3 Common Mistakes everyone can make when Hiring Sponsorship Sales People – and how you can Avoid Them 29th May, 2018

Over the years, Slingshot Sponsorship has done its fair share of hiring and working alongside many different kinds of sponsorship sales professionals. Indeed, given this is our day-to-day, we are highly experienced with the entire hiring process which provides us with a level of expertise few other companies can provide.

We understand and appreciate the difficulties many encounter when looking to hire new sponsorship sales agencies, consultants or employees – particularly when expecting interested parties to work on a commission-only basis.

With this in mind, we’re sharing our top three common mistakes everyone can make when hiring sponsorship sales people, plus our tips for avoiding these issues altogether.

We hope this gives you a better grip of the often tricky hiring process, so you no longer expect something for nothing or suffer the frustration of being let down by candidates after investing time, money and effort into making unicorns happen!

So let’s get started…

1) Don’t hire on the basis of their black book

“So I’ve spoken to this brand already because we go way back and I know they’d be very interested in your event / charity / music festival / art exhibition / conference / awards programme / start-up [delete as appropriate], but obviously we couldn’t make that happen without being retained and hired by you first.”

Are you familiar with monologues like this? Whenever you hear something like it, you should be warned for three good reasons.

Firstly, those who are capable in sponsorship sales should know at least someone in every industry sector. Ergo, solid contacts should be a basic requirement for any role within sponsorship sales, rather than an essential reason for hiring.

Secondly, those within the industry who genuinely want to create opportunities for clients should do so without needing to leverage employment or a contract out of it. Indeed, a better way of candidates phrasing their true potential leads would be: “I actually know a great brand and would be happy to make this happen regardless of whether we got the job. I’d be happy to try and organise this for an introducer’s fee?”

Finally, it isn’t prudent for sponsorship sales people to be discussing properties they don’t represent to brands as it could easily produce a negative impact on them – just imagine if they didn’t win the business after all, for example.

Key takeaway: Keep the potential negatives of candidates’ black book in mind when they bring it up during the hiring process.

2) Be wary when they agree with everything you say

It is common to lose out on pitches when you are open and honest about discussing the fact their property is overpriced and that you wouldn’t be able to sell it for the amount quoted – simply because nobody would purchase it at that fee. Unfortunately, either sales people don’t realise this, or they just agree with you because they think that’s what you want to hear.

Without actually doing any strategic or valuation work – which almost never happens at pitch stage – the salesperson you are trying to hire wouldn’t know the real value and therefore shouldn’t be agreeing with you on how much it is worth.

Key takeaway: If they appear to be just trying to give you what you want, it’s likely you’ll hit a roadblock when it comes to properly taking your sponsorship proposal to market.

3) It’s not always positive when they talk about big brands

Many potential agencies and candidates within the sponsorship industry will have experience of working with “sexy” brands. However, should you be representing a choir in Leeds for example, it’s very unlikely clients such as Red Bull would stump up £1million in sponsorship – regardless of how good they may be!

Candidates who regularly bring up big brands that have nothing to do with your property may be using this as smoke and mirrors. Just because they’ve worked with and know of big brands does not mean that these brands would be remotely interested in your property.

Key takeaway: Be aware that any kind of discussion of big brand experience in this way is often irrelevant.

How to do it the right way: the top three questions to ask a potential hire

With the above in mind, it’s more important than ever to ask the right questions to the right people. These are Slingshot Sponsorship’s top three key questions we’d ask anyone we’d be looking to hire to sell our sponsorship:

1) Where do you think we’ve been going wrong – and how do you propose you can fix it?

2) What is your process: how many people are required, both from the client and agency, to achieve the target?

3) What do you think the potential could be and how long will it take us to get there?

We also have to emphasise one more thing: people do not work for free. As much as commission-only operating may be enticing, it’s unrealistic – and ultimately you get what you pay for.

It’s worth investing time and money in the hiring process – so long as you invest it wisely. Achieve that and you’ll be amazed at the results.

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