1. Research Your Prospect Thoroughly – How do you know how much they can afford? If its not obvious from their accounts i.e. they don’t give a figure for sponsorships (and it’s likely they won’t) look at their annual turnover. As a general rule of thumb, their marketing budget should be roughly 10% of this with the amount they give away with sponsorship being around 10% of their marketing budget. This is a rule of thumb but it will give you a ballpark figure to aim for.
2. Know What You Want – Go into the meeting with a specific amount in mind that you will be asking them for. However, in your head have an alternate package (or a couple) that you’d like to offer them that are for around 20% more and 20% less than your ideal (of course, if your ideal is your top package, you’ll be going in with one alternate at the lower level).
3. Have an Outline Prepared – To table a proposal or not? I usually go into the initial meeting with an outline proposal that I use as an initial discussion point and I make it clear that this is a flexible outline for us to discuss – rather than a done deal. I don’t go in with a proposal for the other levels that I have in my head as I want them to see the ideal proposal and be enthused by it not distracted by others at this stage. This ideal proposal will have their logo incorporated plus mock ups of promotional material, if appropriate. The idea is to get them to visualise what their support will mean without too much effort on their part. Make it clear, however, that the benefits you’ve provided in the proposal are flexible – albeit ensuring they don’t think this means they can have all of them plus other benefits too (see my next point)!
4. Remember This is an Equal Partnership – Yes, you are getting money from them but they are getting benefits in return so don’t be tempted to sell too much for too little. This is key to successful sponsorship negotiations, particularly if you want to attract a number of sponsors, you don’t want to give away either too much to one sponsor compared to others OR too much to one sponsor that means you have to give away too much to all the others!
5. Speculate to Accumulate – don’t be so restrictive that you won’t meet people half way. Yes, you may have a clear idea of what you want to ask for and through all your research, you might have figured out that this is the level that they can afford but the point of negotiating is to get to a place that benefits both parties so try to remember that. It should benefit you and not feel like giving away too much for too little or more than you can realistically deliver but, even if it’s less than you wanted, involving them for less this time might be worth it in the long run, particularly for first time sponsors.
6. Open Your Ears – point 6 should really be point 1 as it’s so important. Be flexible and listen to what they say they are looking for and what they want. It’s a common misconception that sponsorship negotiations are a black art and to be successful you have to be ruthless. You don’t. The key to success – as with so many other forms of fundraising – is simple. Listen.
In my next post, I’ll be looking at how to write a killer sponsorship proposal – what you need to include and what you don’t to grab a potential sponsors attention.
Meantime, if you’ve any other tips about sponsorship that you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments below…