This is a question I get asked all the time. The short answer is: as long as it takes for the prospect to decide they want to invest in your project, whether it be a program, an event sponsorship or a naming right.
I have a Naming Right being approved for a municipality at the end of the month for $600,000 over 15 years and it has taken over two years to get it to this point. I also have five (5) other Naming Rights being approved for a non-profit corporation over the next few weeks. The average amount of time to get them on board has been about nine (9) months and they are worth significantly more of an annual investment than the first one. So, the pricier naming opportunities have taken less than half the time to close than the municipal one – so, what gives?
There is no easy formula to determine how long it will take to secure a sponsor. Obviously, the larger the amount of money you are asking for, the longer it will probably take to close the deal because there is financially more at stake.
Here are some of the factors that impact how long it will take to secure a sponsorship:
- How unique is the opportunity? Does it offer something that can’t be obtained anywhere else, like a highly targeted audience or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
- Is there a good fit between the potential sponsor and the property or has the sponsor been contacted just because they are another name in the phone book?
- Are the sponsor’s business objectives being met? Does the sponsor see good value in your proposal or could they get the same somewhere else for less money?
- Is the sponsor motivated? Is there some level of “pain” that will be solved by the solution you are offering?
- How much money are you asking for? Do they have that kind of cash available to spend this year or must they go through a budget cycle to secure the funds?
- Who needs to be involved in the decision? Do funds need to be pulled from various departments and do they each need to be involved in the process?
- What is the duration of the agreement? Multi-year agreements require more scrutiny because they commit a company for the long-term.
- Are they familiar with you and your program? The less they know about you, the longer it will take (this is where property branding comes into play).
I could add to this list, but I think you understand my point. There are many factors at play, that can stretch out the decision-making process.
Since we’re talking about the time it takes to secure a sponsor, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one of the most important personal attributes you can lend to the process of securing sponsors, which is patience. We need to give prospects time and room to digest the opportunity and determine if it’s right for them. If you force the opportunity, they may make a knee-jerk decision under “duress” and the result may not be what any of you wants.
Sure, we can create lots of “urgency” in our proposals and conduct specific sales techniques to keep the conversation going, but in the end, they must feel truly great about getting involved in your opportunity. This means patiently nudging them along to a Yes or a No, but always remaining sensitive to their concerns and their unique decision process.