How to Get Sponsors Despite your Geography!
This week’s post is all about geography! No, not the study of mountains and rivers, but the problem of geography in sponsorship sales. This post will be helpful to those who sell sponsorship in geographies outside of their head office location. I’ve done it personally and I have clients who do it and I can tell you, it’s absolutely possible!
Save Your Sponsorship Proposal
And while you’re at it, save your one-pagers! Just like selling sponsorship to someone up the road, you have to get to know your prospects. Sure, you can’t invite your sponsorship prospects for coffee next week, but you can absolutely reach out to them on LinkedIn or by email to set up a mini discovery call.
To be honest, sending someone an email and asking them out for coffee is a bit premature anyway. Most sponsors want to connect by phone to test the water, which works perfectly for national and international prospects.
National Event Sponsorship Challenges
I hear it all the time! “We run an event/conference etc. that changes locations every year.” My response? Good! This way you don’t exhaust your local sponsors!
My question is always: who is your audience and who are your attendees? If they all travel to your sponsorship event or conference, then your prospects aren’t geography-specific anyway! If all of your sponsors and attendees travel to your chosen location, then you don’t really have a problem of geography. Go to where your sponsors are located, and if those sponsors are prepared to travel to meet your guests, they have the same problems of geography as you do and won’t mind more phone meetings than usual.
Focus on a Business Case and not a Sponsorship Package
When I work on these types of clients, I put together a simple business case. Nowhere in this case document is how much money we are charging, sponsorship levels or exhibiting opportunities. What we focus on instead is the following:
- Where the audience is coming from
- Who they are
- What they earn
- Why they are important
- What they buy
Once this is done, you will know exactly who to talk to and who to sell to and if you can prove you have a captive audience and that you are offering good value, you may never have to meet your sponsors in person!
National Corporate Partnerships Mean You are Going to Have to Travel!
…but not as much as you think.
I sold a sizeable sponsorship package to a company in Australia for a US-based event while living in Canada. How many times did I go to Australia? Zero. I had to take calls in the middle of the night to accommodate the time difference, but that’s it!
How many times did I send my prospect a sponsorship proposal? Zero. I was able to do the research, go in cold, negotiate the deal and close it without having to send them a proposal or meet them in person. I knew I wouldn’t have to based on my experience and I never apologised for the geography – I accepted it as a reality and because of that, so did my sponsor.
Not every prospect is going to be like this, so here’s what I recommend:
Use Your Trips to Create Deadlines
When you tell a sponsorship prospect that you are in town for three days and you want to meet with them to discuss next steps, something magical happens. Those prospects who aren’t serious vanish and those who are step up to the plate. They know why you are coming to town, they know you only have a small window and they know you have prioritised them so they are either flattered or afraid that you will try to close the deal when you meet.
It also makes you categorise your sponsorship prospects into A,B and C list. Start with the A-listers and book your meetings. If none of the A-listers want to meet, then the trip isn’t worth it and you don’t really have a sponsorship pipeline anyway.
When I travel, I stack meetings. Start with an early morning breakfast meeting (for A-listers only), give every meeting outside of meals one hour only and stick to it, try to make your sponsors come to you (which is much easier if you set up camp at a nice café to entice them) and give yourself no more than 30 minutes between meetings. You will feel awful at the end of the trip but check this out!
Over the course of three days, you can accomplish a lot!
- Two breakfast meetings
- Three lunch meetings
- Three dinner meetings
- One networking event
- 15 coffee meetings
- One business breakfast
Total number of prospects over those three days? 35! And that isn’t including the networking event!
Which reminds me. I never plan to travel for meetings unless there is a networking event to use as an anchor. This lets me maximise my time spent in a location. Once I have my anchor, I make sure I plan a business breakfast with a local contact while I’m there.
The truth is, national and international sponsorship sales don’t require a sponsorship package any more than local sponsorship does. At some point, of course, you will likely want to put together a custom sponsorship proposal.
Geography isn’t a good reason to ignore corporate sponsorship best practices, which means you shouldn’t lead with a sponsorship package, a one-pager or a giant e-mail packed with your mission and vision statement hoping to make the sale without ever having to meet.
Instead, do your research, connect with people by phone and, if possible, plan a trip to your target locale, at least once before your prospects make their budget decisions. If you plan those trips well, you can meet more prospects in three days than many meet in three months! I know it works because I’ve done it and I have clients who do it.
What techniques have worked for you to overcome the problem of geography? Leave your strategies in the comments below!
Originally published by the good folks at charityinfo.ca
Chris Baylis is a corporate sponsorship and cause marketing expert. Chris has managed the entire spectrum of the sponsorship process, raising millions of dollars for charities, associations and not for profits and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+