing competition for fans attention. A service CRM integrates tools from dedicated customer service and support software to help sports organisations to respond and resolve inquiries faster and smarter. This can be especially useful given the many touch points modern sports organisations have with their fans —social, chat, email, phone, and website.

The service CRM system will provide customer service staff with immediate access to customer information across all relevant channels.


A marketing CRM is focussed on helping organisations run campaigns that acquire leads that can be passed on to frontline sales teams.

They enable marketing teams to build campaigns and automate them across channels, get statistics on opened/unopened mail status, click-through rates and, for more advanced users, use A/B testing to find the best strategy for landing pages.

A marketing CRM can segment potential fans into different categories, according to for example how long they spend on your website, what links they clicked on, and what kind of personal information they shared on a form.

3. Major Trends In CRM

Research agency Forrester, published top trends in CRM and we’ve picked out three that are most applicable to sports use cases:

Self-service for end-to-end customer journey support increases

More customers self-serve as the first point of contact with companies to self-educate rather than talk to someone. From a sports organisation point of view this can mean investing in, for example, a chat service on your website (and creating so-called “chatbots” to provide automated responses to the most common questions) and linking this into your CRM.

Hyperpersonalisation underpins true one-to-one interactions

Customers expect engagement, tailored to their history, preferences, context, and intent. Fans are no different. Fans will respond if their favourite club recognises them as an individual or an event organiser personalises the experience to their needs.

Customer value models accelerate ongoing customer success

Forrester predict that frontline personnel will have a better visibility of value of each customer to the organisation. As more and more sports rights owners go direct to fan, there is a growing emphasis on managing fan lifetime value. As opposed to simply treating each transaction separately as has been done in the past, the lifetime value of the fan is considered and carefully managed. CRM will play an important role to support this shift across sports organisations and help them to fully understand who their most valuable fans are from a revenue perspective.

4. Use Cases And Buyers Of CRM Solutions

Sports Clubs / Teams

Sports teams will typically look for CRM solutions that enable them to create a single view of their fans and drive season pass / ticket sales (both marketing and sales CRM). Clubs with larger fan bases may also need a service CRM to help manage large volumes of inquiries from fans when season tickets go on sale or on a matchday. They generally want to ensure that they have a direct communication channel into fans (typically email) that can be leveraged for club announcements and a place to track individual communication with each fan. Sports teams will also want to build and maintain an up to date and “clean” database of fan contacts to leverage in conversations with potential sponsors.

Event Organisers

Event organisers will typically use CRM from edition to edition to save on the costs of marketing tickets (marketing CRM). Larger events might also use sales and service CRM to more effectively sell and service fans at scale.

5. Choosing The Best CRM Solutions For Your Needs

Now that you understand the CRM / FRM solutions market, it’s time to find a solution that works best for your organisation. At SportsTech Match, we’ve already done the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours or days searching the internet for the right solution.

Submit your requirements, answer a few short questions (takes less than 5 minutes), and our team will send you a matching report with details of the best solutions that match your requirements.

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