It’s Not Who You Know
25th July, 2016
Far too many of our new business meetings focus purely on who Slingshot knows at Board level with brands. Undeniably, we know a lot. But that’s our business – it’d be like if McDonalds didn’t know what types of condiments to use for their hamburgers. It would be ludicrous if after 6 years of selling sponsorship rights to global brands, we didn’t make a friend or two along the way.
Unfortunately, almost all sponsorship sales agencies use this angle in their pitches – providing a false sense of security, to the potential new client, that sponsorship sales is all about speaking to the right person. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In my 15 years of selling “stuff”, it’s almost never about who you know. Bad salespeople focus on this in a new business pitch because it’s easy. Rather than take time to review the boring strategic processes that underlie sponsorship sales, it’s easier to provide wow factor by name dropping. This masks the fact that the challenge of selling sponsorship actually is controllable by a rights holder and can be fixed without hiring a specialist sponsorship sales agency, and no one really wants that do they?
Slingshot’s approach is never about the black book, which many think is unconventional and also means we lose a lot of pitches to those that guarantee sponsors and often unachievable revenue targets. The smoke and mirrors sales pitch champion who they know, but if you are struggling to maximise your full sponsorship potential it’s not because of your sales people, your property or your access to LinkedIn – it’s your commercial strategy.
Without a commercial strategy that understands what assets you have, what assets brands require to drive ROI, your fair market value and a pretty spectacular proposal – you honestly don’t really have a chance. I am pretty good friends with a lot of big brand buyers, but even I can’t flog something without the above. Gone are Chairman’s Whim days, but it means you have got to start thinking about your proposition if you are going to invest time and resource into selling sponsorship.