How Long is Your Sponsorship Sales Cycle?
For some it can be up to a full year or even more. That's a long sales cycles for any product. But perhaps a better question is how frequent and with who is your sales cycle dealing with? As with many organizations, how you use your data can in many instances dictate the success of your sales pitch. Most hands-on sponsors crave real-time data and updates. But how often do we really engage those 'involved' sponsors? Twice a year? Perhaps the sponsorship pitch and an end of year wrap-up. Sure, if they're a current sponsor you'll discuss activation details, but most properties don't continually arm sponsors with updates, real-time data and success stories that reinforce the value of their sponsorship.
And that's for current sponsors. If a sponsor doesn't immediately sign on the dotted line, some properties will take 'no' as a final answer and never come back.
This weekend while watching the Yankees finish off the Red Sox, I stumbled on an interesting story about a MotoGP team (LCR Honda) that has assembled thousands of advertising agency contacts (most of which have told them "no") and is building a micro-site exclusively for them, whether they are a sponsor or not. They're also using periodical email updates. But here's what is unique about their pitch. Rather than saying "Do you want to sponsor us?" LCR Honda continually feeds buyers with real time information like bios, statistics, media measurement and sponsor case studies. It's a subtle, information-based pitch that is continually reinforced with periodical updates to sponsors, and potential sponsors alike. In other words, every no is a "potential sponsor" in their database (which I'm sure you can opt out of). In business we all shoot for a short sales cycles, but let's face it, there's no big red button or countdown clock in sponsorship sales. Aside from the exploding inventory that is the event itself of course. Still, that does not change the fact that there are a lot of steps involved in a relatively long sales cycle including reaching out, information sharing, activation brainstorming, measurement identification, stakeholder buy-in and ultimately negotiation of a deal. Perhaps we should stop putting so much emphasis on the quick, hard sale and embrace longer term relationship management strategies.
Are some properties too sensitive or perhaps not persistent enough? Have we been trained to think that two updates a year is good enough in an internet age where real time data is the norm and is it possible that with the right approach, a 'no' cracks the door open, ever so slightly perhaps, to an eventual yes? Is 'no' really the final answer?
photo credit via photobucket: final answer253f