What Sales Reps Can Learn from the Champions League Final

Posted on 28 May , 2018 by Adrian

sales and footballThere are few sporting events that can boast the TV coverage and attention of the Champions League. This year approximately 1.7 Billion people tuned in from around the globe to watch it – if my math’s right that’s something like 22% of the earth’s entire population…


Anyway, this year’s final as you probably know was played out between holders Real Madrid, who already have 12 titles to their name and Liverpool, another club with no short amount of history in the competition with 5 titles of their own. It was a memorable spectacle on various levels; we witnessed some incredible achievements (Madrid becoming the first team to win it 3 years in a row), outrageous pieces of individual skill (THAT overhead kick) and absolute howlers (from he-who-does-not-need-to-be-named)


It also got me thinking; there’s so much from the game we can learn and apply to our professional lives as sales reps.


Here are a few things that I jotted down:


It always starts with a clean sheet


No matter what your preconceptions are the game starts at 0-0. Both teams arrived in Kiev with an equal opportunity to win. I think sometimes as field sales reps we can be guilty of going into that first sales meeting, especially when presenting to potential customers, with the wrong mindset. Maybe the SDR booking the meeting mentioned in the mobile CRM they’re already talking to a competitor. You then head in there thinking well, if they’re in advanced talks with X,Y,Z then what chance do I have?


But until you actually meet face-to-face, until you have that initial conversation you just don’t know for sure. You start on a clean slate, at 0-0.



Keep a cool head


Sometimes in sales this can be easier said than down. We’ve all had that...


sales gatekeeper


It can be incredibly frustrating. However, you can’t let your mood affect your dialogue. Yes, emotions help build relationships with clients but only if they’re directed in a positive manner. Now I swear I could have jumped through the telly and had a few words with Sergio Ramos for his theatrics on Saturday



But sometimes we have to learn to keep our emotions in check for the greater good.



It’s not over until the final whistle blows


What grated on me a little after that first Karius howler




 Yep that one, is how quick the pundits were so quick to write Liverpool off. At that point if you recall, Salah had just gone off with a shoulder injury and they were struggling a little to maintain their dominance of the first 10-15 mins. The pundits lauded Real’s ability to close games out in these types of scenarios: defending a 1-0 lead, starving the opposition of possession and being extremely hard to breakdown in defense. Liverpool had no chance, it seemed.


Well, four minutes later this happened… 



 See how quickly things can change?


This reminded me of one the first deals I managed to close working as a field sales rep. The now customer debated and deliberated for months over whether or not they were going to implement our software. They cited IT hurdles that needed jumping, user buy-in concerns, pricing (of course), implementation timeline and a whole host of things that I shan’t bore you with now.


Essentially, this thing never looked like getting over the line and would have found itself in most discarded pipeline piles. However, I’d just started at the company and was determined to make a name for myself. So I persevered.


Eventually, by nook and by crook I was able to get this thing closed. So the motto here is, ‘it aint over till it’s over’.



Be part of something bigger than oneself


Now I’m not sure if anyone noticed this, but did you see how after the game not one Liverpool team mate went up to console goalkeeper Loris Karius? If memory serves me right I think it was Gareth Bale, a Real Madrid player who was first on the scene.


I understand he’s probably cost them the trophy, but that was really, really poor.


Similarly, in field sales and perhaps sales in general we all hit a wall. A dry spot, where nothing that comes rolling down our pipeline seems to be a fit. They’re either not interested in the product/service at all or want calling back in 6-12 months’ time – none of which help with our quarterly target, which does NOT wait for us 6-12 months down the line.


The pressure builds, sleepless nights follow and life can just be genuinely awful.


But imagine a member of your sales team throwing you a bone in this hour of need. A warm lead, something you could get stuck into that hopefully gets you to quota. Or a field sales manager that approaches not with threat of the guillotine, but with kind words of encouragement and a vote of confidence; forget about the numbers for now and focus on what you’re good at – I believe in you.


It might not sound like much, but in times of need a supportive approach can make a huge difference.


What were your takeaways from the game? Do you think there is anything else that we can apply to field sales? Let me know in the comments below.


This entry was tagged in Sales Team, Salesperson


Inside Sales at ForceManager.