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Close The Deal On Fishing Sponsorships

Guest post by Ronell Smith

The news, what little of it there is, doesn’t appear to be good. You’ve talked to the vice president of marketing two times in person, visited several times via phone with the company’s marketing director/pro staff manager, coming away from each interaction with the sense that getting a pro staff contract was a mere formality.

They seemed happy with your knowledge of the product line, your passion for the brand, your willingness to do the little things like work shows, conduct local in-store demos and be a willing ambassador for the company. The deal was sealed, or so you thought.

Now, weeks after the last meeting, you have yet to hear anything, and to make matters worse, the web is lit up with news of other anglers who’ve recently signed sponsorship deals. You are left wondering “What went wrong? What could I have done different?”

Take a deep breath. It’s not entirely you. Assuming your intuition is correct, and you did all you knew to do, answering all of their questions, going above and beyond to allay any fears they had and making them feel confident you are the right person for the job, there is likely only one thing left for you to do: Make them aware that you are the only person for the job.

A remnant of the jobless economic “recovery” is the notion, held by many hiring managers, that there is an endless pool of qualified candidates chomping at the bit to get hired, so those charged with hiring are content to sit on their hands lest the person being interviewed convinces them that they are the perfect hire. So, today, it’s not enough to be the best candidate. You must become the only candidate for the job.

Chances are, during the interview process, you detailed how you’ve performed similar tasks for other sponsors; how each benefitted from the unique skills you bring; the job you’d like to perform for the company; and what your overall goals are. That’s a good start.

Now, for the finisher, you need to convince the person doing the hiring that you not only have done a similar job, but that you have done this job. Realizing that every hiring manager thinks his opening requires a special person with a one-of-a-kind skill set, you must make the case that you’ll walk in the door ready to do this job to his liking. (For more on the topic, read this Wall Street Journal piece.) Anything short of that, and he’ll sit on the fence until the right person applies the technique I outline below.

Use these tips to get him off the fence:

1.    Request another chat. Even if you were told “You’ll hear from me soon regarding a decision, one way or another,” make every effort to get one last phone call or visit. To seem less pushy, sell it as an occasion to share with him some details that totally slipped your mind during the last visit. If that doesn’t sit well with you, come right out with “I sense you are on the fence about bringing me aboard. I’ve done some homework and I’d like to share what I think is a plan to take your company to the next level.” How can anyone say no to that?

2.    Make a compelling case. In previous interviews, you made the mistake of talking about what you had done in the past. You likely talked too long and too fast and said very little that the vice president really needed to hear. This time, you’ll have a three-minute “elevator pitch” prepared, wherein you’ll outline, with in-depth detail, everything you’ll do, how you’ll do it and what the results will be. (You’ll need to have some inside information to make this work, but make whatever calls you need to make.) The goal here is to put you in the job right before his eyes, allowing him to see you in the role.

3.    Get an answer. If you nailed No.2, the answer shouldn’t be long in coming. Either you convinced him or you didn’t, but whatever the case, you need an answer and you need it now. With that in mind, go all in: “You’ve heard everything I have to say. You’ve “seen” me perform the job. Is there anything that would prevent you from signing me today?” If you leave without an answer, you effectively have your answer.

I have used this exact technique several times in the past. It works. The answer you get might not be the one you expect. But it will get you an answer.

Ronell Smith, the Tackle Insider, has an extensive history in the fishing tackle industry and has relationships on all sides of the industry to be able to speak to all facets of manufacturing, buying, selling, promoting and growing fishing brands and products. To learn more, visit or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.