As the days start to get incrementally shorter and my commute gets a bit longer due to the influx of yellow school buses on the back roads outside of Boston, it can only mean one thing… football season is right around the corner. While planning and preparing for my fantasy draft, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways that the skills of a successful fantasy football manager translate to those of a successful sales trainer. Finally, an excuse to tell your boss that making a crucial fantasy trade during work hours is, in fact, an effective use of company time! For those of you planning for your upcoming new hire training class while simultaneously participating in mock drafts in preparation for the big day, here are 5 reasons why the skills you perfect as a fantasy football manager will make you a better sales trainer:
1. Set goals and devise a strategy.
The obvious goal is to win, so what are you going to do to get your team to the playoffs? The key to a successful season is to have a solid strategy. Whether you build a team weighted heavily on a strong running game or prefer to focus on an elite quarterback, the strategy you choose will drive the tactics and activities that will help you achieve your goals. As a sales trainer, before you start developing any plans and materials, it’s crucial that you truly understand what it is that you want your reps to be able to do differently as a result of the training.
2. Plan, plan, and keep planning.
So you have a strategy, but how will you get to where you want to go? Only by pure luck does someone succeed in fantasy football by sitting back and watching their team magically fall into place. And even in those situations, chance luck eventually wears off once the season gets underway. Starting with the draft, it’s important to have a plan and stick to it without letting emotion get in the way. While you may love your hometown hero, will they deliver consistent points or are they actually quite injury prone? (I’m looking at you, Rob Gronkowski…) There’s nothing worse than the sinking feeling you get when your star player goes down in the first weeks of the season. Alternatively, there’s nothing better than knowing that even if your reliable starting roster is affected, you have a backup plan ready to be put into action. If you’re caught off guard, then you’re stuck having to go out and pick up new players to fill their spots—all while the other fantasy managers in your league are watching. Developing a tactical training action plan to guide your priorities, timelines, agendas, and budgets will put you ahead of the game for 2018. Need help? We’ve got your back with a PowerPoint deck full of templates designed to make your life as a trainer easier. I know what you’re thinking… yes, this is even better than a mass-produced draft cheat sheet!
3. Get off to a good start.
It goes without saying that the best fantasy managers draft the best teams. By loading your roster with heavy hitters from the start and then building your team out around these proven players, you put yourself in the best position to maximize production and get the results you are looking for. Although you don’t have control over players’ actions on the field, the success (or failure) of your starting lineup is ultimately a reflection of you, whether you like it or not. Let’s be real here… no one plays fantasy football to lose — personal pride is at stake! Hiring seasoned sales representatives that are almost certain to provide consistent returns will become the cornerstones of your sales team, allowing you to effectively build around them. While you may not be able to control your reps’ actions and interactions with physicians when they’re out in the field, by leading them through a comprehensive training program and coaching them along the way, you put them in a position to put their best foot forward.
4. Leverage your resources.
The more I play fantasy football, the more I learn how helpful it is to make use of the many tools at your disposal. Following the news and using data to drive your decisions (i.e., analyzing statistics, monitoring trends, and breaking down matchups) will help you stay objective and may help you see potential in players that other managers may have missed. While you don’t want to fall prey to “paralysis by analysis,” studying player development allows you to play to the strengths and weaknesses of your roster and protect your investments. No man is a (Revis) island. Heh, see what I did there? There is so much to be learned by talking to others and sharing experiences. These days there is so much content available online and much of the analytic heavy lifting has already been done behind the scenes. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — all the good fantasy football players consult the experts and even use a cheat sheet from time to time. Staying on top of the news and talking to others in the life sciences industry can help guide the moves you make, set and manage your expectations, and even overcome training challenges you face along the way. There are a variety of resources available to sales training professionals, including Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network (LTEN), Association for Talent Development (ATD), Training Industry, Inc., and our own resources page.
5. Be a good team player.
Success in fantasy football starts with a competitive spirit. Not only do champions come to play and win, but they also earn respect from their fellow managers and generally make the league better and more fun to play in. The ability to embrace change and risk while remaining objective allows successful managers to turn a bad season into a good one by adapting to challenging situations, judging talent, and making moves when needed. As a pharmaceutical sales trainer, emotional intelligence and the ability to be a great team player are crucial to working with the various teams it takes to get your training materials developed and approved, while remaining on time and within budget. Becoming a fantasy football champion or a standout sales trainer takes patience, knowledge, organization, skill, and most of all, passion. When you’re authentic and passionate about your work, it shows in everything you do, and it positively affects those around you. Your colleagues and reps will naturally want to learn from you as a role model when you show that you can do everything that you are asking your reps to do and consistently demonstrate “what good looks like.” Armed with these traits… you’ll have a team that can’t lose! Just remember, when you’re feeling frustrated that you used your first-round draft pick on a standout running back, yet they keep calling passing plays, most of the sports talk show hosts play fantasy sports… and even they don’t win every week!