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Six Steps to the Sponsorship Epiphany: The Sponsorship Sales Cycle and Your Proposal

Published By Kristin DirtyMouth Communications     February 9, 2016    


Of the questions that I get asked regarding racing sponsorship and helping racers, events and tracks clinch the right marketing deals, I would say that the vast majority are about, or swing back to, the almighty sponsorship proposal.

I get questions on the number of pages, categorizing by levels, whether to include pricing or not, how many photos to use…the list goes on (and on).

But one thing that my smartest coaching clients ask me is, I believe, one of the most critical questions about sponsorship proposals:

Where does my sponsorship proposal fit in the sales cycle?

It’s not that those questions aren’t important. They certainly are.

But what’s more important to understand is that your marketing proposal isn’t what sells sponsorship. Just because the proposal is the item that you (almost always) have push across the table (or internet) to seal the deal, it’s not actually what makes the deal.

You’re what makes the deal.

And knowing how the proposal fits into that process of presenting you is just as critical as knowing what to put in it.

So what does the Sponsorship Sales Cycle look like?

I can honestly say that it’s different for every person, but I’ll tell you what I suggest and in what order:

Step 1: Identify what’s sellable in your program. Take inventory of the assets you can offer – tangible and intangible. Have a great social media presence? Own a truck and trailer you can have lettered? Know a high-end videographer who can produce great footage for a partner? These are all sellable assets.

Step 2: Build a portfolio of those sellable assets that you can pull from (with values). This is your list from which you can reference to create the right packages for the right marketing partners. In this (internal) list, you should also note what you feel the value is to a sponsor, and what the costs (both hard, as in cold, hard cash, and in time and effort) are to you. Note what the cash value might be to the sponsor, and the non-cash value. Will they be building their brand share in a certain demographic? Will they receive press or community relations benefits? Note them.

Step 3: Put together your targeted prospects list and do your research. Who might be a great fit for you and your audience? Who might enjoy or get the most value from the benefits that you listed above? Who is spending money or launching new marketing campaigns? There are tons of resources on this blog for information on matching your value up to a sponsor’s wants and needs. 

Step 4: Contact your prospects and ask questions. Then listen. Use your phone. Or your email. Or your carrier pigeon (<- unless you’re pitching me. Birds are TERRIFYING.) Whatever method you feel fits both your level of comfort and your prospects, use that to get the ball rolling.

If you can get a meeting, get a meeting and ask as many questions as possible, respectfully, about the company’s marketing goals, who their target audience is, and how they value sponsorship or certain marketing activities. (Just don’t ask for information about money, ever.) If you believe the organization is a good fit to work with you, then say that. And ask if you could send a customized proposal for them to review.

Step 5: Create and submit the proposal. For goodness’ sake, what have you been waiting for?! Just kidding. Patience is a virtue that racers are conditioned not to have, so don’t feel bad.

It’s finally your time to shine. 

This is where the process gets exciting. At least, it should. You know what will make that company’s dreams come true, and you feel that you’re capable of helping them get there, so by all means TELL THEM with an effective, attention-grabbing, beautiful proposal that they can’t resist. And, once they haven’t resisted…

Step 6: Agree, then activate. Once they’ve jumped up and down at the prospect of working with you (hey, it happens!), and signed the agreement, it’s time to activate. As in, do what you promised, and more to earn your money and a long-term relationship with your marketing partner. 

Rinse and repeat.

Now, are you psyched to put your proposal in front of the right marketing partners, or what?!

Knowing what to do and when often simplifies the process for my clients, and makes it more actionable. But if you’re still not confident about how to create and utilize an effective sponsorship proposal, I’d encourage you to check out our newest training on exactly that with our newest Sponsorship Marketing Workshop: Creating Effective Proposals.  

You can get all of the details here.

Questions? Comments? Do your sales cycle differently? Leave a comment, shoot me a message or reach out on social media. I’m always happy to hear what’s working, and what’s not.


About the author
Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.

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