Making Discovery Sessions Work

Making Discovery Sessions Work

I often get pushback from clients or their prospects about discovery sessions. Some say they take too long. Some claim they don’t need so much information. I disagree. I have a recent example. Senior management at the property was pushing their sponsorship manager to “just build proposals and pitch them.” She was being told, “We need to see the cash and the deals signed.” Sound familiar?

We pushed back—and it was a story made for a sponsorship movie. One prospect said we were asking too many questions. They doubted we really needed so much information. They said they had “naming rights” at several other places and no one else needed this much information. They told us what they were spending for other naming rights, which was as low as $8,000 for a room to a facility naming maximum of $15,000. They demanded a proposal or they would not be interested. Senior management at the property was concerned. Their direction was basically, “Give these guys a naming right for $15,000 for whatever and let’s get the deal done.” The sponsorship manager and I pushed back again and here is how the “movie” unfolded.

We built them a concept paper—a document of ideas and approaches to achieve their myriad goals. It included a major naming right within the building. It also included a comprehensive sponsorship marketing plan for their three companies. It was traffic driving (as they had requested) for two of the brands and brand building for the other. Unfortunately, the price tag was nearly $70,000—almost five times what they had ever spent elsewhere. But the asset valuations were correct. That’s what they were worth.

The presentation meeting was scheduled. The concept document was emailed over for their review the day before the meeting. We arrived to present. We went through the concept document line by line (at their request), explaining why each asset was included in the concept and how it met their objectives. Then we asked for their thoughts and feedback.

They said they were dumfounded. We were scared. The prospect went on to say that this was the most comprehensive proposal (though it was just a concept document) for a naming right they had ever seen. It was truly a full-fledged marketing plan. She praised it and went on as to how it met so many of their needs. She said that she now understood why there was a need for so many discovery sessions. She exclaimed the rest of their “naming rights” were really banner-hangings compared to this. Then she said, “But we don’t have that much money. We wish we did, but we don’t!”

She then proceeded to work through the document with us as to what was most and least important to her. She asked us to come back with a proposal, based on her needs and priority of assets, for around $30,000. The sponsorship manager from the property presented two options—one for $28,000 and the other for almost $40,000 option. The almost $40,000 option was signed. And to think if the sponsorship manger had followed the old fashioned “put a proposal in front of them and take what you can get” approach, they would have sold a naming right of a major feature for $15,000. That’s why trust (which was developed), patience, and doing the right thing are always best.

If you want to hear more great stories like this and learn more best practices about sponsorship, make sure to register for the WSC today. Click through for more information on WSC Ontario – Toronto Forum or the WSC Alberta Forum.

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