What Happens When A Sponsor Bails Last Minute Before The Season?

It’s a part of sales…unfortunately.

We pitched, we got the head nods, we got the plan, we thought this one was game over and we had them closed…

Then we got a nice “NO” 4 weeks before the season starts.

This week on The Inches Podcast Rich Franklin and I dove into how we can prepare and deal with this problem.

You can listen to the full episode HERE, but I go over the key points below.

First, try and understand why?

Rich brings up a great point here in our episode. You may start to panic a bit and start seeing how you can fill this placement…but if you don’t have a why you may make some similar mistakes as you try and fill it.

Simply coming back to them and saying “ I thought we had something that worked toward your goals…can you help me understand where this fell out?” is extremely valuable feedback that will help you sell it.

A caveat here…most people won’t get back to you. But it never hurts to ask and take the feedback you get to get better.

Look at your prospects and suspects

The goal obviously is to refill the spot at full price. With that said look through your pipeline and see if you can “upsell” anyone on your sheet.

Maybe someone was looking for more coverage but you didn’t have the open items?

A key here is how you bring it to them. What has worked for me in the past is phrasing it like:

“Hey, we just had a rink board open up. Super rare I thought you may be interested in snagging it up as stadium coverage was a goal of yours.”

You may be surprised how many times this will work and get you an upsell. If you don’t ask, the answer is no.

If you can’t sell full price, look for long term revenue and reward your loyal customers

Ok, so you didn’t get any prospects or suspects to bite. Don’t panic there is still some long-term revenue to be made.

The next step is to look at some of your loyal (big spending) clients and see if you can bring some extra value.

Obviously, the first goal is to make some revenue up here, so discounting is the best bet there.

Coming to a loyal customer and rolling some discounted items may lose you money at first…but in the long run, it will make you more by building this relationship.


I’ve had customers I’ve done this with in the past and they pay chicken the next year to see if I will discount it again or their other assets. If you are upfront that this is a rare opening and only for this year it will help stop this.

If you can’t get them to bite on a discount, look to some of your best customers (5–20 year partners) and offer it as a bonus.

Another great strategy here is a new client. Offering them extra value here off the bat is a great way to help build long value.

If you can’t sell here, at the very least you are making a bet on value next year.

If you want to avoid this, oversell your assets

We hate when airlines do this, but it could really help here.

Unlike airlines, we can always figure out another asset to offer to replace.

When you are selling understand that you may have some people pull out and create a healthy pipeline of yes. That way you can account for the dropout and be fine revenue-wise.

Prospecting & selling in sponsorship is a 24/7/365 thing. Make sure you are always filling your pipeline for assets so you have a backup plan for when this happens.

But overall don’t panic…follow these tips…and close that revenue.



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