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How to Run a Sponsorship Sales Meeting

by | June 28, 2022

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Are you about to have your first sponsorship sales meeting but you feel apprehensive about how to approach it? You want the meeting to go smoothly, but you’re not sure if you should bring your sponsorship proposal or be ready to negotiate so soon.

The first sponsorship sales meeting is a critical place to be in your sponsorship program. You don’t want to blow it now, as a poor meeting could leave a bad taste in your sponsor’s mouth that has them reconsidering the deal.

In today’s post, I’ll help you navigate sponsorship sales meetings so you can excel. 

Understanding What Your Sponsorship Sales Meeting Is and Isn’t

Now listen, I might have called it a sponsorship sales meeting, but that doesn’t mean you want to walk into the meeting all gung-ho with your elevator pitch. 

Remember, your approach sets the stage for what will transpire at this meeting and could influence whether you get a second meeting with your sponsorship prospect.

Thus, I thought it would be a good idea to take this first section and discuss what a sponsorship sales meeting is and isn’t. 

What the First Sponsorship Meeting Is

When you get a telemarketer call asking you to buy car insurance or you see a pushy perfume salesperson at the mall trying to spray their product on you, you give them a wide berth, right?

There’s a reason for that. The salesperson is selling to a stranger, and that’s notoriously ineffective.

The best way to influence a sale is to get to know the person. 

Imagine you gave the telemarketer on the phone a couple of minutes of your time because they didn’t call you in the middle of dinner (as they so often do).

After listening for a few minutes, you understand more about the company and the auto insurance options the telemarketer is offering. 

That still doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to buy, but the telemarketer is no longer a stranger to you. You’ve at least warmed up to their offer, and that’s big. 

When you go into the first meeting with a sponsorship prospect, you can’t begin selling from the get-go. Otherwise, you’re no better than the car insurance telemarketer or the mall perfume salesperson.

That’s why instead of thinking about this initial meeting as a sales meeting, I implore you to consider it as a discovery session.

In other words, it’s a meeting where you get to know your prospect beyond the research you’ve already done. 

You get to learn about the prospect’s target audience, their products and services, their current marketing campaigns, their social media outreach, and everything else they’re doing.

This tells you what’s working for the company and what isn’t, and that’s where you step in.

Through the discovery session, you can learn about what the prospect’s problems are. If your solutions are a good fit, then you two should schedule another meeting. 

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What the First Sponsorship Meeting Isn’t 

As I hope I’ve made clear then, the first sponsorship meeting is no time for jumping the gun.

I mentioned in the intro that some sponsorship seekers wonder if they should bring their sponsorship proposal to the first meeting. That’s actually a common question that I get a lot.

The answer is a resounding no!

If you already have a sponsorship proposal put together before having a discovery session with your prospect, then I’m sure the contents therein are incredibly rigid and unyielding. 

You’re probably using things like gold, silver, and bronze tiers and assets that you think the prospect would like either because you like those assets or because a little bit of reading on the prospect made you think that.

You should not have a sponsorship proposal ready to go at this phase. You’re not ahead of eight-ball if you have a proposal this early. You’re way off track.

The first sponsorship meeting is also not the time to refine and present your elevator pitch. Actually, at no point during the sponsorship process is an elevator pitch appropriate. 

Save it for your networking events, but don’t use an elevator pitch here.

What Should You Bring to the Sponsorship Sales Meeting Then? 

Okay, so if not your sponsorship proposal, then what should you bring to this first meeting? You probably need armfuls of material, right? You don’t want to forget a thing, so a checklist would be really helpful.

Well, it turns out, you don’t need a checklist. Yes, I mean it.

Why is that? Well, because you don’t need to bring anything to the first sponsorship sales meeting.

You heard that right! You don’t need a thing.

It’s not only your sponsorship proposal I would implore you to leave at home. Any other sponsorship sales materials that you think you need this early in the game, I guarantee you, you do not. 

It all goes back to my point from before. You don’t know the sponsor well enough to sell them on anything, and that’s what your sponsorship proposal does, at least in part.

Now, if you have questions for your prospect and you think you’ll forget some of them, it’s okay to jot them down on a piece of paper. 

You can also make a rough meeting outline to ensure you and the prospect spend your time wisely. 

Other than those two documents though–and you can hardly even call either of them documents–you don’t need a thing.

It’s perfectly okay and actually preferable if you walk into this first meeting with your prospect empty-handed.

You won’t look unprepared or unprofessional, I promise.

Preparing to Start the Sponsorship Sales Meeting

It’s the day of the meeting and quite an exciting yet nerve-wracking time. If you’re feeling anxious, that’s to be understood. 

Here’s what I recommend you do about an hour before the sponsorship sales meeting and as the meeting gets underway. These tips apply whether your meeting is in person or through video chat.

Grab Something to Eat

You want to have the fuel to think on your feet during your sponsorship sales meeting, and that’s something you simply can’t do on an empty stomach. 

Even if you’ve already had breakfast or your first cup of coffee, take a short break from work to refresh yourself. Drink another cup of coffee if that’s your style. Have a nourishing snack or small meal.

Choose something that’s going to fill you up so you don’t have to deal with annoying hunger pangs during the meeting. Now is not the time to try a food for the first time though, as you don’t know how it will agree with you! 

Go to the Bathroom

You could be on the phone or in the conference room with your sponsorship prospect for at least an hour, so don’t forget to take a bathroom break beforehand. You don’t want anything to distract you once the meeting is underway. 

Spruce Yourself Up

Even if you’re not meeting with your prospect in person, if you’re on video chat, you still want to look professional and put together.

Comb your hair so it looks nice. Fellas, check that your tie isn’t askew or that your button-down shirt doesn’t have any wrinkles. Ladies, check your makeup (if you’re wearing any) as well as your outfit.

When you feel confident in how you look, you’ll be confident during the meeting! 

Review Your Discovery Questions

Do you have to memorize your discovery questions? As I said earlier, no, but it’s better if you do. Thus, reviewing the discovery questions one more time before the meeting starts is always good. 

Have an Icebreaker Ready

You can’t just jump right into the conversation once you and the prospect begin talking. You need to break the ice, and that requires you to have some material prepared.

Look, at the very least, plan to talk about a topic of conversation a little more interesting than the weather. You can use the weather as a fallback if need be, but you can do better.

Maybe talk about an upcoming (nonreligious) holiday, a big (non-sexual, non-political) news item, or a pop culture occurrence that everyone is chatting about. 

You can also break the ice with a joke. If this sounds like something that puts the pressure on you, then it’s not for you, and that’s okay.

If you do go the joke route, tell a universal joke that’s again non-sexual, nonreligious, and non-political. It shouldn’t be a complex joke with a tough-to-understand punchline.

You want something that everyone can follow along with like a knock-knock joke but maybe more sophisticated. 

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Asking Your Discovery Questions

Once you and your prospect settle in a little, it will be time to get into the crux of the meeting, which is asking your discovery questions.

In this post, I put together for you a list of the 37 most popular discovery questions. 

You cannot possibly ask all 37 though. I recommend curtailing it to no more than 10 questions, maybe seven. 

As the meeting gets underway, remember that this is not an interrogation. You can’t rattle off question after question after question. That’s going to make your prospect feel uncomfortable. 

Instead, pepper in the questions naturally. Wait a couple of minutes before asking another. 

If you find at the end of the meeting that some of your questions just didn’t come up, then be sure to ask them now that the meeting is wrapping. 

Follow-up questions are a standard way to end a meeting, after all, so your prospect won’t mind answering the few questions you have remaining. The keyword there is few though! 

When Should You Ask for a Follow-Up Meeting with Your Prospect? 

Phew! The sponsorship sales meeting is finally over. 

You’re shaking hands and preparing to exit, and you think it went well. You also think there’s a lot that you and your prospect need to talk about, but there’s just no more time today.

You want to meet with the prospect again. More than likely, if the meeting went as well as you think it did, the prospect wants to meet with you again too.

Great! So when should you schedule the follow-up meeting? Before you break the current meeting.

It might seem hasty on your part and maybe even a bit pushy, but it isn’t. What you’re doing is smart.

If you wait until you go back to your office and the prospect theirs, you two might never find the time to schedule a meeting. 

That’s not to be dramatic, either. That’s just how it goes sometimes. You get busy, they get busy, and you two don’t reconnect.

Don’t let that happen! Set up the meeting while you’re still in front of the sponsorship prospect.

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But When Do I Make the Sale?

If you were hoping to secure the sale and thus the deal with your prospect during the first meeting, that’s highly unrealistic. 

Has it happened to other sponsorship seekers? Yes, but they’re absolutely the exception and not the rule. 

So your next question is of course going to be, “so Chris, when will I make the sponsorship sale?”

There is no one cut and dried answer here. 

You might be ready to enter the negotiation stage sometime during the second meeting, but more than likely, it will take you three or more meetings to get to that point.

My best advice? Be patient and let the process play out, especially if you’ve met with your prospect several times already. You don’t want to try to force things along at this integral time! 


If you go into your first meeting with a sponsorship prospect and treat it like a sales meeting, it’s no wonder you rarely get second meetings. 

Instead, you need to treat this meeting as a discovery session where you can get to know your prospect and their problems. Only then can you determine if you two are a fit and worth working together. 

Trying to push a sales solution before the discovery session is literally putting the cart before the horse, and that never ends well!