When Your Boss Says “All we need is a Sponsorship Proposal!”
Sometimes your boss demands one! I am asked all the time, “how do I convince my boss, board, volunteers, colleagues to do things properly?” My answer? Results! Don’t try to convince them by engaging in a drawn out debate. Explain it to them once, if they don’t understand or trust your expertise, let it go. 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.
Sponsorship is a Process, and Sponsorship Packages can Help
If you copy and paste wording from your website and throw together an arbitrary grouping of benefits to create a sponsorship package, you are missing out (never mind ignoring current sponsorship best practices). The process of creating a sponsorship package is far more important than the outcome. 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.
What do you do when your volunteers want a sponsorship package to start sending to 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? Before you give it to them, strip out all sales language and prices and load it full of calls to action. 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.
When Your Sponsors Say “Just Send me a Sponsorship Package”
It happens. Sometimes sponsors won’t meet until they see something. That said, when I’m asked for a sponsorship package, I tell my prospect that I don’t have one (and 99% of the time I don’t!). When I make sponsorship packages, I am doing it for the reasons above so even if I have one it 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 of your efforts on only the biggest companies. If I have to go in proposal first, I typically move that prospect to the “declined” section of my sales tracker and use their declined e-mail 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 of your sponsors then you need to focus on relationship building, warm introductions, understanding your audience (and therefore your prospect) better and a wider range of companies in terms of size. The answer here is not, I repeat NOT, to send out more stock sponsorship proposals.
Sponsorship Packages can be Dangerous!
If these are good scenarios and reasons to create a sponsorship package…why am I always telling people not to create one? Well, let me clarify! You should definitely make a sponsorship package, if you feel you need one (the majority of the sponsorship sales I have made in my career never had a sponsorship package!).
The problem with the sponsorship package is that organizations 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 the 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 versu sitting down with their prospect and building a custom sponsorship package.
Notice that none of the reasons listed above are good reasons for a sponsorship package 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