What Fantasy Football Can Teach You About Sales Management

Fantasy football is a hobby that’s drawing in more and more people each year. Luckily, sales professionals can apply many of its lessons to their day jobs.

November 14, 2017

  • sales-fantasy-football

From the start of September through the end of December, it’s an inescapable topic of conversation around the water cooler:

“How’d your fantasy football team do this week?”

For some, it’s a hobby. For others, it’s an obsession. But these days, almost everyone has some type of investment.

Statistics show that, in 2017, 59 million people in North America are playing fantasy sports, with football easily the most popular version. Whether traditional or daily leagues, folks of all stripes are increasingly trying their hands at managing a virtual roster of real-life players, lamenting the devastating injuries and celebrating the narrow victories.

For sales managers, fantasy football can occasionally be an unwelcome distraction in the office, but there’s good news.

For one thing, the season will be over soon enough (for plenty of unfortunate owners, it basically already is). But more importantly, there are a few lessons to be learned from the infectious pastime that we can apply in our sales careers:

Stay on Top of the News

The most effective fantasy football managers are those that stay tuned into breaking news developments and updates. Your wide receiver isn’t practicing this week? Better make alternative plans for Sunday. Coach Belichick was quoted in the media while complimenting the opponent’s ability to stop the run? Maybe you should consider benching your Patriots running back.

Sales professionals, too, can set themselves apart from the competition by keeping a finger on the pulse. Just got an alert on Sales Navigator that a prospect switched jobs? Perfect opportunity to reach out with a friendly congrats, and perhaps an inquiry. Target account in the news for receiving new funding? They just might be open to spending some of it on your solution -- if you can get in front of them before others. 

Don’t Rush Yourself

In fantasy football drafts, it’s important to collect as much data as possible before making a selection. When committing a valuable early pick to a certain player, you’ll want to know what the experts are saying about him, and where he ranks on various lists. The more informed your decision, the better it is likely to work out.

The same principles are at play for a sales rep. Heading into a call, email, or meeting without taking the time to research and prepare is a losing proposition. If we can’t offer specific insights on a case-by-case basis, then most buyers aren’t going to be interested in what we have to say. The more informed your pitch, the better it is likely to work out.

But Act Fast When Needed

Fantasy football is also opportunistic. Succeeding over the course of a season requires quick reactions and an attentive nature. When a player is announced out for the week, the fantasy manager who grabs his backup off waivers and plugs him into the lineup will benefit. Meanwhile, the sales rep who beats another to the punch when a buying intent signal arises frequently gets the business.

One analysis found that when online leads are reached within the first hour, they are seven times more likely to become qualified than those contacted even an hour later.

Use the Latest Tools and Resources

Analytics and advanced metrics are changing the game for just about every industry, from fantasy football to sales and beyond. We all have that person in our league who is making decisions based on horribly outdated info. Hopefully it’s not you.

Plenty of sales teams are lagging in terms of adopting technologies and innovations. Almost invariably, their numbers are suffering because of it. Are you embracing the latest sales technology to modernize your squad?

Be Adaptive

It’s good to find an approach and stick with it. You drafted that tight end for a reason; just because he had a couple bad games doesn’t mean you should abandon him. How is it going to look when you drop him and he winds up finding his groove with another team in the league?

But at the same time, there is such a thing as being stubborn to a fault. Maybe that player isn’t putting up points because he just doesn’t have it this year. In that case, you’re only hurting yourself by continuing to plug him into your lineup.

While tenacity is an admirable trait, sales pros need to recognize when a tactic isn’t working and make the necessary pivots to get on track. If your go-to email script isn’t getting any responses, you should consider altering your message or refining your list. If you’ve been reluctant to give social selling a try, you may want to take a look at the numbers and find a way to incorporate it.

Following these guidelines will put you on a path to success both with your fantasy football team and your sales career. Here’s to many wins in your future on both ends.

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