Serving vs. Selling with Event Sponsorships

My first job as an event planner was for a non-profit. In addition to my event planning duties, it was my responsibility to ‘sell’ sponsorships. I did it, but the first few years I did not enjoy it and I was NOT good at it.

I was not good at selling. I told myself this for years. It showed and sponsors didn’t flock to the event in the way I expected. I grew frustrated of ‘selling’ and the story was created in my mind that I was not good at selling…anything.

Once I came to realization there was another way to sell, a relationship based way to sell, I found my sweet spot!  

If you think ‘I can’t sell!’, I want to you to get comfortable with the idea that you can. You might have been influenced by someone who doesn’t have the same sales approach as you.


5 Ways to Engage: Serving versus Selling

1. Offer Value

What questions do potential clients have?  Answer those questions in social media or on your website. Be the resource!

Offer industry and regional information (based on your company focus). For example, a makeup company will not only talk about their makeup on the product area of their site. They can talk about care for your skin, care for brushes, routine sleeping methods, and more on their blog, thereby becoming a resource for those needing help (and who may ultimately be in the market for new makeup trends.)

2. Actively Listen

This is somewhat of a lost art, particularly for those into a strong selling mentality. Listening builds trust, values the other party, and helps establish a relationship from which you can then speak when you have proven you understand their needs.

Yes, some of those psychology courses do come back to play a role here! Can you hear what someone else is saying? Can you refrain from jumping in? Can you summarize back to them accurately what they have said? It’s not as easy to do as you think, but if done well, it truly makes a difference in that relationship and meeting!

3. Solve Problems

Businesses have pain points. They don’t so much want to buy your product or service as they want their pain solved.

Do you see the difference?

One is about you, the other is about the client.


Serving means you are focused on their pain points and how to help them. It’s about their agenda first, understanding it and when asked offering solutions that solve their problems. Your service may solve their problems but if you can’t articulate their problem and only speak about your product, you are missing the boat.

Cross the bridge, make the connection. “We can solve your problem “X” by implementing a solution tailored to you (your product y). Now you’re serving, not just selling.

4. Understand their Business

We’ve got to be in the business of learning quickly to be useful and to offer value. To serve others is to go deep to understand their business model, their industry, their pain points, and their opportunities.

Have you ever done a SWOT Analysis? It’s a dive into the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s worth doing for your business, and (at least mentally) you need to be doing this on the businesses you are meeting with.

Don’t assume you know their business. Ask the questions and probe to gather information that can help you understand their pain points better, the problems they face, and the solutions you can offer to those items.

5. Stay in Touch Consistently

The selling mentality is like the trophy hunter mentality. You hunt the game, kill the game, then move on to pursue the next game.

Serving is different.

Serving versus selling follows up and doesn’t forget a customer.

Serving cares before, during, and after the initial sale.  It follows up and stays in touch. It continues to offer resources along the way and makes sure clients are aware of new trends or changes that are important for them. 

This is more than just an upsell opportunity, it’s about caring for that business and how things are going. People can easily sniff out the difference. You’ve had those calls and emails. You know what I’m talking about!

Don’t be the upsell freak. Continue to offer service and stay in touch. The natural outgrowth can be that when you have a new upsell, they will listen to you explain its value because you’ve provided value and help over time.

Ultimately, serving does lead to sales, it’s just not selling at all costs. In fact, it’s greater sales as repeat business and referrals increase.

To get you closer to your business possibility, set up a 1-on-1 breakthrough session with me to unlock your vision, uncover what is holding you and your business or career back from success AND we will devise and accountability plan to bust up old patterns that don’t serve you. 

What’s your key takeaway that you need to do in the next 24 hours based on listening to this? I’d love to hear in the comments below or on social media.

Rooting for You!

owner + founder // the planner collective