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Sales Hacks that Helped Me Close Over $50k in Sponsorships

By Auston Bunsen

Over the years, I’ve discovered a handful of sales hacks that dramatically improve the effectiveness of my emails. Some of these tactics have helped me close over $50k in sponsorships for the web entrepreneur and developer conference over several years.

Here are the 5 most impactful hacks you can easily implement in your emails:

1. Do not email your prospect — email their boss or their coworker

  • Find your prospect’s boss or direct co-worker using LinkedIn, inside information, or Facebook

  • E-mail the boss/coworker with a suggestion that would be relevant to your prospect, but only mildly relevant to them

  • The boss/coworker will (hopefully) then forward your e-mail giving you a semi-warm introduction to your target

If your plan works, that email will look a little something like this:

The prospect, in this case, Stephanie doesn’t have her guard up.

She’s approaching the information with the idea that it might be helpful, and your contact information is embedded if she has any questions or happens to find it compelling.

I think the reason this works well is also that your prospect (often the decision maker) is used to receiving a pile of cold-emails every day. This is a great way to slip past that filter.

2. Retarget based on email opens or your email list

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All major retargeting companies have e-mail-based retargeting:

  • Retargeter: (

  • Perfect Audience: (

  • Ad Roll: (

When your prospect or their boss/coworker opens the email you send, you can have ads follow them around using e-mail retargeting. All they have to do is open the e-mail and they will start seeing ads for your product over and over and over again.

If they don’t open your e-mail — you can use an awesome Facebook feature called “Custom Audiences”, just upload a CSV with your prospects e-mail addresses and you can easily target those users if they have Facebook accounts.

Now, no matter what, they’re going to see an ad for your product.

3. Use Mechanical Turk to create your lead list

Be efficient with your time — don’t source leads on your own. Dialing the phone or e-mailing people is the best way to generate business. It’s that simple. Create a well described data-collection task on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and you’ll be able to get a steady stream of leads sourced by hundreds of people that meet your qualifications.

Here is an example of a “well described data-collection task”:

  1. Find the website, name, and email of the person at this URL:

  2. Extract the email address from this kind of format: [jon (at) website +dot com]

  3. Include the name by visiting the website or extracting the name from the text

  4. Do not include peoples personal website as the website, find the company they work for using google, yahoo, bing or duckduckgo

  5. Do not include any emails that are [email protected] or [email protected]

Page example:

4. Flip the sale around when salespeople email you

Everything is an opportunity to sell. Even when people who are trying to sell you on their product. It takes a certain amount of finesse but it can be pulled off. For instance, take this e-mail I received earlier today…

How would you respond to that? Would you even respond to it at all? Here’s how I moved the conversation from what he’s selling to what I’m selling.

And his response:

This person ended up referring me to his previous employer and current client who I have a demo scheduled with in the middle of April.

5. Trade notoriety for sales.

When I ran my conference for web entrepreneurs, about 1 out of every 3 sponsors would ask before signing if the sponsorship came with a “Speaking slot”. My answer was always “We’d love to have you involved in other ways” or “We’re waiting on [Person X] to tell us if he’s available for the last slot, I’ll let you know if that falls through”. The takeaway here is that you can trade recognition and notoriety for dollars.

How? Well, you can ask them if they’d like to contribute to a white paper on the topic du jour, you can ask them to lead a webinar, speak at a conference, you can ask your prospect to be a case study, ask them to guest blog about a topic or if you have the connections — ask them to be part of an article in a publication.

Bonus: Use Conspire!

I highly recommend using Conspire to get an introduction. Everyone knows that getting a recommendation from someone you know with a great existing relationship with the prospect is by far the easiest way to make a sale. It’s low pressure and low effort, in other words, a slam dunk. You don’t always know who you know that knows the person you’re trying to reach — but that’s not really a big deal anymore because Conspire provides that exact service. It will show you who is connected to your target and the quality of that connection.

Happy selling!


About the Author

Auston Bunsen


Customer happiness enthusiast at UserPath. Often blogging about the stuff we're doing to make your apps better and users satisfied. Learner. Thinker. Programmer.

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