While I enjoy the occasional Cubs game and I’ll gladly watch the Blackhawks over a beer at the pub, I am certainly not a sports aficionado. So twice a year, when the sales people I work with go nuts – during March Madness and during the Fantasy Football draft — I’m a tiny bit lost. For example, last year during March Madness I selected my teams based on cuteness of their mascots. As you may have suspected, that strategy failed miserably since the Bulldogs didn’t exactly deliver. So if I was going to participate in the office Fantasy Football league, I wanted to prepare a bit and avoid the “Biggest Dud Picker” award… again.
As I collected all my Fantasy Football strategy tips, I realized something pretty cool – doing a Fantasy Football draft is a lot like hiring a killer sales team. Really.
Fantasy Football Strategy – use it to win the draft and to build a great sales team
Here’s the Fantasy Football advice I gathered from my coworkers, Google and Quora. Hopefully, it’ll help you win the draft and get you thinking about your next sales hire.
1. Start with a good quarterback
A good QB will get you lots of yards fast (or points, as the case may be in Fantasy Football), and he’ll pass the ball to the right player during a real game. So will a good sales leader. Whoever you end up putting at the helm of your sales team will set the tone for how the team performs. This person needs to be a sales machine who can set a good example and get the team closer to their goal quickly by engaging and coaching others, but also by getting yards (or closing deals) when necessary.
2. Get the right amount of good running backs for your league
Depending on the rules of your Fantasy Football league, the number of running backs will change. You always need them, though. They’re the ones who’ll get you the most points. On a sales team, these are the guys who will work hard and continue to push the sale forward whether it’s in small increments or in big ones. The point is, they don’t give up. When they see the opportunity, they go for it and get you as close to the end zone as possible. Depending on the sales cycle and competitiveness of your industry you may need more or fewer running backs, just as you may need more or fewer depending on your league rules.
3. A consistent kicker is absolutely necessary
At first glance kickers seem like a assist players, but in the end, they wind up scoring a big chunk of your Fantasy Football team’s points. In sales, this is not the star player who wants all the attention. It’s the closer who listens and absorbs and when the time is right, she steps in and finishes the job in one smooth, perfectly aimed kick.
4. You need a solid bench
Football teams get bye weeks and players can be out due to injury. When that happens, you need a bench deep enough to handle the impact. The same goes for sales. If your star sales people go on a holiday or break a leg or take an offer elsewhere, you want to make sure your bench is deep enough to absorb any negative impact. Yeah, you can always hire someone else mid-season, but onboarding a new person is time consuming and can be a big distraction from selling. You’re better off being prepared.
5. Don’t pick the celebrity player earlier than you should
In Fantasy Football a celebrity will only get you so far. All the previous tips will make for a more dependable team than going for the celebrity. In sales, the same rings true. There are “celebrities” in sales. They drive the latest Tesla, have only C-levels on speed dial and they’re doing you a favor by selling to you. We’ve all met them. And you know what? Sometimes we need them. But not when you’re first building your sales team because they will grab too much attention and distract you and the team.
6. Don’t pick your hometown favorite players first either
It’s nice to pick familiar faces in the draft because you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but are they the best pick? If the answer is yes, go for it, but remain objective to all their skills. When it comes to sales, it’s easy to hire a friend or an ex co-worker you like right off the bat. And if you’re trying to copy and paste your previous sales team exactly, do it. Chances are though, you’re trying to build a stronger, better team that’s anchored with the kind of people and culture who can take you to the next level. So focus on that great future goal instead of the past. Establish a killer team with the sort of culture you want and then hire people from previous lives. They’ll still bring the skills you trust, but they’ll come into a team that’s clearly defined, not tainted by previous experience.
7. Have the discipline to wait on players that will likely still be around in later rounds
As with all things in life, in Fantasy Football you have to prioritize. Get the players you need and calculate each move. It’s a strategy game, after all. In sales, you can’t hire everyone at once. You have to prioritize the sales people you hire (as outlined in the first few points). If you hire them all at once, you may lose the ones with huge potential, but who need more personal attention. Or there may not be enough leads and you’ll lose others yet. Have the discipline to grow your sales organization systematically, based on the needs you have and sales volume you anticipate. Sure, you may miss out on talent sometimes, but in the long run it’s the strategy with highest chance of success.
Now that I’ve gathered all the tips, I can go into the office Fantasy Football draft, right? Wrong. It’ll probably take another year for me to learn who the various players are so I can follow my own tips. Oh, well. At least I can help with hiring the sales team in the meantime :).
P.S. Yes, we’re hiring. In Sales and many other roles in Chicago and Krakow.