This brand sales process works

3 steps to close brands - and why they work

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At Patreon, we thought of our Creator Partnerships team as a “Sales” team. We had software like Salesforce, we were bonused against quarterly signing goals, and I even tracked the profitability of the team by calculating the expected revenue from the Creators we signed and comparing it to the cost of our salaries. 

My point is that I know how to run a sales process, but I haven’t been doing it for my Creator business… 

And that’s a problem.

I’ve been so caught up in trying to manage my time that I forgot how sales works. It’s about 3 things:

  • Understanding your potential customer’s problem

  • Figuring out what you can offer to solve that problem

  • Building trust so they want it to be YOUR solution instead of someone else’s

Last week’s conversation with finance Creator New Money Nate, who also has a Sales background, reminded me of the process I’d forgotten - a process that every Creator should use to close more brand deals. 

I’d like to share that process with you here.

It’s so simple, you can easily use it yourself - and I’ll make sure you understand why you should as well.

Let’s get into it!

  1. Get them on a “qualification” call

I'll get the inbound inquiry and I’ll always want to get them on a call. I'll gather information like:

What are their goals for the campaign? 

What are they hard-pressed on, like is it one deliverable? 

What does the timeline look like? 

I try to gather as much info as I can, and I also want to build some rapport with them. I obviously want to stand out because I know that there's ten other Creators they're talking to, so getting them on the phone and talking to them like a human being is really important. 

Qualification is sales-speak for figuring out if someone is worth the effort to try to close.

Nate takes the time to speak to the brand directly to suss out what they really want - but it’s about more than that. He’s trying to understand if there’s a good mutual fit - i.e. can he get what he wants, but also can he give them what they want?

In doing so, he’s building both rapport and trust. 

Trust is important for obvious reasons - the brand will want to work with Creators they trust can deliver on their needs.

Rapport is also important because people want to work with people they LIKE! Get them to like you and they’ll be more likely to make the deal with you.

  1. Craft the offering

Instead of just sending over a rate card, I like to craft my pricing. I'm not a big believer in rate cards because I think every deal is different, every brand is different, and every budget is different. 

I think you do have to tailor each approach.

By crafting specific offerings, Nate is doing what economists call “price discrimination” - he’s charging different prices for the same product (in this case, sponsorship) depending on the customer’s willingness to pay. By doing so, he maximizes his earning potential.

I know “discrimination” is a bad word, but it’s important to understand that every company out there is already doing this, and if you want to maximize your earnings, you should too!

There are 3 forms of price discrimination:

  1. First-Degree - offer different prices based on customer willingness to pay. In this case, if he negotiates for one post with two different companies, and lands at $1000 for one company and $1500 for the other, that would be first-degree price discrimination.

  2. Second-Degree - offer different prices based on quantity. If one company only wants one post and is willing to pay $1000 for it, and another company wants 3 posts and is willing to pay $2000 for it, accepting both offers is second-degree price discrimination.

  3. Third-Degree - offer different prices based on customer segmentation. If you charge a big bank $2000 for a post and a small beverage startup $1000, simply because of their relative sizes and/or brand categories, that’s third-degree price discrimination.

If you want to maximize your revenue, you better be willing to apply all three levels of price discrimination to your partnerships strategy! 

Put differently - there’s absolutely no reason to take $1000 from two different brands when one is willing to pay you $2000 instead.

  1. Negotiate with the power of “because”

I'll ask for the pricing. If they're tight-lipped, I'm not going to do a cat and mouse thing. I'll provide a pretty broad range, and base it on average views based, past campaigns, and results that I've gotten for other companies. I'll arrive at a number mathematically and bake in the usage terms and exclusivity as well. 

I don't want it to be this ambiguous, arbitrary figure where it’s like “Why the hell is this guy charging that?” I want them to feel there’s actually a method behind what I’m asking for. Then we can work together to figure it out. 

I find with brands that even if it's a lot higher than they thought, they respect that there's math behind it, so they'll try to thoughtfully work with me. 

Sharing your rationale for why you’re asking for a certain number / range goes back to a classic psychology principle: the power of “because”

A classic psych study from the 70s had people in line at an office printer ask if they could cut the line. These line-cutters used one of three phrases:

  1. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”

  2. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” (big LOL)

  3. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”

So I’d summarize that as giving no reason, giving a bad reason, and giving a good reason.

The no-reason-givers had only 60% of people comply.

The good-reason-givers had 94% of people comply.

The bad-reason-givers?

93% compliance.

Yup. A bad reason was basically as effective as a good reason.

By inserting math and comps and reasoning to his negotiating asks, Nate is following this classic principle. It doesn’t matter if the brands find his reasons good or not - it’s enough that they are reasons. Simply having reasons makes brands more likely to continue the negotiation.

Always give reasons for why you’re asking for what you’re asking for. You’ll find you’ll get to yes much more often.


  1. Get potential partners on a “qualification” call to understand if there’s mutual fit + build rapport and trust.

  2. Craft unique offerings for different partners depending on their needs and willingness to pay, to maximize your potential earnings.

  3. Negotiate using the power of “because” in order to maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Implement this tried-and-true sales process (as broken down by New Money Nate and explained by yours truly), and you’re sure to have a much more lucrative brand partnerships revenue stream.


Where do you usually get stuck in your sales process?

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
powered by TheFutureParty

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