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The NFL Lover's Guide to Sales Professionals

The 16 person lineup on your fantasy football team and your sales team.

Welcome back, folks.

It's our favorite time of year here at Ambition. I just completed 3 fantasy football drafts in 8 days, my girlfriend hates me, and my head is spinning. Let's get to work.

Since 2014, we've published a massive annual rundown of the top people you can expect to find on your sales force and your fantasy football team. Our goal: List the main people who dictate the success/failure of your fantasy football team and your sales team, year in and year out.

Click the following links to revisit our 2014 and 2015 lists. And please enjoy the 2016 Fantasy Football Lover's Guide to Your Sales Force.

Fantasy Sales Team

1. The Bell Cow

Got the best-of-the-best leading your Sales Force? Congratulations, you're running sales offensives with a Bell Cow.

The rarest breed of leaders, Bell Cows deliver it all. Quota-crushing performance. Unparalleled leadership. Respect that permeates every level of your organization. This person sets the standard for greatness in your organization - in all likelihood, he or she is one of your top performers week in and week out. A treasured asset envied by every one of your competitors. Worth every penny that your company spends to keep inside your walls.

2016 NFL Doppelganger: Antonio Brown

I've been playing fantasy football for a solid decade. This is the first time all 3 of my fantasy leagues have chosen the same person as a) the 1st pick in a Snake Draft or b) the highest-paid player in an Auction draft.

Antonio Brown is a force of nature that I (a Pittsburgh native) and millions of fantasy owners the world over cherish having on our team. Dynamic, consistent and explosive in every situation - Antonio Brown is the Fantasy Football version of your sales team's most impactful member. 

Signs You May Be The Bell Cow: 

  • You're off the draft board before half the league has finished getting their cheat sheets in order.
  • You're borderline impossible to overpay for.
  • Any one who has ever wronged you is suddenly considered public enemy number one by your work peers.. 

2. The Workhorse

Your sales team needs someone who is unfazed by grueling levels of production. The young SDR who works 90 hours per week, makes up for others' mistakes and does the little things - like updating outdated Salesforce fields on a prospect.  

The Workhorse was born to make that happen. He or she consistent creates a high level of output through sheer passion, force of will and flashes of occasional brilliance. A vital part of any successful sales force.

NFL Doppelganger: Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley is the ultimate Workhorse for 2016. As the sole viable threat on the Rams offense, Gurley will be spending the next 17 weeks absorbing and dishing out obscene levels of punishment while chewing through 8-in-the-box stacked defenses.

And yet, because he's a young Workhorse with fresh legs, you can expect him to get it done. Whoever your version of the Workhorse is, make sure he or she gets the proper credit for doing the dirty work and getting the tough yards your team needs to hit quota.

Signs You May Be The Workhorse: 

  • You aren't the flashiest contributor on your team, but do have their universal respect and appreciation. 
  • You and the janitorial team are on a first-name basis.
  • You have useful knowledge into areas that extend well beyond your job description.    

3. The Petulant Superstar

I love the Petulant Superstar, because I grew up in the same household as one. My stepdad, a talented, passionate geologist (and former all-state running back in Arkansas), came home from work every day pissed off at the incompetence of his peers. My mom, brother and I soon came to christen him, "The Petulant Superstar," and the name stuck.

In sales, your petulant superstar isn't hard to spot. He or she is quota-crushing, loud, abrasive and equal parts well-intentioned yet self-absorded. A high-maintenance high achiever, if you will. A tempest you'd get rid of except he or she makes So. Much. Freaking. Money. For. Your Company.

NFL Doppelganger: Cam Newton

The most obvious doppelganger for this year's list. Cam epitomizes the Petulant Superstar to a T. Whatever the sales equivalent of diving on a loose ball fumble is, he or she is not doing it. Fashionable celebrations, on the other hand? Totally a go. Heat of battle temper tantrums? Huge yes

The entertainment value of a Petulant Superstar is perhaps his or her most underrated redeeming quality. Having a Cam Newton-esque figure on your sales force makes Happy Hours and daily "How was work?" post mortems with the spouse a million times better.

Signs You May Be the Petulant Superstar:

  • You put up record numbers and still can't get a golf invite with company executives.
  • You feel the need to berate someone, anyone, whenever a deal you're working on goes south. 
  • You begin conversations about your direct supervisor with the phrase: "That idiot."
  • You feel a strange kinship with Drake -- that guy gets you.

4. The Rising Star

One of the most cherished assets on any sales team, the rising star is the hungry young go-hard with a mind for business and a motor that keeps the new deals coming in fast and furious.

Rising stars are such a hot commodity because, even in today's world of data-driven corporate decision-making, hiring is still a goddamned crap shoot. Especially with newly-minted sales pros who are fresh out of college, have zero real-world experience, and have no clue how much of their daily existence will involve being told "No." for the foreseeable future.

NFL Doppelganger: Devonta Freeman

Rookie sensation Devonta Freeman was last year's breakout player and thus qualifies as a full-fledged rising star for the 2016 Fantasy Season. The sales force equivalent is the kid in your office who may or may not be old enough to legally rent a car, but can close 5 and 6 figure deals with the best of them. A rare gem and a joy to watch as he or she racks up fantasy points/revenue for your respective teams. 

Signs You May Be The Rising Star:

  • Company leadership greets you by name in the hallway.
  • You still have no clue who half of them are.

5. The Sleeper

Somewhere on your sales team, there is a stud-in-waiting. Think Jordan Belfort mixed with Jason Bourne. A sleeper cell waiting to activate and wreak (positive) havoc all over your company's balance sheets. 

When that happens, two things immediately follow. One, self-congrutalory pats on the back from Jason/Jordan's immediate supervisors for having the foresight to see the Sleeper's potential. Two, a sudden shift in perspective toward other low performers on your team - these people are no longer "busts," they're "deep sleepers." 

NFL Doppelganger: Tyrod Taylor

I called Sammy Watkins in 2015. I called Le'veon Bell in 2014. And this year, And this year, I'm going back to Buffalo (also the NFL's sleeper fanbase) to call a breakout year for Tyrod Taylor and the long-suffering #BillsMafia.

Note to sales leaders: Your sleeper doesn't have to go 0-100 in terms of performance. He or she can be someone who has quietly performed at or above expectations, but seems poised to make the leap. TyGod is a prime example: He had a 99.4 passer rating in 2015, which was the same as Cam Newton and better than Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.

I'm anticipating big things for TyGod this year. Find his equivalent in your sales force. 

Signs You May Be The Sleeper: 

  • Management pays you an inordinate amount of attention.
  • You keep getting compared to established sales superstars on your team.
  • They give you dirty looks and blank stares every time you ask for help/advice.

6. The Health Risk

Rare in the sales environment (unless Terry Tate is patrolling your cubicles), but still happens on occasion.The sick days start piling up. The productivity starts to wane. The numbers drops off completely.

For purposes of this article, let's limit the Health Risk to sales reps who are creating avoidable health issues for themselves. Drinking too much. Not getting enough sleep. Chain smoking on breaks. When the effects start becoming noticeable, then you have a problem. Because even though - when the Health Risk is healthy, he or she is a high performer - that's a big "If" these days.  

NFL Doppelganger: Julian Edelman

For the 2016 NFL season, our Health Risk doppelganger is Julian Edelman. Multiple concussions. Multiple foot surgeries. Multiple surgically-repaired ankles. None of these health issues were self-induced, of course, but they definitely create the composite of a guy who's a little too banged up to guarantee high-level production. 

Moral of the story: Sales teams - don't ask your peers enter the Edelman Zone by letting each other guzzle 8 Red Bulls, 2 packs of Marlboro Lights and 6 Happy Hour tall boys week in and week out. 

Signs You May Be The Health Risk:

  • You bring high blood pressure medication to your 5 year high school reunion.
  • You lied at least 5 times at your last physical.
  • What's a physical? 

7. The Mercurial Talent

In sales, powerful swagger/emotions can be your best ally and, at other times, your worst enemy.  It works the same with mentally unhinged NFL players -- and the worst thing you can do is take yourself out of the game by losing your cool.

How your sales team handles adversity is key. Your competitors will pull underhanded moves. Your prospects will aggravate you to no end. Your leadership will put the heat on you when the quarter is closing in and quota is far, far away.

The Mercurial Talent on your sales force, like the Petulant Susperstar, can be prone to self-destructive outbursts. While more subdued than the Petulant Superstar, the Mercurial Talent still needs to be reined in occasionally, lest his or her emotions get the best of them.  

NFL Doppelganger: Odell Beckham, Jr.

On the one hand, major props to Odell Beckham, Jr. for standing his ground and refusing to be bullied by Josh Norman. On the other hand, I'm not sure weaponizing one's helmet/skull and getting a one-game suspension counts as a win, at the end of the day.

You get my drift. And by the way, I'll take a Mercurial Talent that's feisty over one that's moody and sulking every day of the week.

Signs You May Be The Mercurial Talent:

  • You make waves via explosive deals and an explosive temper.
  • Your manager has talked to you about getting "inside your own head."
  • At least two people have suggested you start taking yoga classes. 

8. The PPR Stud

In certain sales teams, different types of talent hold higher value. Say you're a 3PL logistics broker who does low-margin, high-volume and highly transactional deals. Your performance should be graded with the sales equivalent of a high PPR (Points Per Reception) scoring system. 

Conversely, if you're working in enterprise software and closing six-figure deals that take months to complete, you're evaluating talent on a whole other paradigm. Less smile and dial. More challenger selling.

Highly transactional sales teams value PPR Studs. Guys who put up the sales equivalent of "9 catches for 80 yards," rather than 2 catches for 105 yards. 

NFL Doppelganger: DeAndre Hopkins

DeAngelo is a PPR cyborg with hands made of stickum. He's also a model of consistency. His doppelganger on your high-transaction sales team is what Jordan Belfort would lovingly describe as a "telephone terrorist" who rarely loses deals and rarely dips below a high level of performance in a given week.

Signs You May Be The PPR Stud:

  • You check your inbox once, maybe twice a day.
  • You understand a closed prospect, as a person, better than members of your own family.
  • Your competitors know you and utterly hate you. 

9. The Basket Case

Once the swagger/emotion pendulum swings far enough, you're exiting Mercurial Talent territory and entering the realm of the Basket Case.

The Basket Case maintains the skill level of a Mercurial Talent or Petulant Superstar, making him or her one of the strongest performers on your sales force. Which brings us to the other distinguishing factor of a Basket Case: A reckless indifference to professionalism, company codes of conduct, and personal well-being. 

NFL Doppelganger: Rob Gronkowski

There's really no other option here. Rob Gronkowski is the Merriam-Webster's definition of a Basket Case. Yes, he's a top performer. Yes, he's incredibly fun to watch. But most importantly of all, the guy is certifiably insane. You almost can't even get mad at him for the ridiculous, self-destructive stunts he pulls on a regular basis. He's almost certainly missing the brain matter that would make him smart enough to know better. 

Bottom line: Your Basket Case is an X-Factor, but perhaps the scariest one of all. Good luck trying to control this individual - you're better off just hanging on for dear life and enjoying the ride while it lasts.

Signs You May Be The Basket Case:

  • Your managers find you both endearing and terrifying.
  • The phrase, "You're an amazing salesperson but ..." has been uttered in your one-on-one's.
  • A full-blown Andy-Bernard-from-Season-3-of-The-Office moment.

10. The Dark Horse

Lurking beneath the radar on your sales team is the Dark Horse.

A more proven asset than the Sleeper, the Dark Horse brings higher expectations plus higher upside. This is the Account Executive who seems poised to break out in Q4. The Business Development Associate who's emerging as a natural team leader. Bottom line: The Dark Horse is your sales team member with high upside, positive recent trends in performance and a bit of a chip on his or her shoulder.

NFL Doppelganger: Donte Moncrief

Being an NFL or Sales professional means being faced with the constant question, "What have you done for me lately?" In Donte Montcrief's case - and in the case of your Dark Horse - the answer is: More than the numbers would indicate.

The analsysis on Donte Montcrief highlights an important point about Dark Horses - Do not underestimate the value that an improved situation can have on a fantasy or sales team member. Have an Account Executive who needs good SDRs and just got teamed up with your top SDR performer? Boom. Dark Horse. And like the Sleeper, yes, lots of self-congratulatory pats on the back from leadership will follow once this guy breaks out. 

Signs You May Be The Dark Horse: 

  • You're the beneficiary of a few small, yet significant adjustments that work in your favor.
  • You've put in the long hours and are starting to see results.
  • You empathize with Erlich Bachmann in this scene: Release the Kraken.

11. The Underachiever

I shouldn't have to spell this one out for you. Lots of hype. Little return. And the slow, steady salting of management's good will - this salesperson is like conducting his or her own version of Sherman's March, except instead of going to Atlanta, he or she is heading straight to the unemployment line.  Add in a good dose of arrogance/schadenfreude to boot, and you've got...

NFL Doppelganger: Robert Griffin III

Last year's full-blown villain! Big time congratulations to RGIII for his ongoing commitment to villainy. It's a good thing the Cavs pulled off the most incredible postseason comeback in NBA history back in June, because since the start of August, the biggest news coming out of Brownsville is RGIII causing property damage with his inaccuracy and big-timing his wife and newborn for some Instagram model. 

To figure out the Underachiever on your salesforce, simply say the words, "Office RGIII" out loud. The first person that springs to mind is your answer.

Signs You May Be The Underachiever: 

  • Everything you do is a clusterf***.
  • Despite that, you're still an arrogant, self-important windbag.
  • You value style over substance - and it shows. 

12. Character Issues

The talented young sales rep at your office who comes into one too many morning meetings smelling of booze and whoever he or she danced all over last night at Sparkles nightclub? Hello, Character Issues. 

The quota-carrying rep who you're terrified will get drug tested? Character Issues. The guy who somehow gets overserved at every company event involving cocktails? Character issues, my friend.

Unlike the Health Risk, whose self-destructive activities tend to fall below the level of felony or "trainwreck," Character Issues may have a deeper problem on his or her hands. Just look at the NFL, where there are several well-documented young talents whose proclivity for illegal substances, talking back to management, and spending frequent Wednesday nights at the club makes him a source of pervasive anxiety for Fantasy Owners.

NFL Doppelganger: Josh Gordon

For the record, here, we're limiting character issues to people who commit non-violent crimes. If there's an Aaron Hernandez on your team, you have a much bigger problem on your hands than this blog post can address.

With that said, wow, what a video. All we need is a shirtless Gronk dancing on a table and it's a full-blown Character Issues convention. Poor Cleveland fans. When their franchise players get caught partying, it's a national scandal. When Gronk gets caught partying, it's an extra 20% bump in jersey sales for the Patriots.

All that aside, take stock of the Character Issues guys on your sales team and figure out how to help them sooner, rather than later. We all know a few too many talented reps whose careers have been lost to out-of-office issues.  

Signs You May Be Character Issues:

  • During company parties, you're frequently told to take it easy.
  • You respond by ordering more fireball, getting emotional, and slurring the lyrics to "Tiny Dancer."  
  • You've frantically researched your company's drug testing polict in the last 6 months.  

13. The Deep Sleeper

The person on your sales team most frequently discussed in terms of "potential, upside, and opportunity." Deep sleepers are fun to have thanks to their low-risk, high reward factor and the sense of personal ownership that sales managers will feel - deservedly or underservedly - if they become breakout performers.

In fact, more veteran members of your sales team may feel a little animosity toward Deep Sleepers, who get more attention, more leeway on performance and more passes for mistakes than the vast majority of their peers.  

NFL Doppelganger: Derrick Henry

Confession time: I blew $25 (of a $200 budget) on Derrick Henry in one Auction League. Immediate buyer's remorse. The cause of my poor decision - a momentary lapse of judgment thanks to Deep Sleeper hype. 

That's the thing about Deep Sleepers. They should never cost that much money. (A guy from same Auction League got Henry for $8 in a separate acution draft later that night).  You're placing a small bet on pure potential, then hoping things work out. Hell, Henry isn't even the starting running back on his own team.

The surest sign of a Deep Sleeper in your sales force? A young gun with raw talent, zero experience, and nothing but promise and potential.   

Signs You May Be The Deep Sleeper:

  • You're fresh out of school and this was your first job offer.
  • Your starting salary is lower than most of your friends' in corporate America.
  • You hate being broke more than anything in the world. 

14. The Next Big Thing

Just like the Deep Sleeper, but with major, major expectations places on their shoulders. Every sales force has the occasional hyped newcomer enter their doors. This person could come from a competitor, a revered industry name, or a pedigreed family background.

Whatever the cause behind the hype, your sales organization is betting a little (or a lot) more than usual on this necome to enter the bullpen, start kicking in doors, and closing hella deals. Immediately. For that reason, you both envy them and pity them. 

NFL Doppelganger: Ezekiel Elliott

No pressure for Zeke or anything. Just the fortunes of the NFL's most recognizable franchise and million fantasy owners counting on him to crush it out of the park in a suddenly toothless offense with a 4th Round rookie draft pick at Quarterback.

Note the contrast here between Elliott and Derrick Henry. In many cases, your status as a Deep Sleeper versus the Next Big Thing will depend as much on the situation in the organization you enter as it does on your prior performance levels. Enter a massive sales force with hundreds of reps worldwide, and you're much more likely to be in a Deep Sleeper situation. Enter a small startup sales force where you're expected to be the blue chip performer? Hello, Next Big Thing.

Signs You May Be The Next Big Thing:

  • It's your first week and the company's most tenured rep just asked you for advice.  
  • That big salary/signing bonus seems low upon learning your quota and sales process.  
  • First encounters with fellow team members: "So you're the hero, huh?"

15. The Savvy Veteran

What would your sales and/or fantasy squad be without a savvy veteran? In way over it's head, is the correct answer.

The Savvy Veteran has been around the block. He or she makes things look easy, thus putting everyone else at ease and adding precious hours of sleep to your sales manager's nightly average. You can count on the Savvy Veteran like you can count on few other people on your sales and fantasy squads. 

NFL Doppelganger: A.J. Green

Investing in A.J. Green is like investing in a Savvy Veteran. You're not just buying a consistent, elite performer. You're buying peace of mind. That's one less person on your squad you have to worry about, week in and week out. (Having said that, watch him tear both MCLs in Week 1, now).

The same goes for the Savvy Veteran of your sales force. You want a guy who brings 360° value - this is your man/woman. Take stock of the value this person brings.  

Signs You May Be The Savvy Veteran:

  • You close deals in half the time it takes your less-experienced peers.  
  • You see through B.S - both internal and external - a mile away.
  • You've prevented at least one psychotic break from occurring in upper management.

16. The Bust 

Each year, sales hiring managers and fantasy owners bet big on a few marquee names -- then watch with horror as their best-laid plans disintegrate.  Watching the downfall of a soon-to-be-infamous Bust is like witnessing the Hindenburg's slow descent, culminating with a fiery crash into the Titanic.

All the money, time and hope managers invest in their most memorable Busts evaporates into thin air -- though the trauma often lingers far longer. In sales teams, the Bust is a catastrophic failure. Money and time wasted on a supposed hotshot. The bane of management's existence.

NFL Doppelganger: Blaine Gabbert

Pour one out for Blaine Gabbert's career and thank God you'll never be half the Bust that he is. Jack Lemmon in the concluding scene of Glengarry Glenn Ross had better career prospects than Gabbert - and he was facing prison time.

Signs You May Be The Bust:

  • You look around you, and all you see is disappointment and/or fury.

Ambition: Drive Sales Performance and Accountability

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs business teams, data sources, and performance metrics on one system.

Modern sales leaders use Ambition to enhance sales performance insights and run supercharged sales reports, scorecards, contests, and TVs via drag-and-drop interface.  

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review and AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization). Hear more from business leaders who use Ambition in their organization.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  1. ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  2. Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  3. AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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