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The crisp fall weather in the air can only mean one thing…football is back! The National Football League in all its glory is set to return, as America’s most popular sport monopolizes the next 17 Sundays (and some Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays…). More importantly, the return of the NFL brings with it the return of fantasy football. Once the domain of only stat geeks and the most hardcore fans, fantasy football has recently become one of mainstream America’s fastest-growing and most popular hobbies, as amateur general managers draft, trade, sign and manage “real” players who will carry them to a championship, just like in the NFL!

With an estimated 33 million people playing the game around the United States – including more than 6 million women – it’s clear that fantasy football is here to stay. Business management software firm SAP even recently entered into a partnership with the NFL on a fantasy football analytics tool. Since you and I are both unabashed believers in the power of sales analytics, we are naturally predisposed to not only enjoy playing the stats-driven game, but might also have an edge in winning! Here are three reasons why fantasy football is just like sales analytics.

Forecasting

Sales Analytics - Peyton Manning Wes Welker

The key to success in fantasy football is to be able to look into your crystal ball and predict which players will perform well on a week-over-week basis across the entire season. Of course, this is easier said than done, requiring a combination of historical data analysis and studying current trends, with a dash of intuition mixed in….just like in sales analytics!

The most accurate sales forecasts rely on a data-driven approach. These forecasts look at historical conversion rates and current pipeline situations to determine (to their best ability) what their upcoming quarter or year will look like. Similarly, fantasy football managers have to study historical stats and current real-life situations. Peyton Manning was an offensive machine last year, surrounded by the tools (wide receivers, an explosive offense) to give him every chance to succeed, and his historical stats bear that out. This year, with a new fun toy to throw to in talented wide receiver Wes Welker, his fantasy forecast is looking even sunnier.

Performance Trends

Sales managers have to regularly study the sales performance metrics of their reps to identify who their top-performing reps are and which ones are struggling. Looking at bookings or activity trends over time can separate the wheat from the chaff. They can then apply sales coaching or other managerial decisions to shore up the performance of their team across the board. The key is to make considered, data-driven decisions based on what the statistical information is telling you…just like in fantasy football!

Sales Performance Metrics - Adrian Peterson

Of course, in fantasy football, you can’t coach your players and coax better performances out of them. What you can do is to arm yourself with as much information as possible and then make careful, considered decisions on which players to start and which ones need to take a seat on your bench. Ignore the big names of ‘star’ players and look at the data – if Adrian Peterson has been averaging less than 50 yards per game, you might have to substitute another player in, even as painful as it might be to bench last year’s Most Valuable Player.

Source Contributions

Any business requires contributions from every aspect of their team. For instance, if the data suggests that marketing isn’t contributing to the pipeline as much as the prospecting team is, it’s fair for the sales manager to question what marketing should be doing better. After all, every department in your team must carry its weight…just like in fantasy football!

Even if you have a great quarterback, a deep stable of running backs and a fearsome defense, you’re not winning a championship if you are getting nothing from your wide receiver corps. If that’s the case, perhaps it’s time to consider upgrading that position, via a trade or through some smart free-agent pickups. Don’t simply rest on your laurels and assume that the rest of the team can pick up the wide receivers’ slack. Similarly, marketing should look to pull their own weight and not merely depend on the prospecting team for growing the sales pipeline.

 

With your data-driven mindset and your penchant for studying sales analytics, you are poised to carry that success over to your fantasy football team. Study historical rates, ensure that you have a well-balanced team where every department contributes, keep up-to-date on performance trends of every player and forecast as accurately as possible. Those are the keys to adding a fantasy championship to your sales championship. Vince Lombardi would be proud.

Data-driven Sales Forecasting
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