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How to Convince Your Boss to Change Their Sponsorship Strategy 

by | July 25, 2023

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Your boss wears a lot of hats, and managing your company’s sponsorships is one of them. Your business has sought a solid sponsorship partner for so long, but you’ve always come up short because your boss uses outdated or incorrect strategies. How can you gently nudge them toward a change?

Here’s how to convince your boss to change their sponsorship strategy:

  • Know your sponsorship stuff
  • Learn your boss’s sponsorship goals 
  • Come up with suggestions
  • Pick the right time to talk
  • Choose your language gently
  • Pitch your plan
  • Be flexible
  • Check in with your boss

Although you must handle it gingerly, you can inspire your boss to revise how your company approaches sponsorship so you can begin fostering more opportunities. This guide will take you through all the steps so you can get started.

Here’s How to Convince Your Boss to Try a New Sponsorship Strategy

Know Your Sponsorship Stuff

First things first. You can’t possibly assist your boss in achieving their sponsorship goals without thoroughly understanding sponsorship yourself. 

Perhaps you have joined us in the Sponsorship Accelerator, or worked with me one-on-one. I’ve had many clients in frustrating work situations where sponsorship deals have failed left and right. They’re eager to change their company’s fortunes.

In other scenarios, I’ve had clients who have had sponsorship responsibilities thrust upon them, being suddenly appointed the head of sponsorship for their company or organization. They joined my program because they were eager to learn about sponsorship fast so they could excel. 

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No matter what kind of sponsorship background you come from, you can learn what’s required to earn five or six-figure sponsorship, even seven figures. 

Since your boss hasn’t hit homeruns with sponsorship lately, that responsibility falls squarely on you. 

Learn Your Boss’s Sponsorship Goals

You know the ins and outs of sponsorship, so you’re aware that a discovery session is a must to understand a prospect’s challenges, plans, and goals. 

Although I wouldn’t officially call it a discovery session, you need to learn your boss’s sponsorship goals in a similar fashion.

Don’t schedule a meeting to do this. Rather, gather the information slowly across conversations. It very well could take you several weeks or longer to learn what you need to know, and that’s fine. Don’t rush the process. 

Wait for your boss to begin talking about sponsorship, then ask a few questions. You’re interested in learning what they’ve already done, what’s worked so far, and where they keep getting tripped up. You also want to discover their sponsorship goals. 

This isn’t an interrogation, so don’t pepper your boss with questions. Insert your questions naturally into the conversation and know when to let matters rest. 

As you begin acquiring information, compile it into a document. This is for your own internal use, so it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be organized to help you make sense of the information.

Maybe you create a simple spreadsheet or a blank document. Dedicate one section to your boss’s (and by extension, your company’s) sponsorship challenges, another section for what they’ve tried, and a third column or section for sponsorship goals. 

Come Up With Actionable Suggestions and a Plan

Now you can treat this like the follow-up of a discovery session. You’d go to your office after your sponsor meeting, look at all the information you have on the prospect, and begin brainstorming assets and activations. 

Do the same thing based on what you know about your boss’s sponsorship challenges and goals. What have they missed so far? What have they gotten right and can afford to double down on?

Create a list of as many activations and assets as you think can help your company achieve its sponsorship objectives. Next, value everything.

Admittedly, valuing assets and activations before speaking to your boss is putting the cart before the horse. However, most bosses and managers speak the language of money. 

If you can showcase how valuable an asset or activation is monetarily, you might convince your boss to give it a try. 

It helps if you know your company’s sponsorship budget or at least have a good idea. If you don’t have this information, perhaps you can get it from someone in the finance department or your boss. Even an estimate is helpful. 

Pick the Right Time to Talk

Have you ever had to go to your boss about any big matters before? If you haven’t, let me tell you that timing matters tremendously. 

You could have the best idea in the world, but if your boss is stressed out, in a grumpy mood, busy, or otherwise preoccupied, your pitch will not have the full impact. As a result, they could pass on what’s a really great idea simply because the timing isn’t right.

You need your boss’s undivided attention, or as close to undivided as you can get, anyway. I recommend requesting a meeting to ensure you can speak for 20 or 30 minutes uninterrupted.

Don’t make it seem too formal, as your boss could assume you’re changing jobs or resigning. You just want a casual sit-down, one on one, where you two can talk. 

When organizing the meeting, you have to bend to your boss’s schedule and not the other way around. You’re asking for something from them, after all, and they’re the boss. However, you can pitch a few times you know you have available but be flexible. 

Choose Your Language Gently

So how in the world do you even begin this conversation? Easy does it.

Just as your timing was important in getting your boss to listen to reason, you have to choose your verbiage especially cautiously.

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You can start with a question if that will make things easier. Ask your boss how your company’s most recent prospective sponsorship deal is going. You probably know very well that it’s in the can but pretend you don’t. Humor your boss. 

Your boss very well may embellish or straight-out lie, telling you that the deal is going well even if you know the contrary is true. You can still work with that, but it’s best if they admit that they’re having a hard time.

Validate your boss’s concerns and the difficulty of their sponsorship struggles without being patronizing. Never make them seem like they’re wrong or doing something incorrectly, even if you know they are.

Offending your boss will lead to an abrupt end to the meeting before you ever get to present your sponsorship solutions. More so, they won’t want to hear your suggestions again for a while, and you could even put your job security on the line.

Pitch Your Plan

By this point in the meeting, you’ve set up the framework to discuss your sponsorship plan. You should have already addressed your company’s current sponsorship challenges, and perhaps your boss has even confided in you what they’ve tried and whether it’s worked.

Talk about your qualifications before you begin your pitch. Mention how you’ve been independently learning about sponsorship because you want your company to succeed. However, do not try to position yourself as a know-it-all, as nobody likes those.

Echo your boss’s words back to them as you repeat your company’s sponsorship challenges and what you’ve attempted. 

Now it’s time to pitch.

This isn’t an elevator pitch, as you have longer than 30 seconds. However, you don’t want to ramble on for 20 minutes, as your boss has important places to be and things to do.

As you pitch your sponsorship solution, focus on the benefits for your company. Mention how a sponsorship deal can lead to more brand awareness, lead generation, conversions, and sales.

Present the assets and activations you’ve come up with, including their value, to drive the point home. You shouldn’t have to sell your assets too hard; the valuation does that for you.

When you finish your pitch, take a breath, and allow your boss to speak. Hopefully, they’re interested in what you pitched and want to go forward with it. 

However, there’s always the possibility that your boss might not want to hear what you have to say.

I’ll talk about how to handle that a little later. 

Offer to Help

After pitching your sponsorship plan, offer to get involved. Again, watch out not to be a know-it-all, but mention that your sponsorship knowledge makes you a valuable asset in revising your company’s sponsorship processes. Of course, you don’t have to use that exact verbiage.

Your boss may decide to let you handle the bulk of the sponsorship responsibilities, they may want to work with you, or they might decide they have another department take care of it.

Be Flexible

Can it be frustrating to do all the work to spearhead your company’s sponsorship plans and yet not be involved in the final outcome? Absolutely, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

You have to think about it like this – you wanted your boss to change their sponsorship strategy, and you’ve convinced them to do that. At the end of the day, does it matter who did what so much as that it gets done correctly?

I know it looks good on your resume to add sponsorship responsibilities, and maybe you’re hoping that leading the sponsorship division at your office will lead to a raise or promotion. However, you have to think of those things as nice bonuses. 

If they happen, great! If not, at least your company is approaching sponsorship correctly now. 

Check in With Your Boss, But Don’t Be Overbearing 

Whether you have direct involvement with your company’s sponsorship or not from this point forward, there’s nothing wrong with asking your boss how it’s going from time to time. You have a vested interest in your company’s sponsorship endeavors, after all.

However, as it says above, don’t be overbearing. Maybe you check in once a month if you’re not directly involved. That’s not so often that you risk annoying your boss, but it’s not so seldom that you feel like you’re in the dark. 

If you’re involved in the new sponsorship department at your workplace, you must liaison with your boss at least weekly about sponsorship plans so you don’t miss any new developments. 

What If My Boss Turns Me Down? 

Okay, so what if your boss says no? It can happen. 

Your boss could be disinterested in your sponsorship proposal for a million different reasons. Perhaps there’s no room in the budget. 

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Your boss could legitimately believe they’re already doing sponsorship correctly and have no room to improve. They also might not like your suggestions. 

Depending on why they said no, you have some options. For example, if your boss wants to work on sponsorship but didn’t love your suggestions, the two of you can work together to come up with assets and activations they like better.

However, your hands are tied if there’s no room in the budget or your boss thinks they’re the de-facto sponsorship authority. If you try to change your boss’s mind too much, you will rub them the wrong way, which could put your job on the line.

In this scenario, you can hope that your boss eventually listens to reason, if not from you, then from someone else in the company. Otherwise, if your boss continues to flub valuable sponsorship opportunities, you might decide to seek another job. 

Now It’s Your Turn 

Your boss oversees sponsorship for your company and doesn’t do it correctly, which can drive you up a wall. However, there’s a fine art to approaching them about changing their ways. You need a lot of great data, information about their goals and challenges, and valued assets and activation ideas.

Your boss can still turn you down even if you do everything right. They could also agree to use your sponsorship ideas but exclude you from the proceedings. These things happen, and it’s important not to let your ego get in the way. 

That will also make it 10 times easier to talk to your boss and collaborate on future projects.