Welcome to Part III of my series of articles titled: Sponsorship, the Ins and Outs. This portion of the series will cover what you need to do if you are offered a position with a partner you have pursued.
This is where the real work begins. You have to review the agreement and ensure that you can perform up to the standards that the contract calls for. This is also the time to review the agreement to ensure that the partner will do what you expect. Just be sure your expectations are managed. You have to remember that this is the partner's first experience with you, and you may be starting at the bottom and have to work your way up. While reviewing the agreement, ensure a plan for advancement should you perform as expected or above that level.
Once you have signed on with your new partner, you should first write a thank you letter. Do not thank them for bringing you aboard, but rather for the trust and confidence they have put in you by adding you to the staff. Secondly, you will want to find their show schedule and compare it to yours. If there are dates that you are available to work shows for them, then let them know immediately.
You want to be enthusiastic about being able to work shows and events for your partners. Go out of your way to do this. These events are some of your best opportunities to show them what you can do. Most of these events are manned by key personnel from the company, and you need to take advantage of this opportunity. A vital example of this happened recently to an angler I know. We will call the company XYZ. The Angler did not have any events during the upcoming month and knew that the FLW Championship was approaching. It was being held within a half days drive of the Angler. So, he sent out an email to all partners asking who would be at the Championship. When XYZ responded, the Angler acted quickly and offered to work with them if they needed help. Long story short, XYZ wanted the Angler to go and even paid him to help cover his expenses. This is an excellent example of how the Angler created an opportunity when there appeared to be none.
The example above covers many qualities companies are looking for in a partner. The Angler created an opportunity to do something for the company rather than wait for them to contact him. He also showed a willingness to put the company ahead of himself.
The best part of the example above is that the angler worked the show with two of the key personnel in the company. One of those key personnel was the national staff. By working hard at the show, he showed the key personnel what he was capable of and gave the national director a taste of what he offered should a slot become available.
Once you get accepted, you need to work hard and smart to increase the company's exposure and increase sales. One way you can gain tremendous exposure for yourself, and the sponsor is to do a press release in your local paper. Make it very classy, and only mention yourself briefly. Focus on what the company provides, how they lead the industry and all that good stuff. State facts and do not ever stretch the truth.
If you did not have a relationship with the person and company before being accepted, you must work hard and diligently to build a solid rapport with them. You want to ensure that they know you are there for them and that you are willing to work.
Get a list of retailers, dealers, and vendors in your geographical area and visit them to ensure they are not having any issues with the products. If they are, become part of the solution.
I want to take just a minute to explain the "pro-staff" concept. First of all, it is not professional staff. It is short for promotional staff. Keep this in mind at all times. Your job is to promote the sponsor. I take this a step further. It is my responsibility with all of my partners to increase sales. Promoting them is just a by-product of accomplishing my goal.
Accepting a pro-staff is a great accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself. Do not forget that the company has entrusted you with its name and image. Do not let them down.
Become so valuable to your partners that they cannot afford to be without you.
Lee Wheeler is a regional professional angler that speaks at promotional events and seminars across Southeast Texas. He fishes the BASS Open Central Division, Texas Tournament Trail, and the Southeast Texas Federation Nation Regional tour.