Sponsorship Sales Success Part 1: Mastering Internal Efforts

By Michael Kithcart

Sponsorship sales might just be the most rewarding and creative type of sales there is. At its best, sponsorship opportunities are designed around the multiple marketing objectives of a sponsor. Brand activations are personalized and unique, aligning with the community and specific causes.

In this two-part blog, I’ll share insights for mastering both internal and external sponsorship sales efforts—starting with internal efforts. From an internal perspective, sponsorship sales can be confusing for some within an organization because it’s often viewed as more abstract. It can also be seen as creating competition between departments (with fundraising/philanthropy, for example), especially if there is a lack of clarity around how departments should be working together in support of the sponsorship sales efforts.

Here’s how effective sponsorship teams operate internally (in support of external efforts):

Unify the team. Sponsorship is a team sport and everyone in the organization has to support the sponsorship efforts. Share the sponsorship goals, opportunities and top prospects with everyone in the organization. For example, ask board members, staff and key partners to make introductions with their connections—it can make a huge impact on meeting sponsorship goals and bringing new corporate partnerships to the table.

Provide regular updates. Plan consistent communications around sponsorship efforts. Keep everyone in the organization updated on progress throughout the sponsorship process, including where there are struggles. Share new potential sponsors and opportunities as they arise and ask for help when needed.

Create a culture of collaboration. There is valuable institutional knowledge within every organization. Each sponsorship opportunity is seen through a different lens by each person in the organization. Capture those perspectives through brainstorms and surveys and engage everyone in the conversation. In nonprofit organizations, sponsorship and fundraising collaboration can result in better and more comprehensive opportunities for corporate partnerships. Sponsorship and marketing bring a lot to the table, like enhancing fan experiences, helping sell more tickets and improving the way the event story is told.

Implement clear processes. Put well-defined processes in place and inform everyone how to go about developing and tracking sponsorships. Sales teams who follow a sales process, create an asset inventory, and develop an activation plan for smooth execution are consistently more successful. Not only are they backed and supported by the organization, but having processes that everyone understands makes it easier to support sponsorship efforts and gets everyone on the same page.

In next week’s blog, Sponsorship Sales Success Part 2: Mastering External Efforts, I’ll share how effective sponsorship teams engage with sponsors.

About the author: Michael Kithcart is the chief strategy officer of Caravel Marketing. Throughout her career, Michael has transformed organizations, created divisions, organized start-ups and enhanced the effectiveness of individuals and teams. She is a leader in working with organizations to develop strategic initiatives that meet and exceed sponsorship sales goals.