Thursday, April 16, 2015

Anatomy of a Successful Sponsorship Sales Team

Critical to any sponsorship sales plan and strategy is your sales and sponsorship activation team. The team should consist of the four roles defined below, each requiring team members who have certain attributes, experience and work-habit characteristics.

Prospecting Team Members (The Sponsor Hunters): These individuals are tasked with researching new sponsors and maintaining your existing database.  This involves updating the contact information of your prospects as needed, and documenting new leads appropriately.  This is an entry-level position and can easily be handled by a hard working intern or committee member seeking to advance in your organization.

To be successful in their role, The Sponsor Hunters should possess the following attributes:
·       Willingness to conduct entry level research and documentation
·       Ability to focus on simple tasks for periods of time
·       Creative thinking when prospecting new sponsors that strategically align with your organization
·       Organizational skills when saving critical information and noting follow-up calls and emails
·       Willingness to try new roles within the sales process including selling and activating

Selling Team Members (The Sponsor Schmoozers): Team members that are focused on selling are required to contact sponsorship prospects and leads to present your company’s offerings. Your sales team members must be willing to work hard and maintain a “get it done” attitude. 

It’s imperative for these team members to not be afraid to contact prospective clients and communicate the values of your sponsorship.  They should also be prepared for some prospective sponsors to decline your opportunities and have the ability to move forward if a sale falls through.

These individuals must possess strong and effective communication skills, including listening to the needs of sponsors.  Schmoozers should work with prospective sponsors to determine the company’s goals for aligning with your event and the best way to achieve them through partnership.  Creativity is key when defining the most effective involvement opportunities rather than simply pushing predetermined packages on companies.

Schmoozers should consult with your activation team to ensure they aren’t promising items to sponsors that cannot be implemented at your event. 

Contracting Team Members (Legal Beagles): Team members tasked with contracting sponsorships are required to finalize all deal points that were agreed upon during the sales and negotiation period. These individuals should have:
·       Knowledge or experience with drafting and finalizing business agreements
·       Strong organizational skills
·       Effective communication skills when communicating any nuances from the signed agreements to your activation team
·       Legal experience (beneficial but not required)

Activating Team Members (Task Masters): It is these team members’ job to ensure that both parties (event and sponsor) deliver all deal points agreed upon in the final sponsorship contract.  It is important for your activation team to understand the importance of their role, and that a significant amount of time, resources, and revenue hinge on their ability to implement what’s been sold.

Task Masters should be detail oriented, as it is their responsibility to ensure that all sponsorship items are activated in a timely and accurate fashion.  Effectively delivering the sponsorship elements and assets that were sold can be the difference between an easy, positive sponsorship renewal for the following year, and a breach of agreement conflict.

Task Masters are the point of contact for your sponsors, who often require assistance with tedious and time-consuming tasks.  Your team maintaining a positive and “can-do” attitude and energy will help sponsors deliver their required items, keep their morale high at your events, and hopefully want to continue the partnership in the future.

Who are your Sponsor Hunters and Schmoozers? Can you find a Legal Beagle and Task Master? 

By identifying and designating qualified individuals to fill the above roles for your sponsorship team, you prevent team members from overlapping their efforts, streamline the sales and management process, and set your event up for a successful sponsorship program.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winning Sponsors Enhance Experiences

Are the participants and spectators of your events benefitting from sponsors?  They should be!  If your sponsors simply show up and hope to sell their products and services, they're losing...losing customers, revenue and ROI on their sponsorship. So it's not a surprise that the latest trend in successful event sponsorships involves enhancing the experience for attendees. 

Rather than simply paying for naming rights and putting their logos on event websites, companies truly build brand loyalty by taking their sponsorships up a notch to benefit those participating and in attendance.

Winning companies are placing less importance on impressions and more emphasis on overall experience.

Here’s an example we experienced firsthand at the 2014 US Open Golf Championship in Pinehurst, NC.  Among the event’s many premier sponsors, American Express really stood out to us.  While walking around the course, we noticed that about 25% of the spectators were wearing American Express branded lanyards with earpieces attached.  

The promotion was simple – American Express members who showed their credit card received a lanyard and free earpiece to listen to exclusive live radio coverage of the US Open.  If you’ve ever been to a professional golf tournament, you know how frustrating it can be to hear the roar of the crowd four holes over and not know what happened.  American Express addressed and alleviated this pain point for attendees.

For those in attendance who were not card carrying members but wished to have access to the live radio coverage, American Express made signing up for an account available on-site.

Through this innovative promotion, American Express improved the US Open experience for thousands of attendees and provided a valuable perk to their customers while building an army of brand ambassadors in the process.

On our way to the American Express booth to learn more about the earpieces, we passed a luxury car sponsor that had a few vehicles parked outside their tent.  While it would seem that bringing cars to an event would capture the interest of attendees, we walked right by the booth because the set-up resembled a car showroom that we had seen many times before and the sponsor's message didn't hold our attention.

As you can see, companies are going beyond the traditional elements to get the most out of their sponsorship dollars.  By implementing creative promotions, sponsors add value to the overall event, provide a unique experience, and build brand loyalty among attendees (which is what they were after in the first place)!

You may be wondering how this concept can be implemented at your events.  First, consider your audience and determine what products or services your attendees will appreciate.  Soap at a mud run?  Water bottles at an outdoor concert?  A photo booth at a themed festival?  Encourage your sponsors to make a lasting impression on attendees by meeting these needs!

While these enhancement programs will cost sponsors additional dollars on top of your sponsorship fees, educate them that doing so improves your event and helps them achieve their marketing goals.  By companies getting more involved in the events they sponsor, attendees come away with an enjoyable experience and probably come back next year with friends, leading to a winning partnership for everyone. 

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