5 Ways To Nurture Your Sponsor Relationships
Last week we showed you how the sponsorship sales cycle works and even gave you some tips on how the process will help you foster long-term relationships. Equally important as following the 7 stages, is using these 5 ways to nurture your sponsor relationships so they can continue to grow and strengthen over time.
1. Communicate Consistently
If you only connect with your sponsors when you need a signature or money, you’re going to make them feel like a piece of meat. Don’t be that sales person. Please.
It’s important to check in with them regularly and maintain consistent communication.
Ask them how the program is going, if they’re facing any challenges, have ideas or suggestions, or even have questions.
Always deliver reports, data, photos as they are available to show them how their investment is doing. Share your successes with them so they feel like you’re on the same team.
Respond to their emails and return their calls. Try to meet with them face-to-face at least once a year if that’s possible.
Send them holiday and New Year greetings to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Remember that this is a relationship. Don’t treat it like a transaction. They are not an ATM, or bank. They are your partner and should be treated as such.
Communication is a really valuable way to nurture your sponsor relationships.
2. Appreciate Them
Again, it’s important to make them feel special. As opposed to treating them like an ATM, or piece of meat.
Do what you can to make them feel appreciated and valued for their investment. They don’t HAVE to partner with you, they’ve CHOSEN to collaborate with you. Be grateful, and express that gratitude.
You can do this through verbal or written words, but there’s also gestures that can offer that same message of gratitude. Here are some ideas:
- Invite them to special events (even throughout the year)
- Send them branded collateral they can use (this even benefits your marketing efforts!)
- Nominate them for an award
- Feature them in some kind of “Sponsor Spotlight” program
3. Ask For Feedback
You can send surveys, make phone calls, take them out for a meal, or email to find out how things are working out for them. Ever heard the saying, “Perception is reality”? There is definitely truth in that, given that how your sponsor perceives the deal will naturally affect their actions.
Odds are, if they think it’s an awful investment without a return, that the team is unresponsive and doesn’t care about them—they’ll take their money elsewhere.
Honestly, even if the deal isn’t going well or as planned, if your team is truly trying to make it work and receptive to feedback, the person in charge will almost always stick it out in hopes of things getting better. They neither want to face the fact that they’ve perhaps made a bad investment, but they’ll also see hope in the efforts.
So not only should you be open to feedback, you should also solicit feedback. And then act on it. In order to properly nurture your sponsor relationships, you've got to be willing to improve where you can and adjust where you need.
Which leads us to:
4. Manage Conflict Gracefully
Sometimes, things just won’t work out. Someone will drop the ball, something will fall through the cracks, a vendor won’t show up, or will deliver the wrong product. There is a PLETHORA of things that can go wrong.
You have to be prepared to handle any kind of conflict with grace. That means remaining calm (because panic is contagious), being flexible, and positive. If your team is capable of making adjustments at the last minute and staying focused on the goal without letting the fear of failure fog their thinking—you’ll be just fine.
Some conflicts may also occur as a result of unmet or not communicated expectations. The way to avoid this is to be clear in your communications about what expectations all parties have. Also, you should be sure to ask your sponsor the right questions so that you understand their expectations as well.
5. Stay Creative
If you do the same thing year after year after year after year, you might not only miss out on opportunities for your sponsor to leverage their investment, but you might miss out on revenue yourself.
It’s really important to stay creative and promote growth within your sponsorship program. Not only does this help everyone achieve new and bigger successes over time, it also keeps everyone excited for the new and unique opportunities (and challenges, too!) to come.
“The antidote to stagnation is innovation” –Robin Sharma
Value The Relationship
In short, you need to value the relationship and investment—both verbally and through your actions. Because what you value, you will nurture and honor.
Remember, this sponsor doesn't HAVE to work with you, they've CHOSEN to. It's your job to make sure they continue to want to choose you over anyone else they could sponsor.
There is no perfect formula for sponsorship programs, but a good place to start is understanding that it’s more about relationships than transactions. And yes, we do realize sometimes that person you’ve built a relationship with won’t be there in 3 years. That’s why casting a compelling vision and firing on all cylinders throughout the sponsorship cycle is just as important.
Truth is, the overall success of any sponsorship program has many layers. These 5 ways to nurture your sponsor relationships is only one of many!
WORK WITH TANDEM TO ACHIEVE A POWERFUL SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM
If you’re struggling to reach the right prospects, convert them into partners, or retain your sponsors, Tandem Partnerships can help. We have the connections, team, and resources you need!
Sponsorship Sales and Services
Tandem Partnerships provide sponsorship sales and services that will serve you for the complete sponsorship life cycle. We’ll work with you from asset valuation to strategy development until all sales are made and accounts are thoroughly serviced and renewed.
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