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If you’ve ever tried to secure sponsorship, you’ll know that it can take a long time before your potential business partner is ready to commit. There’s often endless phone calls, messages and follow-ups, and it’s easy to feel like you’re a broken record. Don’t give up – instead try using these 3 phrases to bring the discussions to a head and enable a decision.

1. What do you think Bill will say?
It’s not unusual for discussions to be stalled because the person you are dealing with wants to talk things through with their partner or other members of their team. While the perfect scenario is to speak to them all at once, it’s not always possible or practical, so you need to think of other ways to minimise the back and forth.

If your potential sponsor says ‘Let me talk to Bill about it’ (or Mary or Jim or Sally), a great response is: What do you think Bill will say?

Invariably they know exactly what Bill will say, and you’ll be able to arm them with all the right information. If there is no Bill (or Mary or Jim or Sally), they will tell you all the challenges they have with your proposal. This gives you an extra opportunity to address the concerns and hopefully bring the conversation back on track.

 2. We’d obviously love to have you on board. What do I need to do to make that happen?
Often people talk round and round the subject without actually asking for a commitment, so it’s no wonder that your potential sponsor doesn’t offer one. By asking ‘what do I need to do to make that happen’, they will give you a straight-up response and you’ll be clear about what you need to do next.

It may be that they need more information from you, perhaps they have to check with another business partner, or they might be ready to sign and just need you to present them with a contract. Even if they respond with a ‘No – not for us’, you can move forward accordingly.

3. It sounds like you see some potential in this partnership. If you were to get involved, what level of sponsorship do you see yourself fitting in?
Asking people to indicate a potential level of commitment will help you to start thinking (and talking) in concrete terms. You’ll be able to provide specific examples of what their support might look like and how being involved will benefit their business. When you start talking about specifics, it is much easier for potential sponsors to put themselves in the picture.

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