Last month SponsorPitch conducteda survey of sponsorship sales professionals in an
effort to understand how sellers research brands before they consider them prospects, and
their thoughts on doing the task. We received 50 responsesto our initial survey and
though the research was exploratory in nature it provided somefascinating results. Here
we provide our overall conclusions, as well as analysis of each question posedon the
survey and the responsesthey generated.
Doing qualifying research to determine who and how to pitch sponsorship opportunities
is a significant portion of the sponsorship sales job, in somecases50% of it. This is
likely in large part due to the fact brands don’tshare a lot of information about what they
do, there are no standard referenceresourcesto use, and none that do exist are
specifically tailored to the needsof sponsorship professionals in an age where real time
data is critical. Perhapsnot surprisingly, few sponsorship pros are satisfied with the
depth of information that is currently available or the time it currently takes to find it.
Sponsorship sales pros seemto know intuitively that with the tools at their disposal
today, they are missing many opportunities, spending a lot of time chasing dead ends and
worst of all, paying a lot of money for information that is still updatedon an annual or bi-
annual basis. While other industries have adopted more real-time research methods, it
seemsthat the pain and inefficiency of sponsor prospecting’scurrent toolset may have
finally createdthe call to action whereby it now can evolve.
Questions We Asked
1. What best describes the average amount of time you must spend researching a brand before
you feel you have enough information to know if it is a fit for your sponsorship opportunity, and
you can talk to the brand intelligently about how the sponsorship fits its business?
Analysis: It takesat least two hours to research a brand thoroughly enough to understand if it should be
considered a legitimate prospect. When you consider how many brandshave to be researched, that’sa
whole lot of time to spend, considering how few legit prospectswill come out of all that research.
Everyone understandsthe “moredoors you knock on the more sales you’ll make.”When it takes two hours
plus to knock on a door however, it seemsthere is a need to find ways to make fewer knocks or less time
2. What best describes the percentage of your job you must spend collecting the information you
need to determine if and how to approach a brand with a sponsorship opportunity? This is all the
work put in before a proposal is written or a phone call is made.
Analysis: It is not uncommon for sponsorship sales people to spend at least one quarter of their job
researching for prospects. This isn’toutrageous, but when considering how much time must be spent on
each brand, there simply is not a lot of time to do prospectresearch, given the other responsibilities one
might have (following up on prospectsin the sales funnel, servicing existing sponsors, internal meetings,
other duties beyond sales, etc.) more efficiency is neededfor sure.
3. Which best describes on average how many proposals you send or submit to would be
sponsors in a week?
Analysis: Most people send out no more than two or three proposals a week. This is kind of a shockingly
low number considering how many are neededto find a prospectthat leads to a sale. This showsthe
impact two hours to research a brand has in real terms. Long gone are the days of “shot-
cutter proposals. Thesedays it’sall about customized, informed proposals, which take a great deal of time
to prepare. Basedon our preliminary findings, with rough estimates,one sales person can realistically
assessno more than about 200 brandsin a year. As part of a large sales organization with many reps, this
may not be a big deal. Smaller properties with less salesstaff need much greater efficiency.
4. How much do you spend annually on sponsorship prospect research resources (sourcebooks,
conferences, memberships, subscriptions)?
Analysis: It seemsfolks with few resourcesspend little if anything on sourcebooksand contact lists,
thinking the Internet is free and any information one needs, can be found on it eventually. Sale pros with
more resourcesat their disposal (or more savvy ones in general) can’tafford to spend so much time
researching, so they purchasewhat they hope to be short cuts to the data they need. Keep in mind this
question only shedssomelight on what people spend on dedicatedinformation resources. If one quarter of
a sponsorship sales pro’sjob is researching, assuming a median income of about $50,000/year, the rough
numberswork out the cost (in man hours) of doing brand research to about a quarter of sales pro’s
compensation, or $12,500/year per FTE.
5. Which of the following lead generation and brand intelligence sources do you use? (check all
Write-in responses:Hoovers, Networking Events, Newswire.ca, Marketing Magazine, Ad Age, personal
database,advertising database,trade journals, personal contactsand references,BrandWeek, AdWeek, ad
data express,IEG newsletter, personal connections, word of mouth, sponsorship websites
(sponsorpitch.com), referrals, The World Sponsorship Monitor, networking events, Redbooks,
addataexpress,marketing magazines, Advertising Database,other sponsors, radio, television, regional
Analysis: Clearly the world has changed. Where once annually published sourcebooks and CD-ROMs
dominated the market of information resourcesserving the sponsorship sales force, like pretty much
everything involving sharing information, the Internet now dominates. What is fascinating is we received
over 15 different answersto this question when factoring in the “other”sourcesrespondentsgave. This
paints a picture of staggeringly fragmentedand disorganized information and the need for standardizing
how this data is captured and collected. The myriad answersto this question provide great insight into why
researching a brand takes so painfully much time.
6. When researching a brand, what information do you spend the most time trying to learn?
Other: Businesschallenges, decision-makers and target audienceequally.
Analysis: The answershere were both expectedand surprising at the sametime. On the one hand it seems
obvious that figuring out who and how to contact people in companies(especially large ones) would take a
lot of time. What is surprising is that not even 50% of respondentssaid finding decision makers takes the
most time. It seemsmost people are spending the most time trying to figure out what the businessis, what
it does, and how a given sponsorship might fit in. This provides great evidencethat contrary to what brand
side people might think, most sponsorship sales pros don’twant to pester brandswith their own sales
pitches. The reality is they want to know what they are all about and how they operatein an effort to
present valuable sponsorship activation platforms.
7. Would you share data you collect about brands with sponsorship sales peers if doing so gave
you immediate access to more accurate data than you can collect on your own?
• Yes, but not with direct competitors
• Yes, but with caveats(both ways)
• Absolutely. Wholesaling the information acquisition processmakesperfect sense
• Maybe, as long as we were geographically far enough apart not to be competitors
Analysis: No data from this survey demonstratedhow frustrating the brand research and prospecting
function is for sponsorship sales people than the answersgiven to this question. Over half of respondents
said they would share brand intelligence with peersif doing so meant they could get more information
faster, without even knowing exactly what it meant, and over 90% said they would at least consider it.
Less than 10% said they wouldn’tshare data with peers. There were somecompetitive concernsraised, but
not to the degreewe expected. It seemsevident the market is ready for a dramatically new paradigm to
define the future of how brandsare researchedand qualified for sponsorship sales opportunities.
8. What best describesyour experiencewith online sponsorship proposal submission systems?
• Best time of year to submit proposals
• Listing of dollar amounts and in kind sponsorships
• There is no bad information about a prospect
Analysis: When you look at the answersto this question, combined with the answersand conclusions from
#6, it makesa great deal of sense. We don’texpect brands to be forthcoming about all the data sponsorship
sales people want to know about their brands, but they should. If they did proactively make available the
information sales pros spend so much time trying to find and piece together, they might be surprised at how
many better proposals they would get. Less time researching would mean (at least in theory) better
activation ideas as a result of understanding the brand’sbusinessbetter, and probably, ironically enough,
fewer proposals for brands. Cutting off dialogue and forcing properties to read a brand’smind does
nothing to improve the sponsorship platforms available and fostersthe conditions for more misguided
9. Please check all the kinds of information you would like to be able to access faster and more
often when researching brands.
Analysis: What a perfect way to sum it all up! No matter the information, the sponsorship sales force
wants to be able to get the information it needsto do its job much faster than it can with any and all
resourcesand tools available today. SponsorPitch has heard this messageloud and clear and is hard at
work developing a better solution that will help you to capture, shareand ultimately act on the vast amount
of brand intelligence that today goesunaccountedfor.
It seemsa vast majority of sponsorship professionals are willing to collaboratewith each
other to sharethe bits of brand information respectively at their disposal in order to
benefit from the broader collective of more timely, relevant and cost- efficient leads
supplied by their industry peers. Sponsor prospecting afterall is not a zero sum game ;
when one property wins another one doesn’tnecessary lose. Quite to the contrary, one
property’strash is very likely another’streasure.
To learn how you can join a network of sponsorship pros already collaborating to createa
better brand intelligenceresource, pleasereview this white paper on the topic and submit
your work email.