After spending months on your event’s sponsorship proposal, you email it out to everyone on your list — then nothing happens. Your team double checks the contact information for typos and errors, but everything looks good. What went wrong?

According to a recent survey, email is the method of choice for event professionals contacting event sponsors. If this includes your team, note that sponsorship experts say that you should never lead with a proposal or package.

“One of the most common mistakes I see is sending 600-word emails with a proposal attached,” says The Sponsorship Collective president and CEO Chris Baylis. “They hope the recipient will open, read, and respond by purchasing a prepackaged opportunity — it doesn’t work like that.”

Why you shouldn’t email your proposal

“Your proposal is like a resume,” explains Larry “The Sponsorship Guy” Weil. “No one submits their resume to an employer expecting the hiring manager to call them back and say they’ve got the job. It’s an iterative process, much like sponsorship. It takes time to build a relationship and get commitment.”

When is it okay to send your proposal? “After the sponsor explicitly asks for one and you know enough about their goals to create a custom package,” says Baylis.

How to correctly approach event sponsors

The iterative process of approaching sponsors begins with identifying the decision maker.

You can accomplish this a number of different ways. Attending an event your potential partner is sponsoring, for example, is a great way for you to make connections. Social media is another good channel for reaching out to a potential sponsor — like sending an InMail message on LinkedIn.

As you begin to approach potential sponsors, remember that your first goal is not to sell sponsorship — it’s to find the decision maker and ask for a meeting after your do.

Need help crafting your sponsorship outreach emails? Check out page 20 of The 2017 Guide to Event Sponsorship for templates you can use.

You’ll want to track your success as you reach out to potential sponsors. Baylis suggests that you count the number of meetings you’ve had with your prospects and how many asked for a proposal afterward.

“Event sponsorship is a relationship business,” says Baylis. “Counting how many emails you’ve sent can’t measure that. Remember that your best sales tool isn’t your proposal or package — it’s you.”

If you’re unsure this approach will work for you, Baylis challenges you to test it. “I ask clients to try this approach with a small segmentation of their prospect list. After they compare conversion rates, revenue, and time spent, it becomes quickly apparent that e-blasting proposals is the most inefficient way imaginable to win sponsorship.”

How to avoid other common mistakes

Sending your sponsorship proposal to hundreds of prospects at once isn’t the only common mistake made with event sponsorship. In fact, Chris Baylis and The Sponsorship Collective created a must-read list of the most common mistakes events make throughout the process.

Download the full list of 7 Event Sponsorship Fails here.