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The One Thing Every Sponsor Wants (And Nobody is Doing)

Everybody wants a silver bullet to sell sponsorship, the one thing that works every time. Guess what?

It DOES exist!

Is it a well written proposal? A solid elevator pitch? The perfect combination of logos, sampling rights and exhibit space?


I talk to sponsors a lot (yes, the people with the money!) and I hear over and over again that properties (the people who want the money) are missing the mark almost every time.

There is one thing that your sponsors want more than anything else and nobody is doing it.

That one thing?

Discovery sessions.

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The Art of Sponsorship Sales: Discovery Sessions

Here are some of the comments I heard from my most recent sponsor summit, and these comments echo exactly what I hear at every summit! A sponsor summit, by the way, is a great tool to get your sponsors to tell you exactly what they want from you! Check out my blog post all about sponsor summits for more information.

  • “No more sponsorship packages…I don’t even read them anymore”
  • “Every day I throw out a huge pile of sponsorship packages- unread”
  • “Properties come to me asking for money without any sense of our goals or their audience. I just can’t invest in something so risky”
  • “I wish people would just pick up the phone and call me. I could save them hours and tell them in 2 minutes whether or not we have a fit”

And my favourite:

“Why is nobody telling sponsorship seekers that we don’t want sponsorship packages! We’re people- just give us a call and give us your elevator pitch. If there is a fit, we will ask for more information”

So, I am answering the call! Your sponsors do not want your unsolicited sponsorship packages. They are not interested in making a donation to your cause. What they want is access to your audience or use of your brand to connect with their own audience. There is no gimmick that you can use to get them to give you their money…which is good news! You can call every sponsor in your pipeline in two days and qualify them on the spot.

How do I run a discovery session?

I know what you’re thinking: “sponsors don’t have time, don’t want to talk, won’t take my call.” If this is true, then they have even less time for a full-on proposal that they never requested! I am here to tell you, your sponsors are busy people but they have a goal by which they are measured. Your job is to find out what that goal is and how you can help them.

My advice is to find a warm contact through your network and ask for an introduction. Don’t have a network? Get one! Until you get one though, check out my blog post about how to get 394 warm prospects.

Once you get your prospect on the line, introduce yourself and tell them you want their advice as to whether or not they think there is a fit and whether or not it’s worth having a more detailed conversation to see if there is a possibility for a partnership.

You aren’t going to sell them anything, not on this call. All you want to do is determine whether or not you have the audience they are looking for and how they like to work with properties like yours. Not sure what to ask? Check out my post on the five questions for every prospect.

If your prospect is interested, believe me, they will tell you. If they aren’t interested, they will tell you. What do you do if they ask for a proposal? Tell them you don’t have one! Tell them that everything you do is custom and that you don’t want to waste their time sending them something when there wasn’t a fit to begin with.

I know that you are likely feeling apprehension right now. My advice? Don’t treat this like an academic exercise- try it! Try it right now. Pick ten prospects, reach out to them and have a discovery call and tell me how it went!


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.

Connect with Chris via: The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn