When I was younger, and inexperienced in the world of sponsorship, the organisation I was working for lost a long term major sponsor unexpectedly.
We had 2 months until the start of the season, it was Christmas and we had lost our major source of funding. Suddenly I found myself in the position where I was being asked to cold call brands and try to line up a potential major sponsor pitch for my bosses; I was shitting myself!
At first, I was just thinking of the biggest brands I could, looking up their sponsorship or marketing manager and calling. Literally, I was just picking up the phone and calling blind.
Steepest learning curve of my career
It was one of the most scary things I’ve ever done. The fear of rejection, and the pressure to find a major sponsor, was sickening. It was one of the steepest learning curves of my career but through it I learned some really key things about cold calling.
It is not about the immediate sale
Cold calling is very much an old-school method of selling, however, in the world of sponsorship it is often a necessary tool to have in your kit bag.
I don’t use cold calling to get immediate sales. Instead, cold calling is a technique I use to generate hot leads and an opportunity to open dialogue with brands that I feel have an alignment with the organisation I am representing.
Successful cold-calling is a skill and, just like any skill, it takes time to master it. So, to help prepare you for those important network-expanding opportunities here are my 5-steps for successful cold calling.
A lot of people see a brand, need to sell something and just pick up the phone with a generic ‘pitch’. Often, this provides very little success, however, researching your prospect will enhance your chances of getting your target interested.
Your best prospects are those which you can help meet THEIR strategic objectives. Researching and understanding how you, as a rights holder, can help a brand meet these objectives is key to establishing any interest in a partnership.
Scripting is important as it not only set’s a direction and focus for your call, but it helps you keep the conversation on track when you are either nervous or thrown off track.
Your script should be tailored for every prospect and focus on the points of your research. Your script should built to meet the objective of your call.
Start with your purpose and build into a descriptive and passionate common objective; linking your work with their objectives in a way to pique their interest.
You need to prepare yourself for the call in both your environment and for possible outcomes and directions of the call.
In preparing your environment, you need to have all of your information in front of you and easily accessible. You also need to be in a quiet space with no interruptions and you need to give yourself the time required to prepare for your call and to make the call.
Throughout the call, you may receive some objections. Your research should prepare you for what some of these objections may be; so hopefully you have scripted a solution to this objection.
If, however, you haven’t, then you should meet this objection calmly and be prepared with methods of working your conversation back to your desired outcome.
Nothing kills a call more than someone stumbling and seeming like they are underprepared and wasting the time of the person on the other end.
Your research should give you confidence that there is a common link between your organisations and that you hold a solution to a want, need or problem that the brand is facing and looking to answer through their marketing.
If you genuinely believe you have a strong solution to help meet the objectives of your prospect then you will project this over the phone and instil confidence in the person at the other end of the line.
Even if this opportunity isn’t the right timing, you will leave a positive impression on them and leave an open door for future approaches or conversations.
Most cold callers are single focussed and are using the call to achieve an immediate goal (a sale). Instead, you should focus on the primary goal of landing a meeting (to then make a sale) but also know that it is a great opportunity to expand your network of organisations who can benefit from what you have to offer.
Making notes of actions are important and, regardless of the outcome of the call, you should follow-up with a thank you message and, if appropriate, following through on any plans or actions made throughout the call.
Take your time to follow-up with your prospects as this is your first opportunity to communicate with these people as a warm or known contact, rather than a cold one.
If you have any specific questions or need some more advice on cold calling then let me know by email using firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Thompson // Director
Mark specialises in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
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