Sponsorship Sales and Service – The Agency Model

Sponsorship Sales and Service – The Agency Model

I call it the agency model. Others call it the “hunter/farmer” model. Call it what you want. When it is done right, it works. Too often, properties will have one person doing it all. They may have two or more on the team doing sponsorship, but both are doing everything. Or perhaps, they only have one and that person is doing the whole shebang. What I mean by “all,” “everything,” and “the whole shebang” is that each person is mandated to do the following:

  • The Sales Role: Prospect development, prospect research, discovery sessions, cultivation, proposal development, the pitch, and closing
  • The Service Role: Fulfilment, ongoing cultivation, activation planning and execution, creative implementation, fulfilment reports, and deliverables

Some people have strength in sales (the hunters, as they say), while others thrive in a service world (farmers). I once worked with a lady who could sell ice cubes to inhabitants of the Arctic in the middle of the winter. But she was awful at servicing. Her focus was to move on to the next opportunity, to close, and get paid. She did an awful job of making sure the clients got what they were promised or even getting them a fulfilment report. And likewise, we once had a fellow who worked at the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists®. He was not a closer. He just could not make the ask and negotiate well. But boy, was he ever a goldmine when it came to ensuring clients’ programs were delivered correctly and on time. He built great relationships and managed them well. He was a farmer who knew how to cultivate the field.

When you put people in the wrong roles, you are not getting your best ROI. If you have a great salesperson, let them sell. The salary you pay them is being used effectively. When you have them servicing 50% (or more) of the time, it means they are costing you twice as much to sell a deal. Have them focus on sales and let someone else take on the service role. On a larger team, divide the team members between sales and service based on their individual strengths. On a smaller team, train administrative staff to do the servicing. The extra time your salesperson has will mean more revenue for your organization and the ability to eventually have a full-time service person.

I call this the agency model for the simple reason that it is what agencies do, be it a realty agency, an advertising agency, or an insurance agency. Someone sells you on the products and services through face-to-face engagement combined with online and marketing messaging. You buy from people you like and know, and who understand how their product will meet your needs, be that a house, a sponsorship program, or insurance. Then they hand you off to the appropriate experts. The realtor ensures you get a lawyer and a mortgage broker, if you don’t have one. Their assistant typically is the person who gets you the paperwork to deal with, etc. The insurance agent brings in the specialists for what you might need, be that auto, home, business, life, or a corporate benefits program. In the ad agency world, the account executive or salesperson hands you off to the creative people, media buyers, and the account supervisor or manager. Those people then take care of you. In each of these cases, the person most likely to bring in the most money for you can go back to doing that—making money and sales.

This tried and true model works. Organizations that have their sponsorship person do sales (and all that is involved in getting the deal) and servicing (all the post-sale work) tend to have lower revenue numbers. Their salesperson is too focused on servicing to bring in the dollars and that is often not their forte. Think about it. If you managed a hospital, would you have your neurosurgeons spend their time diagnosing and planning the details around an operation to save a life, have them double down and do the prep for the OR, set up for the anesthesiologist, and also clean up after the operation? Or would you have them move on after one operation to save another life? All these roles are critical. Some people do them better than others. Have your best people do what they do best. Don’t bog them down with other jobs and you will yield way more dollars to the bottom line.

For insights, feedback, and tips on managing your sponsorship program during COVID-19, during the recovery period, and post-COVID-19, check out our videos page on the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists® website.  There are several short clips, some longer ones, and full-blown webinars on COVID-19 and your sponsorship programs. Access is 100% free.

Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home when you can, stay in touch with others, and stay healthy.

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