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Sponsorship Connection Tip #10 - Ask Your Sponsor What They Want Out of the Partnership

by Emily Taylor
22 02 2010

Once interest has been established and an initial meeting set, ask your sponsor what they want. At this point you have done enough research to know the basics about what they might consider a goal of the partnership, but stay on top of the ever-changing corporate world. Who knows, they might come up with even better ideas than you initially considered.

Mutually beneficial relationship.  You can put the stress on whichever word you want in that sentence and it’s an appropriate reminder for how sponsorship is supposed to work.  As a property rights’ holder, make it your motto – it keeps you from underselling yourself and from taking advantage of a sponsor.  It promotes long lasting partners and is an all around great perception to maintain about sponsorship in general. 

Remember the movie starring Mel Gibson: What Women Want?  Mel finds himself in the middle of a freak accident involving a wax kit, pantyhose, and a hairdryer; after which he’s able to hear a woman’s thoughts.  He finds it fascinating as well as frightening, and uses it to further his career and generally get him what he wants.  Eventually the surprising insights and transparency moves him to a place where he’s able to empathize with the hearts of women, and he ends up with much better relationships as a result.  Why? – Because he took the time to listen and perceive what women were thinking, what they wanted; beyond the petty self serving surface level stuff.  When you as a sponsorship rights’ holder take the time to peel back the onion and uncover the true goals and objectives of your partner, you become much more valuable and the partnership becomes mutually beneficial. 

Reality is that we live in a world that’s rather self seeking.  In business, people have on their best defense and offense when they go into meetings.  The question is; “how can I make sure I get what I want out of this deal?”  Not that I’m knocking a proactive approach to ensure a deal is well made – but I ask this; how would you feel if you sat down in a meeting with a potential partner, and the first words you heard them say were: “I think we both have reasons to be excited about where this partnership could take us; but just to make sure we’re on the same page, tell me, what is it you would like to see happen in order for this to be beneficial for you?”  Then how would you feel if they sat quietly and listened, taking careful notes, responded appropriately and seriously considered your perspective before they transitioned over to themselves?  Personally, I would breathe a sigh of relief, I’d feel more invited to be creative because I believe they genuinely have an interest in hearing my ideas, I would feel inclined to loyalty (even just for the relief of a sincere partner), and I would be inclined to trust their interest in keeping their side of a deal – and caring about valuable activation.  I would feel like I was being pursued for a partnership and not being pitched for my money.  When you prepare yourself to go into initial meetings, ground setting meetings; with the purpose of moderating a conversation and not verbally dominating; and when you’re quick to listen and slow to speak, you break down walls of suspicion, and self-seeking behaviors. 

You know the saying: two heads are better than one?  It’s true, and hardly anyone will refute it.  So the application is that no matter what kind of great ideas you might have or expect your partner to have regarding activation strategies, the best thing you can do is make it a dual effort.  If you simply listen and do not hear, or worse – ignore the wants of a sponsor, you might as well not have listened at all.  And when you invite a manageable number of individuals into a whiteboard session where you’re brainstorming how to best strategize your efforts, you’re bound to stumble onto something truly brilliant.

So – this is the last of our top 10 sponsorship connection tips!  I hope you thoroughly enjoyed them – we welcome your feedback, and your personal tips.  What has worked for you?  What connection effort do you know of that should be highlighted for those in the sponsorship community?


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