37 Sponsorship Discovery Questions: Ask Your Way to the Sale
As part of an organization, you might not liken yourself to a salesperson, at least not much. That’s just not one of your job responsibilities. Yet thinking of accruing sponsors as anything less than making a sale is a big mistake.
After all, in this scenario, you’re selling a sponsorship package, so sales tactics apply. Like any sales, doing so is an art, but what do you need to know for sponsorship sales success?
In sponsorships, the art of making the sale begins at that first meeting with the discovery phase. During your meeting, there are a slew of pertinent, getting-to-know-you questions you’re going to want to ask. Having these answers allows you to create a winning strategy that suits you and your sponsor.
Want to know which questions to ask during the discovery session?
Eager to learn what you should and shouldn’t do during this initial meeting?
Keep reading, as we’ll discuss all this and more in today’s post.
Getting the Ball Rolling: How to Ask for a Sales Meeting
First of all, “sponsorship” is a no-no word in the early stages of sponsorship sales (don’t replace it with partnership or any other buzzword either). So too is outright calling the phone call or in-person gathering a sales meeting. Instead, liken it more to an interview or a brainstorming session, where you’ll ask the potential sponsor questions and give them room to do the same.
This first meeting is also sometimes referred to as a discovery meeting. That’s because you’re discovering things about each other. For example, you want to learn more about the sponsor’s target audience, their budget, their short-term and long-term goals (including sales goals), and how often they sponsor other companies or organizations.
Now, just because we say “meeting” doesn’t necessarily mean you and the sponsor will sit down in person. Sometimes that happens, but a phone call or even a video call is sufficient as well.
Getting the Meeting with a Sponsor
Okay, so we’ve talked enough about the meeting. How do you actually go about getting one with your target sponsor? Well, you want to skip the multi-page proposal with your sponsorship package and activation plan. That can come later.
Instead, we recommend a very short, simple, to-the-point email that’s a few sentences long. If you’re writing more than three sentences, then already you need to curtail your email.
If you have no prior contact with the sponsor, then you might start the email with a mention of how you found the sponsor (social media, through attending an event, etc.). Next, mention how they’re involved in something you’re interested in, and then ask if they want to hear about your project. Don’t go into detail about what the project is yet. Finally, close out with a time for a call.
This messaging tactic is effective for several reasons. For one, it’s short, so it doesn’t take more than a minute of the sponsor’s time. Also, you’re very complimentary, you keep the focus on them instead of you, and you make it easy for the sponsor to accept a time to talk.
Once you settle on when the meeting can take place, you’re off to the races.
Running a Sales Meeting?
Here are 37 Discovery Questions to Ask
Alright! You got the meeting with your potential sponsor. While you’re very excited for what this could mean, you’re also not sure how you’re going to fill the 30 minutes the prospect has allotted for the meeting.
This is a great opportunity to ask an array of discovery questions. If you’re having a hard time coming up with these yourself, we’ve taken the time to compile 37 thoughtful, effective questions sure to get the ball rolling.
What follows is a list of questions aimed at uncovering the target audience, preferred assets and desired outcomes of sponsors, through exploratory or discovery meetings. Using the information gathered through the questions below, a custom sponsorship package is developed.
It is neither desirable nor necessary to ask all of these questions but having them nearby or committed to memory will help keep the conversation going.
- Tell me about your ideal customer?
- I’d really like to see if we share an audience and common goals, do you mind if I tell you a little about our audience?
- What do your customers value?
- What sort of feedback do you hear from your customers that we might be able to help with?
- Our audience is X, Y, Z. Is this an audience segment that you typically try to engage?
- How do you typically engage them?
- Tell me more about your target audience’s demographics?
- What do you want your customers to walk away thinking? Doing? What action would you like them to take once they’ve engaged with you?
- Tell me more about your social media presence/strategy/following?
- Is having audience data important to you when making sponsorship decisions?
- What kind of audience data is important for you?
- Do any of your current partners gather and share data on their audience? What kind of information are they providing?
- How do you move people through your sales funnel?
- What is the action your customers take immediately before they make a purchase?
- And what action do they take before that?
- What is the first action your customers take to enter your sales funnel? Do you struggle to get your customers to take that first step?
- How have you worked with sponsorship properties to move your customers through your sales funnel?
- What do you need as a goal outcome of a partnership in order to deem it a success?
- What do you struggle with in terms of connecting with your ideal customers?
- Do you have any brand messages that you try to combine with your marketing or sponsorship investments?
- I noticed you are sponsoring X, how is that partnership working for you?
- What do you like most about that partnership?
Success Measures and ROI
- What type of advertising are you involved in now? Are you happy with the outcomes?
- What do you wish X,Y,Z marketing channel offered you that it doesn’t? (social, media, radio, etc.)
- Tell me about some of the ways you work with sponsorship properties now? What’s working and what isn’t?
- How important is it that your employees are engaged in your sponsorship opportunities?
- How important is networking to you? Who do you hope to meet when you attend a networking event?
- Is brand awareness one of your advertising goals? Why/why not?
- How do you define brand awareness?
- Do you have experience with email marketing or sampling? Tell me more about that.
- What are some of your biggest challenges in connecting with customers?
- How much does it cost you to bring on a new customer?
- What is the most expensive part of bringing in new customers?
- What is your best technique for getting people to sign up for a trial/visit your site/sign up for your email list?
- What are some of the indicators that you use to determine the success of a sponsorship investment?
- What are some frustrations you have had with other properties that we could work to avoid?
- Are there any “must have” benefits that you like to see?
If these questions inspire you to come up with your own, then great! If not, then at least you have the right questions to ask to get the kind of information out of your sponsor that could lead to a future working relationship.
Of course, if you only have 30 minutes of the sponsor’s time to spare, we wouldn’t suggest asking all 37 questions. Even with a longer meeting, you want to pick the questions that are most pertinent to your organization and its goals. Limit it to five, maybe 10 questions that really matter most.
After all, you want to give the sponsor time to reflect on their answers and reply accurately and thoughtfully. Also, as we said before, they should get the chance to ask you follow-up questions as well. The discovery meeting goes both ways, or at least, it should. Plus, you want the meeting to feel comfortable, not like an interrogation where it’s question after question after question.
As the meeting begins, ask if you can take notes. It’s especially polite to do this if you’re meeting with a potential sponsor face-to-face. Jot down information for each answer you get. Then, after the meeting, review this information, compare it against your own goals, stats, and numbers, and begin working on your sponsorship plan from there.
What to Bring (and What Not to Bring) to the First Sales Meeting
Again, we call it a sales meeting, but this doesn’t mean you need to be armed to the teeth with promotional materials, sponsorship packages, and your lengthy proposal. We said it before on this blog and we’ll say it again: you want to go into the meeting with very little.
Bring a small notebook and a pen. Have your list of questions ready as well, either printed or in your head (which is best if you can swing it). That’s about all you need. You can leave the proposal and your other related materials at home.
Now, you may be saying, how are you supposed to sell like that?
No one likes pushy, aggressive sales tactics. Think of the perfume salesperson at the mall. This person asks to spray fragrance at you as you’re passing by, and most people say no. If you walk into your meeting with all your sponsorship package materials in your arms, you come off a lot like the mall fragrance guy or girl.
Take a moment now to think of how you’d feel about the same fragrance if you had a chance to learn more about it. Your interest may be piqued. It’s still the same product, but the sales technique changed.
When you arrive to your meeting willing to ask questions and listen, it becomes much easier to get into a conversation of strategy. That will involve talking about proposals and sponsorship packages, but these topics will come up organically rather than you shoving them at the potential sponsor.
By the time you come out of that first meeting, being an in-person one or a phone call, you’ll have a much clearer idea of whether you and this sponsor gel. If you do, then you’ll have already begun laying the groundwork for your partnership. That’s not bad for an initial meeting!
As someone trying to sell a sponsorship package, it’s important that you carefully review your own sales tactics.
If you’ve been coming at potential sponsors with your long proposal right off the bat, that could be why you’re not hearing back. Instead, it’s best to use an initial meeting for the discovery phase. By asking the right questions, you can learn more about the sponsor and use this information to begin planning a strategy.
Now that you know how to request a meeting (and get it), what to bring, and which questions to ask, you’re ready to begin selling sponsorship packages. Best of luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.