By Paula Beadle
A thriving sponsorship sales program requires the right talent and the right process. Using an established, repeatable sales process will improve performance. A consistent sales process will also boost the internal understanding of sponsorship, create a common vernacular and serve as a management tool.
Although the landscape of selling has dramatically shifted in the past few months, the sales process has not changed. You may need to make slight adjustments, but the same principles apply. Caravel Marketing had developed and refined our sales process over decades of selling sponsorships, here is a visual cue of our sales process:
The process starts with prospecting potential sponsors, which begins with engaging stakeholders in a conversation to create a prospect list. We look for companies that align with the properties brand and audience. These days we are paying close attention to companies who are advertising and keeping up on industry trends from sites like Winmo, IEG, and SponsorPitch.
The preparation step is crucial, but often ignored. Conducting research to learn basic company information will ensure productive conversations. Understanding a company’s key objectives provides a platform to ask smart questions and anticipate potential solutions. We recommend creating a minimum of five “I Know Statements” and five key questions. Objectives and what you know about your prospects has likely changed – so make sure you are up to date with how your prospects have been impacted by COVID.
Once you are fully prepared, securing the meeting is often one of the greatest challenges. It’s important to be mindful of how the company has been impacted by COVID before you begin your outreach efforts. Some companies do not want to engage during this time, others do. Ask the question if this is a good time to talk and show your understanding if now is not the right time.
The purpose of the discovery step is to learn about one another. During the discovery meeting your job is to gain key insights from the prospective sponsor about their objectives and communicate a compelling sponsorship story. A fundamental key to securing sponsors is the ability to create and generate interest and excitement by providing a high-level overview of the event and the sponsorship opportunity. The meeting should be 30 percent presentation and 70 percent listening to the wants and needs of the prospective sponsor.
The customized proposal step is the submission of a customized document that specifically outlines the partnership program details. The proposal must be customized to the potential sponsor’s communicated needs and expectations. The proposal must clearly outline how the program will work, ideas about how to tactically leverage the opportunity, an explanation of how the event will contribute to the sponsor’s business and community goals and provide enough information about the opportunity for the company to make a decision. As we heard from many of our guests on the 7in7 Video Series, assets, particularly digital and virtual, are the dominant area of interest. Make sure you are providing timely benefits that are relevant now and in the future.
The negotiation and contracting phase should be a natural conclusion to the continuous communication with a prospective sponsor. During the negotiation phase, it is important that a seller is confidently able to discuss how a price was determined. If there is negotiation on the price, benefits must be removed from the package to maintain price integrity. This process must be an open exchange between the buyer and the seller. Be prepared to discuss cancelations and refunds. Once a prospective sponsor has indicated a sincere interest, the priority becomes attaining a signature as quickly as possible. Until an agreement is signed, a deal does not exist.
The entire organization needs to embrace a “flawless execution” philosophy in the fulfillment phase. To ensure sponsorship programs are flawlessly executed, Caravel recommends creating an activation plan for each sponsor that clearly states the action steps, whom is responsible and the deadline date for completion.
To see more resources related to the sponsorship sales process, click here.
Still need help implementing a successful sales process? Drop us a line! We are sponsorship experts and are here to help.
About the author: Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.