The challenge is the same for sponsorship seekers world-wide. What is the best way to attract and retain sponsors? The answer lies in understanding the sales cycle and applying a little bit of patience in the meantime.
The fact is, sponsor acquisition can take as long as a year to complete and it's my firm opinion that savvy sponsorship seekers should actually plan for a 13-month timeframe. Why? Because the best way to attract new sponsors and to ignite interest in your property is to invite them to be a guest at the preceding year's event. This is one of the best sales platforms you can give yourself because you are appealing to the buyer's emotional response at the time. Prospective buyers are fair more likely to understand the benefits of engaging with your target market if you can showcase the opportunity.
Veteran sellers already know it takes a considerable amount of time to close a deal. IEG's Property Sponsorship survey which is done every year reinforces this fact. Survey results show a third of all deals (32 percent) are completed in seven to 12 months while almost 20 percent can take longer than a year. The remaining 40 percent can take anywhere between three to six months to finalise with less than 10 per cent taking fewer than three months to finalise.
These results reinforce the need for long-term planning. Short cuts don't pay when a well-considered and strategic approach to selling yields positive outcomes that everyone can share. Potential sponsors need to see they have plenty of lead time to plan, activate and leverage from the sponsorship. Giving yourself less than three months to secure sponsors before your event does everyone a disservice. And it's in your best interests that sponsors do see a return on their objectives.
HOW LONG IS YOUR TYPICAL SALES CYCLE TO SIGN A NEW TOP-TIER OR MAJOR SPONSOR?
Given the considerable timeframes for sponsorship deals to be completed – not to mention an extremely competitive marketplace – a seller needs to give themselves the best chance possible. Sending out sponsorship proposals on masse does nothing to show a perspective buyer that you've thought about their needs. Sellers need to personalise each proposal with sponsor-specific inclusions and ideas that are going to be a brand fit and resonate with their target market. Think creatively about what you can offer that doesn't necessarily consume resources but adds significant value to the sponsor offer. And don't assume you know what a sponsor wants. Set up face-to-face meetings and ask questions. Then listen to the responses you are getting, it will guide you in terms of what to include your final proposal.
Fortunately, there's enough savvy sellers out there who understand this already. Almost 60 per cent of rights-holders tailor their proposals for each prospect. while 30 percent include sponsor-specific promotional ideas. Five percent of respondents update proposals with a prospect's name or logo, while the remaining five percent use one standard document.