The Impact Series: Dylan Glickstern

Dylan Glickstern has been a sports fan his entire life and knew that his career path would, in some way, lead to a career in the sports world. Dylan started his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and Madison Square Garden. Prior to his current role, he worked at Excel Sports representing athletes and celebrities for endorsement opportunities. Currently, Dylan works at Integrity 9 as the Director of Business Development.

The Sponsorship Space had the opportunity to speak with Dylan to learn about his professional journey, the shifts within the industry during the pandemic, and the path forward for Integrity 9 in 2021.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey into partnerships. How did you end up working at Integrity 9?

Like most people in our industry, sports were a huge part of my life growing up. I knew early on that I wasn’t going pro and started paying more attention to other opportunities to stay involved in sports. I studied Sport Management at the University of Delaware, which helped not only teach me about the industry but also helped me start building my professional network.

My first full-time job in sports was selling season tickets for the Philadelphia 76ers during the “Trust The Process” era. The training and experience I gained with the Sixers was extremely valuable and helped me realize that I wanted to get into sponsorships. I knew that to make that jump, I needed more experience selling to businesses and I saw Madison Square Garden as the perfect place to develop that skill. I loved my experience at MSG as well, especially growing up a fan of the Knicks and Rangers, but when a position opened up selling endorsements for MLB Players at Excel Sports Management, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Selling athletes is a lot different than selling tickets and I can’t thank my former colleagues at Excel enough for helping me learn the ropes. I learned on the fly and was involved in a lot of fun deals, some of which are still going on today. I met Wes Engram, the President of Integrity 9, through a deal I was working on for one of my Mets clients. We hit it off and the rest is history.

Q: In your words, what is Integrity 9 for someone who may not be familiar with the company?

Integrity 9 is a sports firm that helps brands navigate the sports and entertainment landscape. We believe investing in sports sponsorship is similar to investing in commercial real estate, you shouldn’t go into it without an expert to explain all of the details. While everyone loves sports, most people don’t know the intricacies in our industry when it comes to who owns which rights and what the going rate for specific assets should be. Our team has over 100 years of experience in the industry and can assist brands in developing a sports strategy, negotiating with properties, activating sponsorship assets, and evaluating the partnerships on the back-end.

Q: How has your previous work experience on the team (with the Philadelphia 76ers and Madison Square Garden Company) and agency side (Excel Sports Management) prepared you for your current position?

Every one of my experiences helped prepare me for my current role with Integrity 9. When I started with the 76ers, I took the challenge head-on, and with the training the 76ers provided was able to find success regardless of how the team performed on the court. At MSG, I learned how to sell across a menu of properties, which is a skill I use every day in my current role. Excel Sports gave me my first look into working with athletes and how endorsement deals are structured, which is critical as I negotiate deals for MLB Players.

Q: In your view, how has the sports industry changed during the pandemic? How does that affect what you do on a day-to-day basis?

One of the positives that have come from this pandemic is the creativity our industry has shown. Sponsorship leaders have been forced to create new assets to provide value for their clients and this creativity is creating new sponsorship inventory that should stick around when our industry returns to “normal.”

These new ideas have opened new doors for me and other sponsorship sellers to approach brands that have historically not invested heavily in sports. This year, I’ve had so many conversations with brands explaining the new opportunities that exist in the sponsorship space, and that will only increase as brands look for new ways to reach potential customers.

Q: You work with properties such as the MLBPA, Grant's Farm, and Instant Autographs, among others. How do you tailor your approach to these companies as they vary so greatly from one another?

This is a great question and it all comes down to listening to what brands are looking for. In my role, I focus mostly on connecting brands with MLB Players, but many times baseball doesn’t fit a particular brand’s objectives. The MLBPA, Grant’s Farm, and Instant Autographs all have very different audiences and provide a different value for each of their partners. By listening to what each brand is looking for, I’ve learned to shift my conversation from baseball to our other clients seamlessly, making sure I’m providing value and building my relationships rather than forcing something that doesn’t fit the brand’s objectives.

Q: What are some of the ways that Integrity 9 has excelled during the pandemic? Where do you see the company heading over the next few months and years?

Our company was able to grow through the pandemic despite the challenging times. We gave away money to charities that were suffering. The pandemic was and still is definitely an interesting time for everyone in our industry. With so much uncertainty around whether games would be played or if fans would be allowed, sponsors were obviously concerned about investments they made in the sports and entertainment space. At Integrity 9, we were able to be successful by using our experience on the team side to recommend creative solutions that both the team and our clients were excited about.

On the MLB Player side of our business, we were able to bring new partners to the table who were looking for ways to tap into baseball’s audience without traditional in-stadium assets. Many brands found that working with athletes to create content or digital events were great solutions to reach fans that they otherwise would’ve reached in the stadium.

Q: What are some of the tactics you use during a pitch that makes you successful?

I’ve mentioned this a few times, but the most important thing when speaking with a brand is to listen. If a brand says that brand awareness is not one of its objectives, your proposal shouldn’t include assets that help with brand awareness. Partnerships is an industry that is built on relationships and pushing something that the prospect doesn’t want only hurts that relationship and lowers the level of trust. By pitching solutions that align with the company’s objectives, it not only shows that you are paying attention to the prospect, but that you want to provide value for them rather than just making a sale.

The other thing I try to include in all of my pitches is data. Brands know so much about their customers now and are smarter about where they spend their marketing dollars. If you can provide data that shows why a specific program fits its audience, you’ll be successful.

Q: What do you do in your free time to continue your growth personally and professionally?

I spend a lot of my free time watching sports and reading about trends in our industry. While watching games, not only am I appreciating the talent on the field, but I’m noting all of the sponsors and various activations that are happening. Sports is a very “copycat” industry, so I’m always on the lookout for ideas that would benefit our clients.