21 Mistakes You Could Be Making Selling Sponsorships

Selling sponsorships now is different than in the days of the door-to-door salesman. It’s not enough to pick up a copy of Secrets of Closing the Sale and charm your buyers into “buying you” anymore.

We’re much too savvy for that.

Today, it’s about building lasting relationships and loyal communities. And finding a way to offer value in a sea of competitors.

With that in mind, here are some mistakes you could be making that I’d like to help you avoid:

17 Mistakes You Could Be Making Selling Sponsorships

1. Assuming You Know What Your Sponsor Wants Most

It seems pretty straight forward. You’re selling them advertising. What else could they need?

There’s a good reason this is mistake # 1. Everyone selling sponsorships starts pitching prospects based on the assumption that they want exposure.

I can’t say this enough – read the room! And make sure you do a little research going in.

While most companies want the exposure, sometimes they need something more. They might be looking to create relationships with clients or network with other businesses.

2. Contacting the Wrong Person

Finding the right contact isn’t easy, especially when you’re talking about large corporations. They’ve got barriers in place that can rival the late Michael Jackson’s entourage.

Look for people in marketing or brand managers who seem to be the decision-makers. Avoid anyone with an obvious title, like “sponsorship coordinator.”

You won’t get through every time, but if you start at the top and work your way down, you’ll end up getting a lot closer.

How to Find The Right Contact for Selling Sponsorships

How to Find the Right Contact for Selling Sponsorships

The trick to selling sponsorships is to find the right people to talk to from the beginning. The decision-makers. The godfathers of the brand. Here's how...

Click here to learn more »

3. Treating Sponsorship Sales the Same as Fundraiser Sales

It’s good to understand that every company has different pots of money. Each pot has its own designation and some of it is even government regulated.

The difference is most companies have a much higher budget for advertising. If you’re trying to convince them that YOU need their help, you’re appealing to their philanthropic side.

And you’re in the wrong department for that!

4. Settling for a Low Price for Exclusivity

If you’re settling for a low-balled price for exclusivity, you might hit a couple roadblocks.

Don’t panic yet.

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your approach before calling the next prospects. Or do a little more research on the companies you’re trying to sell.

But settling for a low price for an exclusive sponsorship package could set you and the sponsor up for failure.

What if this client is not a great fit for your event and doesn’t attract the crowd you were hoping for? What if you don’t make enough money to cover your costs?

Don’t take the risk.

5. Trying to Sell Every Business on Every Event

It’s tempting when selling anything to go back to clients who were eager to buy from you before. But you must tread lightly.

Not every sponsor is right for every event. And if you’re selling something every month, chances are they’re not “out to lunch” every time you stop by.

6. Bullying Potential Sponsors

You might have read somewhere that a good sales tactic is to make someone think something is just out of their reach so they’ll want it more.

The line is, “Hey Frank, I’ve got this one sponsorship available, but if you don’t take it now, it’s off the table.”

First of all, it will backfire. It always backfires.

Second, if it doesn’t backfire (it will), the sponsor will regret doing business with you later. Don’t create urgency where urgency doesn’t actually exist.

7. Letting Potential Sponsors Set the Price

Everyone has a budget, and it’s ok to be flexible, but know your limits. Don’t let a tough negotiator talk you into pricing the package below your floor.

Know what you need to get paid per sponsorship and stick to what you think you’re worth.

8. Discounting Your Sponsorship Packages

Negotiating is okay. But be weary of discounts.

While they can be a good motivator to get someone to buy, they can also dictate a precedent going forward. You don’t want sponsors to think they’ll always be able to get a discount.

9. Setting Your Price too Low to Cover Production Costs

See # 7

Get a firm grasp of the costs for holding the event and set your bottom limits before negotiating with anyone.

10. Not Offering an Exclusivity Sponsorship Package

Depending on the event, this type of package could be appealing to potential sponsors.

Play your cards right, and you could be their exclusive sponsorship salesman as well.

11. Using the Clichéd Gold, Silver and Bronze Package Titles

Get creative! Gold, silver, and bronze have been used time and time again.

Doing something unique with your sponsorship package names can be another way to show off your creativity.

12. Not Giving Your Potential Sponsors Enough Time

You might get away with pushing deadlines selling life insurance (you’ll get that in a minute). But when you’re dealing with sponsorships, especially on the corporate level, there’s often some red tape to get through.

Give your sponsors plenty of time to go over their numbers and request the proper funding.

If you build this into your pitch-planning, it shouldn’t be an issue if you have to wait and do many follow-ups (which you will have to do).

13. Not Promoting Multi-Year Contracts

Offering only 1-year contracts is a big mistake. In fact, I would say, only offer a one-year contract if the sponsor is dead-set against anything else.

Not only will selling two or three-year contracts ensure a residual income, it will also be appealing to future sponsors by showing outside interest.

14. Not Offering Event Exclusivity

Exclusive sponsorship could be appealing to big-name, high-dollar companies.

Create a package to offer them first that covers all costs and creates a healthy profit margin.

15. Not Offering Category Exclusivity

Don’t assume that event exclusivity is for every sponsor.

Selling exclusivity to different categories may appeal to many sponsors. And bring in higher revenue.

16. Thinking It’s Over

Dude. Don’t kick your feet up yet. Follow up after the event.

Most of your sponsors for next year’s event could be the same sponsors from this year’s event. Check in with them soon after the event and offer them a package for next year if they didn’t buy a multi-year contract.

Get as much feedback as you can so that you can make any necessary changes the following year.

17. Reinventing the Wheel

Don’t think you have to change everything about your events every year, or change sponsorship packages. Sure, freshen it up. Stay current, but if it works for your sponsors, keep up the good work!

18. Failing to Discuss Engagement Expectations with Sponsors

Don’t drop the ball once you’ve made the sale. For your sponsorship to be successful, you need to check in with your sponsors to see how they plan to measure the success of your partnership.

If they’ve never sponsored an event, blog, or podcast before, they may not know what to expect. Have some best practices ready to share with less-experienced sponsors.

For sponsors who regularly sponsor things, try to go above and beyond to exceed their expectations.

19. Not Limiting the Number of Sponsorships

Decide on a limit up front for the number of sponsors you need to cover production costs and bring in revenue.

Allowing too many sponsors decreases the value you are offering your potential sponsors and makes them just another name on a list.

20. Not Allowing Freebies in Exchange for Sponsorships

Take into account that many companies, have strict guidelines on what they can do with their funds.

For instance, a non-profit may be able to provide money for catering your event, but will not be allowed to write a check for a “sponsorship.”

Or an educational institution might be able to offer audio-visual help.

Recognize the value and don’t discount products and services.

21. Not Taking No for an Answer

This goes against everything you’ve ever heard about sales, but if you want your sponsorship property to be valued and respected, stay away from the used car salesman tactics.

Like Jason says, “If someone straight-up says no, it’s probably going to be a no every time.”

Take a hint. Don’t be that guy.

How to Turn a "No" Into a "YES" When Selling Sponsorships

How to Turn “No” Into “YES” When Selling Sponsorships

If you’re selling sponsorships, you’ll hear no a LOT. The trick is figuring out which no is no, and which one can turn no into yes!

Click here to learn more »

BUT… Make sure to understand the type of “no” you received and understand if there’s an opportunity to turn that no into a yes.

We hope this will help you avoid some potential pitfalls in your quest to sell out your event. If you need some extra help, you know where to find us!

Jason Zook's Sponsorship Courses