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How a Sponsorship Fulfillment Report Saved my Life

Full disclosure: a fulfillment report didn’t actually save my life! It did, however, save me from a horribly embarrassing situation, saved a sponsorship relationship and saved me a lot of pain.

Negotiating the Custom Sponsorship Proposal

Let me set the stage here: I was selling sponsorship for an event…a big event. Our target audience was a group of professionals who had a lot of money and who had very specific needs to be able to participate in their profession. In other words, they had a lot of money and they had to spend a lot of that money to do their job. From a sponsorship valuation standpoint, this opportunity was an absolute gold mine!

I negotiated a sponsorship package with a new company looking to increase their professional services business and our audience was their target audience. Excellent! We went through all of the assets, picked out the ones that made sense to them, and I created a custom sponsorship proposal based on that feedback.

Sponsorship Fact: Good Fulfillment Starts with Good Activation

The day of the event came and we were sold out! All of our sponsor logos were where I said they would be, we said all of their names right, there was great foot traffic to the exhibit room and the weather was stellar. My photographer had my list of sponsorship assets to photograph and he was off taking pictures while I worked the room and made sure everyone met who they wanted to meet. The day went off beautifully!

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Sponsorship Fulfillment and Renewal

I proudly booked meetings with all of my sponsors to get their feedback, deliver my fulfillment report and ask them for their support next year. Every meeting went perfectly and all of my sponsors were coming back, some of whom were moving up in their investment.

And then it happened. The new sponsor declined my meeting. I asked him why and he said “because you didn’t deliver, your event was a failure and you only had a handful of attendees.”

I was floored.

I probed a bit deeper and he told me that his sales rep, the only one to attend the event, came back with only five ballots and told him that there were only twenty people in attendance. As it turns out, my sponsor only ever cared about getting ballots, which were basically sales meeting requests. Branding, speaking and booths were all for one reason and one reason only: ballots. Clearly I missed this in discovery (shame on me!) but still, something was wrong. I knew we had a sellout event and their perceived lack of success was a complete shock. They would not be coming back next year.

How a Fulfillment Report Saved my Life

As I looked through the fulfillment report something stood out. There were reams and reams of pictures of their booth surrounded by hundreds of event attendees! There, seated behind the booth with his head down was their sales rep…texting. Every picture revealed the same thing, a sales rep hiding behind their booth on his phone.

Quick note here: when you order a booth for your next event, ask them not to supply chairs! Your sales staff needs to engage the crowd to get traffic. People rarely come to a booth, interrupt the sales reps and ask them about their products. In fact, the next time you are at a conference, watch how many sales reps are sitting behind their booths…it will drive you nuts now that I’ve pointed it out!

So what did I do? Well, what could I do! I sent my contact the  fulfillment report and directed his attention to the hundreds and hundreds of people being ignore by his sales rep. Not just people, but his target audience, his most important customers, there ready to be sold to…and ignored.

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The Resurrected Sponsor

In the end, I got my meeting with the sponsor. He apologised for his reaction and then we talked about how we could do things differently now that I know he only wants ballots and not branding.

What did we do? The next year, he sent no sales staff and had no booth. Instead, we put his ballot box at registration and with the money he saved not sending a sales rep he spent on a free iPad. Everyone who filled out a ballot was entered into a draw. I instructed my staff to direct everyone to fill out a ballot as part of their registration…and it worked!

People love free stuff! The sponsor spending money on activation instead of a booth that nobody wanted to visit meant that we had to order a second ballot box halfway through the event because it was overflowing with ballots.

If you aren’t making fulfillment reports and booking follow-up meetings, not only are you missing an opportunity to thank your sponsors, you are actually costing your organization money.


Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.

After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.

Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.

Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn