Sell Solutions, Not Sponsorships. I saw this tagline while reading an online IEG article the other day and it really struck a chord. Too often we see teams/properties selling their attributes (team record, attendance figures, demographics, media power) when in reality, they need to be selling their power to provide solutions.
It's human nature to be great at selling yourself. But how often do you listen? How often do you seek out the needs and objectives of a potential client? "Partnership Activation" was created because in today's world, corporate-sports relationships are so much more than just "sponsorships". Sports partnerships are driven by a marriage between two (2) brands, each of whom have a set of needs and objectives that need to be satisfied through working relationships. They need to be treated in the same mindset as personal relationships - each party must understand each others goals from the beginning (and maintain an understanding of these objectives throughout the relationship to continuously demonstrate value (as these objectives may change over time)).
But are YOU a Sponsorship Seller or a Solutions Provider? Start by asking yourself a few of these questions:
- Are your proposals client focused or property focused?
- Are the first ten (10) pages of your proposals all about your team/organization's brand? Does the name of the client that you are pitching appear on Slide 1 of the proposal and then not again until Slide 7?
- Do you state the client's needs and objectives directly at the front of the proposal and cater all information contained within around these objectives?
- Have you considered how a potential client reviews your proposals? Is your proposal a document that is engaging, with direct ties to their brand? Or is it a data dump of information that strictly features stale, traditional assets? If you were the client reading the proposal, would you flip directly to the back page to see the asking price?
- Have you considered what differentiates your proposal from the rest of the pack? If there are no unique elements, you are not doing yourself justice. Outshine others with your ideas.
- Do you really KNOW and UNDERSTAND the companies that you are pitching to?
- Sometimes it is hard to understand corporate objectives before heading into a sales pitch, but have you tried looking at a company's annual reports? (You can usually find these online, stating the company's outlook and objectives for the given year)
- Have you looked at the client's website to gain a complete understanding of their services and offerings?
- Have you investigated what other sports/entertainment partnerships the company has undertaken?
- If you are pitching high-end brands, have you considered that they are probably not interested in your general, overall fanbase? In this case, do you seek to understand exactly which demo they are targeting (ages, income, etc.) and how this aligns with certain segments of your fanbase?
- Instead of just pitching tickets and hospitality, have you asked your clients whether a large scale (hosting 20+ persons) or more intimate scale would be more impactful?
- Are you asking all the right questions? Are you asking your clients whether you are satisfying all of their objectives?
- Have you found an effective way to benchmark your offerings against others in the market/industry?
- How often do you ask your current partners if their objectives have changed, or if there is more that you can do to meet their objectives?