11 Basics Of Successful Sponsorship Sales
Jun 29, 2012
Back in the early ’80s, when sponsorship was new to pretty much everyone, IEG traveled the world teaching sponsorship acquisition and sponsorship sales. The industry has incorporated those learnings and sponsorship “mavens” from near and far have incorporated those ideas into their books, blogs and practices.
We at IEG moved from teaching and preaching to consulting, valuing and measuring with modeling and analytics. However, working with a fine nonprofit recently reaffirmed what I’d encountered over the last year at speeches and gatherings—a new generation of visionaries launching events, festivals and nonprofits were falling short on sponsorship sales because they lacked some basic guidelines. This post is for the newbies:
- Sell solutions not sponsorship. Before picking up the phone or sending the proposal, identify your value proposition. What’s the big idea? How would sponsorship of your event be meaningful to your fans, your property and the prospect’s business?
- Sell what’s most marketable, not what needs funding. Just because you need money to produce a concert in the park, does not mean that is what you should be selling. Your strongest assets may be something else entirely, such as access to your influential board of directors and the opportunity for year-round promotions to your Facebook community. Remember, sponsorship fees—unlike philanthropic donations—are unrestricted.
- Highlight benefits, not features. Focus on the prospect’s need to build their business, not your need to sell. And do not expect a prospect to wade through your data dump and figure out what they want.
- Don’t prorate your packages. Give prospects a reason to buy at the highest level. Reserve key benefits for your biggest sponsors rather than prorating your benefits and making them available to partners at every level.
- Tailor to sponsor category. Identify what your prospect wants to accomplish and who it wants to reach. This will vary by category and requires research into the category’s hot buttons and budget priorities, e.g., automakers want to generate qualified test drives; biggest budgets are behind new marques
- Go to everyone in the category at once. Once you understand the category, do not send out proposals one at time as it will take you years to get through the category. If there’s a fit for one company in the category, likely you can apply it to the others.
- Sign your media partners first. Having media sponsors signals to prospects that your property will be high profile and minimizes their risk in signing.
- Don’t send a proposal until after the initial discussion. You’ve gotten the prospect on the phone and they’ve asked you to send something in writing. This is not the time to create a full-blown proposal. Instead, use a one-pager. Once you’ve met or had the 30-minute call that ensures you are clear on their objectives, budget, process, etc., it’s time to do the proposal.
- Commit full-time. Sponsorship sales are partially a numbers game; most sponsorships start with a cold call, according to IEG research. Sponsorship sales can’t be done between other responsibilities; it’s a full-time job. “The more casts you make, the more fish you catch,” says FishBait Marketing’s Rick Jones. “And, the most important sales call is the next call,” says Jones.
- Put a deadline on your offers. There are only three acceptable outcomes of any call or meeting: yes, no or definite next steps. Next steps might include getting the go-ahead to prepare proposal. Or scheduling a time/date for next discussion.
- Base fees on value, not budget. The fee must be commensurate with the rights and benefits being delivered, which may be more than the budget of what’s being sold. Reduce the prospect’s risk with an independent, third-party valuation.
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