This is the fourth and final College Football Bowl Game Blog we will be posting for the 2019 Bowl Season!
Competitors: The Prospect vs The Lead
By: Graeme Jones
Happy 2020 everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and cheers to the new year. Many of us in the office have set new year’s resolutions, and I’ll be sure to provide an update on how many of us are sticking to theirs in my next blog.
4FRONT has grown tremendously since I first started at the end of May. We’ve not only brought on more incredible partners but phenomenal people as well. During our holiday break, I took some time to reflect on my first 6 months with 4FRONT and couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this company and what we’re trying to accomplish.
While the growth of the company is fun and exciting, it also creates another level of responsibility and time management. For people who do not know, 4FRONT doesn’t work in silos. Our work is constantly intertwined, which means a lot of time is spent working together across our multiple capabilities. Luckily, everyone 4FRONT has hired is awesome and everyone has each other’s back whenever someone has a question, wants to do a quick huddle, or organize a brainstorm.
Our partnership sales team would be the first to praise 4FRONT’s culture as we constantly touch base with our analytics, innovation and digital teammates to see what they are hearing in the industry. Our pitch perfect process, discussed below, would not be successful without the help of our teammates.
Before we start to work on our Pitch Perfect process and before we start developing our prospect list, we need to absolutely understand our client. Now, knowing your client isn’t a new concept specific to sports properties. During my time as a commercial banker, my supervisors stressed the importance of knowing your client. I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand who your client is and what their needs are. Following this step, the prospecting process continues as follows:
- Identify target categories
- Identify target prospects
- Develop the “Hook”
- Identify Existing Relationships
- Identify key decision-makers
- Determine pathways to decision-makers
- Outline timeline for outreach to each prospect
- Go to market
Throughout this process, our teammates, as I mentioned previously, are there to support. Our analytics team can pull data regarding specific categories or prospects we’ve found and our innovation team is some of the best in the business to think of really creative ideas and activations that might entice potential prospects. Once we feel comfortable with our prospecting process, we’re ready to go to market.
After thousands of emails and phone calls, working 12-hour days and weekends (kidding of course), we’ve finally converted several of our prospects into qualified leads. We’re ready to follow our Pitch Perfect process:
Develop the story and thematic
Before customization, we need to first develop the story and thematic we want to tell. Each properties’ story is unique. Why is it unique? Why can a sponsorship help a brand achieve its goals?
Create go-to-market story
Throughout this process, you will see the word story several times. That’s because it is so important. For each category, for this step, develop a story for a specific category as a baseline.
Asset creation & management
What assets and activations should you include in the pitch? Ideally, you’ve had several conversations with a potential prospect and know what assets make the most sense for them. If not, do some research and see what they have done in the past.
Authentic sponsorship storytelling platforms
Does this sponsorship help the brand tell its story? If it doesn’t, take a step back and rethink it. It is imperative that the prospect sees the opportunity to tell their story through this sponsorship.
Focused engagements with key decision-makers
While getting to the key decision-maker can be a challenge, your pitch will be targeted towards him or her, as they will be the ones to accept or decline.
Customize story for targeted prospect
While we developed a story for a category, each prospect is different. Make sure to customize the story and pitch to the targeted prospect. Make sure they understand that you’ve done your homework and understand their business and what they are trying to accomplish. Visual mockups utilizing the brand’s logo can really help grab their attention.
Deliver pitch to engaged prospect
If possible, always deliver the pitch in person. Sometimes that might not be possible, and that’s ok. However, if the prospect suggests doing it over the phone, kindly reply that your schedule is flexible, and it would be best to do it in person.
Congratulations! You absolutely crushed the pitch, the brand absolutely sees the value in this sponsorship, and they sign a contract on the spot! Ok, this doesn’t really happen, but wouldn’t that be awesome? But seriously, by following these steps, you have done everything in your power to be successful.
A few additional notes about the Pitch Perfect process. Some of you might be asking why don’t we just start with the process for each prospect as a way to really grab their attention? It’s because this process takes a lot of time and effort. As mentioned previously, we may gather several of our teammates to do a brainstorm and create several mockups. If a prospect turns us down right away, which unfortunately does happen, we would have wasted time and resources. This is why our process is different for prospects and leads.
In the end, our pitch always focuses on one thing: WHY? Why are we prospecting this category? Why do these prospects make sense, but these others don’t? Why would a prospect partner with our client? These are all questions that must be answered throughout the process. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. If you can answer why then you’ll feel much more confident during your pitch.
Much like the sports industry, this process is always evolving. So many talented people work in sports, and new best practices can come out of nowhere. If you have any notes, suggestions or questions about the processes, shoot us a note on our social channels or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always open to finding new, innovative ways to get in front of potential prospects.
Did you miss any of our previous Bowl Game Blogs from the 2019 Bowl Season? Click the links here to see the winner of the Digital Media Bowl, Fanalytics Data Bowl, and the First-Of-Its-Kind Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl