A nation held its breath and Twitter lite up. England are through to the quarter finals! For a football obsessed nation this has been a long time coming. While the expectations of a nation don’t sit on one sales team’s shoulders it can sometimes feel like that as the end of the quarter edges closer. For any sales person focusing on the upcoming, and for many the closing, quarter of the year there is practical inspiration and best practice in how Southgate and his team delivered under pressure.
Stick to the set pieces
It wasn’t showmanship football but it was a good solid performance. Under a barrage of fouls and questionable behaviour from Colombian players and support staff, England kept their cool. In sport as in sales, ensuring each member of the team plays their role and knows the impact their actions have on the rest of the team helps create a team success mentality. Every England substitute was welcomed onto the pitch with a ritual handshake or back pat by the other players; a thoughtful commitment to team performance rather than the reliance on star individuals. In the post-match analysis of his penalty kick, Eric Dier said he hit the ball into the net exactly as he always did in training. A reminder of the importance of sticking to set pieces, having faith in everything you’ve learnt and practiced, and working as a team, especially when the pressure is on.
Dier hit the ball into the net exactly as he always did in training. A reminder of the importance of sticking to…everything you’ve learnt…when the pressure is on.
Know the competition
Again, post-match goalkeeper Jordan Pickford commented that each of the Colombian penalty takers had gone in the direction he and the goalkeeping support staff had predicted from their research. Knowing your competition and having the ability to pivot and respond to what they throw at you is as relevant in sales as it is in sport. Solid preparation combined with reliable set pieces can take any team in any discipline a long way. Undoubtedly natural flair is desirable but flair minus a solid direction and commitment to a process can result in an early exit from a deal or a tournament – just ask Argentina!
Dier’s final kick of the ball confirmed England’s place in the 2018 World Cup quarter finals. The team bundled each other to the floor and England erupted in celebration. Cameras panned to Southgate punching the air and hugging his team. While football fans in Russia and at home celebrated long into the evening, by the time the post-match commentary was being delivered Southgate was already back on the job. He was thinking about Saturday’s match against Sweden and therein lies his strength as a leader. He enjoyed the victory but, as every leader knows, you’re only as good as your last match, or your last quarter. Resting on your laurels is for quarter finalists only. Whether your bringing home the bacon or football – winners plan and execute meticulously.
Garry Veale is CEO at Strategy to Revenue, the award-winning sales enablement consultancy.