Five Questions to Ask A Sponsor

This popular post was originally posted in September, 2009. I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about sponsorship as some of my clients gear up for their 2012 projects. These five questions are great for discovering where the synergy lies between your project and your prospective sponsor, and this process is a step that organizations often forget in their rush to pitch. Taking the time to find the right fit is crucial to a successful and lasting relationship.

Originally posted September 28, 2009
Time is money. Sponsors are busy. When selling something visionary–like a sponsorship deal to a new event–it’s tough to know when to flat out pitch, and when to take a more consultative approach. How do you choose? Don’t ask the customer. He/she will always want the fastest, least invasive experience–the pitch. The consultative approach is better for a prospecting call, or “discovery meeting” which precedes a pitch. It’s all about discovering if there’s enough fit to keep investing time.

Taking the consultative path demands that you master the short-handed pitch: a rock solid elevator speech and a quality document to leave behind that captures the essence of the opportunity and builds credibility.

Next, you’ll need to plot out the exchange you envision when the prospect is seated across the table. The following script is for a discussion with a prospect that helps you ascertain whether there is a fit between the prospect’s problem and your service.

Here’s a rough idea of how you might structure the conversation:
1. “I had a look at your website, and I see that you are _________, but it would help me enormously if you could give me the bigger picture of your company’s marketing goals in this region. What’s essential for me to know about your company’s current situation?”

2. “It might make sense for me to explain what we do and how we do it to see if we have a fit.”

3. “Does any of what I described sound like it could help you achieve more __________ in the community?”

4. “How will you measure the success of our relationship?”

5. “Do you feel it makes sense to keep talking?”

This conversation should take no more than 30 minutes, max. You’re in and you’re out. Before you leave, agree on next steps. More on that next week.