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ESA Event: How to sell sponsorship internally

October 18, 2022

Last week our Content and Communications Co-ordinator Lewis Joseph-Bryan had the pleasure of attending the European Sponsorship Association’s (ESA) latest breakfast event titled ‘Selling Sponsorship Internally’. Full of insight from some great speakers, he took away plenty of learnings to support our current industry knowledge and expertise.  

It was fascinating to hear Christian Fizia, Matt Stevenson, and Valentine Snoeren speak and indulge in the topic of internal sponsorship. Coming from their respective companies of Kindred Group PLC, BT, and JustEat, they covered the sponsorships they have successfully implemented as well as deals they have in the pipeline. 

There are some key factors that help the process of selling sponsorship internally within a company, no matter its size and these key factors are important within this passion-led and relationship-building industry. 

Internally, it is important to relate the sponsorship objectives back to the overall business objectives which are connected to the wider aims of the company. It is also important to refine those objectives depending on the scale of the sponsorship property, its longevity, the media, and the opportunity to activate. This is something at SQN that we can only reiterate, as we understand that business objectives form the basis of every partnership we undertake. 

Brands can achieve internal sponsorship backing by reconciling brand metrics with their above-the-line activities so that they can see the economic benefit of activating a sponsorship. This goes as far as being able to calculate the positive effect on the company’s bottom line for every £1 spent on activation. This helps not only the procurement teams that sponsorship managers work with, but also senior management and C-suite staff.  

Although this is tricky to achieve and implement, the ability to relate sponsorship spending directly with the company’s bottom line can impact everyone involved in directing the sponsorship, which closely relates to having clear lines of communication between team members. 

Open lines of communication between sponsorship managers, senior management, and procurement teams are key when reporting sponsorship performance, so that senior management and procurement know what is being done and how the sponsorship is impacting the business. When it comes to reporting internally, using data from reliable sources helps showcase that the sponsorship activation is going according to plan. Even if the sponsorship is not going in the right direction, team members can communicate and take action to rectify the things that aren’t as effective. 

Data is imperative for a brand to achieve internal backing for sponsorships. The use of data makes sponsorships easier for renewals, where there is existing performance data tracking in place. Yet for new sponsorship deals it is important to rely upon data from specialists, like Nielson Sport, as well as pre-evaluation reports on proposals to calculate expected ROI. New deals can be notoriously difficult to approve, especially if the proposal is not well timed, researched, or detailed, and is lacking the information to support the decision to move forward. 

With existing deals, when looking at the performance data to analyse which sponsorships are performing well and which are underperforming, there can be pressure from directors, senior management, and C-suite staff, as well as pressures from the day-to-day stakeholders who work closely with sponsorship managers. These managers need to use that data to reiterate their position as to why the sponsorship is, or is not, doing well and communicate with team members ways of making positive progress moving the sponsorship forward.  

There is a lot more questioning that goes on around sponsorship compared to other departments in a business. However, with a supportive and understanding senior management team there can be an understanding of the capabilities that sponsorship opens up for a company and how it can perform from a communications point of view. 

Brands can get their company’s backing with sponsorship deals by using clear communication between team members and departments, by using data effectively, by relating the sponsorship objective with the overall business objective, and by relating sponsorship budgets back to the business’s bottom line. These four main actions can go a long way in selling sponsorships internally and increase the chances of it being approved by senior staff members in a team. 

As sponsorship specialists, SQN has put into practice these internal selling techniques and is something we have supported clients with over many years. If you require advice or a friendly ear as to how we can help you sell sponsorship to the right people in your business, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. 

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