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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 – Just as with training and racing; you need a GOOD plan!

What’s your cycling sponsorship plan for 2011- 2012? Bet most of your members already have a pretty well defined training or racing schedule and goals for 2011? What events they plan to race or ride, how many miles they want to log, events they want to crush! It’s a process right? Can’t achieve the goals without a plan, right?

What’s your plan for sponsorship & funding? Especially, in an economy that is still somewhat shaky? Companies are still investing in sponsorship; are you going to be in a position to compete for their dollars? You’ll get the results in the races, rallies and charity events. What’s your plan to turn those results into securing more sponsors?

Think of all the really cool things your club or team could do with extra funding – new bikes, new kit, new support vehicle or van, training camps, road trips…..More sponsors, and funding, can help you get, and do, all the cool stuff you want. Here are a few tips you might find helpful as you “spin” towards your sponsorship goals in 2011.

Start with a budget – How much funding are you getting from existing sponsors? How much do you need to do some of the “cool stuff?” What’s the gap? This number becomes your target!

Make a list – Determine which companies you want to target for sponsorship? Why would they be a good addition to your sponsorship portfolio? Do they currently sponsor other organizations? Could your club or team be able to lend value to their business?

Rank the companies on your list – Now that you have a list, start to rank the companies based on the following factors – What do you know about the company, brand, and products? Who do you know? Is there any relationship that can be cultivated through a referral? Where are they headquartered, and where do they make sponsorship decisions? Could the company be a good potential sponsor based upon their business goals, directions and objectives? Is there potential overlap between what the company wants to achieve and the value your club, team or event can offer?

A few more questions which might be helpful in your ranking system – Is this a company you have approached for sponsorship previously? What happened? Have any changes occurred making your story more appealing to their needs? Are there problems you can solve?

Have a plan – Establish a plan, essentially in the same way you would create a training plan when preparing for a race, a charity ride, a multi-day tour.  The plan should outline how you are going to engage and qualify the companies on your list. A few (components or factors) of the plan you might want to consider are:

Contacts – who do you, know? Is someone in your club, social, or professional network somehow connected?

Social media and web – what’s the company, or contact, saying on their websites and blogs, or in forums or groups? What are they talking about in their press, news releases, media room or RSS feeds? How can you leverage this information? (For more information on effectively leveraging Social Media for Sponsorship please see “Sponsorship Proposal & Social Media”)

Community involvement causes, & philanthropic activities – How involved is the company in the local community? What’s their level of activity? What (and whom) are they supporting? How can you spin this to show your value? (Please see “Understanding why companies sponsor for additional information”)

Action you want to take – what do you want to happen after making initial contact?

Initiate contact – Develop a script, short message to be used in social media, e-mail or introductory letter. What are you going to say, and why should they care? Be sure you follow the model laid out in the post – “An effective cycling sponsorship prospecting script” – focus on why and how sponsorship will help them achieve their goals and objectives. Point out why cycling, your club, team or event is the perfect vehicle to help them. My last post “Articulating the value of cycling sponsorship” provides useful tips and guidelines. Use initial contact as a springboard to additional discussions.

Plan your next interaction – document who you know, and what you need to know about their company, products, market, goals and objectives. Also, work towards having a clear understanding of their process, timeframes and who’s involved (their influence and how to engage them)

Develop and deliver sponsorship proposal – Follow the basic premise of why companies sponsor – to make money, to save money, for image! Sell your story by integrating your club, team, or events value with their goals and objectives, describing how you can help solve their problems. If possible leverage your existing sponsors to demonstrate the value provided. If you don’t have sponsors use examples from pro cycling sponsors to demonstrate the value of cycling. (There are several blog posts dedicated to Developing Effective Sponsorship Proposals I & II, Sponsorship Letters, and Using Quotes & References to secure sponsors).

Follow-Up – you put in the time and effort to do the research, engage in discussions, develop and deliver an effective sponsorship proposal. Follow up! Understand what they liked, what they didn’t, if any modifications or additional information is necessary. If you won – congratulations! If not, consider continuing to nurture the relationship for next year. Or, maybe approach them about a temporary sponsorship arrangement on a smaller scale.

Like I said at the beginning of today’s blog, sponsorship is a process just like training and racing. If you follow a sound, thoughtful process, you will certainly improve your results. Good luck!

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

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Why should a company “Sponsor My Cycling Club”?

If you, your club mates or teammates, are asking this question as you start your sponsorship drive, you are already ahead of the game. If you aren’t asking this question; maybe you should?

But, before we go there, let’s take a step back and take a look at a couple of pros and cons.

PRO: Sports Sponsorship is a multi-billion dollar industry. Companies use sponsorship as a vehicle to get their message into the market, to raise the visibility of their products and company, to attract new clients and consumers, and to promote a positive image. Bottom line, sponsorship is an important component of most companies’ marketing strategy; it helps them make money!

CON: The competition for securing sponsorship is HIGH! Every club, team, non-profit; individuals riding, running, walking, for a worthy cause; are typically asking some company, somewhere, in your backyard for money! So, you’re not alone. But, here is the other piece of the CON equation. If everyone under the sun is sending a sponsorship letter, sponsorship proposal, request for sponsorship, charitable donation request, fund raising request….how is a company going to filter through all of these requests, and determine who to provide with sponsorship and funding? Especially during our current economic times. Is your club or teams generic sponsorship proposal going to get noticed? And, get you funding?

So, here’s the question again – “Why should a company Sponsor My Cycling Club”?

Well, Top Ten Tips for Securing Cycling Sponsorship provides tips and answers for improving your club or teams ability to find, engage, and secure new sponsors. Companies will sponsor your club or team if you:

understand what they do

focus your sponsorship proposal on the benefit to THEM

uncovered a solution to a problem

are creative in your approach

tied the benefit you can deliver to their business and sponsorship goals and objectives

differentiate the value you provide from other organizations requesting sponsorship and funding

can justify their sponsorship investment by demonstrating ROI and value

Go ahead, download the e-book, Top Ten Tips for Securing Cycling Sponsorship, and check it out. IT’S FREE!

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

Al

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My first REAL post describing the process of securing sponsors for your cycling club!

Hi! Thank you for visiting Sponsor My Cycling Club.com! We are still under construction; however, I would like to take a moment to tell you what we are about.

My name is Al. I have been an avid cyclist for two decades, and have been a member, officer, and founder of several cycling clubs, and 501(c)3, non-profit organizations. In trying to get sponsors, and money, I have seen varying degrees of success.  The bottom line is some approaches work, and some don’t; some clubs are successful attracting sponsors, and some aren’t.

I started Sponsor My Cycling Club.com for this very reason – to share my knowledge of sales and marketing, coupled with my passion for cycling, in order to provide cycling clubs, and teams, with an on-line resource focused on the business of securing (and keeping) sponsors.

During my 30 year career in the corporate sector, I have worked directly with corporations, of varying sizes, developing a process for identifying potential clients, understanding their requirements, articulating the value of my offering, and differentiating my offering from competitors. What became apparent is the process of working with clients can be effectively applied to securing sponsors for cycling clubs. Essentially, Sponsor My Cycling club.com will share my knowledge, providing you with an on-line resource using a proven process to increase your ability to attract more sponsors.

Each of the upcoming blogs will give you insight into necessary steps needed to help you establish long term, mutually beneficial relationships with your sponsors. The process I will share will enable you to:

  • secure a greater number of quality sponsors; providing your club with more revenue
  • acquire more money from individual sponsors by justifying their investment in your club, in terms they understand
  • differentiate your club from other organizations, competing for corporate sponsorship, increasing your chances of success
  • use social networking tools to quickly identify, research, and initiate contact, with new prospective sponsors
  • align your club with companies who are increasing investments in health & wellness programs, and eco-friendly practices and activities

Some of the future blog entries describing the process will be:

  1. Defining and building your club’s messaging, articulating your unique value to sponsors
  2. Creating an effective script (verbal or written) for initiating contact
  3. Establishing a  process for identifying, and qualifying, potential sponsors
  4. Preparing an effective plan for managing meetings with prospective sponsors
  5. Developing an effective, professional, customized proposal
  6. Negotiating and gaining agreement = getting your money!

Lastly, I would welcome tips, and hints from you, in order to share best practices with others.

Please come back soon; we will have information which can help you successfully secure more sponsors!

Thanks for visiting.

Al

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