Some sponsors receive dozens of unsolicited proposals a month. Some receive hundreds. Others, thousands. It’s no wonder so many sponsors are overwhelmed by the process of sponsorship proposal assessment. Below, I’ve outlined three things you can do to streamline the process and get a more strategic result.
“Yeah, right”, I hear you say. “Whaddaya got? A wand?” Let me assure you, you don’t need a wand and it is possible to reduce the number of proposals you get.
If you’re in the situation where there is a nonstop stream of mostly terrible proposals arriving in your inbox, chances are you’re spending way too much time on this first step of assessment. For some sponsorship managers, proposal wrangling makes up 90% of their jobs. Not only is this unnecessary, it’s also a real waste of your limited time, which could be much better spent on strategic work.
(For more on the real role of a best practice sponsorship manager, see this blog.)
Some companies try to reduce the workload on this step by implementing an online submission form. This may automate gatekeeping, but it really doesn’t allow the great opportunities to shine. I don’t recommend it and have a much better alternative: Sponsorship guidelines.
Create a set of sponsorship guidelines that are:
For a huge head-start on creating sponsorship guidelines, you can download a sponsorship guidelines template. From there, it should be a matter of maybe an hour to get them very close to perfect, and you can always tweak them going forward. (They don’t have to be perfect to do the job well.)
Now that you have them, you want to make them available through all of the channels where you get enquiries or receive proposals, such as:
What you will find is that the number of proposals you receive will drop significantly, as anyone who is a bad match or unprepared to do the work will opt out, and the quality of the proposals you receive will be much higher.
Even if you’ve reduced the number and increased the quality of proposals you receive, chances are you’ll still have quite a few. The two most common ways of assessing them are based on some kind of scorecard or based on ad hoc criteria (or just gut feel).
While a scorecard is more useful than basing selection on no firm criteria, the process of changing what should be clear answers to strategy-based questions into some arbitrary number is a bit convoluted. My strong preference is to create a set of internal evaluation criteria that, in large part, mirror your external sponsorship guidelines. I advocate a three-part evaluation, asking the right questions and letting the picture paint itself. There is no need for a score if the direction against objectives is clear.
This is all about strategic fit, and includes questions about whether…
The beauty or failings of most proposals will be crystal clear by the time you get to the end of The Wringer.
The next section is about whether you have the lead-time and/or the hours in a day to develop and implement a leverage plan and manage the sponsorship. You also want to consider whether you have the required skill-set in-house, or in the pertinent region, or whether you will need to outsource the implementation of your leverage strategy.
The final – not first! – thing you should look at is the cost. If it’s too much, or unrealistically priced, you can always negotiate or try to access other budgets or make up some of it with contra.
If you want another big, running start, there is a Proposal Evaluation Criteria template in my new book, The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit.
At this point, you will have very few really great opportunities that are still under consideration. The final step in assessment, before you move to negotiation, is to leverage the sponsorship. That’s right – leverage before you say “yes”.
Get your key decision-makers together in a room – representatives from all of the relevant departments – and go through the process of developing a leverage plan. That process will achieve a number of things:
That’s it. Your assessment process is cleaner, more strategic, and will get you further along the leverage and negotiation process for the best potential partnerships. A straightforward leverage brainstorm process – perfect for use with your stakeholders – is included in The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit.
You may be interested in my latest white paper, “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.
If you need additional assistance with your sponsorship portfolio, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large and/or diverse organisations.
Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.