2021 isn’t just another new year. It’s a year brimming with optimism and the promise of a fresh start in all areas of life and business – as long as you are willing to get unstuck. Pair that with the rewarding and creative possibilities of sponsorship sales and you’ve got an exciting new horizon. At its best, sponsorship opportunities are designed around the multiple marketing objectives of a sponsor. Brand activations are personalized and unique, aligning with the community and specific causes. Mixing standard expectations with renewed perspective is the name of the game this year.
From an internal perspective, sponsorship sales can be confusing for some of the organization’s constituency. The sales process is often perceived as abstract. Sales can also create competition between departments –such as fundraising or philanthropy– especially if there is a lack of clarity around how departments should be working together in support of the sponsorship sales efforts.
Here are some effective ways sponsorship teams can operate internally in support of external goals:
1. Clarity is key. Brené Brown, is an American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host. Thanks to her best-selling book Dare to Lead, the accomplished powerhouse became renowned for her assertion that “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind”
You and your team need clear goals and objectives. Avoiding tough conversations helps no one, and leads to avoidance and passive aggressive performance. Great leaders want to be polite, but using that as an excuse to avoid difficult conversation doesn’t work.
Instead, your team needs a cup of help and a cup of accountability. A cup of help: when managing sellers, provide the goals, resources, help they need and then get out of the way. A cup of accountability: be clear and consistent. Holding others to account is one of the most challenging things for managers, but is the key to success. Despite what you may think, accountability builds trust. When you are consistent as a manager, clear about expectations, provide the help needed, recognize accomplishments, and address concerns immediately when expectations are not met builds confidence.
2. Unify the team. Sponsorship is a team sport, and everyone in the organization needs to support sponsorship efforts. Share the sponsorship goals, opportunities, and top prospects with everyone in the organization. For example, ask board members, staff, and key partners to make introductions with their connections—it can significantly impact meeting sponsorship goals and bringing new corporate partnerships to the table.
3. Provide regular updates. Plan consistent communications around sponsorship efforts. Keep everyone in the team updated on progress throughout the sponsorship process, including news about challenges or struggles. Share new potential sponsors when they emerge and fresh opportunities as they arise. Ask for help when you need it!
4. Create a culture of collaboration. There is valuable institutional knowledge within every team. Each sponsorship opportunity is seen through a different lens by each individual on the team. Capture those perspectives through brainstorms and surveys and engage everyone in the conversation. In nonprofit organizations, sponsorship and fundraising collaboration can result in better and more comprehensive corporate partnership opportunities. Sponsorship and marketing bring a lot to the table: enhancing fan experiences, helping sell more tickets, and improving the way the event story is told.
5. Implement clear processes. Put well-defined processes in place. Be transparent. Inform everyone how to go about developing and tracking sponsorships. Sales teams who follow a sales process, create an asset inventory, and develop an activation plan for smooth execution are consistently more successful. Not only are they backed and supported by the organization, but having processes that everyone understands makes it easier to support sponsorship efforts and gets everyone on the same page.
About the Author
Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.