Sponsorship Sales 101: Five Tips for Getting the Meeting

By Lindsey Kemkes

Getting a meeting with a prospective sponsor can be a challenging step in the sponsorship sales process. An in-person meeting is critical to creating a successful partnership. If a potential sponsor does not want to meet in person, it’s an indication of their level of interest. It may also be a sign that you haven’t convinced them that you and your project are worthy of their time. For some people, it’s easier to ask, “Can you send me some information?” than to tell you they’re not interested in taking time to have a conversation. And often sales people oblige, because at least it’s a potential shot. But the reality is that often these “shots” end up taking your valuable time, because these individuals are unresponsive. Here are five tips to help you get the meeting:

Contact the RIGHT person.

Many people within a company can say no, but only a few can actually say yes. Your goal is to meet with the person who controls the budget and the people who will participate in the decision-making process. The size of the company determines who is the best person to talk with. Larger companies that are active in sponsorship marketing will likely have someone with “sponsorship” or “partnership” in their title. If not, reach out to a high-level marketing team member. If you’re unsure who to contact, aim for the one in the highest position. They can always redirect you to the right person.

Do your research.

Before every call to a new prospect, make a list of three to five things you know about that prospect. Look at their website and browse for articles. You may not want to spend your time pitching a sponsorship opportunity for a brew fest when your prospect’s marketing mission is dedicated to healthy lifestyles. Plus, having a few key points in your back pocket will give you talking points when speaking with a prospect.

Be persistent.

Keep in mind that companies are receiving sponsorship inquiries every day. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive an immediate response. A great rule of thumb is to never let more than three days go by without sending a second outreach attempt. Try a phone call, an email or perhaps a letter. Connect through social media. If you know this prospect and your event aligns perfectly, be persistent and keep trying different approaches.

Customize your emails.

When sending an email, work on incorporating something you know about that prospect, so they know you’ve done your homework. This is when the three to five key points will come in handy. Keep emails short and do not include any attachments, particularly if the outreach is unsolicited. Be direct and explain why you are contacting them.

Focus on your No. 1 goal: scheduling the meeting!

Many in the sponsorship realm make the mistake of pitching an event/property on the first interaction and then lose the opportunity to learn more about the prospective sponsor and their marketing objectives. Share the key points and keep focused on your goal to get the meeting. Remember, the likelihood of getting a deal done decreases considerably if you don’t have this initial meeting.

About the author: Lindsey Kemkes is the sponsorship specialist for Caravel Marketing. She brings valuable expertise in fundraising and event planning to the team and plays a critical role in revenue generating efforts at Caravel. Lindsey earned a strategic communications degree from Washington State University with a minor in environmental science.