Sports business, college partnerships, NCAA, athletic department, sales, sponsorship

5 keys to selling college partnerships

by Cody Collins - General Manager of Sponsorship at Wofford College
April 20, 2021

Too often when speaking about the sales cycle there is a common misconception of how the process works. On the outside we tend to believe that there is an unwritten rule that we must follow in order to create urgency and close sales. As we continue to grow as leaders in the sports industry, we must go beyond our comfort zones and try to establish something that’s never been done before.

For myself I grew up in a small town in Northern Vermont where 14 surrounding towns came together to form one high school. Those who are reading this understand the challenges that come with growing up in a small town, and most importantly making it out to pursue your goals and aspirations. Luckily for me I was surrounded by some incredible mentors and coaches throughout my years which led me to where I am today. Now time to roll up the sleeves, take a sip of coffee and listen up – here are some keys to selling College Partnerships that I’ve learned over the years.

5 Keys to Selling College Partnerships

1. The post-sale relationship

I can’t stress this part enough when it comes to becoming a successful seller. This was often the biggest challenge I faced when making the transition from ticket sales to partnerships. With selling College Partnerships, the sales cycle takes weeks, months or even years to get the final green light and officially close. But following the signed contract, the work you put in after the sale is JUST as important as everything you’ve done leading up to it.

2. Identify needs through effective questions

If you call people and start reading a script, you won’t sell anything. If you sit across from someone in his or her office and launch into a 30-minute presentation without taking a breath, you won’t sell anything. But if you know how to ask the right questions, you will keep people on the phone longer, generate more interest and enthusiasm in your product or service and develop rapport. Questions will provide you with the information you need to close the sale. Ask effective questions and listen!

College basketball, NCAA, march madness, sponsorshipsWofford fans!

3. Embrace your schools brand

An important key to selling College Partnerships is embracing the brand of your school. Take a step back and ask yourself – how am I being looked at from my peers? Do I embody my school’s brand? Did I do an effective job to make it known around the community that I work in a college athletic department? If you are not representing your school, what are you doing to change this?

4. Don’t make promises you can’t fulfill

It is extremely important to be completely transparent with a potential sponsor ahead of time. Make it clear what the sponsor will receive with the partnership and ensure that if there is something you know that the athletic department cannot activate – don’t promise it. This is the start you want to have with not only your partner but with the people working in the front office.

5. The Athletic Department is not your only friend

We get it. While working in college sports it is easy to relate with the ones who work directly in the athletic department. But in fact, the ones who work in and around our campus can become the most valuable unknown asset. From our purchasing department to our facilities team these individuals work directly with accounts that spend upwards of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Establishing a relationship with these people around campus could lead to some low hanging fruit! Following this read I challenge you to drop off some coffee or donuts to your purchasing staff– a small gesture does go a long way!

Cody Collins serves as the General Manager of Sponsorship at Wofford College. Wofford College along with nearly 20 other college programs is marked outright by Peak Sports MGMT, a sponsorship and event management firm based out of Frisco, Texas. Prior to arriving at Wofford, he served as the General Manager at Central Connecticut State University and was a key member to their athletic leadership team. Prior to CCSU, Cody served as an Account Executive with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils where he led his ticket sales team as one of the top reps in the company. Cody completed his bachelors of sports management at Castleton University in 2017, as a two-time captain for his college football team he strives on the two things we can control everyday – our attitude and effort. He's also a mentor in theClubhouse and you can schedule a call with him here.