Sell Sponsorship Like a Baker, Not a Grocer
Updated: Feb 7
Walking downtown a couple of weeks ago, I passed the ornate window of a bakery. The display of goods was so enticing, I immediately shelved the original intent for my outing and entered the shop. Sweet tooth pounding, I proceeded to the counter and asked for a piece of chocolate cake.
The baker smiled, dropped below the counter for moment, and emerged to begin sliding different items over to me: flour, sugar, milk, eggs, cocoa, vanilla and butter among them.
Confused, I asked: “What’s all this?”
“Everything you need to bake a chocolate cake,” the baker replied. “Enjoy!”
“How the hell do I make a chocolate cake?” I stammered, taken aback by the decidedly unusual direction things had taken.
“Oh, I’m certain you’ll figure it out,” replied the baker, before bustling off to “help” another customer…
Absurd, right? What bakery would be in business for more than 24 hours if they only supplied the ingredients to their customers desires, rather than actual desires themselves?
But if this is absurd, why then do so may sponsorship properties sell like a grocery store rather than a bakery?
You know what I mean. Most sponsorship properties continue to provide a list of assets (ingredients) to prospects in the hope that they’ll see something of value. If the prospect purchases, they’re often on the hook for figuring out how to leverage and measure the effectiveness of the assets (bake the cake).
It’s the most common method of sponsorship sales because it’s easy and requires very little training to get started. The sales person is just responsible for pointing out what’s available and then ringing up the sale. It’s very transactional.
Selling like a baker, though, requires skill. A baker needs to get a clear sense of what the customer wants (what’s the cake for, how many people, dietary restrictions, how quickly is it needed, etc.), presents a potential solution, and then sets about creating the agreed upon outcome. It takes time, dialog, patience and skill. It’s a solutions-focused approach.
Sponsors are looking for solutions that directly address their defined needs. They frequently don’t have the time or resources to evaluate how a list of assets might present a solution. As a result, properties that come to them with a range of possible solutions that are based on their objectives are infinitely more valuable. They also show the sponsor that the property has done their homework to understand their business.
We recently polled a number of corporate marketers to get some insight into how they see the sponsors sales process. Several themes emerged:
They can’t stand generic proposals.
They want sponsorship properties to serve as a partner (e.g. understand and working to solve their challenges)
They REALLY wish property sales people would listen more and talk less.
All these ideas reinforce the idea that sponsors see great value in properties that act like bakers (presenting fully thought out ideas that address their needs), not grocers (simply pointing out ingredients that might or might not satisfy their requirements).
So get cooking.