Written by Sam Torres Sports and Entertainment Practice Leader
Perhaps the most important part of a sales pitch is the presentation, the story is the human side of your organization. The part that gives your franchise emotions, a face, and a heart. It can be a personal story, or it can be one that represents your fans. Whomever the story is about you must explain how the organization changed their lives. If it’s about the local community in general, explain exactly how the franchise has benefited them, and why continued success would be a source of pride amongst the residents. This all sounds easier said than done, but there is a formulaic way to approach your proposal.
Know your audience as well as you know your proposal. A heartwarming story will work with one sponsor but definitely will not work with another. The most important thing is to start with it though, no matter what the story is. If done correctly, it will draw in your audience and create an emotional bond that cannot be replicated by bar graphs and pie charts. You can define a total addressable market as well as you can, but what does this mean to a sponsor who does not even know who your market consists of?
These three simple words will go a long way with any sort of proposal. What will set your organization apart from the thousands of sports franchises around the world? At the end of the day, your proposal or presentation is one amongst dozens or even hundreds that a potential sponsor will attend. Set yourself apart by making it memorable. How can you be memorable? By making them care. Appeal to their human side and take the business out of the business transaction.
Of course, telling a story and building a proposal around that story takes a bit of skill. Being a good storyteller certainly helps. Being a great storyteller will make a tremendous difference. Set the scene for your audience and lure them in. This is not about tricking them or making your presentation like a sales pitch. This is the art of one of the oldest forms of communication in recorded history. There are few people in any line of work or economic class that can resist a great story.
Before you begin telling your story, do not forget to make it relatable. Again, this ties back to knowing your audience. If they cannot relate to your story then you are not succeeding in making them care. What you want is to gain access to the inner circle of trust. It is an intimate connection that you want to make. Even if some parts of the story have to be tweaked or exaggerated to fit your narrative, as long as the final message is clear. With any great story, it’s as much the road traveled as it is the destination.
What does every great storyteller do? Engage your audience by making them a part of your story. An audience connects at a much higher level when they are a participant rather than a bystander. Ask them questions:
By becoming an active listener, the story will resonate with your audience even more, which will make the inevitable business negotiations a much more casual and friendly process.
Finally, the ending is such a crucial part to the story. It ties everything together and provides the lasting emotion that your audience will remember it by. The same goes for a sponsorship proposal. The end of your story should transition smoothly into why your organization believes that a partnership with this sponsor would be beneficial for both sides.
Every story has a message, and this message needs to be loud and clear. This investment is an investment in the future of both organizations and should be a strategic and lasting relationship. Nobody knows your organization as well as you do, so you should know exactly which emotional notes to hit to make it professional enough to be taken legitimately and human enough to not just be another sales pitch.
The human side of a professional sports organization runs deep within our communities. There is not a franchise in the world that does not have hundreds of individual stories about what the team means to its fans. But what does the corporate sponsor gain from the sponsorship? That is something you need to address as well. This is where knowing your audience and their product certainly helps.
If your story was thoughtful and served its purpose, then securing your sponsorship should be a simple and logical next step. The story is not everything, but it is the heart and soul of your proposal. It is something you can keep referring back to and it is something you want to be remembered by. Prove to the sponsor that there is humanity in your franchise, and you are the face of it. Take them on a journey and continuously come to crossroads along the way that illustrates exactly why the two organizations should be connected.
At the end of the day, your story and your proposal are to paint a picture as to why your organization is a good investment. Appeal to their emotions, tug at their heartstrings and show them a different side of a sports team’s ownership. Why is your team worth the investment? Success on the field? A great rapport with the community? The story you tell is an opportunity to let them into your world and let yourself be vulnerable. The more the corporate sponsor can relate to your story, the better chance you can lock in that lucrative corporate sponsorship agreement.
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