Selling Local Sponsorships for Nonprofits: Prospecting Circles, Part II

magnifying_glassPart two of Prospecting Circles will focus on three areas: where to search for prospects, using social media for prospecting and better results with prospect management software. Top ways Joanna, Holt and Ashley find prospects. Let's go back to the circle strategy I discussed in part one. Just as some prospects are better than others, some prospecting strategies are better than others and should be used first. This is according to my three sales people on the team: Joanna, Holt and Ashley.

In the bullseye, not surprisingly, is prospecting among current sponsors and donors. The latter has proven especially useful to me lately as we just landed a company we've been chasing for four years--but only after I found out one of our key donors lived next to the company's president. It was amazing how much progress we made after she interceded on our behalf. It was so much easier to deal with the president, instead of with his gatekeepers at corporate.

In the second circle, Joanna, Holt and Ashley include vendors and past business relationships. The former is not applicable to every nonprofit, but if you work for a large institution business partners can be powerful (although sometimes conflicting) assets for sponsorship. It's a minefield, but one worth crossing in our opinion.

In the last outer circle the gang put business journals, competing fundraising events, networking events, Google and the advertisers they see and hear on radio, TV and print.

Prospecting using social media. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin are increasingly useful tools for some members of the team.

Blogging at has given me a cause marketing platform to share with prospects. I can educate them about past programs, discuss trends in the industry and present myself as a credible thought leader on cause marketing. In short, blogging has been a great way to start, to continue and to steer cause marketing conversations with prospects.

After blogging comes microblogging using Twitter. Warning: I'm a Twitterholic so you can't really take my word for it's usefulness. You'll need to try it out for yourself. And while there aren't a lot of CEO's twittering their days away on Twitter, there are a lot of marketing, branding and PR people to connect with (and, yes, the ranks of CEO's and other senior execs twittering is growing!). I've nurtured some good relationships on Twitter and it's been a good networking tool.

I'm not as active on Facebook and Linkedin as I am on my blog and Twitter, although this has improved since both platforms came to Tweetdeck where I can manage everything in one place. What I really like is how everything can be updated at once! It makes being on multiple social media sites a lot easier.

Meet your new sales assistant: prospect management software. You probably feel like you "tolerate" your prospect management software more than you use it. You certainly don't feel like it's working for you and that it's there to help you raise more money. This may be a function of the crappy software you use, or, maybe, with the crappy way you're using it. But recognize this: your prospect management software can help you sell more sponsorships and raise more money for your organizations. Period. The sooner you view your prospect management software as the valuable, money-making sidekick it is, the sooner you'll be embracing a valuable member of the team.

Here's your new employee orientation.

  • Whatever you use, develop a system. We currently use Raiser's Edge, but I developed my system in Outlook. Current sponsors are designated a "Prospect +". Companies that aren't sponsors are "Prospects". Hospital business partners that are sponsors are "Vendor A". Partners that are good candidates for sponsorship are "Vendor B". Former vendors that are neither are archived under "Vendor C".
  • Record everything. Any communication with or intelligence regarding prospects is recorded. Left a voicemail? log it in. Saw a recent story online on a company's new product line. Paste the link into a note. Little bits of info may mean nothing, but a string information viewed together may reveal a useful direction or may point you to a more fruitful prospect.
  • Let the software do the work. Leave reminders, calendar updates, to-dos and institutional memory to the software--backed up, of course! But the software can only do these things if you enable the system to do this work for you in the first place!
  • Track your team's progress. Raiser's Edge has a dashboard that track's the progress of each of my sales people, chronicles their activities, tells me how they're progressing toward goal, both in activity and revenue. Your software should allow you to track your team's progress in some meaningful way.

The next post in our series on Selling Local Sponsorships for Nonprofits moves from finding prospects to pitching them.