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In Sports Marketing, the Personal Is the Professional

The ability to access volumes of data has changed the game for sellers of sponsorships and other sports marketing opportunities. Pitches and presentations are loaded with statistics, insights and information regarding audience fit, consumer behavior, content engagement, ROI projections and more that allow for the selling of evidence-based solutions as opposed to mere assets and inventory.


But the influx of actionable data has a downside that has been shared with me recently by various participants in sales meetings and pitch presentations: Salespeople are relying on their reams of information to do the selling for them and neglecting to forge the personal connections that are also important in a business that relies as much on relationships as it does on contract deliverables.


By now, everyone accepts that sponsorships should not be transactional exchanges of goods for money. It’s why the industry prefers the term partnerships. It naturally follows that the process of forming a partnership must entail more than a demonstration of product attributes and benefits.


Striking the right balance between sizzle and steak is a timeless challenge for salespeople. While we can all agree that the product—in this case the partnership opportunity and its many components such as sponsor ID placements, category exclusivity, content integrations, proprietary activations, etc.—must be rock solid and meet the needs of the prospective buyer above all else, ignoring the personal side of the business is a big mistake.


Sponsors need to know the people behind the property in order to be comfortable with a partnership investment. That starts with the individual or group that is pitching them, even if they eventually will be working with other members of the team on service, fulfillment, activation and execution. A presentation that is filled with facts that make a compelling case but is devoid of passion and personality is destined to fail.


We’ve all had positive and negative experiences with sales trainers, systems, etc., but that shouldn’t negate investing in brushing up on in-person and video presentation skills. Bringing the right amount of energy, making eye contact, doing more than simply reading the deck are the little things that can make a huge difference.


The sales presentation is as much an opportunity to show the face of the organization as it is to demonstrate the merits of a sponsorship. The presenters must be examples of the property’s brand personality, its values and its commitment to high professional standards. They must communicate their drive to help their partners succeed and inspire the prospect that together you can do great things.

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