Asking the right questions is critical when it comes to identifying and qualifying potential partners.

But what questions should sellers ask?

Below, Chris Riedel King, Principal Financial Group’s assistant director of global sponsorships & partnerships, shares key questions to consider when prospecting potential partners:

“There are a number of things a seller should do before even thinking about contacting a potential partner.

First of all – they should think about what types of sponsors could be interested in the property based on the assets/value they have to offer. Some things to consider:

  • Geography: Not every sponsor (especially national ones) can get enough value from a largely local event to justify the expense and effort to activate.
  • Audience: What audience can you deliver for a sponsor – B2B or B2C – or a mix of both? What are the demographics and psychographics of your audience? Who wants to reach that audience? Are business entertainment opportunities a possibility?
  • Scope/Impact: What kind of reach do you have in terms of engagements, impressions, media value? Do you have media partners? What kind of social media presence do you have?

Next – based on the criteria above (and others relevant for your property), create a realistic target list of partners to approach, based on what you – the property – have to offer, as well as what the objectives are of the sponsor. Make sure you do a bit of research to ensure objectives line up before putting a potential partner on your target list. If a company lists the types of things they do and don’t sponsor on their website – pay attention to those. They are not likely going to make allowances. They came up with that criteria for a reason.

When you finally do reach out to a prospective partner, make sure you get to the right person. DO NOT send emails to multiple people in the organization hoping you get the right one eventually. It’s highly annoying for us to get emails forwarded to us from others we work with because a property did not do their homework.

And make sure you always lead with what’s in it for the sponsor. How might your opportunity benefit this company? How does it align with/complement the things they’re already involved with? Why are you targeting this company rather than a peer company? You may have the best event ever, but if it doesn’t fit my objectives, I don’t care. It’s about the sponsor, not you.

Other questions you can ask when you get to this stage:

  • Clarify the company’s objectives – “From my research, it appears that you’re looking to accomplish xyz. Is that still correct? Any other key objectives that are important to you?”
  • “Is it important for you to have category exclusivity with the event/program, or is “owning” a specific part of the event more the approach you like to take?”
  • “What does success mean to you with regard to a partnership?”
  • “What types of measurement are important to you, and what do you expect from the property in terms of measurement?”
  • “What is your time frame for responding to sponsorship proposals? Are you looking for/able to bring on something new at this time?”

If you get this far, you’re well positioned to suggest putting some sort of proposal together that meets the needs of the partner you’re looking to bring aboard. ALWAYS tailor your offerings to meet the sponsor’s needs – not yours.