The idea of gold, silver and bronze has been dead for years… yet I would say 75 per cent of events are still using them because that’s what they’ve always done, and they’re easy to do.
You create a beautiful package that shows the different levels of sponsorship and how many event tickets or banners you’re offering at each level. You feel you’ve accomplished something when you send them out to 100 organizations. But the thing about these stock packages is that you’re stuck selling them that way. There’s no customization and it costs you a whole lot of money to print them.
What’s a better way to approach prospects?
It’s not about you; it’s all about the sponsor. Meet with them and find out what their business is all about. Discovery sessions will help you to figure out what the prospect needs, what they’re trying to achieve, and how much money they have. You custom-build the proposal to provide solutions to their problems within their budget range.
It feels like a partnership when you custom build it. That means you have to know how your inventory of assets might be beneficial to the prospect. Often, sponsors don’t know what they need or want, so your job in proposal building is to show them what they need based on what their objectives are. Bundle it like the telcos do, with 10, 15 or 20 assets that will help them achieve their business goals.
What if an organization doesn’t have the time or resources for multiple discovery sessions and customization?
It’s a transitional thing. Let’s say you’ve got a golf tournament with 20 regular sponsors; you would do discoveries with your top two sponsors and build better programs for them. Once the top two sponsors have been moved into customized packages, you can spend the next 10 months working on another six sponsors. In the third and fourth years, you can convert the balance of them into customized packages.
Why is it so important that a detailed proposal speak for itself?
It must have a selling message with an explanation so that it can be passed up the ladder. Explain why the prospect should make the investment, why you’re offering certain assets, and the benefits associated with those assets. I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years, and I don’t get to speak to the ultimate decision maker much more than 50 per cent of the time.