Subscribe to the SMA Newsletter

Rewriting Your Sponsorship Sales Playbook

Throughout a career spanning more than 25 years, Steve Tseng has learned a few things about himself and the sponsorship industry. The Executive Vice President of the Pac-12 Networks brought his wealth of knowledge to a recent 7in7 interview and our Sponsorship Summit where he discussed how sponsorship marketers can rewrite their sponsorship sales playbook.

Tseng admits his competitive nature has helped him develop a track record of accelerating performance, driving revenue growth, and building meaningful partnerships but has made sure to focus on intentionality as much as drive.

Over the course of three years, Tseng has taken the Pac-12 Networks from nine to 29 partners.

His top 5 tips for sponsorship marketers were:

  1. Qualify and research every lead
  2. Get to the decision maker early
  3. Think big
  4. Under promise and over-deliver
  5. Always keep your word

“The practices that have been really successful for me over the years continue to be effective for me today,” Tseng said.

One prime example of a best-in-class partnership Tseng’s team secured for the Pac-12 Networks was a partnership that made Sprouts Farmers Market the Official Grocer of the Pac-12.

From the initial conversation, this partnership took 22 months. “I thought this partnership was going to die three times and it finally came back,” he said.

While dealing with the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tseng was persistent. Sprouts wanted to lean in on women’s sports, so the partnership made the grocery chain the first-ever presenting partner of the Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Championships. Additionally, Sprouts became an official sponsor of the football championship game, the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and Olympic sports championships.

The Pac-12 Networks has been so successful in the sponsorship space over the past three years, the challenge to sell assets to sponsors has become greater, simply because there are fewer assets to sell.

The solution: identify new assets. To accomplish that, Tseng has used his drive to push creativity in innovation among his team.

When Tseng joined the Pac-12 Networks, he changed the narrative. He focused on the value of the West Coast, big markets and the benefits of schools in affluent areas. He identified what sponsors want – ownership position, unique assets, custom content and exclusivity – and assembled a team that could execute.

The intentionality has created win after win for the Pac-12 Networks and illustrated a roadmap for others across the industry to follow.