Over a year into selling exclusively online, and I strongly believe that the most vital skill you need to enhance your sales process in this modern time is knowledge.
Knowledge is power, after all. And as virtual, and especially hybrid, events are still fairly new, the most powerful skill remains as the mastery of your product (the event sponsorship you are selling to your potential sponsor), the opportunities it provides to the sponsors of your event, and what value you can offer.
It is understandable that learning new things will take time and the same applies here. Building a strong foundation, and understanding both what is possible and how to monetise the features of the platform from the sponsors’ point of view, are the key elements that will help you to communicate confidently.
You may have also noticed that your relationship skills were put to test when changing from face-to-face to virtual. Building trust in any scenario has its own challenges and when adding the virtual component into the mix, there was certainly some adapting to be done.
Even though selling online is not the same as meeting your client face to face, there are two key things you may implement (beyond the following tactics I'll present) to help you overcome these challenges:
- Build familiarity before the meeting. By sending an agenda and other helpful information, you ensure all parties have the chance to prepare and feel comfortable.
- Turn your video on to make the meeting personal. This is a simple yet powerful tactic. You are not just a voice wanting to sell the sponsorship packages to your clients; you are a powerful and knowledgeable person taking a consultative approach to the selling process. And that all starts when your potential sponsors can see who you are.
And despite the challenges of selling online the sales process remains the same: prospecting, preparation, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing, and follow up. The content of each sales process may need adjusting but you can still find familiarity and structure in this.
There is also one excellent tactic that came about from the switch from in-person events to virtual and hybrid events: Data.
During your meeting whilst you are painting the picture with your words, you now have analytics to present as proof; data showing you the value.
A sponsorship agreement is a promise, and your sponsors expect you to deliver. Data can be presented as tangible evidence of the ROI that can speak louder than words. This allows you to influence the emotional side of your client with words, and the logical side with the data!
4 pointers for exceptional salespeople
You may be asking; what will separate the exceptional salespeople from the good in the future? Exceptional by definition is operating at an intensity considerably above the normal or average.
A few pointers to take-away:
1. Knowledge is your most powerful weapon
You will be undefeatable when you have prioritized learning the virtual/hybrid platform of your choice inside and out.
Start by consulting your event platform provider’s salesperson, Customer Success and Support teams, and build from there. Position yourself to be the thought leader and know the value you can offer.
I also recommend attending many different virtual events to both understand the current trends, and also examine how other organizers drive attention to their sponsors. It's an effective method to learn what works and doesn't work in practice.
This undoubtedly requires the initial effort to gain the knowledge needed to sell, but once you have built a strong foundation, it will show during your sales pitch when you can confidently present your material to your potential sponsor.
2. Be curious
Asking questions and needing help is not seen as a weakness but presents itself as curiosity and willingness to learn to produce better results. Ask help from your event platform provider as we are here for you. It is also good to gain your own understanding by reading articles and reviews.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- What features does the event platform offer to put together different sponsorship packages?
- What does a strong sponsorship package look like based on what you have seen done by your previous customers?
- How can you convey the value of the features to your sponsors?
- In what ways, can we measure the sponsors’ ROI to prove the value?
- How do I educate my sponsor about the event and the platform to optimise their success?
- What steps should my sponsor take into consideration?
Be kind to yourself and remember that you are also not alone in this process. Surround yourself with people who can assist and guide you towards successful sponsorship sales, and learn from them.
3. Quality work as a thought leader
Be honest and set expectations. This also comes back to the product knowledge and understanding what is possible. You do not want to overpromise, it is far better to overdeliver!
A willingness to go above and beyond to assist your potential sponsors will set you apart from your competitors. Make sure your communication with your sponsors adds value to help them understand the benefit of investing into your event.
I personally like to highlight my client’s goals that we discussed during our meeting and back it with case studies, success stories, testimonials, and most importantly, data. The key is to provide a new angle of looking at their goals.
4. Empathy and kindness
Keep an open mind and try to understand the sponsor’s current state, and the drivers of change, within their organization (which there may have been due to Covid-19). Discovering the sponsor’s current state and any changes in that environment are primary meeting objectives to understand how you can help, what value you can highlight and which approach to take.
Do not disregard the challenges or objections the sponsor might have towards your initiative, but be empathetic and trust in the product knowledge you have gained to face the new objections with confidence. This will go a long way as it strengthens the trust you have built and shows that you believe in what you are selling.
And remember, not everyone will believe in your event or the product you are selling (similarly to selling in-person event sponsorships sales). It is important to understand that it will happen.
However, if you have...
- aligned yourself with the right kind of sponsor,
- provided them value via your upcoming event and the platform features, and
- set right expectations that are followed up with value adding information,
then success will follow!
Trust the process and reflect why you did not succeed by asking so. If they take the time to come back to you with a reason, it most likely means that your ground work was solid, the sponsor was interested, and they will remain interested.
At Brella, we take great pride in keeping on top of the latest trends and best practices at events. Selling sponsorships effectively is just one of the many challenges you face, but we're here to help.
Our team is ready to offer both a hybrid event platform and our consulting services for your events to help you sell converting sponsorship packages. Contact our team and we’ll set up a meeting!