It’s Not Who You Know
10th March, 2014
Three questions you should be asking your sponsorship sales person before you hire them
I have been in far too many pitches where I dread the question and answer period at the end. This is not because I don’t like answering questions, it’s because the questions are always the wrong ones. It never fails that when people are looking to hire a sponsorship sales person (regardless of whether it’s an internal hire or contracted external agency) the questions they always ask are the same and include a variation of the following:
“How many brands do you know that you’ll be able to get to sponsor our platform?”
Sometimes the person in question is slyer and the question comes across as:
“In terms of relationships you currently have, how many of those do you think you would be able to approach on our behalf?”
It always comes down to the black book.
Now in theory this makes a lot of sense. Obviously the more brands they know personally, the easier it will be for that sponsorship salesperson to put your platform in front of them. However, this doesn’t address the whole point of sponsorship sales. Sponsorship sales are not transactional – unlike selling socks or vacuum cleaners, you have to understand how to derive value from set assets to drive brand objectives. Creative thinking is vital. Sponsorship sales are specific and not all sponsorship platforms are the best fit for all brands. As such, it becomes less about the relationship and more about how the platform can help the brand meet certain objectives. Even though I have drinks with the Marketing Director from Pampers, but that doesn’t mean they are going to sponsor Tough Mudder just because I asked politely over cocktails.
In addition, any sponsorship sales person or sponsorship sales agency who has lasted longer than 1 year will inevitably have a good black book. And even if they don’t have a strong black book in your specific sector, they will know quite easily how to build one quickly. That is after all, what they do and why there are at the pitch to begin with.
So rather than waste time on answers that really won’t make too much of a difference to your end result, here are the top 3 questions you should be asking:
- How long is your longest running client and why have they stayed with you for so long?
- Have you ever lost a client because of not meeting your sales targets? *To note, there are many variables that can affect sponsorship sales so if someone hasn’t met targets I wouldn’t write them off. Instead, try to understand whether they took on the project without being transparent to their client about their own concerns such as pricing that is overvalued or timing that is unrealistic.
- What do you think the key USP of our platform is and what type of brands do you think it would attract?