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 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, Rich & I dove into 5 questions you should ask yourself before you make a sports sponsorship pitch.

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

The 5 Questions You Need to Answer Before Pitching

  1. Do you know the wants/needs of the sponsor?
  2. Does my proposal meet my client’s needs?
  3. Am I presenting to the right people?
  4. Is the price appropriate?
  5. If I were them, would I buy?

Respect in business is a two way street. You need a clear picture of the company’s wants and needs when creating a proposal. Don’t go straight for the gold package if you know the sponsor won’t respond positively. You will work with many possible sponsors and companies that respond best to an audience who listens and is interested in partnering with them to further both businesses.

Avoid wasting time, and form a partnership built on trust and understanding. When you address your sponsor’s needs and support their wants, if everything else lines up, they will figure out the funding for sponsoring events.

Potential Sponsor: Do You Know Their Wants or Needs?

As we’ve always been taught in sales. If there is no need, there will be 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 ties into their most burning business goal. This directly affects 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.

sponsorship banners on a blue screen

Hospitality sponsorships would be perfect if a sponsor stated they were looking to expand their workforce in the city. Or maybe a sponsor who wanted to uphold 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 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 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 ask 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 is, do we even know what their wants 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 need for the sponsor?”. The more assets solve a need, the more likely you are to close the sale. It’s also a sign of professional respect that you value their time and listen to their needs.

Pinpoint this and you will win.

Do My Sports Sponsorship Proposals Meet My Client’s Needs?

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

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

Maybe we have a new LED sign, and our team has a mandate to sell inventory on it. We can’t add unless it helps solve the sponsor’s needs.

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

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 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 sports sponsorship pitch, you have to think to yourself, “Does this help the sponsor need?”. If it doesn’t, cut it.

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? This Matters.

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

Why? Because if you pitch hospitality benefits and how it helps employees to 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 likely cares about 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.

man and woman looking over a sports sponsorship plan at a stadium

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 ensure 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.

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 likely already have a price point in mind.

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 many ways to do this, but my favorite is to look 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 a company would spend on average 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 proposal. 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 charge a higher rate than the industry standard, you better communicate why your proposal 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 reasons why sports are more valuable than other forms of advertising. This is a great starting point to prove the value.

On the reverse side, you also don’t want to underestimate the price. 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 directly pulled 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, you will lose the certainty in your proposal. 

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?

digital advertising in an indoor stadium

How to Formulate a Successful Sports Sponsorship Proposal

It’s good to have confidence in your proposals, but you’ll need to dive 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 proposal for them!” It was my job to have confidence in my product.

But then I had someone who owned a restaurant look at my proposal. 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 look at selling. She brought empathy into my selling. She understood how the restaurant views it.

When I sold, I focused on the number of views. The number of travelers who 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 proposals I sold and how I sold them. It turned it into a focus on sales. Did I know the best tactics to ensure that this proposal leads to sales?

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

I answered 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 at a restaurant, would I buy this?”. 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, ask yourself…would I buy this? Given the business I run and the needs conveyed…would I buy this package?

Build These 5 Questions Into Your Sponsorship Opportunities 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 look at these 5 and answer 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, 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 in terms of 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 close more sponsorship sales.




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