Facilitated sponsor introductions are by far the best way to start a relationship with a potential sponsor. Just because you receive a facilitated sponsor introduction, however, you still need to play your cards right.
All sponsorship professionals know that sourcing, procuring and retaining sponsors is as much about relationships as it is about the content of the sponsorship program.
Your network, and your ability to create one, are what sets apart run of the mill sponsorship execs from those who are highly sought after and successful.
The best thing about having a good relationship is that it is more about helping each other than it is about a one-way conversation. Some of my biggest financial backers throughout my career have also been some of my biggest advocates and most active network marketing contacts. Some of the best partnerships I have ever established came off the back of introductions from mutual sources.
Facilitated sponsor introductions, through a trusted mutual source, are definitely the best way of getting in front of a prospect. However, once that happens, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Unfortunately, even with a facilitated introduction, I see a lot of potentially great relationships fail for the following reasons:
A facilitated sponsor introduction is nothing more than an open door. Someone, who is mutually trusted, has made the introduction because, in their opinion, there is potentially mutual benefit in connecting.
In realistic terms, this is still a ‘cold call’ and any first meeting should be treated as such and not thought of as an easy win just because you are in the door.
You will find some useful cold call advice in an earlier blog I wrote which covered off How To Approach A Sponsor – Successful Cold Calling In 5 Steps
Lack of research
Just because your contact has introduced you, they are not the only source you should rely on for intelligence on the prospect. Their experience and knowledge may be limited only to their own business dealings or personal friendships with individuals and, whilst you should get as much information out of your contact as possible, you should still partake in your own research in order to be prepared for a professional conversation about why you wanted the introduction in the first place.
A great place to start is to see if they are on LinkedIn as it can tell you their work history, where they studied and most importantly, who else they know that you may know. You may wish to do this in anonymously, or not, depending whether you think the prospect will see that you’ve seen their profile and be impressed you are doing your research or not.
Failure to take ownership
Once introduced and a meeting has been set and had, it is now your responsibility to own that relationship between your organisation and the prospect.
Although tempting, and seemingly easier, you should avoid keeping your mutual contact involved anywhere past the introduction and thanking them for making the introduction. If the introduction is made on email then you should reply to the prospect and remove your mutual contact (making a note to the prospect that you’ve already thanked the mutual prospect).
It seems logical yet I have seen many people thinking that the mutual contact can help influence any decision. This is not the case and often makes for a loss of urgency and sense of partnership that is needed to pull off a deal.
Furthermore, your mutual contact doesn’t want their inbox flooded with your discussion and it may turn them off making further sponsor introductions. You should, however, keep them in the loop, where applicable, and let them know how things are progressing. You just don’t need to do that on 12 ‘replay all’ emails.
Remember that a facilitated sponsor introduction is simply that, an introduction. When meeting with prospects, the same due diligence in research, preparation of a business case and independent follow-through are vital to anything fruitful coming off.
Mark Thompson // Director
Mark specialises in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
Did you find this blog useful? Subscribe to receive more blogs, just like this one, direct to your inbox.
* indicates required