I recently had the opportunity to speak at Unleash!– the leadership conference for American Marketing Association chapters. (You get two guesses on the topic). One of the subjects we covered was about the personas of decision makers in hopes to “hack” the process and get contracts signed and checks cut ASAP for our great organization. (You also get two guesses on which one I was as a decision-maker. )

The Decisive

This persona knows what she or he wants in almost every aspect of the deal. They have probably come to you vs. you having to seek them out and begin building a relationship. The decisive has done all the research and made a decision about whether or not they will sponsor, at which level they will sponsor, and if that sponsorship is cash, in-kind, or a hybrid. They also know if they want your organization to customize their sponsorship and how that customization and all other features and benefits will be measured.

When encountering a decisive, negotiations will go smoothly because essentially, there aren’t any negotiations. It’s their way or no deal. However, they don’t waste time. When they have deliverables due to you, consider it done and they expect the same. Financially, expect them to participate at the same level year after year, unless your organization can PROVE increased ROI.

The Egocentric

This persona makes decisions based wholly on how sponsoring your organization makes them feel. Think of the small business owner who sponsors their child’s little league team although their customer base isn’t young children or their parents. We see this in pricier scenarios when egocentrics sponsor sports team suites that only they use or when a large organization has an automated process yet the sponsorship dollars are only awarded to causes, events, and organizations that are connected to the egocentric’s social circle.

When encountering an egocentric, negotiations also go smoothly because like the decisive, there really aren’t any. Egocentrics rarely negotiate. The decision is made primarily on how they feel and secondarily by the budget. If you are making them feel great and your ask is within the remaining budget, you are golden. However, if you don’t prove your ROI while accommodating their ego they are likely to move on to the next warm-fuzzy feeling at the end of the contract term.

The Infiltrators

This persona most often comes in the form of several members of the same company. They see immense and immediate benefit in aligning themselves with your organization and have a plan to infiltrate it on all fronts. First, a few of them attend an event or two. Then, they inquire about volunteering, membership, board service, and sponsorship–all in a speed cluster that will make your head spin.

When encountering infiltrators, understand that as a collective, they mean well. They will volunteer, join, serve, and sponsor. The question is for how long? Since sponsorship has longer-term implications, this is often the piece of marketing mix they will abandon first, citing not receiving the ROI anticipated. When your organization has been infiltrated on multiple fronts the actual ROI is not attributed to sponsorship because the collective has access to the entire organization’s assets as volunteers, members, and board members. Ultimately, an infiltration can devalue your organization’s sponsorship if it’s not caught in the early stages.

The Fisher

This persona is often already familiar with your organization like the decisive. She or he may be a past member, donor, volunteer, or board member that has been taking time away and now is in a position to “help”. Similar to an egocentric, they often need their ego stroked and want to feel good about their previous affiliation and support of your organization. The problem is they never quite commit.

When encountering the fisher, getting to the negotiation phase is always a challenge. They will want to meet and speak with several people. They will want copies of several documents. And they will require acknowledgment of their past contributions. What you must realize is the fisher is having several of these same conversations fishing for the right opportunity to align themselves with.

Your organization’s success with sponsorship is often placed on the shoulders of one or a few brave souls who must prepare to encounter these personas each time they set a meeting. Discover how to recruit and retain the best by downloading your complimentary copy of Sponsorship Success Guide: How to Recruit and Retain a VP of Sponsorship Who Will Help You Win.

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