I hate cold calling – it gives me the shivers. But if you’re going to be a successful sponsorship seeker you need to learn to love the cold call.
After the dismal failure of my first sponsorship proposal I’ve decided on a new approach. I won’t put finger to keyboard until I cold call a potential sponsor and I’m able to develop some familiarity and rapport with them first.
And here’s a cold call technique that may just do the trick…
So what’s the plan?
First, research your potential sponsor online and get the correct contact details. See if you can get a head office number and a direct number to the person in charge of sponsorship. The company website and LinkedIn are good starting points.
Once you have the contact details call the head office first. I know this sounds strange if you have the direct number but stick with me.
If you call the head office first they can confirm who you should speak with and now you have the receptionist’s name as well. So when you call the person you need to speak with you can say “Hi, I was speaking with Anne from head office and she said I should speak with you about…”
See the advantage here? You already have a level of familiarity as you were ‘referred’ to them by someone within the organisation. And your on first name terms.
What do you ask for on a cold call?
When you contact the head office, don’t ask to speak with the sponsorship manager directly. In the role of gatekeeper, the receptionist is likely to ask you why you want to speak with the sponsorship manager (if in fact that’s the correct title).
So now you have to come up with a good reason. And saying you have a wonderful sponsorship opportunity probably won’t get you too far. At this point you may be directed to an online submission form or given a generic email address. Think about how much it annoys you when people call you at dinner time to sell you something you don’t want.
Instead of asking to sell them something, ask to see something. In this instance ask to get your hands on a copy of their sponsorship guidelines.
The conversation could go something like this…
Ring ring…ring ring…
Medium Sized Corporation, Anne speaking…
Hi Anne, Kym Oberauer here…quick question for you. Who do I need to speak with to get a copy of your sponsorship guidelines?
Hi Kim (they always get my name wrong), you’ll want to speak with Bobby Brown in sector 7G. His number is….
Well, you get the picture. So now we have a name, a phone number and a good reason to call. If the receptionist doesn’t give you their name simply ask for it.
Whatever the outcome, you win…
Now, in my limited experience most potential sponsors don’t have any documented sponsorship guidelines. But asking the question is a great way to break the ice. And it gets them thinking – “Maybe we should have some guidelines outlining what we expect from a sponsorship proposal. It will cut down on all those time wasting, no value, bland proposals that end up in my bin.”
If they don’t have any sponsorship guidelines you can ask questions to get a feel for the organisation and how they may get value out of a marketing relationship with you.
But if they do have sponsorship guidelines; that works for you as well. Now you have a copy, you can review it and it gives you an opportunity to learn more about the organisation and ask follow up questions.
At this point you’re not trying to sell them anything and I reckon they appreciate this approach. You are in fact doing your due diligence, endeavoring to learn more about the potential sponsor before even contemplating a sponsorship proposal.
So there you have it, a sure fire way to break the ice with a potential sponsor. If you decide to use this approach please leave a comment and let me know how you go.
Subscribe to the Practical Sponsorship Ideas email newsletter and receive regular sponsorship seeking insights plus a copy of "10 questions you must ask a sponsor before preparing a sponsorship proposal".