Sponsorship Sales Success Part 2: Mastering External Efforts

By Michael Kithcart

In my last blog—Sponsorship Sales Success Part 1: Mastering Internal Efforts—I shared insights on how effective sponsorship teams operate from an internal standpoint in support of the organization’s efforts to build mutually beneficial partnerships and meet revenue goals. Getting this foundation in place is critical to the success of your sponsorship efforts.

This blog addresses the external side of sponsorships, including how effective sponsorship teams operate and engage with sponsors:

Start with a plan. Sponsorship teams that achieve and exceed goals have a clear understanding of what they are working toward and the best ways to get there. This includes outlining revenue potential, maximizing the talents on the team, and defining everyone’s role and the contributions needed to get to the end result. Teams simply don’t grow revenue consistently without a plan.

Lead with the client. It’s far more effective to start conversations with the client as the focus, rather than the organization or the event. When talking with a prospective sponsor, start with “I know” statements and provide valid business reasons for a partnership. This demonstrates an understanding of the business and starts the exchange about why their brand could be a good fit for the event. It shows that you’ve done your homework and helps the potential sponsor see themselves as part of the event. It also isn’t done nearly enough. If you’re struggling with getting meetings and/or garnering interest, start by looking at your preparation phase. If you don’t know why you are calling a prospective sponsor, ask others on the team for help clarifying why the brand could be a good fit for the event.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is so critical and so often overlooked. Effective communication from start to finish influences the outcome of sponsorship sales. Let prospective sponsors know that you have a process and what’s going to happen next, update them on big event news, and gather all the decision makers to share the overview of the event. Mastering client communication is an essential talent if you want to achieve success. And not just for sales.

Be responsive. Responding to potential and existing clients’ inquiries, questions and requests for proposals in a timely manner gives you a competitive edge. It is complementary to communication, yet worth calling out. Response time is a fairly easy area to improve and can yield great results because—somewhat surprisingly—many organizations have a slow response rate. Ask any brand that uses event sponsorship as part of its marketing strategy and they will tell you the alarmingly low response rate. Do what you say you’re going to do and do it in a timely fashion.

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.