After a solid handful of years being an executive recruiter for the Direct Selling industry, I’ve recognized how building a successful company is very similar to sports teams – specifically, football.
The coach is your Founder
The quarterback is your CEO
The running back is your CSO
The wide receiver is your COO
The tight end is your CMO
The center is your CIO
The offensive line is your CFO
And the defensive team is your field, mixed with your top income leaders and their volunteer army. I posted this on LinkedIn last month but I want to share my perspective on a deeper level.
Coach The coach is the visionary of the team. This person develops their playbook but most likely doesn’t have the right tools to execute strategy. The coach is creative, innovative and has endless amounts of ideas on building a winning team. They are a strong communicator and has trust in the team to get it done.
Quarterback With a star QB, the Coach is setting a strong foundation for success, very similar to a CEO. This leader is the one who is calling the plays and making sure everyone is executing correctly. The QB is responsible to motivate the team, build chemistry and lead by example. They’re the person who is encouraging their teammates when it’s third down and just seconds on the clock, as well as being accountable for a poorly executed play.
Running Back Without a running back, the QB doesn’t have the option to run the ball just like sales can’t grow without strategy. This is where a strong sales leader comes in to execute the planning and take the ball down the field. Whether it’s a one yard or 100-yard run, they are moving the ball to maximize their KPIs. Running backs are fast, strategic, quick-witted, and know how to switch gears when adversity hits; this is the type of CSO that will get you to the playoffs.
Wide Receiver In order to really make strides, you need a wide receiver who can run and catch the ball, just like a Chief Operating Officer. This person must be a team player who can effectively leverage the people and processes, and can improve the company’s strategic imperatives, including profitability. A wide receiver who is reliable is like a COO who can scale the company, as well as cash flow.
Tight End Direct Selling companies also need those hybrid positions, which is where a tight end comes in. This is someone with characteristics of a lineman and skills of wide receiver. A tight end is a unique position because they can either block, run, or pass on plays, just like a Chief Marketing Officer. There are many ways to drive business with marketing, such as email drip campaigns, social media, paid advertising, incentives, promotions, events, etc. They are creative thinkers and can execute plays unlike most teammates because of their skills and versatility.
Center The biggest man on the field is the center. Centers are well-known for being the smartest player on the team. They must be precise with ball handling, study the positions of both teams, and discover why plays fail or succeed. This position falls in line with a Chief Information / Technology Officer – without technology, the company would fail. These leaders establish the team with solid technical skills, data and reporting, back-office structure, and providing full support. A strong CIO is a visionary, can be pulled in many directions, and can roll up their sleeves to help get the job done.
Offensive Line Assembling the whole offensive line is where your Chief Financial Officer comes in. This person provides insight and recommendations to both short-term and long-term growth plans of organizations. They communicate closely with all players to ensure goals are met and evaluate each department to make suggestions for a strong system and process.
Field The defensive team depends on the offensive line’s execution, like the corporate team and how the field reacts to the strategy. The defensive team’s focus is to protect the other key players and help make the play happen. They’re out in the field hustling – similar to the prospecting of your direct sales volunteer army, building their business – essentially the reason why an organization wins.
Ultimately, not one single person on this roster can do it by themselves.
It’s essential to understand these positions first to execute them correctly. Companies establishing this structure early on are more likely to scale – it’s clear how each member contributes to the team’s overall performance.
And that, sports fans, is how you go from amateur to professional.
About The Author
Client & Talent Manager at Hanna Shea Executive Search
Chelcie joined the Hanna Shea team in 2018. She builds strong relationships with leaders within the Direct Selling industry to help fill executive roles within growing companies. She enjoys boxing, traveling, and meeting new people. Connect with Chelcie on LinkedIn.