Oct 23, 2009

3 mistakes to avoid in a sales pitch or when seeking sponsorship money

The Context

Two senior sales people from a leading TV channel approached me sometime back. They wanted me to sponsor a reality show on their channel. The channel plans to audition 6,000 women across 6 cities in India and then choose 24 of them. These women will then compete against each other and one will emerge as the winner. All of this will be telecasted live on their channel for 4 months. Their presentation (a sales pitch without PowerPoint) begins.
Sponsor (that's me): What are you planning to do in the event?

Person 1:
Sir, here is what we are planning to do.
(He hands me a black and white printout of a MS Word document stapled at the top left corner. It's not such a nice looking document given that they are asking for more than 2 million rupees. 2mn Indian Rupees equals $42,500)

Person 2:
We want you to be our main sponsor for which you will get 8,000 seconds of air time on our TV channel and one 100 sq cm space for an advertisement in our newspaper. Plus you can brand the venue, your name will appear in all our TV, Radio and Print promotions as our main sponsor. We will also give you permission to display your product at the venue of the final event.

Sponsor:
How much is the total market value of your TV air time and the print ad space which I get in return for my money?

Person 2:
We don't know sir. We will come back to you.
(I am stunned at their lack of preparation)

Sponsor:
You are giving these standard things (branding space, logo on all promotions, etc) to every sponsor. Why should my edible oil company sponsor your event? What is that special thing which you can give me? Can you think of some innovative idea which does not cost you anything and helps me in a big way?
Person 1: We did not think about it. You are asking tough questions sir. We will come back to you on this after discussions with our team.


The discussion went on like this. Senior sales people who came with zero preparation to ask my company 2 million rupees with a black and white print out and a sloppy sales pitch.

This sales pitch contains 3 important lessons for you, if you too seek sponsorship money or make sales pitches. I list these down one by one.

Mistake #1 Go unprepared

You are making a sales presentation and asking someone to give you 2 million rupees. That's a big amount. Before the sponsor will give you such money he/she will ask you hundreds of questions. You have to come prepared. These two sales men should have done some brainstorming before they came to me. That would have prepared them for the obvious questions.
Place yourself in the shoes of the sponsor and think what he wants and why will he pay you what you are asking for.

Marketers who sponsor events like these worry only about two things.

#1 "I pay X and I am getting Y. Is Y > X?" If yes, they go ahead. If no, they forget it and move on. Before you come for the meeting know what is X and what is Y.

#2 "What is it that my company gets by sponsoring this event which I cannot get otherwise? I can spend my 2 million on various other promotional activities. How is this activity better than others?"

Mistake #2 It's your privilege that I have come to you

Because you belong to a leading channel or the biggest MBA college in town does not mean you can carry your ego to a sales meeting. Remember that you are seeking someone to part with his money (and a large sum of money). Every sponsor is a customer and he has to be convinced that he is putting the money in the right place. Your attitude and usage of words in the meeting have to be careful. Respect others' money and help them get the most out of your deal. You do need the money next year, don't you?

Mistake #3 One horse for all courses (your differentiator)

You cannot make the same sales pitch to all companies. Your pitch to an FMCG company has to be different from a consumer durables company and a real estate company. You have to understand what is the company looking for and show them that it is there in your event.

A cooking oil company has different sets of challenges than a real estate company. Will you approach both and offer the solution in the same manner? Your way of presenting has to be tuned to the needs of the sponsor.

In order to know what the company might be looking for, do a round of interview with the sponsor or someone in the company before you make the pitch. Find out what is the company expecting and then prepare your content accordingly and present. It takes effort and time to crack such deals.


If you too have similar experiences to share then go ahead and leave a comment.