5 questions to ask yourself before you do a sports sponsorship pitch

You’ve done it. You got the meeting for that perfect sports sponsorship prospect. The meeting is set. You and your team are prepping for the pitch and have the format ready to go.

But you ask yourself…is this really what they want to see? Is this the pitch that will seal the deal?

How can I know this will land us the deal?

This week on The Inches Podcast, Rich & I dove into 5 questions you should be asking yourself before you do a sports sponsorship pitch.

You can listen to the full episode HERE, but I dive into the key takeaways below.

Do you know exactly what their wants or needs are?

As we’ve always been taught in sales. If there is no need there is no sale. Our packages always should have a foundation around what the prospect’s needs are.

But there is an important distinction here that Rich brings up, is what you are solving a need or a want?

A want is something that is nice to have. It isn’t vital to their direct company goals at the moment, but it will be nice to have.

A need is something that directly ties into their most burning company goal. It is something that directly impacts the success of the company that year.

An example here comes with hospitality assets. Our tickets, our suites, etc. Hospitality is perfect for company morale and desired workplace when it comes to employees.

Hospitality packages would be perfect for a sponsor who in the initial call stated that they were looking to expand their workforce in the city. Or maybe a sponsor who wanted to up the morale of their employees.

If they came to you and said instead that promoting their community campaigns was important. Now hospitality takes a whole new meaning. You could take the suite and show how they can offer it as a raffle for each fan that donates to the charity.

If you came to the company pitching hospitality as a company morale aspect to the sponsor who is looking to increase their community campaigns…you are fitting a want, not a need. There is the wrong fit and therefore no urgency to purchase.

Knowing the difference between the sponsor’s wants and needs is vital. It comes with asking questions and really digging deep into what they need and what their goals are for this year.

This means getting a bit uncomfortable with them. You have to ask a bit more revealing questions.

My go-to question is “ What are your company’s biggest and most important goals this year?”. If we asked this question over our usual “What are you looking to accomplish with our sponsorship?” we get down to the bottom of their company’s needs.

From there we can truly understand what assets will lead us to a YES.

So the first question you should ask yourself when reviewing your sports sponsorship pitch pitch is, do we even know what their want or needs are, and can we focus on the needs?

When you look over your pitch, be sure to look at each aspect and ask yourself “Is this a want or a need for the sponsor?”. The more assets that solve a need you have in the package, the more likely you close the sale.

Pinpoint this and you will win.

Does my proposal meet those needs?

Now that you can pinpoint the needs the next question may be obvious. But it is an important one.

Sometimes once we know those needs, we still build packages that fit our needs as an organization. I see it too often in sports.

Maybe we have a new LED sign that was installed and there is a mandate to sell inventory on it by our team. We absolutely can’t add it to the package unless it helps solve the sponsor’s needs.

Why? Because for every item in your package that doesn’t fit their needs, you bring down the certainty of the prospect that this will help them be successful as a company.

In every aspect of your package, you should be building certainty. As you give your pitch, each asset should bring a head nod and “yes” from your prospect. This is a straight line between certainty and a purchase. The more certainty you build, the more likely you are to get to a YES.

When you add in auxiliary items that don’t fit those needs, you start to bring down certainty. You start to bring the question into your prospect’s mind “Are they really selling me something that can help my company or are they just looking for revenue and a commission?”

As soon as this happens, you start to lose the sale. 

So when looking over your package and sports sponsorship pitch, you have to think to yourself “Does this help a need for the sponsor?”. If it doesn’t, cut it from the package.

Be brutally honest here. Don’t look at the short-term revenue here, look at the needs of your sponsors. If you can do that, you will open even more revenue in the long run (and short term).

Am I presenting to the right people?

Who you are presenting to is just as important as what you are presenting.

Why? Because if you are pitching hospitality benefits and how it helps employees to just the marketing manager…your fit will be off.

Each person in an organization has motivations when it comes to what they invest in. The marketing manager most likely cares about the idea of getting in front of fans to drive awareness and purchases.

They care about this because it is what they are in charge of. It is how they are judged from a work perspective.

If the need comes out of employee growth, you have to have the HR manager there for the pitch. If you don’t, your pitch won’t land as well. In a world crammed with advertising outlets vying for that marketing investment, we want to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for the best possible outcome.

This also helps us build champions within the organization. If you get the marketing manager and the HR manager excited about the deal…you have 2 champions pitching now instead of just one. The more champions you have, the more buy-in (and access to budget) you will have.

When looking over your sports sponsorship pitch, ask yourself…do you have the right people in the room for the assets you are pitching. If not, ask if a representative from another department can join as well.

Am I pricing this opportunity appropriately given the value I am providing?

This is a vital part of this review process that gets overlooked. You most likely have put a price on this package or pitch for investment by the sponsor.

Is that price appropriate given the value you are providing?

Why must you do this? Well, your sponsor is doing this calculation in their head as you pitch. If your number is too high, you are losing certainty with the prospect.

So how can you get a gauge on what is too high? There are a number of ways to do this, but my favorite is looking at the current market in digital advertising.

Based on industry you can find the cost per click, cost per view, and cost per lead averages. This is what, on average, a company would be spending to gain views, clicks, or leads if they spent on say Google or Facebook ads.

If you are pretty sure that an entry-to-win campaign will get around 2,000 sign-ups based on past results, your sponsor will instantly put the average cost per lead calculation into their heads when evaluating your package. They will compare it to other forms of advertising and evaluate whether the higher cost is worth it.

Does this mean you should only go off that number? No. What this means is that if you are charging a higher rate than the industry standard…you better communicate why your package will pull in that high of an investment.

In your pitch, you have to show for example why your leads are more powerful than those collected from Facebook ads. Why a view in your stadium is worth more than one on social media.

We dove into a few specific reasons why sports are more valuable than other forms of advertising HERE. This is a great starting point to prove the value.

On the reverse side, you also don’t want to underestimate the price as well. I see this happen a lot with teams where they underprice their assets, especially with digital ads.

To help on this front, we’ve created a Sports Sponsorship Calculator for teams to use to see if they are underpricing their digital assets. These numbers are pulled directly from averages that influencers pull in per post. If a 17-year-old influencer can command that price…your sports team can as well.

There is a goldilocks type happy medium here with this step in the process. If you charge over industry standards and don’t give a good reason to upcharge, you will lose the certainty in your package. 

If you charge too little you will leave dollars on the table, and worse devalue your assets.

This is a vital step in understanding if your sports sponsorship pitch will land. It always comes down to the dollars. The more you can make the numbers make sense, the better chance you have to land the deal.

If I was in their position, would I buy this?

This is the last test. You’ve looked at price, needs, who is in the meeting, etc. It then comes down to the last question.

Would I buy this if I was in their position?

It’s good to have confidence in your packages, but you’ll need to dive a bit deeper into your sponsor’s mindset. You have to actually get into their shoes.

When I sold restaurant ads for a travel company, this was the biggest shift in how I sold. At first, I would look at the number of travelers they would reach and think “Of course! Yes, it is the best package for them!” It was my job to have confidence in my product.

But then I had someone who owned a restaurant look at my package. This was a friend of mine, so there was no pressure to sell as she had her restaurant outside the state I was selling in.

The way she put it changed the way I looked at selling. She brought empathy into my selling. She brought an understanding of how the restaurant looks at it.

When I sold, I focused on the number of views. The number of travelers that would see the ads.

Restaurants don’t care about views for the most part. For the most part, restaurants care about purchases. They ask “how many meals will this help me sell?” 

Why are these sales most important? Well as my friend put it:

“When a restaurant buys a $5,000 ad package, that comes out of their kid’s soccer cleats fund. It may be a whole year of daycare or car insurance. The money we put into this is money we can’t put elsewhere, many times with smaller restaurants it affects our personal lives.”

“So if you are pitching me on a $5,000 package, you better show me that I won’t regret this when it comes time for me to pay my kid’s daycare bill.”

This totally changed how I looked at the packages I sold and how I sold them. It turned it into a focus on sales. Did I really know the best tactics to ensure that this package would lead to pancake sales?

This empathy led me to find out things like if we put the food item in a picture over a picture of the “ambiance” of the place it tripled visits. It led me to do the calculation for them, based on the avg. price of their food items on their menu, it would only take 3 visits a month to cover the cost of the ad.

I was answering their biggest fears with the closest I could get to certainty. I was able to do this because I started asking myself, “If I was a restaurant, would I buy this package?”. Is the pitch I am giving addressing their biggest fears about signing on with our ad inventory?

This empathy is powerful and forces us to truly understand our customers so we can serve them better.

So when you look over your package and sports sponsorship pitch, really ask yourself…would I buy this? Given the business I run and the needs conveyed…would I buy this package?

Build this into your review process

You have your 5 questions, now it is time to build this into your pitch review process. Before any pitch goes out, you should be looking at these 5 and answering them all.

This is your fail-safe for missing something. Sometimes we get so caught up in building the pitch and assets that we get too close to the solution and not our customer’s problem.

This will help you break through that, take a step back, and refine it into the best pitch.

You have to become unromantic about what is on your pitch and what your team needs as far as revenue. If you go in with that mindset, you lose the ability to close the deal.

These five questions put your client’s needs first and ensure your sports sponsorship pitch does as well. Build it into your process and you will see more closes from your sponsors.

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