Many associations are finding it increasingly difficult to sell sponsorships. Beyond the “regulars” that can be counted on year after year, finding those “new” sponsors – the ones that give you a fighting chance of hitting your goal – can be a real challenge.
Yes, there are many persons/companies you can contract with to sell for you on a commission-only basis. But I would not recommend you go that route just yet; there are a number of factors that need to be considered first.
Keep in mind that if you outsource this function and that person/company only achieves what you sold the prior year, your net proceeds will be reduced by the amount of the commission. So it’s essential to first determine why selling sponsorships has been such a challenge. If the problem is simply a lack of sales experience on staff and/or the time to commit to the process, the solution is to either staff-up properly or outsource. But it’s rare that the lack of on-staff expertise is the sole problem.
With each situation being unique, there’s no one solution. However, I feel comfortable offering up some things to consider as you work toward a decision.
Companies have limited marketing budgets and, therefore, tend to commit to those activities/opportunities they determine are most likely to achieve the company’s goals and objectives. The challenge for you is to get into the heads of each of your prospective sponsors to determine what’s important to them and then create opportunities that help them achieve their goals and objectives.
This is obviously a time-consuming exercise. But when it is completed, you’ll know your “customers” better than ever before, and be able to create opportunities that truly meet their needs. Even if outsourcing is ultimately the right route to go, having this insight first is very important. You’ll know what to look for in a sales partner and how to craft the terms of the agreement to meet your needs.