The 14 Sports Sponsorship Sales Commandments by Rich Franklin (1–7)

I said it before, but the value I get when chatting with Rich Franklin on sponsorship is always unrivaled. I’m blessed to have him as a resource and knowledge base for all things sponsorship.

When I am struggling with something in sponsorship…he is whom I go to.

A big reason why I brought him onto the podcast was that I couldn’t keep that knowledge to myself. Our chats in his office had to be shared with the industry.

This week’s episode brought the epitome of that value.

This week on The Inches podcast Rich blessed us with the first 7 of his 14 sales commandments in sports sponsorship. The staples to success in selling sponsorship in the sports business.

A big reason for why we wanted to dive into this now is with all of the change we are seeing in the industry, sometimes it is best to get back to our foundations to really grow and thrive.

You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I dive in more below:

1. Don’t confuse activity for productivity

This is one that we often miss in sales overall. We are hired to produce and reach our goals of revenue.

Many times we think that if we get on 1,000 calls, by sheer force, we’ll get results. We sometimes put activity on a pedestal in sales, thinking that the person who is the most active is the most productive.

This though can get us into trouble if it doesn’t link to productivity. If the activity doesn’t lead productively toward our goal, to really produce results, then it is a waste of our time.

As we audit our actions, we need to link how our activity drives productivity. Stop thinking 1,000 calls is the goal. You could have 10 calls instead where 4 leads to sales and it is more productive than 1,000 to one.

As we set our expectations and plans, we need to not confuse activity with productivity. We absolutely need to see which activities lead to results and double down on those.

Don’t be busy to be busy, be busy to produce results.

2. Know your customer, know your fan base, know your product

As a salesperson, it is vital to our jobs to fanatically understand these three. They are almost the trinity of sponsorship sales.

In order to sell to our customers (sponsors), we need to understand their needs, wants, missions, and goals. How can we help them if we don’t understand this?

In order to properly connect our sponsors with our fans authentically, we must know our fans and how they consume our content & games.

In order to offer the proper remedy to the sponsor’s goals WHILE helping them reach our fans authentically…we must know our products.

This is a bit further than knowing that we have signs, sponsored tweets, etc. We have to be experts about which assets bring the benefit of solving their marketing problems.

When we know all 3 of these, we are a force to reckon with in the advertising industry. When we obsess over these three…we become unstoppable.

This is a key commandment to understand and know inside and out.

3. It’s a numbers game — prospect constantly, not seasonally

But Nick, you just said activity does not equal productivity…

Yes, but the key here is we have no offseason. There are only so many clients we touch that will see the value in our assets or we might not be the right fit for.

If we limit the number of brands we are in front of we limit the opportunity to reach the right ones.

In sports sponsorship, we have to be constantly prospecting, constantly looking for people to connect with, and constantly looking for how we can help.

This doesn’t mean be spammy, pushy, or go over the line as a salesperson…but we do need to make sure we are seeking out those opportunities.

Sponsorship is not a seasonal product any longer. We are 24/7/365. We have to follow suit in prospecting. Remember you will get more no’s than yes’s…that is why it is a number’s game.

4. Don’t use “hope” as a strategy for success

This is one that jumped out at me. Many times we put ourselves in the position of hoping that a client comes in.

This is a status that we can’t be in with our sponsors. Hope is not a strategy for success.

What does this mean? I see it in two ways:

  1. Asking the hard questions with your sponsors about how they are feeling about the assets in front of them.
  2. Truly understanding their needs so the assets that you offer fit so well.

We can’t have a strategy of pitch and “hope” they come in. If we can unequivocally understand their needs and ask the hard questions when we reach the level of “hope” as a strategy to see where we fell off.

This is a very underrated commandment and a key to driving more sales.

5. Find a local champion in the prospect company

It takes a lot of steps to get a yes in sponsorship sales. There are many decision-makers in the process for most of the deals we push through.

A key to finding success many times comes with finding that person who will help champion you to the finish line. Someone who believes in you, the team, and the assets you are presenting.

Maybe they believe in these because it helps them succeed in their job, maybe they are huge hockey fans, maybe they really connect with you…whatever it is having them help push for your assets and deal will help tremendously.

If you can find a champion in the organization (or build one) you have a way better chance to close the deal.

6. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, pitch multiple prospects in the same category

Some see this as an issue in the sponsorship industry, but Rich dives into how this is vital for success.

Our job is to find the best asset for the best sponsors to help them reach their goals. If we put all our effort into just one say insurance company…we lose out on the ability to help the others.

And really the goal is to find the right fit for our assets and the company. If we limit our reach to just one car dealership, airline, insurance broker, etc. we miss out potentially on gaining a great partner.

In this process, we can be fully transparent and should be, that we are talking with others in the same category. Again our goal is to find the best fit for a partnership. But we can’t limit ourselves as we talk with companies.

When prospecting, talk with many companies in a category that you currently don’t have an exclusive partnership with and look for ways you can help.

7. Build value in your sponsor’s head before you tell the price

In all cases, we want to stay away from making this a transactional & commoditized relationship. In order to do this, we must be able to prove the value in our sponsor’s head before we bring up the price.

Why? It will tie the price to value before they decide.

Really it is proving that your assets are the best fit for them and will help them reach their goals.

A great analogy here is running shoes. $190 might seem like a large amount of money for a pair of running shoes, and if we just saw a picture and price we’d probably not pay for them.

But what if we were told that these running shoes brought down wear & tear on your knees? What if we were told that they would shave 2 minutes off our mile time? Would they be worth the money then?

The same goes for our assets & packages. Before you bring up the price you really need to understand your partner’s needs, show them how your assets will bring them value, and then show them how much that value will cost.

Context is everything in pricing. If we can prove our value to sponsors we can show them that this price is worth it to achieve their goals.

Rich’s sports sponsorship sales commandments 8–14 on deck

With so much to go over here, we broke the episodes into 2 parts so we could spend enough time going over them. Next week we’ll go over Rich’s commandments 8–14 to round out the list. Already a huge amount of value here to take us back to our foundations.

More to come.

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