Give yourself plenty of Time –part A: Sponsorship can take 4-6 months to connect with the most appropriate person, negotiate a partnership, and sign a contract. The larger the sponsorship deal the longer it can take to close. Part B: This is also why it’s a good idea to pursue more than one sponsor at a time. Work smarter not harder!
I talked to a gentleman today who mentioned he has been in sponsorship sales for about 6 years. He said up until about 10 months ago, he has never had any trouble selling his sponsorship opportunities to interested sponsors, and that he has never seen it as hard as it is today to connect and sign with a sponsor. I don’t think that’s a unique story; which makes part B of our tip today even more important.
We learn a lot of lessons over the years; one lesson many individuals learn with experience is to set up clear accountability and a clear set of instructions in order to see a project implemented (or a partnership activated) devoid of flaws – a good lesson, and not an uncommon one either. Another lesson I’ve come to determine is invaluable is: always have a plan B. Let’s face it, sometimes when planning out a partnership; it can be easy to put all of our eggs in one basket – especially if things appear to be lining up or this sponsor has had a long time commitment. You can know in your own mind why the timing is perfect and it’s just a matter of presenting your thoughts to a sponsor that they will be just as excited about jumping on board. We have a client using SponsorPark who has a MAJOR annual event, one that’s really known to go hand in hand with their Presenting sponsor – if it were presented by any other sponsor I think people would wonder if it were the same event! But after chatting with my contact he said, “ya know, I sweat it out every year just hoping that small percent chance that they decide not to resign with us isn’t going to be this year.” Wow. So far that hasn’t happened to them; but every once in a while that sponsor just don’t see the opportunity the way you do. At best you receive a “thanks but no thanks, this isn’t a good fit for us at this time,” in the mail, and you wonder where the heck you went wrong.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy persistence – it’s possible you can clear up a misunderstanding or give just enough push to send them over the edge and into a full partnership, but keep yourself from having an anxiety attack and pursue multiple options at once. There’s no reason to be sneaky or conniving about it, upfront honesty without being manipulative and arrogant is a good thing. You ought to strive for a way to communicate a sense of urgency by letting them know they aren’t the only one being pitched, but still imply that you believe them to be a great fit – possibly your preference. This way, if a sponsor comes back at the end of the connection process (and I say process, because even connection doesn’t happen overnight) one of your potential sponsors decides not to move forward; you can have another sponsor (or two) who you’ve already started the process with as well. Your chances go up to get a sponsor in line in time for some effective activation. The worst that can happen is that you put all your eggs in one basket, and at the last minute they back out – leaving you no time to start the process over again AND give a new sponsor time to implement effective activation of a partnership. You then resort to lowering the price (and value) of the partnership.
Now for the best case scenario – multiple sponsors are interested; now you have the ability to get competitive due to increased interest in the opportunity which makes it more valuable – play that card carefully. Honest, but upfront about the competitive and valuable partnership you have to offer. Sponsorship sales representative’s mouths water to be in this boat!
So, get wise about connecting with sponsors – have a plan B, and pursue multiple sponsors at one time; this gives you plenty of time to work with. It maximizes your time, and we all know that these days optimizing your time investments are extremely important.