Practical Tips for Prospecting
A couple days back I received an introductory e-mail from a not to be named media company in the Chicagoland area outreaching, or in better terms, prospecting me for a potential media buy for my organization the Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). In all its splendid glory the e-mail read…
I understand you are the main contact at the Red Stars for marketing programs. Can we meet?
As someone who works on the both a buying and selling side of the marketing and sponsorship world it is e-mails like this one (of which surprisingly I receive many in a similar form) that make my blood boil and remind me of the simple basics in sales prospecting and outreach for sponsorship and marketing professionals. Unless your company name alone carries enough weight to illicit a response from a bad e-mail you are going to need to try a little bit harder to make that first impression.
I put together a few basic thoughts and tips I use on a daily basis in prospecting and making that initial outreach for sponsorship and marketing programs.
1. If you can’t find a name of the person you are trying to reach at “company X” you just aren’t trying.
Simple internet tools like LinkedIn and Twitter can provide you senior level and lower level marketing contacts at nearly every major company in the United States. Surprisingly these computers and internet things are pretty smart and you can easily utilize their search tools to locate contacts. LinkedIn has a great search by location option as well if you are looking specifically for regional contacts. If they don’t have a public listing on either of these sites look for quotes within press releases, listings of industry trade events and panels where they might have been featured, anything to get you a person’s name. There are very few companies that you shouldn’t be able to find the name of the person you are looking for as a starting point using simple and free means.
2. If you can find a name you can find an e-mail address.
So now you have a name. If you can find a name you can find an e-mail address. Though a few select companies have gotten smart and added additional characters or numbers there are really only 4-5 different e-mail address templates out there and more than likely a person’s name fits into one of them.
You want to send someone an introductory note? Take a shot by typing in one of the templates, email@example.com for example, send it off and see if it comes back undeliverable. Better yet, try one address and blind copy the rest of them. If all but one comes back….you have your e-mail address!
3. If you do all of the work to find the person and find the contact info at least send a note that shows you have done some research and provides some insight as to why you are outreaching.
Don’t let your initial outreach sound as if you have never had a professional conversation with someone. You don’t need to win a Pulitzer for your e-mail but create a short succinct e-mail with a little bit of creativity so you sound like an actual human. It is amazing how people respond when you provide a welcoming message and relevant and interesting questions are posed.
4. If you don’t get an initial response to the e-mail don’t think you are done prospecting.
No response from your initial carefully crafted e-mail you put thought and energy behind? No worries. Setup a series of follow up e-mails and phone calls to them if you really think they are someone that makes sense as a sponsor or client for your business. In the course of the follow up you will find out a couple of important pieces of info.
a. Some people are e-mail people and some people are phone call people. Five unreturned phone calls sometimes turns into an instant reply to an e-mail. This is the person who you recognize wants to work 100% digitally until you meet face to face. We all know these people.
b. Decision making people get a looooottttt of e-mail. Occasionally they will see the first one, skim through and not reply. If an additional e-mail comes through a week or two later to serve as a reminder you have a much better shot of having an actual conversation with this person. Don’t just send one note and not send one again for a couple months.
So now you done your background research, found the contact, found the contact info, and actually made contact with a real live person. There are plenty of good (and bad) sales books and resources to take you through the remaining steps of the sales process.
Chivas USA CEO & President Shawn Hunter recently said during his talk at the WPS sponsorship summit “If you are not the smartest guy in the room, you better be the most prepared.” Take a few minutes to prepare yourself before every outreach. People will appreciate it, and it will pay off.
Pat McNamara is the Director of Marketing and Sponsorships at the Chicago Red Stars of Women's Professional Soccer, leading all sponsorship business development and strategic marketing initiatives. Prior to that, Pat was a part of Special Event Management providing event marketing and custom sponsorship opportunities for over one hundred live events in the city and suburbs of Chicago. Pat can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter via @pmcnamara1. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, SponsorPitch, LLC.
photo credit via flickr: suttonhoo