Sponsorship collective logo

Common Sponsorship Sales Objectives 

by | February 21, 2022

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

It doesn’t matter if it’s in our personal or professional lives (or even both): rejection hurts. It’s not a great feeling to be told no, but do you know what’s even worse? Being misled and given a vague answer. 

As I’m sure you can imagine, I have heard every sponsorship objection in the book, from the common ones to some very creative ones. Today, I want to focus more on the former.  

When you get these kinds of replies, you might not be sure what the next step is for your sponsorship program. 

Well, I want to help with that. This post will be more than a list of rejections. I’ll also decipher what your sponsorship prospects are really trying to tell you as well as how you can handle their objections and potentially inspire them to say yes.

Let’s get started!

8 Sponsorship Objections: What They Mean and How to Overcome Them

Overcoming Sales Objections-01

Overcoming Sales Objections-01

Just Send Me a Proposal 

What It Means

I know, this doesn’t sound like a rejection at all. It just sounds like the prospective sponsor wants to see your proposal, right?

This kind of objection is all about the context. If you call up a prospect, talk with them for five minutes, and they tell you to send them a proposal, this is not a time to get excited.

The prospect doesn’t actually want to see your sponsorship proposal. Rather, they’re just trying to rush you off the phone so they can get back to their huge to-do list for the day.

Now, if you have had several meetings with a prospect, including a discovery session, and after those meetings, they ask to see your proposal, that’s different. They genuinely want to see it, more than likely. 

How to Turn No Into Yes

Rather than agree when a prospect asks you to send them a proposal, ask what they want to find in a sponsorship package. 

Here’s another option. When the prospect asks to see your sponsorship proposal, tell them that your process usually entails a discovery session first where you learn about the sponsor’s needs. Then you produce a customized report based on that information. 

This kind of response can guide the prospect towards scheduling a discovery call with you. Now you’ve gotten things back on track and won’t have to rush a sponsorship proposal.

New call-to-action

I Don’t Have Time for a Discovery Call

What It Means

There’s a difference between objections and complaints, and as a sponsorship seeker, you have to get good at sniffing out that difference. 

When a prospect tells you they don’t have time for a discovery call, that’s usually a complaint, not an objection.

You can ask them when they will have time to talk with you. It’s usually with this question that you can get a better feel for where they’re coming from. 

If the prospect says something like, “well, I’m free next Tuesday at 10 a.m.,” then great! Even if you have plans next Tuesday at 10 a.m., you’d bump them back to talk to the prospect (unless you really can’t move the plans).

When a prospect tells you, “I’m not sure when I’ll have time,” then them telling you they don’t have time for a discovery call could very well be a brush-off. 

How to Turn No Into Yes

Besides asking the prospect outright when they might have more time, it doesn’t hurt to go over the discovery session process. 

Talk about what usually happens and how you need to know what the sponsor’s current issues are to craft a tailored solution that works for their business and target audience.

Once you make it about the prospect making (or losing) money and possibly dissatisfying their customers, they might be more willing to have a discovery call.

For the ones who say they don’t have 20 minutes for a discovery call, then what makes you think they’ll have 40 minutes to read your sponsorship proposal or weeks to work with you on your event? 

You might have to let this prospect go and start from square one with the next prospect on your list. 

I recommend you read my post called Sponsorship Prospecting Made Easy to determine where to find prospects so you’re not stuck hinging your hopes on a wishy-washy prospect.

New call-to-action

I Already Spent My Budget

What It Means

Here’s something that no sponsorship seeker wants to hear. When you finally get your prospect to answer your calls or respond to your email, they tell you they already spent their budget or they’re under budget. 

The answer may have some variations, but the prospect’s message is always the same.

They’re flat broke.

Or so they tell you. 

Could it really be that the prospect doesn’t have money to put towards sponsorship? Yes, of course. Then again, this could be another of those smokescreen answers designed to put you off, but gently, of course. 

How to Turn No Into Yes

To determine which is which, you have to ask more questions. 

I like to start with this: “when do you determine your budget for the year/quarter?” 

If you’re going to the sponsorship prospect early in January or February and they say they’ve spent their budget for the year already, then you know they’re lying to you. 

And if by chance they aren’t lying, you wouldn’t want to work with a company that is so wildly financially irresponsible that they can chew through a whole year’s budget in a month or two. 

Sometimes, the prospect might not know the answer to your question. Remember, the prospect at the sponsorship company is but one of many cogs in the wheel. They have a boss or manager above them who may have a boss or manager above them.

They may not play a role in their company’s financial decisions, so they could very well not know what the company budget looks like. That said, they would have no way of knowing if the company’s budget has been spent either.

In this case, I recommend you find a new contact, someone who’s a decisionmaker for the company. 

You can also ask the prospect when their budget cycle renews. If the prospect tells you May and it’s January, then you need to write them off for now and move on to your next prospect. 

Don’t give up on the prospect entirely though. In May, check in with them and see what they say about their budget. If they did indeed renew their budget, then they should have room for you in there somewhere. 

If not, then at least you hopefully found a different sponsor in the time between now and then.

New call-to-action

We Don’t Do Sponsorship 

What It Means

This is one of my favorite objections by far. 

If you’re a first-time sponsorship seeker, hearing this answer can throw you for a loop. I don’t blame you!

After all, if you’ve reached the point where you’re talking to a prospect, then I assume you’ve taken the time to research them. Thus, you’ve probably read about the company’s other sponsorship opportunities from the past. How can they then tell you they don’t do sponsorship?

What the prospect usually means is they don’t do your version of sponsorship.

Is the best asset you have right now signage or logos? Very few prospects are going to be interested in those kinds of assets because they don’t deliver the results the prospect is looking for.

A sign doesn’t do lead gen. A sign doesn’t get people buying. A sign doesn’t really build brand awareness. A sign doesn’t convert leads to customers. You get it.

A prospect might also tell you this after seeing your sponsorship proposal complete with an overplayed gold, silver, bronze package

Again, the meaning is the same. This prospect is open to the possibility of sponsorship, just not the way you define it.  

How to Turn No Into Yes

Calling sponsorship by any other name like a partnership is not going to change their mind. Rather than redefine the name of the arrangement, you need to redefine its contents.

Your assets should always be customized based on the information you get from the prospect during your discovery session and subsequent meetings. If you’re not doing that, that’s the first thing you’ll want to change. 

In some cases, it’s maybe the prospect’s idea of sponsorship that’s antiquated. They assume that sponsorship is them donating money and getting little if anything in return. 

Make clear what you’re trying to achieve. You could tell the prospect something like, “we help brands connect to their audience in meaningful ways. Maybe that’s sponsorship to some people, but I don’t care what you call it. I want to help your company achieve more of its goals.”

Now their ears are going to be pricked. You’ve told them what you can do for them, and that becomes a much harder offer to pass on.

New call-to-action

We Just Want a Booth or [Insert Your Asset Here] 

What It Means

As you begin discussing with a prospect what potential assets and activations you could offer them, they might cut you off and say something that comes across to you as sort of strange. 

They’ll tell you they just want a booth or signage. 

Can this be a brush-off? Sure! More than likely though, the prospect thinks that with a booth alone, they can accomplish whatever their current goals are.

How to Turn No Into Yes

The next time you hear a sponsorship prospect tell you they just want a booth, or they only want signage, ask them why. 

Query them on what they think they can accomplish with just a booth. Ask them how they would measure success. 

You’re not trying to be rude here; you’re just curious. Then, listen to their answer. 

Maybe they think a booth genuinely will help them. Perhaps they’re not sure why they want a booth. They could even tell you a booth is all they can afford.

If you know your prospect wants to hand out more samples, then you could recommend a customized asset or activation that can help them achieve that. Maybe a booth serves as your inspiration, but you’ll likely come up with an interactive station or an elevated version of a booth. 

Once your prospect hears that, they’ll realize that a booth itself isn’t so valuable. It’s what you do with it (or any asset) and the outcomes.

New call-to-action

We Prefer to Do In-Kind Only 

What It Means

The in-kind offer is likely to come up a lot if you frequently work with nonprofits. 

In-kind gifts are free stuff. While an answer like this can sound very enticing at first, don’t get your hopes up too much. 

It doesn’t always mean that a prospect wants to throw you free valuable stuff. Maybe they think they can get away with giving you whatever they have lying around in the warehouse, like branded t-shirts, hats, or the dreaded pen. 

If you need sponsorship dollars to put on a huge event or a gala, then a pen isn’t really going to get you there. The prospect may perceive their in-kind gifts or donations as a lot higher-value than they are. 

They think they’re being generous and helpful, but you know their offerings are not going to take this partnership far. 

When a sponsorship prospect mentions the possibility of offering you in-kind gifts in lieu of cash, ask them why they’re doing it.

Most of the time, the prospect will tell you they think they’re being nice. You need to look beyond that. 

How to Turn No Into Yes

I’ve found that when a prospect talks about offering in-kind gifts, it’s usually because they want to put their products in the hands of your customers (the event attendees). 

Now that you’ve revealed the prospect’s true goals, you can work together to craft assets and activations that will get your audience to try product samples, but in a more engaging and profitable way than in-kind gifts.

Let Me Think About It

What It Means

Sponsorship is a multi-million-dollar industry. Even if you’re working with a small prospect, you shouldn’t want them to make a spur-of-the-moment decision. 

Let me remind you as well that the prospect you’re speaking to has people who work above them, and that person has people who work above them. 

The prospect may genuinely want to think, or they could have to talk to other decision-makers within their company. 

Or, yet again, they could just be trying to politely turn you away. 

How to Turn No Into Yes

Of all the sponsorship objectives I’ve discussed so far, this is arguably the hardest one to overcome. The prospect isn’t giving you much information to go off of, which can leave you and your sponsorship program at a standstill.

That’s why you’re going to have to dig a little deeper. Ask the prospect what’s giving them pause. 

If they have concerns they didn’t want to mention, then asking what they need to think about should reveal those concerns. 

You should do your best to assuage their concerns, and you just may be able to turn this objection around.

New call-to-action

Marketing Is Not Part of Our Local Operations 

What It Means

What if you hear a prospect tell you that marketing isn’t a part of their local operations? Maybe they tell you that they’re in the wrong department, or a different branch of their company handles marketing, or perhaps it’s even a headquarters in a different country. 

Now, in some cases, this could be the truth, as unlikely as it seems. If not, then you know what I’m going to tell you by now. You need to get to the bottom of the lie. 

How to Turn No Into Yes

Ask the prospect outright who handles the marketing for their company and how you, they, and the prospect can get on a call together to allocate budget and talk about sponsorship solutions. 

If the prospect hems and haws, then they probably weren’t being truthful in the first place. 


Out of a sense of social decorum and the need to avoid conflict, sponsorship prospects will rarely tell you the truth in the beginning stages. When you hear objections, don’t take them at face value. 

Instead, be willing to ask the hard questions. If you’re being cast aside, then at least you’ll know and can move on to the next prospect.

Yet if a prospect has concerns, by breaking past their coded objections, you just might be able to convince them that you’re worth working with.