By Caroline Fitzgerald

When it comes to selling partnerships for running events and programs, the hardest part is often getting connected with the right people at the right companies. We all know “cold calls” and “cold emails” are usually ineffective and time consuming. It’s exhausting to put so much time into outreach and see no response or results. While there’s no perfect way to approach sales, at P3R, we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can “work smarter, not harder” when it comes to taking the first step in the sales process. Here are 5 actionable steps that we follow, and hope can help you make the first connection with your prospective partners:


1. Smart brand prospecting yields golden leads

When it comes to brand prospecting, “working smarter” is more important than “working harder.” Be intentional with what brands you reach out to. Start by looking for brands that have invested in sports entities in the market you’re selling in; or look for a list of brands that have recently invested in the endurance space. Make a prospecting list of 10-20 brands to target.


2. For best results, find the decision maker 

While finding the right brands to connect with is important, it’s even more important to connect with the right decision makers at the companies on your prospecting list. Start by looking at press releases of previous partnership announcements to find who is quoted. Then, look up members of the Senior Leadership Team. Don’t be nervous to email an CEO or senior vice president. Always aim to get in front of the decision makers at the companies you want to work with.


3. Locate the correct contact information

Once you have a name of a contact, find their email address by searching on their company website or LinkedIn. A tool that has been really helpful to our team is Google Chrome’s Hunter Email Finder Extension. It’s a free plug-in that helps you find direct email addresses or creates educated guesses for what email format a company uses.


4. Reach out during ‘off hours’

Make a plan to send your new contact an email during “off hours” to ensure your outreach note stands out. The last thing you want is for your note to get lost in the shuffle of their normal email workload. Aim to send your note anytime on Sunday or a Monday before 8am or after 7pm.


5. Get that meeting

The goal of your initial outreach email should be to briefly introduce yourself, your organization, and to set-up a 15-30 introductory meeting. Provide a short explanation for why you’re reaching out, and six (6) time options in a two week window for when to connect over the phone. By providing exact time options, that will make it easier for the contact to pick a day and time from your list and schedule the meeting right away, instead of making more work for them to go back-and-forth on scheduling.

About the author: 

Caroline Fitzgerald is the Vice President of Partnerships & Runner Experience at P3R, the engine behind Pittsburgh’s greatest races. Best known for organizing the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, P3R runs a variety of other high-quality races of various distances, as well as events and award-winning health and fitness programs throughout the Pittsburgh region and Western Pennsylvania.