How the Boston Red Sox Score Big on Service and Sales

BrandPost By Cindy Waxer
Oct 07, 2020

Credit: istock
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Jason Lumsden Director of IT, Boston Red Sox

Jason’s experience in technology and business development has afforded him top manager and consultant roles with large organizations across the world. As the Director of IT for the Boston Red Sox, Jason guides the team’s digital strategy and leads an internal Technology Steering Committee. He also oversees all business and baseball projects. Prior to joining the Red Sox, he held various consultant and business development roles. He was with Accenture globally working closely with Fortune 500 companies. Jason earned his Master of Science degree in Information Assurance at Norwich University in Vermont—the same school he attended for undergraduate studies. He also won an NCAA hockey championship with Norwich in 2000.

When COVID-19 led to a shortened 60-game season for MLB teams, it raised the stakes for the Boston Red Sox. We spoke with Jason Lumsden, Director of IT, to discover the advantages – and challenges – of relying on technology to satisfy the Red Sox Nation.

Q: Prior to Salesforce, what key challenges did you face, both with your customers (fans) and with your sales team?

We started leveraging CRM in 2012 to understand our customers, provide better service, and increase sales. Since then we have 14 departments using 7 different CRM instances. With each year our sales teams wanted more actionable and accurate data. What we realized is we needed a product that was flexible enough that all of our departments could use it while still allowing some departments to create very custom solutions/processes for their unique needs.

Q: What factors contributed most to these pain points?

Part of our decision making was around cost, technical relationships, and our sales culture. We went from a very manual process to a CRM that could help teams work more effectively. Culture takes precedence over any technical solution, so we had separate environments for each sales and service team to understand their pain points and work on specific solutions. This also created a lot of tech debt. We had people that lived across our different instances which created a data integrity problem. We were always trying to clean up the pollution downstream.

Q: What do sales teams need most from IT, and what prevents IT from meeting those needs? 

What sales teems need is a collaboration between IT and sales. This can be achieved in many different methodologies or tools. What you need to do is find out what works for your organization. They need to be active participants in the solution. We also tried to keep things simple and focus on what we are doing well and what we can improve on with constant feedback.

It comes down to communication and finding a process that works for the people involved. We don’t force people to work on a given methodology – we find what works and iterate. Communicating and collaborating on priorities for the business is essential.

Q: How can a CIO foster greater trust between IT and sales? 

It takes time and honesty. You have to work to establish trust and you have to deliver results. I always encourage a healthy debate with the goal of getting to the best possible outcome for the organization. I think being transparent and honest goes a long way.

Q: How did Salesforce help solve those challenges?

Technically we knew we couldn’t keep supporting multiple CRM’s and departments. We needed to consolidate and realize operational efficiencies by only managing one CRM environment and having an omni channel application allowed us to create better experiences. We needed to improve our customer journey – everyone needs to have the most relevant information at their fingertips so they can help the customer. Time is a precious commodity. In addition some of our custom-built plugins were starting to reach end of life.

Having a 360-degree view of the fan across all departments is a top priority. We have multiple lines of business across baseball and non-baseball events along with our Fenway Sports Management business. Salesforce gave us a flexible foundation to build on. We defined our contact and account relationship at the organization level while allowing each business to stay true to themselves. Our sales teams like that they were able to create and design their own sales processes while the organization can see current touchpoints.

The AppExchange was something we had experience with and realized that we didn’t always have to build internally. We have a small IT team so leveraging industry tools that already solve our business problem helped us deliver a more quality product to our teams.

Finally, our Salesforce community was growing in Boston and we were able to get a lot of feedback and support from a wide network of people. We partnered with Sovereign CRM to help us execute our visions. 

Q: What tools can improve communication between CIO and sales? Did you introduce any new capabilities?

I think it depends on what is being communicated. We have executive dashboards that highlight key organizational metrics. We have Salesforce reports/dashboards that help with priorities and real-time sales metrics. We also have project management tools to help with work priorities, defect management, and roadmap milestones. I think the important aspect is being very clear and efficient with what you are communicating so we can align on the desired outcomes. With Salesforce we have found some great tools from the AppExchange that help our end users. One of those is CalendarAnything. Very quickly our Managers can look at a visual of our assets and make key business decisions; we also saved on development time with this partnership.

In addition to going live with Salesforce we redesigned our MDM using GCP with our partners at Flywheel Software. Connecting this with the Salesforce API’s has helped with organizing and presenting our data internally. We wanted to focus on data authenticity with this rebuild, as it lets us deliver on new sales automation strategies and prescriptive analytics.

Q: What advice would you offer to other CIOs?

Cultural challenges are harder than technological solutions. You need to really listen and understand the business and work with them as partners. It will take time so don’t just budget time for the development because you will sell yourself short. Introduce incremental digital changes and solicit feedback and listen to your users. Personally, I try to look at everything from the customer perspective.  I put them at the center of everything we do.

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