Why Sponsors Ghost You!
Isn’t being ghosted one of the worst feelings ever?
You don’t understand why your date couldn’t just dignify you with a response and let you know that things aren’t going to work out.
Ah, but ghosting doesn’t only happen in our personal lives. It can occur professionally too, especially in sponsorship.
If you’ve been ghosted once, then you know how crushing it can feel. You’ll want to understand the logic behind why sponsors behave as they do and learn what you can do to prevent such an outcome.
In today’s video, I’ll help peel back the curtain on why sponsors ghost you so you can see it coming!
Why Do My Sponsors Ghost Me?
Have you ever ghosted someone on a date? If not, then have you ever ended a date abruptly?
You know, like having your friends call you and pretend that your dog went missing or some other emergency happened?
A lot of us do it, and there’s one reason why. To get out of the situation without hurting the other person’s feelings.
That’s why your prospects ghost you.
They’re not interested, but they don’t want to tell you that they’re not interested to your face (or on the phone or through email) because nothing but awkwardness will ensue.
You’ll double down and try to prove even more why you’re such a worthwhile partner to work with. Then you put the prospect in the tough spot of rejecting you twice.
Being rejected once stings enough. Being rejected twice by the same person back-to-back? That’s a new level of pain.
What can further complicate matters is a little sales term known as happy ears. If you’re not familiar, happy ears refers to taking what one says at face value.
Sometimes, a prospect doesn’t know what to say to get out of the meeting aside from something like, “Sure! Send me the proposal.”
If you have happy ears, you’ll take what they have to say at face value and send that proposal the same day.
This only makes it that much more crushing when you finally realize, crestfallen, that the prospect never meant what they said.
So does this mean you should take everything a prospect tells you with a grain of salt? Initially, yes.
Once you sign a contract and things are more official, then you can start believing what your sponsor is telling you.
In the very, very early stages though, don’t even be cautiously optimistic. Be skeptical.
The Hard Truth – Are You Being Honest with Yourself About Your Sponsorship Meetings?
Although ghosts are often known for being invisible, in most of the secondhand instances of sponsorship ghosting that I’ve heard of through clients, the writing is on the wall as clear as day.
It’s either that a.) sponsorship seekers don’t want to see it or b.) they genuinely don’t see it.
Both are dangerous, as they end up with the same outcome: an initial sponsorship meeting followed by radio silence.
Depending on how many weeks of time you waste following up with a prospective sponsor (and not hearing anything back in return), your lost time is either minimal or rather significant.
Here are the facts. If a prospect thought the meeting went as well as you did, then they would have responded to you by now.
Maybe it doesn’t happen with the first phone call or the first email but trust me. If it’s on their priority list, it’s going to happen sooner or later.
Not hearing back can cause you to reassess everything you did or didn’t do.
As long as this isn’t done to the point of rumination, then it can be a good thing!
What you’re doing is creating a feedback loop.
A feedback loop is a business term that refers to reviewing some or the entirety of a system for its efficiency.
So, as you realize with that sinking feeling in your gut that you’ve been ghosted, here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Was I too friendly and focused on making sponsorship feel fun? As enjoyable as the outcomes can be, sponsorship is supposed to feel like work because it is work. If you try to make it too fun, then you might not be asking thorough enough discovery questions or even any discovery questions at all.
- Was I too salesy? Being salesy, especially during the first meeting, is one of the easiest ways to turn prospective sponsors away outside of directly asking for money. The first meeting is a discovery session. It’s about learning. It’s not about sales, not yet.
- Did I bring my sponsorship proposal? If so, then I’m not surprised you were ghosted. This goes hand-in-hand with being too salesy. A sponsorship prospect does not want to see your proposal during the first, second, and usually not the third meeting either. They’ll ask for it when they want it. Until then, leave it at the office.
- Did I provide enough value? Or was the value not what the prospect was looking for? Sponsors aren’t donors, so they’re looking to make sound business decisions. If investing in you isn’t going to drive up enough value to be worth it, then you’ll get more prospects who say no than yes.
How Many Times Should You Try Reaching Out Before It’s Time to Face Facts?
Time is always of the essence in sponsorship.
You only have so many days/weeks/months until your event, you need to reach out to a prospect before their company decides its budget for the year.
You really need to be on the ball and not waste time dilly-dallying.
Thus, how much time is too much time to spend on a prospective sponsor who ghosted you?
Here’s what I recommend.
You can establish a follow-up cadence, which is another sales concept.
With a follow-up cadence, you try several methods of reaching out over a series of days.
For example, on day one, you might only send an email. Then, on day three, you send an email and a phone call.
On day five, you send an email, make a phone call, and you leave a voicemail.
A sales follow-up cadence can go on for weeks. You don’t have that kind of time.
I’d give it seven days.
If you followed the above cadence rhythm or established your own that’s close to that, then that means you’ve probably reached out at least a dozen times in three or four different ways.
Even if a prospect is really ultra-busy and barely has any time for anything, there’s no way they missed all your communications. There just isn’t.
If they wanted to respond, they would have by now. They don’t want to respond, and it doesn’t matter how many times you call or how many emails you send. Nothing will change that.
After seven days, move on. I’ll tell you how to do that in just a moment.
If you happen to hear from the prospect (which is unlikely, but stranger things have happened), then great! If you don’t–and I bet you won’t–then at least you didn’t waste deleterious amounts of time.
My Sponsor Ghosted Me – Now What?
As I’ve made clear, it’s a positively dreadful feeling to realize you’re being ghosted.
However, once a prospect makes their decision, there’s really not a whole heck of a lot you can do.
If you keep pestering them by email or phone, you’ll get blocked. If you send your sponsorship proposal, it’ll get trashed.
You need to let that prospect go–no matter how promising they might have seemed–learn from your mistakes, and vow to do better next time.
Hopefully, you have a large list of prospects to work from, so missing out on one prospect isn’t really much skin off your nose.
If you don’t have a huge prospect list, check out this post to learn how your audience data can become the backbone of your prospects list.
Although being ghosted hurts, if you have a deep enough list of prospects, then it’s simply done and onto the next one. They won’t all ghost you!
Can You Prevent a Sponsor from Ghosting You?
You’re on to the next prospect, but how do you stop history from repeating itself? In other words, how can you avoid being ghosted again?
Here are some pointers.
Train Yourself Out of Happy Ears
Having happy ears is detrimental to your sponsorship aspirations, as you’ll believe anything a sponsor tells you.
You’re probably also not the best marketer or salesperson because you can come across as a little gullible.
Training your way out of happy ears isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.
So how do you do it? The next time a prospect asks you for a sponsorship proposal, ask a few follow-up questions.
For example, query them on what they want to see in the proposal. Ask them what budget range they had in mind and who else should be involved in the process.
If a prospect is interested, then they’ll be happy to answer any follow-up questions.
In more cases than not, what will happen is the prospect won’t know what to say because they didn’t think it would get to this point.
They’ll excuse themselves and not come back or abruptly end the meeting, which is a clear indicator that “just show me the proposal” was never that at all. It was merely a brush-off.
No, I didn’t do a word vomit all over this article. When I put BAMFAM, I meant it.
So what in the world is BAMFAM?
It’s an acronym I came up with that stands for book a meeting from a meeting.
In any sponsorship meeting, whether it’s the first one or the fourth one, you should not shake hands and leave the room without setting up another meeting in advance. In other words, BAMFAM.
I know what you’re thinking. Can’t you just get in touch with the prospect later today and schedule the meeting then?
Sure, you could. The problem with that logic though is that later today turns into first thing tomorrow, and then that turns into this afternoon, and then that turns into Wednesday morning, and so on and so forth.
In other words, you never get around to it.
Even if you’re timely in your second meeting request, the prospect has other things going on besides you.
You need to grab their attention before it’s taken up by two dozen other things. The best time to do that is when you have them right in front of you (or on the phone).
The only time when BAMFAM doesn’t apply is when a prospect tells you outright that they’re not interested. This doesn’t happen all that often, but on the off-chance it does, let that prospect go.
If a sponsorship meeting went well, your prospect wouldn’t be ghosting you. That’s just like how if a date goes well, your partner doesn’t ghost you.
Getting over sponsorship ghosting may entail you redefining what a good meeting is. It definitely requires you to understand how you may have happy ears and how that’s causing you to take a prospect’s word at face value even when you shouldn’t.
Remember, ask follow-up questions. That will weed out the uninterested prospects real fast. Oh, and BAMFAM, which is another way to gauge who’s interested and who isn’t.
An uninterested sponsor will not want to follow up with you, and they will wriggle out of every date and time you recommend.
While you can’t prevent every instance of a sponsor ghosting you, these tactics will reduce the rate in which it happens. Good luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.