The Art To Upsell In Sports Sponsorship

The best thing about a full client list is we have customers that have believed the pitch and spent dollars on your assets. It shouldn’t take much to upsell your current sponsorship clients in sports.

They get it. They are onboard.

Now you’re in year two, and you’re looking to open more revenue from your current sponsors. You’re looking to upsell them.

But where do you start? How can you make sure the relationship doesn’t turn transactional?

In this episode of The Inches Podcast, we dive into the art of the Upsell in sports sponsorships.

You can listen to the full episode HERE. But as always, some key points below.

First, what is the value of an upsell in your current sports sponsorships?

Let’s really jump into the core WHY? of upselling current sponsors. Efficiency.

Most of the time, the sponsor already believes in the sponsorship product you are putting out there. They have built the trust with you. They know what you have to offer and the value it brings.

In short, you don’t have to spend time convincing them of this. The hours you spend selling a new asset will for the most part be less than selling to a new prospect that is skeptical of your product.

Less time means a more efficient selling process, which ultimately means a more profitable client.

Before we dive into the real value (relationships, maximization of value), the big why you should be looking at upselling is simply because it is a more profitable business activity for your department. This is key in the focus to upsell in sports sponsorship.

Upsell in sports sponsorship is all about your partner’s potential

The goal of every partnership should be reaching their potential in the partnership.

In college my football coach talked constantly about a player’s full potential. That few reach it, but our goal as a player should be to unlock our full potential as a player.

He drove home that each player has different levels of full potential, but we will never know what that level is until we put in the work and time to unlock it.

I think the same way about sports sponsorships.

The most valuable aspect about upselling in my mind is the constant journey to help our sponsor reach the full potential of the partnership. What is the maximum value we can push for and achieve for them?

Notice how this changes the mindset of the upsell. The goal is not to sell more products or assets. The goal is to help our sponsors reach their full potential of value in our partnership.

If we go into the upsell with a mindset to “sell that outfield sign no one wants yet”, we aren’t starting with their interests and goals in mind. We are looking to reach our internal goals first. It will backfire on us and hurt the relationship.

If reaching their full potential is the mindset we take with our partners, the result will be selling more assets…but the added kicker will be solidifying the relationship with your partner. If you focus on maximizing potential in your upsell, you build a feedback loop that will help you close more revenue each year.

Look at your current sponsor list & ask yourself “why are they stuck at $X spend?”

A good process that Rich brings up in the process of identifying who to upsell comes with asking yourself two questions;

  1. Is this sponsor stuck at $X spending?
  2. Why are they stuck at $X spending?

It’s a good exercise to help you understand and dive deep into how you can help them reach their full potential.

For example, let’s say your local chain restaurant has been spending $10,000 a year for the last 3 seasons. Seemingly, they are stuck at that spend with you.

If we dive into the why, we can start to think through what we can offer to help them get to a higher spend.

If we look at the average QSR spend in sports sponsorship, this spend is low. So why aren’t they spending more with us?

Is it because they are at their limit of budget?

Is it because they don’t think that spending more on our assets will yield a result that is worth it?

Is it because they only see the value of your package in one lense (maybe they only sponsor your team to promote their community initiatives).

As we dive into each of our current sponsors, you can make a list of the reasons why the partner is stuck at that spend. From there, we can start to understand what we need to do to increase it and upsell in sports sponsorship.

Once you find the why, context is everything to upsell your sports sponsorships

I bring this up a lot because I think it is a cardinal sin in sports sponsorships that we fall into.

The brand sponsor doesn’t care that you have a new sign in left field or jersey patch asset. They care how it will help them toward their marketing goals.

With this, as with new prospects, the key to closing the upsell.

Context is the WHY. As Rich brings up on the podcast, each prospect has a sign around their neck that says “So What?”. It is your job to answer that question.

So how do we find context to upsell in sports sponsorship? There are 3 main ways;

Understanding their marketing goals

You should know your sponsor’s marketing goals like the back of your hand. If you don’t, find them out.

Every company has marketing goals they are looking to hit. Those goals may change year to year, but every company has them.

Your job is to help them reach those goals with your sponsorship assets.

So the first way to upsell a sports sponsor…and probably easiest…is to simply know their marketing goals.

Is breaking into a certain customer segment key for them (like reaching families in their community)? If so, adding more inventory into your package that helps them reach that goal should be an easy sell.

The continuation of your package to double down on helping your sponsor reach their goal is the easiest, and usually most beneficial way to help your team drive more revenue through upselling.

Understanding what is coming up (new product launches, etc)

Beyond current marketing goals, it is important to understand what is coming in the future with your sponsors in order to upsell them.

For example, knowing that there is a new product they are launching helps you craft a campaign that can maximize the awareness and purchases with your fanbase.

Knowing about a new investment into a community initiative will do the same thing.

Rich and I have talked about this in past episodes, but if you know what new initiatives are coming up, you can be proactive in opening new buckets of budget to spend with your team.

The best way to do this comes with three actions. The first…ask your sponsor directly what future initiatives are coming down the line. Simply asking can help you get the most detailed information on them.

The second, press releases. Many companies have blogs where they release information on upcoming deals and products.

The third, looking at the ads they are already spending on in social media. If they are spending dollars here, they most likely will want to promote the CTA in these ads further for better results.

Future initiatives are the second easiest way to add new inventory to upsell sponsors.

Understanding the industry they play in & the stuggles

The third comes with really understanding the industry that your sponsor plays in. It’s a bit harder to do than the above items…but if you can pull it off, the upsell inventory will be killer.

For example, in the auto industry recently the problem hasn’t been demand…it has been supply. Dealerships simply don’t have certain models on the lot to sell…and if they do they consumer can’t get it for months.

Understanding this item means you can create inventory and campaigns that help them solve this industry problem.

For example, utilizing a digital campaign that earns leads and builds relationships with fans can help for when the pendulum shifts from too much demand to too much supply.

A campaign like SQWAD’s prediction games where fans compete against dealership sales people each game will earn emails and build trust. When the dealership needs leads to tap into when the industry shifts…they will have a fresh audience to tap into.

Understanding industry shifts, like the above example, can open context to new campaigns.  The new campaigns are opportunities to upsell that sponsor for years to com.


With these three items, you can use your assets to answer the “so what?” question. This will help you upsell in sports sponsorship.

Last, make sure you are in good standing with your sponsors before you try and upsell them.

This sounds like common sense…but we lose sight of it a lot in sponsorship.

If you are not in good standing with a sponsor…don’t try and upsell them for new inventory. It is the easiest way to hurt your relationship with them.

At its core…why would a sponsor spend more with you if you aren’t giving them results?

Put another way…if you paid for advertising and the agency didn’t provide results, how would you feel if they asked for you to spend more?

Most likely it would make you trust them even less to get the job done.

Asking for an upsell before you have delivered for them on the initial package turns a relationship into a transactional one. You are obviously thinking about your sales quota over their goals and needs.

As you look to upsell your current clients, really ask yourself “have we knocked it out of the park for them?” before approaching for an upsell. If you haven’t, focus your energy on knocking it out of the park for them.

Now go out and get those upsells.

If you are looking for new inventory to offer, our digital activations at SQWAD can help your organization drive new revenue this upcoming season.



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