The Use of CRM in Sports: A Classroom Visit from Neda Tabatabaie

By Forrest Lockwood & Greg Morrissey

Neda Tabatabaie, Vice President of Business Intelligence with the San Jose Sharks, stopped by to talk about data management through CRM and how she has helped the Sharks become one of the most data-driven organizations in the NHL. Originally from Iran, Neda and her family moved to Toronto when she was young, which would ultimately lead to her entry into the sports world. She graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Toronto and landed her first gig as a Marketing Coordinator at Holt Renfrew, a high-end chain of retail stores in Canada. Much like anyone’s path into sports, hers was as unconventional as they come. Given her expertise in analyzing customer loyalty, Neda was exactly the candidate Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment were looking for. Upon her hiring in 2005, Neda was tasked to manage the CRM data at a time when very few sports organizations had adopted a CRM system. After years of successfully managing the CRM system for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Neda was hired on at KORE Software, one of the top CRM software providers on the market. As Vice President of Best Practices, Neda was able to help ensure KORE Software remained a leader in CRM data management. After a little over a year with KORE Software, Neda landed her current position with Sharks Sports and Entertainment as the Vice President of Business Intelligence. What Neda has been able to do for Sharks Sports and Entertainment is nothing short of amazing.

Her goal was to be able to use CRM to become more efficient with ticketing, sponsorship, and marketing. After accomplishing that goal, Neda was then able to integrate all the departments into the CRM system to ensure the entire organization operated more efficiently. The San Jose Sharks have now become a full digital ticketing organization; they have also significantly improved several aspects of the fan experience, with a better arena wi-fi system, more useful mobile app, and stronger content being posted on their social media outlets. Every single one of these improvements can be attributed to Neda Tabatabaie, as she has centralized every single department in the organization into one robust CRM system. Neda stated that her goal is always to “acquire fans through a holistic view of their behavior.” In doing so, her main focus is always on customer retention, which is the hardest task any organization faces.

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