Learn more about core performers in part 3 of A Fantasy Football Lover's Guide to Sales Talent from Ambition today!

Previous sections of the 2015 Guide: Part 1Part 2Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. You can also read our full 2014 Guide.

Each year, a few key players will decide the fates of your sales force and your fantasy football team. This is your scouting report. 

Welcome back to The 2015 Fantasy Football Lover's Guide to Your Salesforce. We're profiling 30 types of people you'll find on both the average sales force and the average Fantasy Football team.  We're about to go Mel Kiper, Jr on your sales team.

Part III. Core Performers

The following six archetypes can be found serving as mid-level performers on sales teams and Fantasy Football squads year after year. 

These are your middle 70 percent. Your unsung heroes. Your models of consistency and your under-the-radar "glue guys/gals." 

And in both your Sales and Fantasy teams, elevation in performance from your core performers spells good fortune and acts as a prerequisite to achieving an elite overall team.

1. Mr(s). Reliable

"Consistency is the essence of greatness," goes the old saying. And Mr(s). Reliable is the greatest asset in your team of core performers.

Adding some semblance of reason to the crapshoot that is often sales forecasting, Mr(s). Reliable anchors your team and acts as a divining rod for measuring team progress.

A favorite who sales leaders who know that Mr(s). Reliable does not require hands-on treatment or special attention to continue performing at a steady level.

NFL Doppelganger: Matt Forte


Give Matt Forte credit -- for the last 7 years, his season rushing totals have fallen somewhere between 925 and 1350 yards.

In the NFL, where running backs face a constant injury threat, offensive strategies tend to be fluid from year to year, and personnel is endlessly changing, it takes a special kind of skill to obtain that kind of consistency.

Does that mean I'll ever be excited to draft Matt Forte?

Hell no. But if I do, it's almost a scientifically-proven fact at this point that I won't regret the decision.

Signs You May Be Mr(s). Reliable: 

  • You're the type of person who never misses quota -- and never comes close to being your office's top earner.
  • Managers constantly wonder if you're being under-utilized, underachieving, or just a step or two away from reaching the next level.
  • Moments later, they say "screw it" and just give thanks that you're a mortal lock to hit next month's quota.

2. The Gym Rat

The Gym Rat compensates for a lack of natural gifts with a tireless work ethic and commitment to improving his or her skills.

Often described in one of the following ways: "scrappy," "driven," or "competitor." 

NFL Doppelganger: Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson Gif

Something both Senior-Level Management and NFL analysts can't get enough of: Gushing over Gym Rats like they're patron saints of their professions.

And by God, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is a Gym Rat if I've ever seen one.

He's also a lot more: Super Bowl MVP, tenacious downfield blocker, and a more athletic version of that overachieving Public Relations major you knew in college -- the one you vacillated between finding extremely enjoyable and incredibly obnoxious.

Signs You May Be The Gym Rat: 

  • You're beloved by upper management for your scrappy work ethic, heartfelt enthusiasm and take-charge leadership.
  • You're disdained by less-driven peers for your scrappy work ethic, heartfelt enthusiasm and take-charge leadership.
  • Your last performance review led off with the sentence: "[Your name] is a scrappy, driven competitor."

3. The Late Bloomer

The Late Bloomer entered your company and proceeded to contribute several years of uninspiring, eminently forgettable service. Then something clicked.

Maybe a new man/woman entered the Late Bloomer's life and led to a renewed focus.  Maybe (and most likely) a new supervisor came onboard and was able to tap into the Late Bloomer's inner talent and drive.

Whatever the case, the Late Bloomer has recently come alive and is finally delivering the inspired, high level of performance you always knew he/she was capable of giving.*

*Or you just lucked out big-time.

NFL Doppelganger: Matt Ryan


For the first few years of his career, Matt Ryan was little more than an average fantasy player with a cool nickname. (And many would argue that "cool nickname" is being generous here). 

But now? It's Matty Ice! The Iceman! The QB our CEO just way overpaid for as a keeper in our work league! ($35 out of your $200 budget, Travis?? Really??)

Point being -- Matt Ryan is the quintessential late bloomer.

(Worth noting: That gif came from a 2012 article with the sub-header, "Matt Ryan is producing, and still no one seems to notice." .... which is what happens when you're a late bloomer).

Signs You May Be The Late Bloomer: 

  • It's taken five years, but your supervisors are suddenly very interested in what type of golf game you have.
  • Your Dad has started making eye-contact with you again.

4. The Specialist

The Specialist is really good at one thing.

In fact, he or she is so much better at that one thing that no one else in that particular department even comes close.

If you even think about picking someone else over this person to lead that department, then you need to be fired.

If you are this person and your manager has picked someone else over you to lead your department, you need to start emailing your resume around.

NFL Doppelganger: Chiefs Defense

Chief's Defense Gif

The glory of an Andy Reid-coached NFL team is that there will be moral certainties during his tenure -- terrible clock management, borderline existential suffering for fans who will briefly taste greatness but never actually see their team achieve it, and a badass defense.

Want to impress your friends with some NFL trivia from 2014?

The Chiefs Defense took more passes to the end zone -- 1 -- than any member of the Chiefs wide receiver corps, who failed to catch a single touchdown pass all season.

Signs You May Be The Specialist:

  • You have a limited, but pivotal role within your sales team.
  • Your managers are constantly trying to figure out ways to deploy your skill set in other areas of the company.

5. The "Real Crafty Player"

Someone whose methods are part of his or her madness. In the "Real Crafty Player's" warped mind, craftiness is the ultimate way to perfect one's craft. (Sorry).


  1. The sales rep. who takes pride in figuring out your competitors' major clients, and puts a little too much effort into trying to steal them away. 
  2. The rep. who prefers to utilize rumors and slander, rather than fact, when pushing your product or service over a competitor's. 

NFL Doppelganger: Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisburger

In 11 years watching Ben Roethlisberger helm the Steelers QB position, the momentary transformations of Ben from lumbering, Dad-Body oaf into a deceptively agile, Defense-juking, sack-avoiding, drive-saving gamebreaker never cease to shock me.

It's as if, during a decade of operating behind an injury-riddled, breach-prone Offensive Line, the laws of evolution stepped in and actually improved Ben's cunning and dexterity with age.

I mean, look at the play above -- you get the feeling that sort of play-extending trickery is just second nature to him now.   

Signs You May Be The "Real Crafty Player": 

  • You know how to "extend the play" with endangered deals, rescuing them from the brink and closing them out in ways that break the very will of your competitors.
  • All the young hotshots around you are zipping around in their tailored suits and skinny ties. 
  • Meanwhile, you're rolling up your rumpled sleeves in Fortune 500 offices just before handing the pen over to get the CEO's signature on your latest contract.

6. The Situation

Not to be mistaken for the unfortunate reminder of this century's cultural nadir, the Situation is someone with high levels of talent and potential, but is having his or her performance stunted due to surrounding circumstances. 

Maybe it's a talented, but woefully inexperienced young rep beginning their career on a bad team.

Maybe it's an Account Exec who can't go cradle to the grave with a prospect but needs (and lacks) stellar Business Development and Marketing teammates.

Maybe it's a top-performing Account Executive who got pushed into a VP of Sales role, even though he or she is ill-suited for the position.

Whatever the case, you're tempted to project high numbers for the Situation, but glaring issues related to the office culture, process and talent surrounding them suggest otherwise.

NFL Doppelganger: Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill

Uninspiring, though not terrible, performance levels? Clear signs of talent and toughness? A surrounding cast so bad at their jobs that certain initiatives are an affront to their very profession?

Welcome to the world of Ryan Tannehill!

Key point in this example -- the Situation comes with a grace period. 

I spent the 2013 NFL season living in Fort Lauderdale and watching my Uncle and Cousin discuss Tannehill with a sense of inevitable, impending doom. Like he was Ian Curtis from Joy Division, or something.

(Hushed murmurs) "So much potential -- but he won't last 3 more years with this Offensive Line."

Signs You May Be The Bad Situation:

  • You're starting to realize that everything you've learned about sales is fundamentally wrong.
  • You Googled your company and kept noticing the term, "Multi-Level Marketing."
  • The Marketing team says it's job isn't to generate leads, but to "protect the brand." 

Creating Your Fantasy Sales Team

That concludes Part 3 of our 2015 Fantasy Football Lover's Guide to Your Salesforce. Stay tuned. And if you're sick of the same old sales contest, check out Ambition. Our platform lets teams take a "Fantasy Football" approach to workforce contests, and has been featured in the likes of the Harvard Business Review, Business Insider and the Sporting News.

Scope out our Product Overview for more information. And thanks for reading.

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