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Sponsorship Sales Meeting Script 

by | March 14, 2022

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When you walk into a discovery meeting, what do you say?

Do you crack a joke? Ask about the weather? Try to make small talk about current events? (Given the state of the world anymore, definitely not that!)

For sponsorship seekers, having a sponsorship sales meeting or a discovery session can feel like being on an interview for that perfect job that would complete their lives if they could only get it.

There’s so much pressure mounted on their shoulders that it’s easy to slip up and say the wrong thing or forget the questions you wanted to ask and embarrass yourself. 

Even if I tell you to relax, that probably won’t help with the internal pressure you’ve built up. So I won’t tell you to do that. 

Instead, I’ll tell you what to say so you can guide the meeting more smoothly. 

Let’s get started.

My Sponsorship Discovery Session Script – Here’s How to Ace the Meeting

Whether you want to call it a sponsorship sales meeting or a discovery session, the goal is the same. 

You’re asking questions of the target sponsor to try and determine whether your solutions are a fit for their problems. 

You should have already done audience research by this point, and you should have prospected for sponsors as well. 

After finding a list of prospects, you also should have researched the ones you’re interested in meeting. Check the resources in the paragraph above for how to do all that if you haven’t. Only when you have are you ready for a discovery session. 

If you’re at that point, then without further ado, here’s how to handle a discovery session.

Sponsorship Sales Meeting Script V3-01

Build Rapport

In the intro, I mentioned leading a sponsorship sales meeting by asking about the weather or telling a joke. These are acceptable options.

Remember, whoever your prospect is, whether they’re part of a small nonprofit or a multi-million-dollar company, they’re people. They don’t want to jump right into business talk. They want to get to know you a smidge.

So, you want to start with the hellos and the how are you’s. Then you can crack a joke, but only if it feels natural. 

That means gauging if you’re naturally funny, which isn’t easy to do. But it’s a lot easier to accept that maybe joke-telling isn’t your strong suit than it is to go into a sponsorship meeting and flop within two minutes because you told a joke that fell flat.

If you’d rather skip the jokes altogether, that is a safer route. But what should you talk about?

You could ask about geography if you and the sponsor are in different parts of the world. 

As I said before, I wouldn’t ask about current events. There’s just too much craziness in this world and you might offend your prospect by talking about the wrong subject.

You know what’s a safer topic of conversation? Pop culture! You can ask if your prospect watched the big game or if they’ve seen the latest hot Netflix show. 

My suggestion? Don’t focus too much of your time or energy on this part of the meeting. Building rapport is important, but it’s a blip on the radar compared to what you’ve come to do.

Set the Stage 

You’re the one who asked for this meeting, so you’re the one who has to lead it. That means it’s up to you to transition the conversation from light small talk to the matter at hand.

You might say something like:

  • “Quick check-in. Are you still okay to talk until 4 o’clock?” or
  • “I want to be respectful of your time, and we only have X minutes, so let’s dive in!” or
  • “The reason for the call/meeting is to see whether we share common goals or a common audience and whether we have the potential to work together in the future. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to learn more about…”

I always suggest that you ask the check-in question about how long the prospect has for the meeting. This is called a tie-down.

Why is it so important? Let’s say your prospect agrees to a meeting and says they’re free for 45 minutes. Then, as you begin talking about negotiations or payment, they say something to the effect of “oh, I just remembered I have a prior obligation.” 

Since the sponsor told you they were free for 45 minutes, you know they’re lying.

Sponsors do lie. They lie all the time. 

Lots of people lie, and they do it for the same reason your prospects are doing it. They’re uncomfortable and want to get out of the situation without causing a conflict. 

The tie-down question revealed that your sponsor misled you. You don’t have to lie awake at night replaying the conversation to try and decipher a deeper meaning.

So what do you do when a sponsor gives you that kind of reaction? Let them go. If they’re not comfortable talking about paying you, then when the time comes to pay up, they probably wouldn’t do it anyway.

Move on to Discovery

Let’s rewind for a second. When you ask that question, “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to learn more about…” you’re requesting permission to move onto the next phase, which is discovery.

Then you’ll fill in that blank. Perhaps you’d ask for more detailed information on the company than what you could find online. 

You could also request customer data and audience data. For instance, what is the company’s ideal customer? What does that customer value and find most important? 

What challenges does the company’s audience have at present? This is a very important question to ask. 

Then you need to quiz the prospect on what they’ve tried. Of those solutions, what’s worked and what hasn’t?

Don’t just ask negative questions though. You want to ask what kinds of problems the sponsor is solving for its customers as well. This allows you to disqualify any of your solutions that are too similar. 

These questions, as you can see, aren’t something you can glean when you research your sponsorship prospects online. 

Companies aren’t going to freely broadcast their problems on their website or social media, so even if you comb the corners of the Internet, you won’t have this info.  

That’s why the discovery session is so critical. This is your chance to hear–directly from your sponsor’s mouth–what their company’s challenges are, what they’ve tried, and why nothing has worked yet.

My biggest takeaway to you as you chat with the prospect is to always dig deeper. Ask questions like:

  • “Interesting! Why do you think that is?”
  • “Tell me more about that.”
  • “And what else?”
  • “What do you mean by that?”

Yes, that’s right. Don’t be afraid to ask, “what do you mean by that?” It doesn’t make you sound dumb; if anything, you sound smart.

You’re not afraid to admit that you don’t quite know the gist of what the sponsor is saying. Plus, a question like this calls out a sponsor’s own BS.

If they’re speaking in marketing or sales jargon or using very vague terms and you ask them “what do you mean by that,” you’re forcing them to think in layman’s terms about what they’re trying to express.

If they’re being too vague, you’re making them speak in more specific terms. 

This is what you need. After all, you can’t craft a sponsorship solution for “families” because families can be anything. 

When you ask the sponsor what they mean when they say families, now they’ll tell you that their products or services cater to new parents who have just had their first child.

That’s the kind of specific information you need to create tailored assets and activations in your sponsorship program that will get your prospect excited about working with you. 

Identify Challenges

The next part of the discovery session is to identify the challenges the target sponsor is experiencing within their own company.

First, I want you to repeat back what the sponsor said to you about their ideal customer. For instance, if they said their ideal customer is a parent of a newborn who doesn’t know what kinds of baby products to buy, you’d say that back to the prospect verbatim.

Then ask, “do I have that right?”

The prospect will either say yes, you do, or no, and explain what you missed. Either way is fine because you’re learning about the prospect’s ideal customer. 

Now you can begin asking questions about what the sponsor company is doing or not doing to achieve results. Lead in with a question like, “I would love to hear more about what’s working for your company and what isn’t if that’s okay.”

 Here are some questions I recommend you then ask:

  • “What is working well for you right now? Why?”
  • “What could be a potential solution to X problem? What have you tried?”
  • “What kinds of marketing are you doing now? What is working and what isn’t?”
  • “What sort of feedback do you hear from your customers that we might be able to help with?”
  • “What challenges are you experiencing right now in finding new customers?”
  • “What metrics are you responsible for achieving? What are your biggest problems in achieving those metrics?”

Again, as you did before, you should be ready to dig deeper.

When a prospect identifies a problem, ask what they’re afraid will happen if it doesn’t get solved. For instance, if your prospect company hasn’t met its sales quota for the month, what will result?

Will certain staff members get laid off? Will their bonuses get cut? You need to know what’s on the line.

Diagnose the Prospect

No, you’re not a doctor, so this isn’t a true diagnosis, per se. Rather, you’re acknowledging what you’ve heard to this point and summarizing it. 

Here’s what you might say to the prospect during this part of the meeting. “This is really interesting, thanks for sharing this with me. Do you mind if I recap everything just so we’re both clear? Your company is having X problem that’s preventing you from achieving Y result. You want to do Z by A time.”

Again, your prospect will either confirm that what you’ve told them is right or they’ll gently correct you.

Prescribe a Solution

By now, you’ve asked all the questions you can ask. You’ve got the full picture of what the prospect company’s challenges are and where they’re falling short. 

If your company or organization can help, then that should be clear to you by now. 

Can you always help a target sponsor with their issues? No, not 100 percent of the time.

However, it shouldn’t happen very often if you’re prospecting for the right kinds of companies. I recommend reading my article on prospecting if you haven’t already. That post talks about using audience data to compile your target list of sponsorship prospects.

When your audience chooses your prospects for you, so to speak, you typically gel with the sponsors you meet with. Their audience is akin to your audience, which makes it easy to craft personalized solutions to solve their problems.

At this point in the meeting, you should mention which problem areas of the sponsor’s that you can help with. Then tell them something akin to, “Does it make sense for me to share a bit about how we work with the audiences you’ve mentioned?”

After the prospect says yes, you can summarize your solutions. For example, “We focus on a sponsor’s goal outcomes and then match it up with their target audience, creating an experience that engages the people in meaningful ways.”

Then you can share an example of a past sponsor with a problem like the current prospect’s and how you did X to achieve Y outcome. Be clear on what outcome was, whether it was $10,000 more sales, 1,000 new customers, or 5,000 new followers on Facebook. 

Then ask the prospect if what you’re saying makes sense. It should, and you should get no objection, but it’s always better to be polite and ask.

Now, what if you don’t have any past sponsorship experience? Well, your company or organization has surely helped other companies and organizations within your community or town, right? Even if it wasn’t in a sponsorship capacity, if you achieved outcomes, be sure to mention that to your prospect. 

After you go over all that, ask them another question. “What else can I share with you?” Then let them respond. 

Whenever you ask a question, you shouldn’t say anything else until the prospect responds. If that means dead silence, then that means dead silence. The awkwardness should hopefully get your prospect talking.

Frame Your Offering as a Solution

The prospect is clear on what you bring to the table, but that doesn’t mean you’ve applied those services as a solution to the prospect’s problem. At least, not until now. 

This is the phase where you decide where you and your prospect are going. All you have to do is ask, “It sounds like we may have a fit. Do you agree?”

The agonizingly long seconds between when you ask the question and the prospect responds will feel like the longest period of your life, I know. There’s nothing I can do there.

If the prospect says no, then you thank them for their time, maybe have a bit of closing chit-chat, but you really want to end the meeting. There’s no point in talking further. 

Hopefully, the prospect will say yes. In that case, you move on to the next step of the sponsorship sales meeting.

Close the Sale

Now you have to ask more questions to get a better feel for what the prospect wants and how you can give it to them. Here are some questions I suggest peppering into the conversation. 

  • “What do you wish you could do to attract your audience?”
  • “Tell me some of your ideas for engaging your audience?”
  • “What kind of metrics should we be focusing on measuring?”
  • “What assets and opportunities do you see as essential for a successful sponsorship?”

Next Steps

You’re on your way to closing a deal with a prospective sponsor. 

This will be the first meeting of many. As you transition from sponsorship meeting to sponsorship meeting, you never want a meeting to end without the next steps being clearly outlined.

Whether the next steps are you sending a sponsorship program or simply scheduling another meeting, you need to have that roadmap laid out. 

You might say something to the prospect like, “I hate having to cut our conversation short, but you said you had only 45 minutes, and we’re coming up on that now. What do you think our next steps should be?”

Then wait. Yes, you can’t say anything until the prospect does. 

In most cases, they’ll ask to see a sponsorship proposal. 

This can be a trap, as I’ve mentioned before that asking to see a sponsorship proposal early on is usually a brush-off. 

Tell the prospect instead that you’ll put together a draft that they can review to determine if you two are on the right track. 

Then ask the prospect what day and time you two can chat (via phone or video) about the content of the proposal. 

If there’s a time when you’ll receive pushback during the discovery meeting, it’s now. This is when you learn whether the prospect truly wants to work with you or is just saying so.

Should the prospect agree to the meeting, then now it’s time to talk about something even more uncomfortable. You knew it was coming. Pricing.

Tell them, “Everything we do is customized, which means we can hit any budget range. Based on our conversation and what you’re trying to achieve, what range should I stay within?”

You’ll likely get even more pushback here. The prospect might tell you they don’t know, or they have to check with somebody else. 

You have to be willing to push back harder.  Say something like, “No budget means we can try some really cool stuff!”

As soon as they hear the words “no budget,” they’ll instantly remember that they can only allocate $30,000. Funny how their memory suddenly worked, huh?

To wrap up, confirm when you two will meet to discuss the draft you’ll compile. Ask the prospect who else should be on that call on their side. This is a subtle way of asking who the decision maker is without ever saying it directly.

Why do you have to be sly? Most prospects you talk to will tell you they’re the decision maker in their company even though they likely aren’t. You could end up going around in circles unless the proper parties are involved. 


That about does it for my sponsorship sales meeting script. I recommend you join my free YouTube Group to download the script template in full so you know how to guide the meeting even when things get a bit hairy. 

Remember, the sponsorship proposal doesn’t make the sale. You do!