3 Questions You Must Answer if You Want to Work in Sponsorships

3 Questions You Must Answer if You Want to Work in Sponsorships
by Matt Brand – June 2014

Whether you want to work in the Wide World of Sports Sponsorships, or really any competitive field of business, you’re going to face someone like me in the interview process. I always ask these three questions in the interview:

  1. What are you not good at?
  2. How do you plan your daily/weekly schedule?
  3. How do you penetrate companies you are going after?

What do people like me on the other side of the desk really want to know from questions like these?

What are you not good at doing?

I usually start off interviews with this question or make it my second or third question. I learned of it while reading an industry magazine years back and it always has stuck in my interview repertoire. It usually catches people off guard and throws them off course.

All of us go into an interview well prepped on the basic questions that we are going to get asked. But, typically, we don’t plan on telling the interviewer what we struggle with. Now, I have seen this answered many ways. What I’m not really looking for is the typical:

  1. “I don’t take no for an answer,” or
  2. ” I work long hours and need to do a better job with work life balance.”

I’m looking for someone who is genuine and authentic; somebody who has humility and empathy. Being part of an incredible team at work that gets along famously can accomplish extraordinary results.

How do you plan your schedule?

Because I have always led sales organizations, this is a key question I always ask experienced candidates. I pretty much know in the first few minutes of the response whether this person is a high caliber player or just a run of the mill salesperson.

I know this is not going to be a good hire if I hear something like:

  1. ” Well, I come into the office on Monday and start making telephone calls for appointments that week and I come back into the office on Friday to do my paperwork.”
  2. ” I typically send emails asking for appointments and wait to hear back and then set my schedule based on responses.”

I am looking for the person who is setting appointments every day! These high caliber sales people are active and taking and making connections all day, every day. They are typically booked two weeks in advance and are always prospecting and cultivating. Because prospects and customers cancel all the time these high end sales people are plugging in these cancellations with new opportunities and follow ups. You’ll recognize these people because their phone is always ringing and their follow up paperwork and processing is never ending. They don’t care because they are printing money!!!

How do you penetrate companies you are after?

This question shows me how well potential candidates understand how corporations work. I often hear a response like this, “Well, I research the company online and find out what they do. I then find the key contact in marketing and try to get an appointment.” I usually follow this up by asking the candidate, “What if the marketing person won’t see you or won’t respond?” If I get, “Then I usually will call back or move on to the next target,” I know that this is probably not going to be the hire that gets my team to the next level.

I wish I had a better sounding name but I am looking for a rat. A rat finds the hole and gets in. Because corporations are large and each department has different goals, the best sales people know how to network ALL departments in order to gain entry. For instance, if a sponsorship person is looking to sell a major apparel manufacture in Dallas and can’t get any traction with the marketing department, perhaps they should focus on finding out who is responsible for HR (Human Relations) and try to sell them an employee outing or special event. Perhaps they should approach the CFO’s Executive Assistant and ask her when she is scheduling the next finance meeting for out of town employees and ask if it could be at the stadium with tickets and food and beverage (much more fun than that dim conference room at the Holiday Inn). The salesperson could approach the VP of Sales with an opportunity to meet the coach or GM in an upcoming meeting. The sales person can network their family, friends, or people they go to church with and find someone who works for that company that can give them the inner workings and key decision makers. 

The best salespeople instinctively know how to work every department within a corporation looking for a hole that will gain them access.


If you can successfully answer these three questions to show that you are genuine & authentic, are constantly planning and making appointments, and can find ways to dig into even the most impenetrable companies, then you can close the interview with a career in sponsorship sales.

Cover photo courtesy of ED.


How to look good at the interview

How to look good at the interview
by Jeannette Salas – March 2013

We’ve reviewed what you need to do to get the first interview and the office interview. Now we need to get down to the really important things:  How you, your resume, and your cover letter should look.  Then maybe someday you can drive that convertible.

What do I wear to an interview?

Alicia Nevins
Alicia Nevins

Think old school. You have one time to make a first impression, as they say. Since key accounts for pro teams are corporate, dress like you belong. Cover up any visible tattoos. No facial jewelry or excessive ear jewelry (ladies).

“Psychologically, we know, ‘As I think, so I am.’ In the same way, we act like we dress! ” explains Alicia Nevins. “Taking pride in our professional appearance correlates with the importance we place on our careers, those we work with, and the respect we receive in return.”

Other tips:


  1. Always wear a suit: Nothing bright or distracting. Clean and pressed.
  2. Skirts: No shorter than 3 in above knee. Not excessively tight. See how high skirt goes up when you sit down. Beware of slits!
  3. Tops: No low-cut blouses. No tank tops or spaghetti straps. Nothing sheer.
  4. Shoes: Close-toed or peep toe, no open toe sandals. Clean and simple. Not bright colored or glittery. No platform shoes. Weather appropriate: Cold outside – no open toed sandals.
  5. Makeup: Casual and mild. No smoky eyes.
  6. Hair: Neat and styled. No wild colors.
  7. Nails: Cleaned and trimmed. No bright colors.
  8. Perfume/Lotion: Don’t shower in it.


  1. Always wear a suit: Nothing bright or distracting. Clean and pressed.
  2. Shoes: Clean and polished.
  3. Hair: Neatly trimmed and short. No wild colors.
  4. Facial hair: Clean shaven is BEST but if not keep it trimmed and short.
  5. Nails: Cleaned and trimmed.
  6. Cologne: Don’t shower in it.

How should the resume and cover letter look?


  1. Presentation:  Not necessary to follow cookie-cutter resume format. Word offers various templates.
  2. Formatting: Make sure formatting is uniform! Make sure everything is aligned (dates, titles, etc.). Bolded words should be in same category (title, company name, etc.)
  3. Personal Info:  Include contact info – address, phone & email. No photos. Email address needs to be professional.

No → datsexxygurl@yahoo.com
Yes → smalone_12@yahoo.com

  1. Objective:  Optional. Be careful—it can restrict you to a particular position when you may qualify for another in the organization. If you have one, make sure it addresses the right organization, position, etc (e.g. applying for position in NFL but objective states NBA)
  2. Course Section: List courses relevant to the position
  3. Accomplishments
    No → “I developed and executed customer focus…”
    Yes →”Reduced budget to actual variance from 11% to 3.5%.”
  4. Experience: Include dates – month/year. Make sure it is up-to-date (current job). Make sure dates are in order (recent position first). Don’t write “I ….” when listing accomplishments.
  5. Use bullet points.
  6. Quantify : Show results/accomplishments not duties . Show NUMBERS whenever possible.
  7. Length: 2 page maximum.
  8. Review:  Check spelling (spell-check), punctuation, and correct word usage. Have a qualified individual (relative, friend, professor) review and critique resume.

Cover letters

A Manager’s View

Matt Kalister
Matt Kalister

It’s no lie: A first impression can make or break chances of getting hired.

As a leadership team we see potential hires throughout the year. We look for candidates that present themselves well because they will be trusted to meet with key decision makers in our marketplace. Many of these will dismiss you in the first 10 seconds if you are not dressed appropriately.

A suit is key along with a white dress shirt and simple tie. We understand young adults don’t have the means to have high end wardrobes, but a simple suit (that fits) along with a dress shirt and tie is all you need. If you want to be taken seriously in an interview setting then dress and act like it.

We see hundreds of resumes each year. Concise, well-formatted resumes on one page stand out. Save topics for the interview. Keep the cover letter to the point. Make sure you present why you would be a great fit for that specific team and position.’

  1. No blanket cover letters – HR professionals can tell.
  2. Recipe for trashcan: Leave the previous desired employer’s name, location, or position in the letter.
  3. Address to the appropriate person (hiring manager, recruiter, etc.) when possible.
  4. Don’t repeat resume in paragraph form. Mention things not seen on resume related to desired position.
  5. IF applying to a sports team – don’t talk about your family’s history with sports. Tell what you can do for them. What value do you bring to the organization? What sets YOU apart?
  6. Review:  Same as above.

Submitting online

  1. Make sure the document you are attaching is in fact your most up-to-date resume.  A slip of the finger can cause you to attach a private or other document in error.
  2. Make sure you list your professional experience on the online application.  DO NOT write “See Resume.”

Social Media

We cover social media (tip: employees WILL check), networking, and common first-year mistakes here!