Working through Ghosts in Sports Sponsorship Sales

It’s an unfortunate part of sales. Sometimes we think there is a fit, we have the prospect excited, then…GHOSTED. Radio silence, no answer to our emails or calls.

In sports sponsorship, it is no different. We get ghosted by prospective brands.

So how can we avoid this? How can we manage ghosting in our sales process?

In this episode of The Inches podcast, Rich & Nick dive into tactics and ideas around working through ghosting in sales.

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

1. Don’t forget, time is money

The first step to getting over ghosting is to remember that time is money. Sometimes, it’s not worth it to chase a ghost.

This is a key point that Rich brings up that I think we all forget sometimes. We get so committed to a prospect coming on boards that we spend a lot of time chasing them. This time can be spent working through other prospects.

One way that Rich breaks it down is with Prospects and Suspects. In every sales process, you should ask yourself if they are a Prospect (can use your sponsorship and are really interested) or a Suspect (not as sold on your sponsorship being the answer).

It is really important to not chase Suspects. You will waste a lot of time doing so.

When someone ghosts you, they most likely enter that Suspect side of the equation. When they do, it is time to focus back on your true Prospects.

Don’t become romantically attached to a brand in the sales process. If they become a Suspect, move on until they decide they are ready to become a Prospect.

2. Hope is not a strategy

I love this phrase from Rich. Hope is not a strategy.

Really, it boils down to the idea that we as salespeople need to be actively utilizing tactics that move our deals forward in the sales process.

Does this mean being spammy or desperate? No.

But it also means we can’t be what Rich calls a ‘professional visitor’.

What is a professional visitor? It’s a salesperson that assumes that all sales activity is helping move the sale forward.

We can’t just “Check in to see what you thought of our proposal”. You can’t use sales activity as a metric for closing sales.

Activity does not equal productivity. In sales, we sometimes forget this with our touchpoints.

The easiest way to get ghosted is when you follow up with the “Checking In” email. Why? Because it brings no value to the equation.

It is a hope strategy. “I hope my proposal/presentation was good enough that I can just ‘check in’ with the prospect”. This is sales is the fastest way to get a prospect to ghost you.

It builds no urgency, it builds no momentum. It is easy to ignore and hold a deal up. A check-in email is easy to read and not respond to if the prospect/suspect is unsure and feels no urgency.

So how do we make sure that Hope is not our strategy? That brings us to #3.

3. Sales Momentum kills ghosts

Yup, sales momentum is the answer. Every follow-up you make should be to address a key need that the prospect has.

If you replace the Hope/ Check-In follow-up with a need follow-up, you will do 1 of 2 things:

  1. Identify and weed out the Suspects. If they don’t respond positively to the need follow-up, they turn into a suspect. They were never going to buy from you anyways. You can save time chasing them.
  2. This brings more value to your proposal. It will hit on that itch that they can’t quite scratch, you will create urgency on their end to move forward.

So what is a ‘need’ follow-up?

A need follow-up is a crafted follow-up that focuses on a big pain or need that the prospect has. It takes research to put your follow-up into context on why they should stop ghosting you.

A few examples:

  • You did some research and found out they are hiring or just hired a chunk of employees. Send them an email saying congrats, and mention that you can add in hospitality assets to help keep those new employees happy with company sports outings.Better yet, send over a bottle of champagne with the note.
  • Are they doing a new product launch? Make a mock-up of the new product on the ice with your players, send it over, and mention how utilizing the influence of your team and players can help give a huge boost to the launch.
  • Are you close to selling a signage or asset that they were really interested in? Let them know that you have another brand interested and you wanted to give them first right of refusal as they were interested in it first.
  • You found a new way to reach their goal. Let’s say their goal was lead generation, follow up with an activation like SQWAD’s Scoreboard Trivia for a new & exciting way to earn qualified leads for them.

What all of these do is builds momentum. It puts your assets into context with their business needs.

Do you have to wait until they ghost you to implement these? Absolutely not. You can build this into your sales process before they ghost you.

For example, let’s say you give the pitch and it feels successful. You ask to set up the next call in the meeting and they give you the “We’ll get back to you when we have decided.”

Two days later, send an email with the above examples in it. You can actually schedule this into the sales process.

This way, you aren’t scheduling a ‘follow up’, you are scheduling a need follow-up. You are scheduling urgency. You are scheduling something that scratches their business itch.

Most importantly, you are adding value rather than asking for an answer. You are building upon why your package is a can’t miss opportunity.

If they respond positively, keep the momentum going. Ask to add the new asset and get the deal signed.

If they don’t, they should be categorized as a Suspect. You should move on.

If you implement these 3 ideas, you can solve the ghost problem. Not because you converted the ghosting prospect…but because you focused your time & energy on brands that see the value and want to buy your product.

This is the key to overcoming ghosting. Not every brand is a Prospect, our job is to present our value to weed out the Suspects.

When we make this mindset shift, we close more deals.



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