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Leading Your Sponsorship Sales Efforts in Times of Uncertainty

By Paula Beadle

At Caravel Marketing we have implemented several key strategies to support our event clients, our brand partners, and the broader sponsorship community. We are using the time available to develop future revenue plans to assist in the inevitable recovery. We are coaching brands, upping our outreach efforts, and maintaining our focus on selling.

Sponsorship sales is hard even during the best of times. During times of crisis it may feel like an impossible mission and a colossal waste of time, but the actions we take now will determine the depth of recovery. Sales leaders undoubtedly are using this time to ramp-up their efforts, get back to basics, cultivate relationships, and shore-up their sales plan.

These are steps we are recommending to leaders:

Conduct a scenario planning exercise.  Play out all the scenarios that may be worrying you and think about how you will respond. Once you are comfortable with the action steps you will take for all various circumstances you can imagine, allow yourself to put the worry aside because now you have a plan. We allow ourselves to travel to the “dark side” for short periods of time, determine what action we would take and then we focus on controlling what we can control – our thoughts and actions. We try to react only to what we actually know, not what could happen. Mark Twain once said, “I’ve worried about a lot of things in my life, and some of them have actually happened”.

Take a leadership role.  Help the people around you who may be stuck, overcome with worry, unfocused, unsure. One of our clients gave advice to one of her team members who confided she was struggling with feeling motivated.  She said take the afternoon, have a nap, disconnect and come back strong tomorrow. Give people the space they need to clear their minds and then give them specific, meaningful work that needs to be accomplished. Give the team a problem to solve, an idea to develop or a specific project to complete. Bring people out of their silo’s and discuss how to move forward together.

Draw on your experience during other times of crisis in your career, pay attention to industry leaders, and listen carefully to your colleagues. Someone recently reminded me that no one gets behind a pessimist so show your optimism as long as it’s authentic. If you are struggling – take a nap, disconnect and come back strong tomorrow.

Plan for the future. Now is a good time to return back to basics. Perhaps it’s the right time to revisit your asset inventory, evaluate your pricing methodology, create new materials, review your sales process and ways you can improve the experience for brands. Examine how sponsorship is currently supported in your organization and use this time to strengthen the awareness, understanding and importance. Use this time to involve your colleagues in discussions about the future. Here are suggestions on how to get started made Michael Kithcart and Beth Knox in their presentation at the Sponsorship Mastery Summit.

    1. Have leadership show support
    2. Demonstrate sponsorship’s role in company goals
    3. Hold sponsorship town hall meeting
    4. Conduct company brainstorm session
    5. Share top level goals and progress
    6. Ask for help to gain connections – departments, board
    7. Create a sponsorship task force
    8. Define philanthropic and sponsorship
    9. Start a sponsorship newsletter


Take Action. Every day take meaningful action that helps move your revenue efforts forward. It’s understandable that people have a tendency to retreat in difficult times. Sponsorship salespeople want to feel successful, so it’s easy to gravitate towards work that gives us a sense of accomplishment, although it may not be the “right” work. A few of the right action steps to be taking now include:

    1. Create a prospect list of companies that will likely fuel their marketing efforts in the recovery period. Include companies that are also benefiting during this time who will likely support the recovery (a few were standing on the stage with President Trump this week).
    2. Set a daily outreach goal to current and prospective sponsors.
    3. Evaluate the assets you have available to support sponsors business needs right now.
    4. Develop proposal templates so you are ready to customize when the opportunity arises.
    5. Schedule video conference calls.
    6. Do some research on prospects and current sponsors and create 5 key“I know statements” for each.


It’s worth stressing again, being proactive and instilling best practices now will impact the type of recovery your organization has in the future. Never underestimate the power of small, consistent actions. It’s how you got to where you were before the crisis hit.

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.