It doesn’t matter so much whether you’ve earned $1,000 in sponsorship dollars or $10 million, you’ve heard an objection before. I know I have, and if you’re reading this, then maybe those objections are becoming too insurmountable.
Today’s post is based on a free training I did in my private Facebook Group. If you’re not already a member, I would really recommend requesting to join today. I’m always offering great insights into the sponsorship process in that group.
In this post, I want to go over the three objections that are the most common for sponsors to offer. I’ll delve into what the sponsor is really saying and how to overcome the objection.
Let’s get started!
These Are the Three Most Common Objections in Sponsorship
A great friend of mine named Greg Hickman of AltAgency once told me that sales is like walking down a hallway with a bunch of doors. Behind each door is a bomb.
You open the door by asking the right questions. Then, once you get into the door, you have to diffuse the bomb.
If you don’t, the bomb will detonate, and your sponsorship deal will usually be dead in the water.
The moment you share pricing info with a prospect, every objection that the prospect might have had and was hiding from you will now come out.
They’ll say something like, “let me think about it,” or “can you give me a few days to move around money,” or even “I just need to talk to so and so.”
Through my extensive sponsorship experience, I’ve identified three such bombs that can explode in your face as you seek sponsorship. Let’s go over them now.
Lack of Audience Data
I can never stress enough just how critically important audience data is to your sponsorship program, but I always try, nevertheless.
Let me put it to you this way. If your sponsorship program is a living being, your audience data is the heart.
Once the heart is gone, your sponsorship program is lifeless. If the heart is too small or too weak, again, your sponsorship program dies.
I’m not trying to sound dramatic, but rather, I want to hammer home just how crucial audience data truly is.
And why is it so important?
Sponsors want to see highly detailed audience data featuring niched groups because the sponsor company needs to determine which of those niched groups matches their target audience.
When you tell your prospects that half your audience is a group of 20-somethings, you’re not giving them anything of value.
You want to be able to say to your prospects something like, “My property is a conference with 375 event professionals. Of that group, 30 percent are VPs and C-suite, 50 percent are mid-level professionals, and 20 percent are consultants.
Which of these audience segments appeals to you the most?”
How to Overcome the Objection
The next time you meet with a prospect, you need to present them with the most clear-cut audience data you’ve ever shown any potential sponsor.
I’m talking at least 25 data points but ideally more than that. Based on those data points, you should have no trouble identifying three niches that you can make into customer avatars.
An avatar is a characterization based on your audience niches. For example, if many of your customers struggle with a lack of time but too much to do, then one of your avatars could be Busy Bobby.
Busy Bobby has many of the traits that you identified through your audience data. He doesn’t actually exist but is instead an amalgamation of your audience segments. He represents them.
It’s a lot easier to sell to one Busy Bobby than it is 500 people in an audience segment, don’t you think? That’s why I recommend making customer avatars.
What if you’re starting from scratch and you don’t have any audience data? Then you’ll have to survey your audience.
This post will tell you how to get started surveying your audience, what goes into the survey, how to send it, how to inspire people to take the survey, and making sense of the data.
It’s good to get into the habit of surveying your audience now, because six months from now, you should turn around and do it again.
By that point, you’ll have gained some new customers and lost some others, and so you need to know who is in your audience.
Then you’ll continue surveying your audience about every six month to stay current on what their needs, interests, and pain points are.
Lack of Good Activations
If you’re very new to sponsorship, you might be wondering, what is an activation?
Activation is the antidote to gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship tiers.
In other words, activation is a customized experiential marketing opportunity that fulfills one need of your audience and one need of your sponsor simultaneously.
It’s okay if you’ve used the gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship tiers in the past. A lot of first-time and second-time sponsorship seekers do.
Now that you’ve identified your error, you need to proceed past it so you can stop opening doors and being faced with bombs.
By the way, it doesn’t matter if you change the names of the tiers to first, second, third, or executive, mid, junior, or even blue, yellow, and purple.
The name is not what’s important. The rigidity of the concept that is tiered sponsorship is what matters.
When you present a sponsorship prospect with gold, silver, and bronze tiered assets and activations, you’re telling them that they have to buy A, B, C, D, and E because it’s all part of a package deal even if the sponsor only wants B.
They know that A, C, D, and E don’t solve their problems, but B will. Since they can’t just buy B, the sponsor has to pony up a good amount of money to get B and everything else. Or they can just forget about working with you at all.
How to Overcome the Objection
The best way to overcome the objections that will naturally come with poor activations is to start thinking of better ones.
I do recommend going with cool activations whenever you can. They make your event more memorable and usually generate better outcomes for the sponsor.
More than focusing on your activations being cool though, focus on the objectives they meet.
For example, if my audience of business executives wanted high-quality coffee for an upcoming expo, then an activation idea that I would present to a sponsor (who would be involved in coffee in some way, shape, or form) is a coffee-tasting station with samples of all their coffee flavors available.
I know my audience is going to love that because they’re interested in expanding their coffee horizons.
My sponsor benefits because they’re giving away free samples. Once my audience tastes the sponsor’s coffee, they could become hooked and begin buying the coffee.
Boom, the sponsor gets customers, so they’re happy.
That’s one activation example of many. It’s not overly flashy, but it’s effective, especially if my sponsor’s need is to grow their audience.
Now, your sponsor’s needs and your audience’s needs will vary, and you must come up with activations that work according to those needs. That example was just to show you what an activation can be.
It’s much more than a logo. A logo isn’t fulfilling anyone’s needs. That’s not to say that logos have no place in sponsorship, but they have an incredibly small place. Don’t spend more than five minutes on logos.
A logo is worth a few hundred bucks at most. An activation idea like the coffee station could be valued at several thousand dollars.
Overpricing or Not Knowing Your Value
Every sponsorship seeker wants the max value from a sponsor.
What many sponsorship seekers don’t realize is that it takes offering high-value assets and activations to a sponsor to earn those kinds of five-figure, six-figure, and even seven-figure deals.
Assets are like the other side of the coin of activations. They’re something you also sell to a sponsor and can be either tangible or intangible.
Logos are technically an asset, as are speaking opportunities, naming rights, social media posts, VIP experiences, tournaments, and galas.
Your audience is an asset and arguably your biggest asset.
Based on the value of what you bring to the table, your sponsorship opportunity is worth so much. You can’t just say that you intrinsically know this value because you don’t. You have to calculate it.
In other words, you have to valuate it.
How to Overcome the Objection
The valuation process is how you determine the value of your assets. I always recommend that sponsorship seekers sit down with other key stakeholders in the company or organization and come up with as many assets as they can bring to mind.
If it’s 50, okay. If it’s 100, that’s even better. If you have close to 250, great! You want as many assets in the early stages, as many of them won’t make it into your sponsorship package once you valuate them.
To valuate an asset means that you’ve researched how much a professional would charge for the same asset. Then you’ve done a gut check and determined if your service is worth more than market value or less.
You don’t valuate assets based on your expenses. You don’t make up the numbers. You certainly don’t directly copy from someone else’s valuation that you found online.
You can use other numbers as inspiration. But it’s all about that important gut check where you say to yourself, “hmm, we’re not as experienced in social media as a marketing agency, so maybe we shouldn’t charge $3,000 for social media posts.”
Is that easy to do? No. You feel like you’re leaving money on the table. If you don’t accurately price your assets though, then once a prospect sees them, they’ll give you some vague excuse and then ghost you.
That’s if you’re lucky, by the way. A prospect could very well turn around and ask, “how did you come up with these numbers?”
You don’t want to say you just made them up even though you did, so that puts you in a very tight situation.
Sponsorship is not about sending random packages and praying for money. That just doesn’t work.
Instead, sponsorship is about building towards a discovery session where you ask questions of your prospects to learn about their pain points and shortcomings. Objections will come up, and you’ll be readier to diffuse the bombs.
If all your prospects only ever give you vague responses like “let me get back to you on that,” or “send me the proposal” (only to never hear from them again), then look at the quality of your audience data, your activations, and how you’re valuating your assets (if you’re valuating them at all).
Once you repair these issues in your sponsorship program, objections will become fewer and farther between.
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
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