The Sales Cycle
For those of you in sponsorship sales what you are about to read may be alarming. If you are not at 99% of your goal by now for the year, there is a good chance you are going to come up short. I know this may be difficult to hear and your boss definitely doesn’t want to acknowledge this. During my years selling for a team, the season began and we kept grinding away to hit our number. I’m not saying you need to give up on this year, but the reality is most companies are tapped out and already looking ahead. In most cases budgets are allocated and it is a real long shot, if you are not already included as a line item. Yes there are occasional opportunities to access a sponsor’s contingency dollars or unexpected funds become available due to something else falling through. However, this is hunting for scraps or scraping the bottom of the barrel. Instead, we should be planting the seeds and cultivating for next year’s harvest. Are these enough analogies for you?
After working on behalf of sponsors on the buying side, I know this is the situation when it comes to budgets. Deep down as a salesperson, I knew this to be true all along. It is tough to turn the page and begin working on next year while in the midst of a current season. Especially when you are not at your goal. There is also the fear of not being around for next year, if you don’t hit your numbers. So the reality is you need to keep looking for opportunistic dollars for now, but really spend the majority of time laying the groundwork for the future. Use the season, the playoffs or events to entertain prospects and build relationships. Line up meetings and get out on the road. Begin your renewal conversations as early as possible so you don’t get bogged down preventing new business development. Ask potential sponsors when they do their budgeting and when it is ideal to discuss next year.
There are always exceptions and the budget cycles vary from company to company. In good years, we were able to collectively bring in another $500k to a million once the season began. It did make a difference, but it also impeded our progress from bringing in millions more needed for the following year. It can be a vicious cycle most of us are susceptible to. Managers, salespeople and CFO’s, it’s time to face reality and remember to see the forest through the trees. One last analogy…