Cold calling potential Corporate sponsors is an essential part of most non-profit business plans. Here are five things you can implement now to get an immediate result from your calls.
1 – Don’t pitch anything on the first call
When you cold call a decision maker regarding corporate sponsorship, by default they are in a defensive position. Your call (and any unscheduled call) is subconsciously perceived as a sales call. Do not talk about your non-profits mission and all of the great work you are doing during this call – your audience is not in a listening mode.
Instead try this: Your only goal for the first call is to schedule a 15-minute phone call that fits into their calendar. Having the call scheduled will guarantee that you’ll have his or her attention at that time. Additionally, if your goal is to merely schedule a 15-minute meeting, then you’ve diminished your own psychological pressure that cold calling typically creates.
2 – Don’t say “Hi, Mr. Jones – how are you today?”
The “Hi, how are you” opening almost always elicits a defensive posture. They know that you are not calling them to find out how they are doing. Their natural response to call will be: “Why the hell are you really calling me?” [subtext: “you’re not being honest with me”]. Also, you are asking them a question which is way to open ended. Executives respond to tight, focused and productive conversations.
Instead say: “Hi, Mr. Jones. It’s John Haydon with CorporateDollar.Org. Did I catch you at a bad time?” This does two things: It communicates respect for their time and acknowledges that you are, in fact, calling them at a time that may be inconvenient. Also, asking if it’s a “bad time”, as opposed to a good time leverages sales psychology: It’s easier to say “no” than “yes” to any question in sales context. Asking them if it’s a good time is subconsciously asking them to make a leap of trust.
Note: If they say it’s a bad time, ask if tomorrow is better and then move on. They will appreciate your respect of their time and will more more receptive the next time you call.
3 – The next six words out of your mouth
After you determine that you have not caught them at a bad time, the next six words out of our mouth should be “The reason for my call is…”. Once you have their attention, you want to get right to the point. Again, the reason for your call is to schedule a 15-minute phone call to see if there’s a fit between your Non-Profit’s initiatives and their corporate objectives. Avoid getting into any details. Instead keep the discussion very high-level and focused on scheduling the meeting.
“Once you have their attention, you want to get right to the point.”
4 – Don’t ask them what works for their schedule
This approach is way too open ended, leaving room for them to finally conclude in frustration: “Actually, the next few weeks don’t work at all… Jeeze, I’m pretty busy… what were we going to talk about?”. At this point, you’ve gone down a rat hole with no way out.
Instead, say: “The earliest I have is next Thursday at 9:30am. Or I can do 2:00pm that afternoon.” This gives them a close-ended choice of two times. They’ll choose one of the times, and if they don’t, you’ll easily find a 3rd time-slot that works.
Note: When you select the date and time, make it 5 to 7 days from this first call. This will subconsciously communicate that you’re busy speaking with a number of other competing corporate sponsors.
5 – Tell them that you’ll follow up by e-mail and do it – right away!
Have a very short prepared thank-you email that confirms the scheduled time. Send it within five minutes after getting off the phone- it will demonstrate professionalism and urgency.