I recently visited 3 different clients, all of whom were waiting for a sponsorship proposal to be finished before they picked up the phone to call their corporate prospects. This could mean that they hadn’t read this or this, or maybe my message just wasn’t hitting the mark. Perhaps I need to take another stab at explaining what I mean when I talk about designing a custom proposal.
17 years ago, around this time, I called my mom to tell her I was getting married. I’d been living with my partner for a few years, so this didn’t come as a huge surprise. What did come as a surprise was when I told her both the date and venue at the same time.
Now, I love my mom, but I was determined to have my wedding in a specific venue located downtown Toronto in just a few months’ time. I knew that this wasn’t her dream for my wedding. So, I planned and then shared. I decided all the important stuff, and then let her help with choosing the dress, landing on a cake flavour, and carving out the perfect guest list. I set the ground rules and then invited her to the table.
See what I’m saying?
Many of us are calling our prospects, saying that we’re interested in hearing what our sponsor wants and then offering to personalize it. We then follow up 15 minutes later with a generic glossy brochure that includes a small sentence at the end reading: “We will personalize your sponsorship package.” Would you believe you? No! And they don’t either.
Be a Genuine Partner in the Collaboration Process
That’s why companies say: “send me your proposal”. They want to know how much you have already figured out before they invest time in thinking about what they want and how you might help them achieve it. They want to know if you’ve set price points based on your needs or if you’re genuinely interested in discussing a value-based negotiation. The truth is, when you can hit send in 15 minutes, the lack of personalization becomes pretty darn obvious.
When it came to wedding planning, you know when I was really open to new ideas? 2 months before I told my parents; when there was a big bottle of wine, a fancy dinner, and my partner of many years and I were saying “I wonder if it’s time?”. A sheet of paper, a few questions, a brainstorm; that’s when I really feel like you want my input.
So, why don’t we invite corporate sponsors to join us at the planning stage instead of part way down the road? Why are we unwilling to have those open conversations with prospects? Is it because we are worried they will suggest something we really can’t do? If that happens, be honest and explain why. Maybe together you can overcome the obstacle! And guess what you have then? A partner.