Handling objections regarding cycling sponsorship

Inevitably, at one point or another, you are going to receive objections regarding sponsorship of your club, the “perceived state of cycling” or your cycling sponsorship proposal. These objections may be driven by legitimate concerns, misconceptions or misunderstanding from something read or seen. Or, questions and objections might conceal a deeper underlying concern regarding sponsorship of your cycling club. Getting to down to the real reason a prospective sponsor says “no”can help you accurately identify their issue, enable you to respond appropriately and continue to advance through the cycling sponsorship process. Following a few simple steps can help you effectively respond to objections, pushback, questions or concerns.

Five tips for handling objections:

01) Before responding always clarify that you understand the question or objection. The best way to do this is to restate what you heard. Many times it seems that it is easiest to simply respond. However, in a lot of cases we may have a different interpretation of the question or objection, than the person stating it intended. Responding without having a true idea of the your sponsor’s or prospective sponsor’s position only complicates the issue further.

02) It’s best to ask additional questions to understand why they are posing questions and objections. Asking questions of your own will help you understand the reason and motivation behind the prospective sponsor’s questions. (What the person is objecting to and why: sponsorship proposal, sponsorship letter, perception of cycling sponsorship, etc.)  This often enables you to uncover the underlying reasons behind their questions or objections. It also gives you the time to listen to their responses, formulate answers, explore alternative solutions or propose other options.

03) Take a moment to confirm that you have interpreted their question, concerns and point of view correctly. You want to do this in order to be absolutely sure that you have interpreted their perspective in the way they intended. Simply summarize the major points you have covered in trying to understand their question or objection.

04) Next, take the time to acknowledge their point of view. This is very important, even if they have misinterpreted something about our sport or your proposal. The purpose is to confirm that you understand their issue and how they might have arrived at a specific conclusion. After all, it is their point of view, and even if you disagree you must be tactful and not make them feel uncomfortable. Remember, you are trying to get them to provide your club with cycling sponsorship and funding.

05) Last, respond in a thoughtful manner. In other words, take the information you have gained by asking additional questions, exploring alternatives , and respond to their question or objection by focusing on the overall benefits cycling sponsorship will provide. Use the context of their original question or objection as a guide for your response.

In spite of some of the recent negative exposure our sport is receiving, whether warranted or not, there are a lot of really good things happening which you can leverage during your sponsorship discussions. Cycling continues to grow as a major participant and spectator sport providing additional visibility and awareness for companies sponsoring cycling. Companies and cities are continuing to invest in cycling sponsorship as a means to promote their community, brand, products or services. Lastly, the minimal cost of cycling sponsorship when compared to traditional sports provides and excellent value and return on investment for sponsors, as well as an effective vehicle to augment existing marketing, advertising and PR campaigns.

Thanks for visiting. Remember, until next time, “Keep the rubber side down!”

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Cycling sponsorship proposal presentations & meetings

Sponsorship proposal presentations and meetings are an important, and key component, of the cycling sponsorship process. Executing an effective sponsorship campaign and securing sponsors, as mentioned in the post “Cycling Sponsorship – Just as with training and racing, you need a good plan!” –  is analogous to building and following an effective annual training plan. The better your plan and execution, the better your results! The same applies to effectively managing interactions; particularly face-to-face meetings; with prospective sponsors. The manner in which you handle any interaction, whether it is a meeting or presentation, telephone or video discussion,  correspondence (using social media; blogs, forums, communities; e-mail); structure and focus can help your sponsorship interactions immensely!

Regardless of the medium, focusing your attention, and content, on meeting the needs of the prospective buyer, and articulating how your cycling club, or team, can add value to a prospective sponsors business.  Taking this approach will go a long way in helping you achieve your sponsorship objectives of securing more sponsors, and securing larger contracts per sponsor! Being able to articulate the value of sponsorship will help you advance through the process of securing sponsorship, while differentiating your club, team, or event, from other organizations requesting funding.

Here is some advice using the simple rules of “who, what, where, when, why & how.”

“Who”: “Who are you?” As mentioned in previous posts, you should open by introducing yourself, your club, or your team. Describe the purpose of why you are meeting, or communicating, with the audience. Try to open with a very brief overview of your club or team. However, always describe your club or team in terms that will resonate with prospective sponsors, i.e.  – “how sponsorship of your club could help companies achieve their objectives of making money, saving money, reaching an intended audience/niche, or projecting an intended image.”

For example, a good description could be – “We are a cycling team based in (name of city). Historically we have partnered with several local businesses to help provide visibility and awareness for their company, brand, products and services. Because of our involvement in the community, supporting various initiatives, we have been able to help our partners drive increased traffic and sales of their offerings. This is just one example of how sponsorship of our club can drive value for your company.”

Opening the meeting, or communication, is also a good time to mention the names of sponsors you have qualified as references for your club. (For more information on effective using existing sponsors to secure new sponsors please see “Using quotes and references to with prospective sponsors”)

Purpose: Objective of the Meeting – “What are you discussing?”- “What” – Take a moment to describe the purpose of your interaction, and your objective? State why you have contacted them, or are meeting with them, and what you intend to discuss. If the purpose of the meeting is to discuss how the company uses sponsorship; or to determine the process and who is involved, or potentially to explore ideas for working with your club or team; – state it clearly.

Be sure to integrate the value of cycling sponsorship into your objectives, by describing the value sponsorship provides companies. Use phrases to describe what cycling sponsorship could potentially provide in terms such as “partnership”. As an example – “To explore potential opportunities to establish a mutually beneficial partnership between (company name); and (name of your club, team or event); to provide a vehicle to help achieve your goals and objectives – increasing awareness and visibility; increasing sales, revenue & market share; increasing or improving customer retention and brand loyalty; improving or changing image and/or promoting positive PR.” (Select generic goals and objectives or ones identified from research of the prospective sponsor).

“How and Why”: “How sponsorship of your club, team or event, can drive business value? And, why they should care?” – Your club, team or event, can provide a cost-effective, highly effective, addition to augment a company’s existing marketing, advertising and PR campaigns. (For more information on the value of cycling sponsorship to companies please refer to “Understanding why companies sponsor “, “Cycling sponsorship & lessons learned from sponsors of UCI top 20 cycling teams”, and “Cycling Sponsorship News”)

Also, remember, your participation in cycling related activities (races, rally’s, group rides), community service activities, local & national initiatives (“Share the Road”, “National Ride to Work Day”, etc.), and; communication through the web, social media, newsletters, etc; helps increase visibility and awareness for your sponsors, their brand, products and services. Cycling is an excellent platform for helping companies reach their target audience. This is the reason global companies as Rabobank, HTC, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Optumhealth, Acura, RadioShack, Europcar and countless others invest in cycling as an integral component of their global marketing strategies. Your club, team, or event, can help sponsors reach their intended audience. (For more information describing key benefits, value propositions, and business reasons companies invest  in cycling sponsorship please refer to “Cycling sponsorship & lessons learned from sponsors of UCI top 20 cycling teams”, and “Cycling Sponsorship News”)

“Where & When”: Creating visibility, awareness & interest – Where are your members seen? Where will the company receive additional visibility? – describe the geographic area where your club or team participates in most events and activities. This gives the prospective sponsor an idea of the markets you are supporting, and the reach sponsoring your cycling club, team, or event can provide. Your club or teams activities should align with the markets, and audience, the company serves.

Describe the types of events, activities, and initiatives, you support, and where the events are located; providing an idea of some metrics if possible (number of people from your club that participate, amount of dollars raised for charity, number of people and spectators who participated in an event). Again, this gives the prospective sponsor an idea of the audience they can reach, how many, and where.

“When” – “What are the opportunities for the prospective sponsors brand to be visible?” – Provide an idea of when your club or team participates in events and activities. An event calendar is an excellent way to visually present “opportunities” for the prospective partner’s brand, products and services to be visible. Include weekly rides, races, charity events, fund raising activities, clinics, community service, etc. The more you can include, the more it demonstrates potential exposure for the company as a sponsor.

Concluding: “Where do we go from here?” – As you begin to conclude the meeting, presentation, or communication, recommend logical next steps. This is what you would like to see happen next. Are there additional meetings necessary, does the prospective sponsor need to review contracts, do they need to engage other sponsors for references, etc. A “call-to-action” is a vital step in the process, and helps you move forward to the next step.

Hopefully this helps you run effective, productive, meetings with prospective sponsors; enabling your club or team to do what we are all interested in – securing more sponsors,  receiving more sponsorship dollars per sponsor, & maintaining stronger, long-term relationships with your sponsors.

Thanks for visiting!

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