Soccer & sales, how you can you create a winning team

by Swedish sales coach Björn Strid



As a crazy libero

…that’s how many sales reps run back and forward, across the entire field.

Feed the CRM. Fine-tune the presentation. Calculate discounts. Write quotes. Write reports. Read reports. Throw up on reports. Go to sales training.

Go to exhibits. Meet customers. Negotiate agreements. Solve issues. Research the customer. Research the customer industry. Read blogs. Get stuck on Facebook. Get stuck in fine-tuning of presentations.

Become hysterical. Take a coffee. Call customers. Email customers. SMS customers. Think about the future. Think about the past. Check stats. Panic….

Then imagine the following scene. During a board session with the owners, board directors and the management group. This question is raised :


Why are our sales reps not performing better?

The owners, board directors and executives look at the CEO. The CEO looks at the Sales director, who, ashamed, leaves the room, gathers the sales team for a crisis meeting.

What is the matter with you? Are you lazy? Do you need training? Should we improve the commission system even more? Oh… no, ohh… what? Are the answers  given by the sales reps while they bury their heads in their smartphones.

They feel the competition. Eat or be eaten. Let’s get those sharp elbows up. Everyone has read “I am Zlatan”. But no one thinks that , maybe, it would be the same as if the soccer team’s management group would have required Zlatan to be forward, midfielder, defender, goalkeeper, substitute, captain, masseur and secretary – at the same time.


Should your company work more like a soccer club?

Yes, at least your sales department, if you want to increase your sales. Most sales departments actually have a very unclear “game plan” for their team members, which is heavily affecting the company’s revenue.

Instead of a 4-4-2 game plan (4 inside sales/admins, 4 Account managers/KAM/Field sales, 2 Field sales/Closers) most have  a 0-10-0 or a 10-0-0.

Some even have a 0-0-10, which is not entirely bad if the profitability per customer is low and the customers are far from the local office.

What I want to say here is that many sales reps are running everywhere on everything and therefore on nothing. All are “self going” which means they get assigned a region and just get instructed to go out and go for it. In practice that means everyone is thinking “this territory is mine”. Everyone is thinking with a very egoistic thinking and no one is thinking as a team.

No one sees the game plan and few exploit the power and resources they actually have available.

The difference in soccer is that Real Madrid, Manchester City/United, PSG would have big problems playing with a 10-0-0, a 0-10-0 or a 0-0-10 game plan. In business it seems to be ok, however.

It’s ok because, in many cases, the understanding of Sales as a whole discipline is quite low among the sales director and  the sales reps. It’s also, in some cases, the fact that the level of understanding on the sales department is too low.



Sales is about all the things described at the beginning of this article. Things to do and actions to take. It’s about a lot of hard work, create more chances to score and get into the penalty area. Where the ball should be.

The difference is that we ,who work in sales, usually evaluates if it’s worth bringing onboard a specific customer only when we are within the penalty area, ready to score. This however, should have already been clear before the sales rep entered the penalty area.

To confirm this article, which is based on my ebook “Soccer & sales, Book Boon Publishing 2015, I’d like to ask the following question.

Within sales most sales departments just go for it with the same game plan and the same players year after year (or vice versa, new players arrive all the time). There’s the goal, go out and go for it.

Players (sales reps) with great game perception and intelligence don’t get it right. Players with world class passing skills don’t get it right, as instructed they must drive the ball into the penalty area and also score on their own, if they want to remain in the team.

Do you believe this will create a stronger team and deliver better results?  

Do you want to know more about soccer & sales? Do you want to know how you can easily  get a new view on sales and step up your sales department to a Champions league level?

Please reach out to me to get a few more tips!


Happy summer!


Björn strid

Björn Strid

EQP Business School

Strid & Co  

Read more about how Salesbox Basic can provide value if you are a team of 1-4 members that need the basics.

Salesbox basic

Read more about the more advanced packages from Salesbox if you are a bigger team.

Salesbox advanced


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