The Strategy Behind… being different.

Hiscox Rear Wing

The feedback that I receive from sponsorship-seekers across so many sports tells me that for most people, the toughest part of the acquisition process is getting a meeting with a targeted company at an effective level.

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It’s relatively easy for sports agencies who have regular dialogue with a high number of businesses, or professional race teams with a marketing department, but what about individuals who have to do this on their own if they are to secure the budget to go racing? Just the thought of phoning a company “cold” is enough to put many people off. I can recall it being a daunting task when I first started out!

The easy way to avoid this is to send out e-mails, hoping that they will be read. Really? I don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm, but are senior business people going to sift through all of them every day, looking for sponsorship opportunities? You tell me!

Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

If you are genuinely unhappy making cold calls to a company and feel that you don’t come across well, you can do two things. Either enrol on a professional telephone selling course, there are some good ones, or find an alternative to e-mails. If you don’t want to use the phone, you’d better put a lot of effort into being able to write in a persuasive, powerful style. When did you last write a letter, or at least type/print out a letter which you sent to a person, whether family friend or business? Think about it for a moment. Sent by courier, to be signed for, a stylish envelope or package, addressed to a specific person arrives at a company. Do you think that it might have more chance of being seen by the person in question within a company than an e-mail? How many letters are sent these days? Very few! It has to have a powerful opening line(s), based on careful research such as:

“From your website, I see that you have a national sales force comprising 40 personnel. Would I be right in assuming that you like to be aware of innovative ways to motivate your sales professionals to increase their performance against target? I have designed an innovative sales incentive project, based on the proven attraction of motorsport, which offers a measurable, sustainable way of being used for this purpose.”

Then follow up by phone within a couple of days. You’ll find it far less nerve-racking using the phone in this way, than by trying to speak to the person “cold”. They will also be far more likely to recall a letter, ideally with an outline prospectus (NOT a proposal at this stage) enclosed, than an e-mail approach. I must stress that the purpose of the communication is not to try and sell the sponsorship opportunity. You can only do that face to face! The objective must be simply to generate enough interest to secure a meeting. Too many people send out proposals and wonder why they end up in the bin. Sell the idea of a meeting.

Remember, companies receive hundreds, if not more, sponsorship proposals ever year. Don’t follow the herd, be original, innovative and do your research to find an angle that you can use as the powerful opener to your letter. You need to give a lot of thought to ways of doing this, but whatever you do it must be professionally and stylishly presented. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” as they say in America!

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