A fantasy league trade is one of the most basic of marketing transactions. Success is built on an approach that closely follows traditional salesmanship theory. It is based on two fundamentals:
1. The customer is king. In our case, the customer is your potential trading partner. The most important aspect of successful trade discussions is to focus completely and exclusively on the other owner.
We typically approach a trade from the perspective, "I need speed, he owns Brett Gardner, let's see if I can swing a deal." Well, the other owner doesn't give a flying whoop that you need speed. In his eyes, your needs are irrelevant. All he cares about is his team. So, in order for you to get your foot in the door and open up some real discussion, you have to put your needs aside and focus talk on his team. Completely and exclusively.
2. Concentrate on benefits. Your potential trading partner is only interested in deals that will benefit his team. So, don't bother making an offer unless you can convince him that it does. There must be a clear-cut benefit for an owner to part with Ellsbury. It's your job to sell that benefit to him. If you can't find the benefit, neither will he.
You need to maintain a position of power in trade talks, so keep an eye on how other owners communicate and learn to keep the burden of the offer focused in the right place. In other words:
If the offer is coming from you... it should be in the form of an inquiry regarding the other owner's weakness and his desire to repair it. To open discussion, generate some interest first. Don't use names. Examples:
- "It's a tough year for pitching. Would you be in the market for a starter to beef up your staff?"
- "I noticed that your team has been struggling in SBs. If you're looking to add some speed, I can help."
- "Sorry to hear about Chad Qualls. I might be able to help you out with a reliever."
Once you've generated some interest, you can begin to talk specifics about players you have that will help him out. Sell those players. Focus on the benefits to his team. Try to avoid mentioning who you want in return until your players are virtually sold.
If the offer is coming from the other owner... usually it will be in some vague form intended as a feeler. Your job is to shift the onus back onto the owner to come up with something more concrete. Notice how it is important for you to remain non-specific when you make an offer, but how you need to pin down the other owner when the offer is coming from him. This keeps you in control no matter who initiates the discussion. Examples of some openers and your appropriate responses:
- "Who would you want for Matt Capps?"
- Your response: "What are you offering?"
- "I'm looking to move one of my catchers. Any interest?"
- Your response: "Sure, what are you looking for?"
- "I think our teams match up well for a deal. I could trade some hitting and maybe you could move a pitcher or two. Any interest?"
- Your response: "Sure, what are you offering?"
Learning these strategies can be a fair amount of work, depending upon your own inclinations, but the results are worth the effort. Once you've gone through the process a few times, you'll probably be able to figure out your own short-cuts.
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