The 4 Steps to Selling Your Next Big Sponsorship
I remember when I sat on my first sponsor call with a BIG TIME client (full disclosure, I was working in-house at a company at the time and was learning alllll about the sponsorship process through us selling sponsorships to their flagship event). I remember being SO nervous to sit on this call, and my pen was poised over my notebook so I could take as many tactical notes as possible.
After about 30 minutes of chatting, the sponsor said "well, this sounds exciting. Let me escalate to our internal team and we'll circle back in about a week."
I was FLOORED! Seriously? We we're selling a $20,000 sponsorship in a 30 minute phone call?!?
Okay, okay, so obviously there were more steps involved than just those 30 minutes, but the actual "selling" took place over the course of a 30-minute phone call.
And to be honest? It wasn't as mind-blowing of a sales call as I thought it was going to be.
There's the rub, right?
We think that high-ticket offers mean WAY more complicated processes and spreadsheets, but the reality is it takes the same inspiration and process to sell a $100 sponsorship as it does to sell a $50,000 sponsorship.
The only difference is the VALUE of the sponsorship.
What do I mean the VALUE of the sponsorship? Well, put yourself in your sponsors' shoes.
Let's say you're a big company that struggles to find excellent employees.
You really want to find the BEST people in your community, but the online job ads are not pulling in the people you need.
You've gotten referrals from company employees, but those are slow and don't fit the variety of roles you have in your company.
What to do?
Well, maybe you go to a networking event and you meet all kinds of people…but most of the people at the event are entrepreneurs, which means that they aren’t looking for jobs.
You wish that you could just meet people who are highly qualified and leadership-oriented so that you could develop the right relationships without needing to vet 100 different networking groups.
Herein lies the solution:
If a company is struggling to find great people, you are LITERALLY giving them a pool of great people to choose from…as long as you know the KINDS of people they’re looking for.
And if that company hires an excellent person they met at your event? What happens then? Does the company operate more efficiently? Do they make more sales? Does the team get less stressed and have a better work-life balance?
Now, what's the price tag on that? $5,000? $15,000?
These are ALL the things that you need to think about when you're asking sponsors to sponsor your event.
You have to think about the possibility of what they COULD get if they participate. Does your content spark an idea that helps them generate more than $10,000 in revenue?
That could be worth a sponsorship that allows a company to send 2-3 people to the event.
While I can't give you ALL the scenarios that you could paint for your potential sponsors, just know that there are PLENTY of reasons that sponsors want to be at events. Below are a few of the most common:
Ideal CLIENTS are in the room (aka they generate more sales)
Ideal EMPLOYEES are in the room (aka they don’t need to look far and wide for quality hires)
Attendees are INFLUENCERS and they could generate social buzz by building a promotional campaign (aka an “activation” that encourages likes/follows/shares).
Leadership concepts are being taught, which means their employees could benefit from going.
The FIRST step in getting a sponsor to commit is understanding what they need. Because if you don’t know which one of the things above they need, it’s going to be WAY harder to close them on a call.
OKAY! Now that we know what they need, how do we get them to commit? Below, I’m sharing the exact process I use when we’re working with clients to get a sponsor to say YES!
1. Send an initial email with limited info (only for large cash sponsors)
I'm a BIG fan of phone conversations, especially if you're working with high-level sponsors over $1000, so I’m not going to tell you to give away the farm in the initial email. The one caveat to this is for smaller cash sponsorships or swag — those are small enough where you don’t need to get on the phone and should just be able to give the sponsor a description of what you need and what the benefits are in your pitch email.
The reason for this is:
a. You should already SORT OF know your sponsor. Hopefully you’ve been introduced by a friend OR you met someone in the company at a networking event. It’s important to have at least a somewhat familiar relationship with a company in order to get the best results.
b. You don’t want to waste people’s time who don’t have budget or may not resonate with your event idea. Throwing the whole farm at someone who isn’t an ideal fit isn’t going to yield results.
c. You want to SELL them. SELLING is serving, and it’s hard to serve on an email. In order to explain all the benefits, getting on a call with a sponsor to answer questions and help the demystify the process is going to be better than waiting to hear back from an email.
So, I want you to send an email that teases out the TYPE of event that you’re hosting, who it’s for, and how you want them to participate, and then I want you to invite them to get on a call to walk through some of the ways they can be involved.
Want my sponsor pitch scripts? Drop your email below to snag them.
2. Set up a phone call to discuss your sponsorship packages
On this phone call you’re going to follow the below agenda for your 30-minute call.
a. Discuss the event itself (high-level overview) and a brief summary of the agenda. You want to give broad strokes so that they understand the format and can visualize the event in their mind.
b. Describe who will be in attendance and any other speakers or sponsors you have on board. Be sure you’re painting this in a way that speaks to the sponsor, so you may have customize your audience description for each sponsor that you get on the phone.
c. Ask them if they have any questions or if they have done any similar events recently like yours. Ask them what they are focusing on in their marketing this year and if any of that relates to this specific audience. This is important to add in because you want to know what is important to them AND you want to make sure that you can pitch them correctly in the following step.
d. Discuss the ONE way you envision them involved. Paint a picture of how their involvement will help them reach the goals that they have for their company.
At the end, make sure you ask them if they have any questions and then let them know that you’ll follow up via email with more information.
That wasn’t that hard, was it? You got this!
3. Send sponsorship packages via email
Immediately after the call, write an email (that you can snag below, easy peasy!) that has your sponsorship benefits all nicely outlined and ready to go.
The reason I have you do this AFTER the call is so that you can call out the specific packages that you think the sponsor will be a good fit for. Sometimes, when people look at sponsorship benefits, they don’t quite understand where they’d be the best fit — until you tell them!
So go ahead and send that follow up email, post-haste!
4. Follow up within 2-3 days.
A lot of times, the sale is in the follow up. If someone took the time to get on the phone with you, then they can DEFINITELY take the time to respond to an email. If they don’t respond to your sponsorship benefits email, go ahead and follow up in 2-3 business days to make sure they got it.
If they don’t respond, try again a week later, and continue trying until they say YES or they tell you that they can’t make a decision at that moment. Either way, if you DON’T ever hear from them, it’s not awful to keep following up, as lots of times, the person you’re emailing is waiting on approval from a myriad of busy leaders in their company.
So, until you hear NO, keep following up!