In his presentation “Property Whisperer: How to Become a Better Partner” at IEG 2018, Dan Frystak, CDW senior manager of brand and sponsorship, shed light on what to do and what not to do when selling sponsorship.

In edited excerpts below, Frystak shares tips on how properties can differentiate themselves in the marketplace, increase the chance of getting a second meeting, and what to avoid when pitching potential partners.

Research your prospect’s business and sponsorship history

  • Review earnings reports
  • Get background on senior executives
  • Research brand activity unrelated to sponsorship
  • Focus on the sponsor’s business first, brand second

The biggest key to getting a second meeting: don’t focus on sponsorship

It’s easy to see what we do in sponsorship. If you Google CDW, you know that we sponsor the PGA Tour. You may have seen some of our commercials. I’m looking for insight into who CDW is as a business, and how your assets can help me solve a potential business problem.

Proactively use data and analytics

  • The potential sponsor will anyway—align and save them money
  • Showcase your forward thinking and product confidence
  • Hone in on data you know will be of interest
  • Focus on your property’s value, not your sport or league’s value

The most productive meetings I have, and the most original pitches I receive, start with ‘I have researched your business, here are some ways we can help, and here is data that supports my thesis.’

Don’t come to me and say ‘We can help you, here are some impression counts.’ It should be about ‘Here are results from a like business case, and this is how we can apply it to your business.’

When you come to me with data about how you’re going to succeed, it shows me that you’re confident this is going to work because you have seen it work. That goes a long way in making me believe that I should listen to the next ten minutes of the conversation.

Don’t try to close a deal on day one

  • Identify the decision-maker and reach out to that person only
  • Understand budget timelines and decision-making periods
  • Six-figure deals are rarely decided overnight; the first meeting should be informational
  • Asking for a budget range in the first meeting implies short-range goals

I have been to meetings that have stopped one step short of someone saying ‘How can I get you into this car today?’ There are a lot of people in the decision-making process, even when you’re talking to C-level executives. They don’t make decisions in a vacuum.

Don’t expect anything

  • It is not the sponsor’s responsibility to spend money with you
  • It is not the sponsor’s responsibility to educate you on their business
  • It is not the sponsor’s responsibility to explain the difference between themselves and their competitors
  • It not the sponsor’s responsibility to make time for you immediately

These are the things you should try to avoid at all costs.

Don’t go into any conversation expecting something. Going in with the expectation that it’s a two-way street is a problem. We have 25 to 50 people contact us each week; we have a lot of sponsorship opportunities. Focus the informational dialogue on how we can work together to form a relationship.

CDW’s main competitors are HCI, Insight and other technology companies. You need to go in understanding those things. You don’t want me talking 20 minutes during a 30-minute meeting. Much of that time can be saved upfront.

Instead, go in with the attitude of “I know what I want to do and I know what I want to talk about. I don’t expect to learn that much from you.”

Don’t assume everyone is desperate to work with you

  • Existing business relationships does not equal sponsorship
  • Going “way back” with a company executive does not equal sponsorship
  • Your property being famous/popular and/or have a huge fan base does not equal sponsorship
  • You previously did business with a sponsor but switched properties; does not equal sponsorship

Don’t go into a meeting thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great for you to work with us? Look at our brand and our reach.’”

Talk about what you can do as a business partner to solve problems. Talk about what I can do that I might not have been thinking about. Don’t tell me you know our CEO. Don’t tell me that we use to do business together.

Focus on the business. That’s going to be a much more fruitful conversation.

Ninety seconds for ninety minutes

  • The first 90 seconds are the most critical of any initial conversation
  • Demonstrate early on a knowledge of the sponsor’s business, not just marketing efforts
  • Provide upfront your perception of how your property can aid the sponsor’s business
  • Include a data-driven backbone to the narrative you spin

Tell me something I don’t know about my business in the first 90 seconds and the conversation likely never ends. I love to learn new things about what I do. If you can do that, it’s going to do a whole lot more in my belief in what you can do for me.