Football Sales Management

It’s about scoring more goals that the other team – the ‘stating the obvious’ school of sales management


Imagine if football managers’ greatest insight in their team talks was to simply exhort their teams to win more. They have a very good answer to the follow up question – how? By scoring more goals!  OK – how? Now the dialogue gets a bit vague, but it’s only now that managers start to earn their money.

Put that into a sales environment. I want to you achieve your target (hubba! hubba!), How? By selling more!!!! Sales managers earn their money by having insight into the how of sales endeavour. Quantifiable results are the outputs of particular behaviours and activities, it’s these inputs that sales managers should obsess over, constantly looking to optimise the relationship quantity (what’s the possible maximums?) with quality (what does perfect execution look like?).

When we see a manager working in this way it’s a joy to see how s/he is constantly embedding added value performance activities and behaviours into the team daily lives and cutting out everything that isn’t. For example imagine if you knew (consciously, not intuitively) what the constituent parts of the perfect sales visit were? If all these were present the odds of a successful outcome would be significantly increased. This would now occupy most of your time, making sure as many members of the team were doing these things as often as possible.

And then imagine if the team were interested in sharing new related learning from these ‘turbo visits’ with each other. This sales visit exemplar would just keep getting better.

Moving Motivational Ability Up The Agenda

These days most managers say they are familiar with the seminal motivation models, whether that’s Maslow or Herzberg, Expectancy Theory or Intrinsic Motivation.


That being the case why is it common to find a large minority of people in any organisation below even an average level of motivation? Is that just a standard distribution curve no organisation can escape from or is it more a comment on the quality of motivation application from the majority of managers?

When we work on designing a Management Development Centre we always include something to bring out motivational ability (or not). Being a bad motivator is something no self respecting manager would admit to, so it’s interesting to see how many managers don’t have any vocabulary for talking about how they go about doing it. When we ask the question the most common reaction is to drag up some half remembered theory (see top of article) from a training course long ago attended. Practical application seems rare. And it’s very unusual to see motivation on a management meeting agenda apart from when approached financially with something about incentive schemes.

Here’s our quick check list to get  on:

  • Make sure you (really) understand the theory. Recap, relearn to study from scratch.
  • Nail the difference between needs and drives. Its needs that stimulate drives, not the other way round. (Needs being a proxy for wants, hopes and desires as well as real needs).
  • Think about what motivates you. There is a connection here, the more self aware you are, the more sensitive you become in understanding other peoples’ motivation.
  • Don’t be reductive. Motivation is more complicated than just applying a carrot or stick.
  • Personalise. The most effective motivation strategies are designed for individuals not teams or functions.
  • Don’t ask people what motivates them, because either they don’t know, or they’ll make something up, or they will try to intuit the answer you’re looking for. Work out what motivates people by taking the time to get to know them. Remember all behaviour is goal directed at the conscious or unconscious level. People reveal so much through how they behave. Become a great observer of people.
  • Motivation is highly situational, the more context you have the more informed your insights will be.
  • Run a session on motivation at your next meeting, talk about how improvement strategies could be adopted.