The World Cup & Sales – How are they related?


Every 4 years, The World Cup brings football fans and those foreign to the game around the TV & giant screens. It is more than just a sporting event. With technology and advanced tools, World Cup predictions is a mini-industry now. Yet, forecasting the winner is still almost impossible and did not do any better than the famous deceased Paul, the octopus or the most recent deaf cat, Achilles predicting 2018 World Cup.

World Cup football remains an unpredictable tournament (hence the excitement) with the outcome of matches also dependent on subjective factors like the fighting spirit of the team, the leadership skills, the weather on the day of the match, the crowd, how lenient/strict referees are in the match.


To me, 2018 World Cup has a totally different taste than all the previous world cups I have ever watched. Watching the world cup 2018 games, from an eye of an observer as the team I cheer for did not qualify to this world cup (and no it is not Italy; it is Netherlands) and from an eye of a consultant working on more than 20 projects in the last 5 years at HEED aiding clients in structuring, transforming & optimizing their sales organizations through implementing Science into Sales.

With every single game, I could see a team as a complete sales organization with :

  • 11 players as a sales team that reminded me also of Jack Welch famous quote: 20% of your team will be stars, 70% average salespeople and the remaining 10% should be substituted.

  • The coach as the sales manager putting the team into a system without touching the ball itself.

  • The opponent as your competition in the market. Never underestimate his potential.

With this analogy, I have learned 3 crucial lessons throughout this world cup that can help your sales organization avoid deadly mistakes.


1st Lesson

Your top salesperson will not always be a great sales manager.

Carlos Alberto Parreira coached Brazil to win the 1994 World Cup. Parreira never played football. He does not know how to pass or shoot but was able to lead his team to win the World Cup championship. On the contrary, many super-star players who were legends to their nation did not succeed as coaches. Diego Maradona and Marco Van Basten are great examples to that.

A good Sales Manager is the one who sees things from a 360° view and is able to lead a team and strategize. Super-star salespeople rarely fit in this position as they are always centered around closing their deals and busy managing their own sales process & pipeline to close more deals. They rarely get the overall picture.



2nd Lesson

The leadership of the sales manager is what brings it all together

The talent on the field during the World Cup is highly visible and critical, but it’s the leadership on the sidelines that helps bring it all together. Skilled football players without cohesion and direction can result in competing egos, conflicting agendas, and chaotic disarray. This is what usually happens with the England team since the 1990s. When directed by strong leadership with a coherent vision and a concrete plan to achieve it, that talent can be harnessed to achieve goals and win championships; this is England in 2018 World Cup.

The coach suited & booted standing on the sidelines overlooking the first half losing by 2 has the most major role in shifting gears into a win in the 2nd half by implementing a new strategy with a different formation while most of the times keeping the same 11 players on the field.

This proves the major role this person play in winning the game.


3rd Lesson

Never rely on your super-star.

The most obvious lesson the World Cup teaches us is that teamwork is everything. You could put the best player in the world against a less-skilled team and, alone, they won’t produce.

Lionel Messi, regarded by many as the greatest of all times, could not withstand the responsibilities of the whole Argentinian team.

However, build a team around that player and develop a strategy based on your team’s core strengths. A good structure and go-to-market strategy help sales teams to take the best out of every person; freeing the top salesperson to over-achieve and become the rainmaker.

The toughest decision a coach would ever take is to call off this super-star player to the bench and replace him with a substitute. Most of the people will call him the stupidest coach ever during substitution, yet if you want to be called a Legend and win you have to take such tough decisions.

As a sales management consulting firm, we believe that a good company is that which is built around a whole sales organization and not dependent on a group of good salespeople.


How We Could Help
If you are looking for optimizing your sales efficiency and bridging the gap between top performers and average salespeople, thus resulting with at least 15% revenue growth within a five to seven-month engagement – take the first step in this process by contacting us on any of our below coordinates to discuss your sales challenges.

We take full ownership in getting your solution well crafted by combining our sales specialty, proven frameworks, best practices, and data-driven insights. It is executed through our scientific, pragmatic approach linking together strategies, processes, people, and technology.


An experienced management consultant, specializing in revenue growth strategies. Driven by science and industry best practices he takes pride in developing the most pragmatic and effective solutions. In addition to being a Partner at HEED, Wael has been recognized by several clients as a trusted advisor for his extraordinary commitment to bringing client success.

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