If you have ever tried to reach out to a blogger/publisher/potential affiliate and get hit with a “No” or a response that wasn’t what you expected, this post is for you.¬† Recruiting affiliates takes a lot of time, energy, resilience and creativity. You will get hit with rejection from time to time, but in this post I am going to cover the common objections¬† – and even better, how to handle them.

So let’s get started!

“Pay my Sponsorship fee or partner fee.”

Perhaps you reach out to a prospective partner and they mention the elusive Sponsorship fee. What is a sponsorship or partner fee? It is a requested fee from a prospect in order to work with them in some capacity. This could mean to write a review, or include your link in a roundup post, or any type of marketing where they mention you.

This is usually an objection in the eyes of an affiliate manager because: We focus on performance relationships.

Now, rightfully so – it takes a lot of time and effort to craft content that includes your product or brand in a way that is effective. Often times, a publisher/affiliate can spend a lot of time crafting this material – later to find out that it doesn’t convert (aka – he/she isn’t getting any compensation for referring customers).

How to handle sponsorship fees or partner fees: 

First, you are going to want to evaluate a few areas:

  • Is the website a high traffic website that likely brings in a lot of targeted, potential customers? Remember: any publisher can charge a sponsorship fee and that fee might not be relative to performance they could send your way. If they are a high-intent website, the sponsorship fee might be worth it.
  • Are they open to other compensation options? i.e. – is it sponsorship or no go on working together?¬†Sometimes the sponsorship option is the default response from the affiliate when approached. I mean – it makes sense; they might be getting hit by tons of requests per day and they need to know who is serious (i.e. ones that might ask more questions and geniunely try to be an advocate or partner with them).
  • Evaluate why they charge sponsorship¬†fees.¬†Some partners might have gotten burned or spent a lot of time and energy with other companies in the past -with little to show for it. If their concern is time and effort to put something together: Let them know you can help. You can provide factual, custom content (not boilerplates or duplicate content) that they can use in conjunction with their objective opinions they would add – to offset some of the upfront effort they would go through at the beginning.

“I don’t have time.”

This can be a tricky one because humans can say they don’t have time – when they actually mean, they are not interested. So first and foremost if someone says they don’t have time, It’s your duty to find out if there is a better time to chat about it (and stay diligent to what they tell you).

If, however, it is a true “I don’t have time – no I am not interested.” Then leave it at that. There is no amount of convincing you can do to change their mind.

PRO TIP:¬†If you are approaching an affiliate that has a website that has multiple categories and rates many of the merchants/products in your industry as roundup posts, rather than say, “We want to be part of the list – can you include us?” Ask, ” When (quarter or month) in the year do you update your categories? We’d love to be considered but want to be respectful of your editorial calendar and process when it makes sense for you to give us a look.” Then mark it on the calendar and followup.

“I want a different commission structure or amount if we decide to work together.”

In some cases, you might run up against an affiliate who wants to be paid in a different way than what your default commission structure allows. A lot of companies who have affiliate programs say – “Sorry – that is not how we work.”

This is a MAJOR lost opportunity. 

What you want to do is find out why the affiliate wants a different commission structure. Yes – in some cases it may just be greed but often times it is how their affiliate business is setup that has to do with the commission request.

For example, some affiliates spend a lot of money driving traffic to their site. They need to recoup their investment and often times they do this in the form of affiliate links. If your program is a recurring commission structure – but just a small % of the monthly amount the customer pays – it is going to be hard for the affiliate to have a positive ROI on his marketing spend if he has to wait 8-12 months to recoup his/her customer acquisition cost.

Rather, he.she requests a one time, flat rate CPA; meaning $100 for every paying customer he refers over.

How to handle different commission structure requests:

The important thing here is: flexibility. You want to be able to entertain different commission structures for different affiliates within reason (i.e. without it being unwieldy or unmanageable). Come up with baseline CPA, tiered, and other commission structures so that if an affiliate asks, you have something to go off of.

“I am promoting a competitor – and don’t think it would be right.”

This is a valid objection if an affiliate is obviously very well partnered with a competitor. At the end of the day, the affiliate is protecting his/her reputation with his audience and you don’t want to jeopardize that at all.

In certain circumstances Рthere can be cases where your product might seem like a competitor to the affiliate but it caters to a slightly different audience. In that case Рyou can showcase how your product differentiates and caters to different clientele, and then let the affiliate decide if they want to promote it  or not.

If they don’t – be respectful and understand it is not a match.

“Your product is no good.”

Sometimes you might run across a publisher for whom has tried your product and doesn’t like it OR has heard negative things about your product and is not interested in proceeding further.

Unfortunately, in most cases (unless you have multiple roles in the company  Рlike Product Manager) This is outside your wheelhouse to actually change.

It’s best to drill down on very specific feedback and let them know you will pass it along to the appropriate team to consider.

Are there more objections you have encountered out there that I haven’t covered? Or, is there an example of an objection you have handled and turned around in remarkable fashion? Would love to hear it in the comments below!¬†

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Taylor is the Founder of The Up Foundry. 7+ years starting, managing and growing affiliate programs for Technology, subscription, and SaaS-based companies, Taylor works with clients all over the world to generate millions in sales and revenue from their affiliate programs each year.

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