As George Killebrew has taught us, you’re always learning in this business, assuming you want to stay in this business. So, after breaking into sponsorship sales with the Dallas Mavericks, I began collecting helpful tips for those of us who are the new kids on the sponsorship block.
#1. Manage Your Expectations
“Understand that this process is a marathon, not a sprint. Deals take time to develop.” -Guy Tomcheck, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Texas Rangers
- Sellebrate: Celebrate the successes of sales regardless of the price tag.
- Be a “grinder.” Look yourself in the mirror each day and ask yourself, am I 1% better than the day before?
- Be an “explorer.” Don’t be afraid to explore new categories, create a new activation piece, or use fan data to engage with fans differently through your partnership.
#2. Start to Develop Your Personal Brand
Ask yourself: How am I different from those around me? Define your own brand, style, and the way you carry yourself. Dan Migala shared an insight he learned from Ted Phillips, President and CEO of the Chicago Bears, who said, “Find the uniqueness of your own voice. Don’t try to conform to others.”
#3. Take a Story-Telling Approach
Tell someone a story you aspire to have happen to you.
- Have a “reference story” for different categories of business or situation (ex: community relations initiative, quick serve restaurant activation story, in-game promotion, etc.). Show you’ve done your homework.
- My inspiring reference story? Someday I want to create a deal like Dan Migala did when he changed the start time of the White Sox games to 7:11 to tie in with the 7-Eleven sponsorship. I want to make a game-changing deal!
#4. Believe You Belong
“Don’t get caught up in others’ titles (CEO, VP Sales, etc.). Focus on building a mutually respectful relationship.” ~ Brian George, General Manager, Baylor IMG Sports Marketing.
- Make others feel like they belong: When you are out in public, never discount someone you meet and how they may can help you in some way someday.
What do you think?
If you’re the new kid on the sponsorship block or the experienced manager or executive, what tips would you give me? I’m always willing to learn!
Cover photo courtesy of Yksisarvinen.