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Z. Top Five Sponsorship Sales Mistakes


When I coached triathletes, cyclists, runners or what have you I always had a mantra in my head- Coach from the positive not the negative. What I meant from this was to correct, instruct and lead the athlete into what I wanted them to do right and not what they were doing wrong. I extended that mantra into other areas of my life including fatherhood and the musings here in my Z site writings. But I’m going to go the opposite way to try and help those individuals out there who are on the hunt for sports sponsorship partners. In doing this I’m going to have to focus on the negative as much as it pains me. Since I’ve sat on every side of sports sponsorship from single event thousand-dollar packages to multiyear million-dollar programs I believe I can speak with some authority. So here goes:

Z Top Five Sports Sponsorship Sales Mistakes:

5. Not finding the right person- Before you pitch a company it is crucial to find the decision maker and this can be harder than it seems. It might require cross checking a number of resources like google, LinkedIn or other business intelligence platforms (SportBusiness) so you know who makes the decisions on partnerships. If you can’t find the correct person(s) than it’s time to start peeling the onion. Maybe you can’t find the marketing/sponsorship person but can find a communications person. You can ask them for a referral BUT under no circumstances should you try to sell them. You remain consistent and persistent in requesting a referral to the right person.

4. Not doing research or enough research- Finding out exactly where a brand is spending already is crucial so you know how far down the rabbit hole to go with them. You might find they are already sponsoring a competing team or event. But, if you find they aren’t and get a meeting then there are vital questions to ask them: What are their objectives? What are their challenges? What does success look like? What budget do they have set aside for sponsorship? What are their budget cycles? What What’s worked in the past, what hasn’t and WHY? When would they make a decision? If you can get these questions answered, then you are going to have a ton of material to help build a package that works for them. Ideally, you’ll be able to find solutions to their challenges and deliver on them. AND listen, you have to listen more and speak less. Just keep listening to whatever the contact will tell you. You want to listen first before you try to sell.

3. Having preset packages- This goes hand in hand with number four since you might pitch a package to them which doesn’t work for their objectives or is not in the budget they want to spend. And please, for the love of god, if you do have packages don’t name them Gold, Silver, Bronze because it is extremely overdone and lacks creativity. If you do this, I will find you and I will revoke your sponsorship sales credentials for global earth.

2. Not following up- If you are going to be successful in sales then persistence reigns. You can’t fire and forget or be intimidated about calling back. This is why finding out ahead of time about timelines for decision making is so important. You can remain persistent every 4-5 days and acknowledge to your contact that they mentioned being able to make a decision by so and so date. One tactic you can also use is just send the contract. This way they have everything they need to sign off on and sure it might not work but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

1. Learning how to negotiate- This can take years and countless deals and there are many tactics to negotiation. There are also some awesome seminars, webinars and courses out there which teach really useful tactics. A few I’ve found which work are: Giving a choice between options. Reiterating the benefits and how they deliver on their challenges. Pricing the options so you steer them to the option you really want them to choose. Don’t be in a hurry.

While there are many more tips and techniques out there, I felt I wanted to highlight the top five. Maybe because I’m in the midst of celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary and the number five is in my head. Either way, I hope these are of some help and you have a few good takeaways. I also promise that I'll keep the writings coming from the positive for the time being. And remember, it’s not a No it’s just a No right now.


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