What to do when your sponsorship proposal is rejected
Sponsorship proposals are rather like job applications – you will always get more knockbacks than acceptances.
Rather than being a catastrophe, a rejection can be an opportunity to learn from the experience, and could be an opportunity to develop a future relationship with the company.
A rejection will usually be conveyed in a carefully sanitized letter that gives you no real idea why your proposal was unsuccessful (much like a rejection of a job application). It is always much harder to reject face-to-face. When this happens, telephone the contact person, thank them for spending the time assessing your proposal, and ask why your proposal was declined and whether it is worth re-applying at another time.
If you are not even in the ballpark, ask them, “Who else do you know who may be interested in the opportunity of sponsoring us?” If you have been professional in your contact with the company, they may be happy to suggest other possible sponsors. Your wording is important here. Don’t ask them if they know anyone else; ask them who else they do know who could be interested. This is a proven technique for getting new business referrals.
Send a gracious thank-you letter to the potential sponsor despite a knockback. This creates a positive impression for a possible future relationship, and it gives them something tangible in their records for possible future sponsorship.
My eBook, How to successfully seek corporate sponsorship, gives more guidance.