Cold Calling 101 – How To Get A Sponsor On Board For Your Events

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

In the past, I’ve often instructed you to contact various individuals for your events – be they sponsors, vendors, or guest speakers. I’ve not really gone into any detail on exactly how you should go about doing that. I’ve basically just told you to do a bunch of cold calling, without actually giving you any advice on how to do that.

After all, you can’t simply call someone and blurt out the details of your event and expect them to jump on board – nor can you email someone a bullet list and assume they’re going to read it. If you just vomit out information, there’s a good chance that most people will decide you aren’t worth their time, and tune you out completely. Naturally, that isn’t something you want to happen – so how can you go about maximizing your chances?

Today, we’re going to take a look at the art of the cold call across various mediums – and why mastery of it is absolutely vital to your career as an event manager. Let’s begin, shall we?

You NEED To Do Your Homework

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it should be this: if you contact someone with only minimal knowledge of who they are and what they do, then you’re setting yourself up to fail before you even begin. Cold calling isn’t something you do on impulse. To have any degree of success, you need to research every single person you contact – painstakingly.

Who are they? What do they do? What do they want? More importantly, what can you do for them? What about your business or event will draw them in?

While we’re on the subject, you also need to know exactly how much money you’re looking for in a sponsorship – or, in the event that you’re contacting a vendor or guest speaker, exactly what you want out of them. You need to be decisive here. If you waffle, people aren’t going to want to work with you.

Timing Is Everything

Especially if you’re calling someone, take careful stock of what time of day you’re contacting people – and keep track of what’s going on with any sponsors or guest speakers. An organization that’s already in the midst of an intensive charity drive, for example, probably isn’t going to want to sponsor an event. One of the most important elements of a cold call is knowing the best time to contact someone – make sure you do.

Don’t Sell – Talk

See, here’s the thing – globalized media has basically murdered the traditional sales pitch. Because of how much background noise we’re subjected to on a daily basis – because of how many people are trying to sell us trash we don’t need or analyze us as potential customers –we’ve gotten very good at trying to tune out people who are trying to sell us something.  Basically, what I’m saying here is that people really don’t like being sold to.

For that reason, all the research in the world is worthless if you come across as a salesperson. Don’t treat the people you contact as marks. Instead, talk to them as you would a friendly acquaintance (if you act too familiar, you’ll creep people out). Keep things professional but personable – ask them questions, and listen to what they have to say. Yeah, obviously you’re contacting them as a potential sponsor for your event – you know that, and so do they.

At the same time, it’s important that you treat them not as a customer, but as another human being – consider first and foremost how you’ll benefit them, and not the other way around.

Consider The Medium

Traditionally, the cold call was solely carried out through phone lines (and occasionally, in person). Thanks to the Internet, that’s no longer the case. Today, there are virtually hundreds of different mediums through which a sponsor or partner can be contacted. Although many of the same rules apply in every case, which medium you choose will nevertheless have a huge impact on how you communicate.

For example, if you’re using email, you need to be extremely careful – the number of spam messages people are subjected to every day makes them extremely likely to hit ‘delete’ on something that sounds even a little ‘salesy.’ When in doubt, check and see if whatever organization you’re trying to bring in has a form on their website for business partners, and use that. You’ll be far likelier to make it through.

With social networks, it’s a little easier to connect – as long as you know what you’re doing. Generally, you’re going to want to stick to the Facebook page of an organization (or their Twitter feed). If you simply start contacting people within the organizations on their personal accounts, you’ll very likely come off negatively, and hence turn people away from working with you.

Oh, one last thing – don’t be afraid to set up a face-to-face meeting if the partner expresses interest. You’re going to need to meet up to work out the details of your partnership or sponsorship, right?

As for a face-to-face meeting…just treat it as you would a job interview

After The Call

Regardless of whether or not you were successful, be sure to thank the person for their time. As a general rule, that’s all you’re going to do if you failed – I’d strongly advise against any follow-up emails, messages, or calls. On the other hand, if the sponsor has expressed interest, feel free to email them details on your event –or to call them back and set up a meeting.

As an event planner, you need to know how to talk to people. After all, your job isn’t just handling the logistics of events – it’s managing the people who make them happen. Without knowledge of cold calling – without knowing how to talk to people – it’s basically impossible to get people to join your team.

And without people, you don’t have an event.