Pitching Tips

VerlanderBaseball’s Opening Day is less than 3 months away, but this is not about how to throw a curveball or change up.  Most sponsorship sales pitches I see consist of a powerpoint presentation and little more.  This is much different than what is found in other areas of marketing.  It is standard practice for traditional advertising agencies to spend 5% of a potential piece of business on the pitch. Therefore, if they are going after a million dollar account they will easily spend $50,000 and often times more on the pitch.  It is unlikely anyone in the sponsorship world is going to spend $5,000 on a pitch let alone $50,000.  However, if you are going after new business or a big renewal you may want to consider the following tips for making a pitch.

  • Spend a little money – You don’t need to spend 5%, but it is worth producing professional mockups, providing catering, paying for travel, customizing gifts (e.g. personalized jerseys), etc. One particular property I worked with developed a digital presentation and loaded it onto new iPads with custom covers.  They used the iPads for the pitch and then let the prospects keep them as a leave behind.  This was for a multi-million dollar deal so a couple thousand dollars on iPads seemed well worth the expense.
  • Go to them and bring the right people – Ideally, you want to get the prospect to your place so they can see things first hand.  However, sometimes you need to go to them first.  Don’t hesitate to bring your Client Service, Marketing, PR, Operations or Ticketing colleagues.  Questions may arise you can’t answer.  Including your boss or other senior executives also shows how important their business is to the organization.  Each case is different and you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, but bringing backup can help.  Asking the owner, president, former player or coach to stop by never hurts either.
  • Show them how it looks – If you can get the prospects to the venue, pull out all the stops.  Run LED with their logo, display a welcome message on the video board or find a unique setting to host the meeting.  One NBA team hosted a lunch for a prospect at center court with the owner.  Another MLB team parked a car at home plate, mocked up menus and rebranded the doors when pitching their VIP club and seating area to an auto sponsor.  If you are meeting at the prospect’s office, bring mockups, examples, a projector or whatever else you need to help bring your property to life.  Try to avoid flipping through a printed deck at all costs.
  • Know your audience – Not everyone needs the bells and whistles.  Certain people who have been around the sponsorship business for a while have most likely seen and done it all.  They don’t need to run out of the tunnel or to see their name on the scoreboard.  Others may love it, but it will be wasted on some.  The more jaded prospects still want to see an effort, but it should be focused more on the substance of the potential deal.
  • Be enthusiastic – If you are not enthusiastic about your property, how can you expect a prospect to be?  Enthusiasm is contagious.  If this doesn’t come natural to you, then find a way to bring energy to your pitch.  It can be visual, vocal or physical.  When I worked for the Dodgers we used to ask Tommy Lasorda to leave voicemails asking prospects to join our team.  If he couldn’t fire you up, then no one could.  You can be just as effective, if you enthusiastically believe in what you are selling.