Sales directors and football managers - they share more in common than you think!

Published 22nd of April 2017

I met up last week with a group of Sales Directors working in B2B services companies. We got talking about the recent sacking of football manager Claude Ranieri from Leicester City, the club he had guided nine months earlier to the league championship, after previously being 5000:1 outsiders. Apparently, something similar happened to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea last year!

Playing the game

Our conversation ranged around high risk jobs, pressures for success, the short timescales, unreachable targets, team not doing its best, the manager being blamed, etc. Ring any bells?

It didn't escape our notice that there were lots of similarities to the post of Sales Director and how this too has become a more demanding and stressful job in recent years!


Is the sales team’s performance affecting your goals?

The conversation moved onto a discussion about there being perhaps 20% of people in any sales team who drag the overall performance of the group down - sometimes to a terminal level, if not addressed effectively and quickly.

What can be done with B2B company data and business insight to help?

Leaving aside the important issue of the individuals’ capability in this discussion, what are the other factors that make a difference?

First division performance or bottom of the league?

One of them is the key assessment of whether the person is really on the ball with the sales territory, its growth, opportunities, best sectors, competitor activity, new contracts, key contacts etc.

You would expect, and need this to be at a high standard...but more often than not some individuals are operating at a fairly low level.

Management knowledge and expertise coupled with the company's in-house CRM data can provide some of the facts and figures but if the person in the spotlight is partly or fully responsible for keeping the territory data fresh and comprehensive, all the insight and answers needed may not be there.

How do you make your counter attack?

The hard pressed Sales Director probably hasn't got the time or the resources to pull together all the fresh, accurate information that would enable a proper in depth review - The good news though is that most of it is in the Alert Data powerhouse.

As this group were all AlertBI clients, the conversation revolved around how we could best use the services readily available to help with the challenge. We came up with an idea for a drill-down service from Alert ( provisionally called Territory Spotlight) that would take the geographic and other details of an underperforming sales territory and also of one that was doing great - and compare them across the range of performance/knowledge factors mentioned earlier.

This could potentially be used in a number of 1:1 and group meetings

We agreed to pilot this idea and see how it turned out.

I will give you an update on this in due course.

Facing relegation?

  • The sales person on top of their game will know and be in touch with a broad range of contacts and influencers in key accounts and hot prospects. The Alert Data system will flag all of this info up for any company at the touch of a button. The sales director's valuable time can then be spent on the assessment rather than scrabbling around for the information.

  • Sales opportunities arise continually as organisations experience job gains, mergers, premises change, major investment, international moves, etc. The Alert system flags these up continuously and provides full details. How well informed is your sales team about these movements?
  • The lack of fresh, focused insights and intelligence makes it hard to see through the fog of subjective explanations and opinions, make valid assessments and take appropriate corrective or other actions.

Scoring some home goals?

Teams, sales and others, are usually made up of maybe 20% of people doing brilliantly, 60% in the middle and 20% struggling.
Managers invariably spend too much time dealing with the bottom 20%.

Time for substitutions, transfers or new signings?

  • Teams with great potential, football and otherwise, can be fatally undermined by the weakest, non-performing members.
  • There often isn't the time nowadays to let this situation fester.

Amazing how a discussion about football spilled over into real life!