This is a question I get at least a couple of times a week. Generally, it refers to approaching multiple sponsors in the same category – ice cream, insurance, sporting goods, etc – at the same time. Sometimes, the question is about a naming rights sponsorship, and whether they can approach multiple sponsors in any category for naming rights at the same time.
My answer to all of those is “yes”. It is totally reasonable to approach multiple sponsors at the same time. In fact, it’s usually the most realistic approach. Your sponsorship sales window is only so long, and it can take sponsors weeks or months to make a decision. Waiting for one bank to turn you down before approaching another will waste a ton of time that you may not have.
The key is how you do it.
Never ever ever ever use the fact that you’re approaching other sponsors in the category as an ultimatum or threat. You never want to say anything remotely like, “We’re talking to your biggest rival, so if you don’t want them to have it, you’d better commit”. 99% of the time, that’s the death knell for your sales process.
They’ve got a lot of choice in things to sponsor. Why would they choose to invest with an organisation that plays games? And frankly, if that competitor was that bloody hot for the sponsorship, you would be dealing with them and not trying to strong-arm another sponsor.
This is not somewhere that you need to be pro-active. Don’t volunteer that you’re talking to other sponsors if they don’t ask. They’ll almost certainly just assume you are.
If they do ask if you’re talking to anyone else in the category, say something like this:
That’s it. No caginess. No implied ultimatum. This shows that you are both professional and realistic, and that’s the kind of rightsholder that will appeal to a potential sponsor.
For all you need to know about sponsorship sales and servicing, you may want to get a copy of The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition. You may also be interested in my white papers, “Last Generation Sponsorship Redux” and “Disruptive Sponsorship: Like Disruptive Marketing, Only Better“.
If you need additional assistance, I offer sponsorship consulting and strategy sessions, sponsorship training, and sponsorship coaching. I also offer a comprehensive sponsorship capacity-building service for large, diverse, and decentralised organisations. Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss.
Please note, I do not offer a sponsorship broker service, and can’t sell sponsorship on your behalf. You may find someone appropriate on my sponsorship broker registry.
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