Football Teams Vs Sales Teams

If your one of those people who doesn’t like Football or maybe you call it soccer, I understand that. What businesses can learn about the Football teams however is transferable to every business including yours.

The Manager: They are ultimately recruited to win the Football teams along with other major tournaments, but to achieve this they devise a long-term strategy to successfully qualify for all major tournaments and win each game. To achieve this strategy an extensive amount of work is done behind the scenes long before a ball is kicked. They will have worked with their recruitment and scouting coaches to monitor existing players performance and review future potential players. They will have a strong working relationship with the Junior/Academy team identifying the players that are ready to make the switch to the senior team.

They foster an environment of learning and development among the squad and give the players a belief that they can win even when they are losing. They will have the squad and individuals practise “set-pieces” along with passing, tackling, scoring and of course penalties.

Extra-Time for Businesses

Putting the best performing salesperson into a sales manager’s role can often not work because they are used with the instant gratification of selling versus working on the strategies to grow their team in systems and processes. Normally salespeople are not about sales processes – if you have asked a salesperson to complete an extra piece of paperwork you will know exactly what I mean.

As a manager how much time do you spend selling Vs coaching and training your team? For every hour you spend selling you are stunting the growth of the company. If you have 6 salespeople and you want to make them into all A” grade salespeople that is a full-time job along with identifying which ones will simply not make it and who you will need to recruit to have all A” grade players.

I believe I am good at sales, but there are only so many deals I can be across at any one time. The only way I can grow a business is by empowering, training and coaching the sales team on the techniques, systems and processes. Otherwise, when things go wrong how do you determine what is wrong?

When it comes to sales forecasts do you have a clear plan of how the sales will be delivered down to every detail? Have you and your team a clear understanding of who can be sold with inbound sales, outbound sales? Do you have clear plans to grow or just to pick up the business if the opportunity arises?

Team Selection To be considered for selection, a player needs to be regular in their Clubs first-team squad. Their performance must be consistently superior to other players playing in the same position. With the manager selecting 23 players including 3 goalkeepers the final 11 to make it onto the pitch will be a hard-fought over the competition with often the players not knowing who will be selected until 24 hours before the game.

Extra-Time for Businesses

You may have inherited your sales team but what plans do you have to develop your team in the future? Have you ranked and rated each of them, identified what training they need and what tools they will need to deliver results more effectively? Do you know what is holding them back internally within the company that you could help them resolve?

One of the worst things I have seen is a salesperson not being empowered to close a sale. They will do everything required but can’t close the deal as they need approval from their manager or director on the terms agreed. Can you imagine a footballer going for goal and stopping just before they shoot to ask the manager or team captain if they had the authorisation to score? You can control a team when there are only 6 salespeople but if there was 60 or 600 you could never be across every contract in that detail without empowering the salespeople. Simply, empowering the salespeople is one reason why some companies grow fast and others slowly.

Do you have a plan for salespeople who are not performing and where the next A” grade salespeople will come from? What if it's you’re A” grade salesperson who leaves and brings the other A” grade salespeople with them? Are you actively talking with potential candidates, watched them in action or know something about them or are you relying on a Recruitment company to see who will raise their head and show interest? Chances are if you want to replace an A” grade with another A” grade who knows your industry and products inside out you won’t get them unless you have been speaking with them well in advance.

Training: Practising, Training, Exercise, Team-work, Nutrition and Mental Strength are all part of the process each player goes through before playing a game. The team and individuals will practise passing and shooting extensively, learning where each player will be on the field until they instinctively know where their teammates will be in a certain situation.

Extra Time for Businesses

There are not 100 ways to sell a product there is only the best way. Equally, there are not 100 ways to answer a question relating to the product but rather the best way.

Does your sales team sell your products exactly all the same or do they have their own style and technique? Do you think the best footballers in the world would get away with doing their own thing, not following the guidance of the manager? There will be 64 matches played in the world cup and while a player may go out of position to help their teammates they will very quickly get back into the position they trained to be in. What you won’t see is a player starting at Right-back and ending up as Striker just because they like scoring goals.

For every question about the product has the sales team discussed what is the best way to answer the question? And have they gone that step further and practised on each other until the flow of conversation is natural?

Game Plan: The manager and coaching staff work out a game plan for every game. They will have assessed the other team, analysed where the threats may come from and how to beat the competitor and win the game. Each player will know the game plan and what their part is in it. Never does a Football manager bring the same game plan and tactics to two different teams and nor do they have the same game plan for the next time they meet that competitor.

Extra Time for Businesses

Do you have a game-plan for how to retain each client? How to outmanoeuvre the competition? Does each salesperson practise and know the game-plan? How will the sales be delivered, that does not mean list your clients and place a value on the account, it means what will it take to keep or obtain an account?

Do you constantly update your game plan for different products, sectors or territories? How do you measure the success of the game-plan? Great businesses rank their sales team against the Game-Plan weekly, good companies do it monthly, but most companies wait for the annual or half-year appraisal. If something is not working, you need to change it at the earliest opportunity, the new competitor moving into the marketplace with discounts and finance options along with add-on features you simply can’t wait 6 months to work out they are a serious threat. If you have a consistent A/B player and they drop-off the scale, are you addressing what is wrong immediately? Alternatively, the F” grade who jumps to an A” grade have you asked what changed as its maybe something that can be shared with the wider team?

Passing No player can win a game by themselves they need the help of the other 10 players. Being greedy and holding onto the ball too long resulting in losing the ball to the opposition is never great teamwork. Players know that it's not always about advancing, but that to keep the ball it is essential that they pass and sometimes that’s right back to the goalkeeper so that they can go back into their structure.

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The notion that everyone is your customer is simply not true, just because you have a product that you believe is the right fit for your prospect does not mean that they will ever be a customer. Often opportunities that are presented are not for you, you maybe don’t have the infrastructure to deliver the opportunity or if you did it would deplete all your resources leaving you vulnerable with only one customer. Having the ability to pass on an opportunity and to focus on what is achievable and the best fit for your business will always be much more valuable.

The Goal: The Striker as they run towards the goal will often swirl the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net but equally they will pass the ball at the last moment diverting the goalkeeper and defenders allowing their teammate to score. When a player does score it is the entire team that celebrate along with all the coaching and management team and of course the fans.

Extra Time for Businesses: You have scheduled an appointment with a prospect for 1 hour, normally after 5-10 minutes you know if there is rapport and if there is an opportunity to do business. If you determine there is neither and there possibly may never be an opportunity it's senseless to continue the meeting for the full hour. You are much better placed in finishing up the meeting and trying to get a few new prospects on the phone.

If you discover there is an opportunity but that you don’t have the right rapport with the client but you believe another colleague would be a better fit for the prospect you are better placed handing the account over (if you can).

People always want to talk and engage with people who have the same interest as themselves.

Half Time: The half-time team talk can have amazing effects on the team. It can encourage the players to go on and win the game, identify points of improvement and understand where the threats are coming from and how to overcome them.

Extra Time for Businesses: Do you assess the sales pipeline and funnel to analyse why a client has not been closed by the forecast date? Is there a checklist in place to review everything about the prospect including; is the person the decision-maker (really), is there a budget to buy, what is the timeline to make the purchase, is the salesperson the right person to close the sale, do you need support from other colleagues such as technical or design to secure the sale, what will it take to close the sale?

You will often hear salespeople say they are working on closing an account for the last year or even two. Unless the prospect is under contract for a specified time, chances are you are not really moving the prospect forward. My advice is to simply say if I deliver on A, B and C and we can agree on price D do we have a deal?

Substitute: Just because a player starts a game is no guarantee that they will finish the game and likewise starting on the bench does not mean that they won’t be brought on during the game to change the dynamics. Continually throughout the match, the manager and coaching staff are analysing the performance of each player and their ability to overcome the competition. If there are any signs that the player is not following the game plan the manager will often be seen shouting from the touchline encouraging them to get into position or follow through with what was practised in training but ultimately follow the game plan.

Extra Time for Businesses

A non-performing salesperson regardless if they are 100% commission only or are on a basic + commission is still a non-performing salesperson. You need to have a strict process in place to reward the performers but to get rid of the non-performers. Non-performers will always find issues and problems while distracting the team from delivering the results you need. By not dealing with non-performers will create resentment. Think of how hard a football team must play when a player is sent off, it's no different to your sales team has to carry a non-performer.

The Final Whistle The game is not over until the final whistle blows and often a game can be drawn or won in the final minutes. Players train to play the full 90 minutes plus additional time at their peak performance. They are trained to stay focused, continually looking for opportunities to score and to not concede a goal.

Extra Time for Businesses

Look at your calendar, do you book appointments right up to the last hour of the working week or are you thinking about the weekend come the final 2-3 hours? If it’s the latter you’re like many other salespeople or do you justify that you need to be in the office on a Friday afternoon as opposed to being in the field and closing deals? If there is an account that you are finding hard to get through the doors of, consider asking for that appointment in the final few hours of the working week, chances are your competitors won’t be and the prospect will have free time to see you.

Fans The worst thing for a fan is not losing a match but rather it is a team playing with no conviction and pride in their team’s shirt and badge. Performances will be talked about for years and decades to come. Players can be immortalised for life at a club or for their home country and goals becoming legendary.

Extra Time for Businesses

Who are your fans and supporters? Your customers, your employees, your suppliers? Is there a mentality of “them and us” throughout the company or is there a genuine spirit of teamwork? Do your suppliers come to you with their latest innovation and want to partner with you on R&D or do you have to wait your turn before you receive their latest product? Your customers are they waiting in anticipation on the next version to be released, are they actively promoting your business as unofficial brand ambassadors? And when you win, do you celebrate with your fans or keep it all to yourself?

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