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.
Through Caravel’s years of experience, we have refined a sales process that serves as a guideline for selling sponsorship programs. The graphic below illustrates seven steps in the sales process and demonstrates how complicated and time consuming selling sponsorships can be. In some cases, this process may be escalated based on the potential sponsor’s level of interest and timelines, but typically selling is a proactive job that requires research, preparation and time.
Step 1: Prospecting
The process begins with prospecting potential sponsors, which starts with engaging stakeholders in a conversation to create a prospect list. Strong consideration should be given to companies who share your brand attributes and seek to reach the audience your property effectively reaches.
Step 2: Preparation
The preparation step is crucial, but often ignored. Conducting research to learn basic company information will prepare you to ask smart questions and anticipate potential solutions. This simple step creates a memorable differentiator among sponsorship sellers.
Step 3: Getting the Appointment
Once the sponsorship seller is fully prepared, getting an appointment is often one of the greatest challenges. Ask a friend or colleague to make an introduction to significantly advance your efforts to secure a meeting. Absent a personal connection, targeting the right partner and doing your research becomes critical. Develop a brief and compelling reason why you are worthy of someone’s time and practice it. When you make the call, remember you are calling for one reason—to get the meeting.
Step 4: Presentation and Assessment
The purpose of the presentation is to generate interest and excitement and create an open dialogue between potential sponsors and sponsorship sellers by providing a high level overview of the property and the various sponsorship opportunities available. The most important part of the process to ask smart questions to understand what is most important to your prospective sponsor.
Phase 5: Customized Proposal
The proposal phase is the submission of a customized document that specifically outlines the partnership program details. The proposal is used only after an initial conversation has taken place with the potential sponsor and must be customized to meet the potential sponsor’s communicated needs and expectations.
A proposal should:
- Clearly outline how the program will work
- Include ideas about how to tactically leverage the opportunity
- Explain how the sponsorship opportunity will contribute to the sponsor’s business and community goals
- Provide enough information on the opportunity for the company to make a decision.
Step 6: Negotiation and Closing
The negotiation and closing phase is a natural conclusion to the frequent communication with a prospective sponsor. During the negotiation phase, it is important that a logical methodology has been applied to the pricing. A seller needs to be able to confidently discuss how a price was determined.
Step 7: Fulfillment
Once a commitment has been made, the entire organization needs to embrace a “flawless execution” philosophy in the fulfillment phase. To ensure sponsorship programs are flawlessly executed, we recommend creating an activation plan for each sponsor that clearly states the action steps, who is responsible for what and the deadline date for completion of individual tasks.
As equally important to using a sales process is the talent to adapt to unexpected situations, various work styles, and unique personalities. The ability to change course is a skill developed through experience, so when seas are stormy stay the course and remember “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
About the author: Paula Beadle is the president of Caravel Marketing. She is a results driven trailblazer with a proven record of creating order out of chaos. By developing and managing innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue, and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards, Paula has helped numerous organizations discover and achieve their goals.