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Three Scenarios That Demand a Sponsorship Proposal

by | April 16, 2016

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

I know what you’re thinking! Is this the same Chris Baylis who has told me over and over and over again not to use sponsorship proposals? Yes! But before I tell you when it’s a good idea to use a sponsorship proposal, I want you to promise to do the following:

This post assumes you’ve already done the above and that we are on the same page with sponsorship proposal best practices. You already know never to go in proposal first, not to use “Gold, Silver, Bronze” or its derivatives, and to do your asset valuation first, so I’m not going to focus on those steps in this post. Instead, let me show you three scenarios where it’s a good thing to have a sponsorship package.

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When Your Boss Says, “All We Need Is a Sponsorship Proposal!”

I know sometimes that producing sponsorship proposals can seem like answering a trick question. You’re afraid of doing the wrong thing. 

We all have someone above us though, and if your boss is demanding a sponsorship proposal, I recommend you put one together.  

I am asked all the time, “how do I convince my boss, board, volunteers, colleagues, etc. to do things properly?” My answer? Results! 

You could always have a drawn-out debate, but what does that prove? You’re just exhausting time and resources, both of which are precious, and you might not convince anyone. 

It’s much harder to refute facts, figures, and numbers, especially when these are contextually related to results in your sponsorship proposal. 

Create your sponsorship package, use it to get your team on the same page, and then lock it in your desk drawer. That’s right! You know you don’t need a sponsorship package to do good sponsorship sales, so leave it at the office and go build relationships with your prospects.

Let me reiterate that one more time. Just because your boss is demanding a sponsorship proposal does not mean your sponsorship prospects are doing the same. 

I know I said I wouldn’t get into best practices, but it’s worth mentioning that the right time to show your sponsorship proposal to your prospects is only when they ask for it.

Internally though, you can shuffle that baby around the whole office. That has no bearing on your sponsorship program. 

When Your Sponsors Say, “Just Send Me a Sponsorship Package”

This next scenario is admittedly a bit tough, so I must caution you to always treat your sponsorship prospects as individuals. No matter how many past partners you’ve worked with in the same niche or industry, everyone is different. Remember that.

A few of your sponsorship prospects might want to see the sponsorship proposal right away. It happens. Sometimes sponsors won’t meet until they see something. 

Much more often though, it will take several meetings and lots of back and forth phone calls and/or emails before a prospect is interested in seeing your sponsorship package. 

That said, when I’m asked for a sponsorship package, I usually tell my prospect that I don’t have one (and 99 percent of the time, I don’t!). 

When I make sponsorship packages, I am doing it for the reasons above so that even if I have one, it typically isn’t meant to be used outside of the organization. 

Very rarely do I find a sponsor who won’t move forward without a sponsorship package if I’ve taken the time to build a relationship over time.

The “just send me a proposal syndrome” is usually the result of trying to make a sale on the first call, going in cold, and focusing all your efforts on only the biggest companies. 

If I have to go in with the proposal first, I typically move that prospect to the “declined” section of my sales tracker and use their declined email as an opportunity to build a relationship for next year.

In other words, this is a weak place to be, but it certainly happens. 

If this represents all your sponsors, then you need to focus on relationship-building, warm introductions, understanding your audience (and therefore your prospects) better, and approaching a wider range of companies in terms of size. 

The answer here is not, I repeat NOT, to send out more stock sponsorship proposals.

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When Your Volunteers Say, “Give Me a Sponsorship Package!”

The sponsorship package is an element of your proposal that lays out all your assets and pricing based on market valuations. 

Like the rest of the elements in your proposal, the sponsorship package is something that your company or organization will pass along and review internally long before it’s ever seen by a prospective sponsor. 

What do you do when your volunteers want a sponsorship package to start sending to their colleagues? Give them one! 

Assuming you’ve already attempted to get them to hand off the relationships to you directly and it didn’t work – what choice do you have? 

Your volunteers are going to sit on your sponsorship proposal and focus on building relationships with sponsorship prospects, which in turn increases the rate of building sales. 

Before you hand off the sponsorship package, strip out all sales language and prices and load it full of calls to action instead. This way, you prevent your volunteers from feeling like they have to make a sale on the first call, and it gets your prospects to connect with you. 

It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than flooding the market with sponsorship packages and risking your reputation and that of your organization.

The Pros and Cons of Sponsorship Packages

Please don’t mistake what I’m trying to say here. Sponsorship packages are an integral feature of your proposal that prospects will expect to see. 

Since your sponsorship package is often associated with your audience data, nothing in your proposal is going to influence a sponsor’s decision more than this information.

That said, like everything in life, there are upsides and downsides to sponsorship packages. Let’s explore. 

Sponsorship Is a Process, and Sponsorship Packages Can Help

If you copy and paste the wording from your website and throw together an arbitrary grouping of benefits to create a sponsorship package, then you are missing the point. 

More so, I’d say you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. After all, you’re cheating yourself out of an opportunity to prove your value to your prospects.

The process of creating a sponsorship package is far more important than the outcome. 

You can use the sponsorship package creation process to teach your organization about the sponsorship sales process, why intangible assets are worth so much more than logo placement, and how important negotiation is in this process.

Once you have these powerful tools in your arsenal, you’ll find that with each sponsorship opportunity that comes down the pike, you’ll feel readier. Assorting your assets into properties won’t take nearly as long. Determining the market value of assets won’t be a struggle. 

You’ll also feel confident sitting down and negotiating pricing with sponsors, which can be huge! 

Sponsorship Packages Can be Dangerous

If these are good scenarios and reasons to create a sponsorship package, then why am I always telling people not to create one? 

Well, let me clarify! You should definitely make a sponsorship package if you feel like you need one. 

Most of the sponsorship sales I have made in my career never had a sponsorship package. However, I realize that I can be the exception and not necessarily the rule. 

The problem with a sponsorship package is that organizations and companies wait to engage in the sponsorship sales process until they have one. They focus on building a master package that they then send out to everyone they know, usually due to lack of time (and if you spend months creating a sponsorship package, you won’t have time for sales). 

It tricks people into thinking that the sponsorship package will make the sale and so they use it too early. 

Worst of all, it leads to people trying to sell stock opportunities versus sitting down with their prospect and building a custom sponsorship package.

Notice that none of the reasons listed above have anything to do with sponsorship sales! Instead, I am suggesting that you use the allure of the sponsorship package to get your organization on the same page and focused on sponsorship best practices like:

  • Defining and understanding your audience
  • Inventory building and asset identification
  • Asset valuation
  • Meeting with sponsors and customizing something just for them
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When I was selling sponsorship before I started the Sponsorship Collective, I didn’t use sponsorship proposals or packages much. You may not either, or you could find yourself needing a proposal for some sponsorship opportunities. 

If you’re ever in the above three scenarios, then it’s a good idea to get feedback on your proposal, but internally to start. 

Should you take away only one point from this article, let it be this. Never offer your sponsorship prospects your proposal until they want to see it.

Don’t attach it in an email, don’t send it in an instant message, and certainly don’t physically mail it. Distribute it among your team and volunteers, hammer down on what needs to be improved upon, and then wait until your sponsor is ready for it.