Why The FIFA World Cup And Sales Are Alike

Year of the Underdog, 2018 is called. Many (former) powerful countries that has been renowned as champions in the past couldn’t even make it past the qualifying rounds and the ones who have risen are those who we never imagined possible: the underdogs.

Names such as Russia, Croatia, Belgium and Switzerland have come across our television screens as of late as rising victors. Meanwhile, previous champions like Germany, Italy, Chile, and Netherlands were wiped out during the group stages while big names like Argentina, Spain, and Portugal were pushed out in the 1st rounds of this worldly tournament. So why is this happening and what factors can we learn to not repeat this mistake?

Star Players

A football team is very much like a sales team and like every other sales team, these countries have Star Players. They are particularly renowned, worldwide famous, an internet sensation and heroes in their own homelands. They are in the spotlight this way not just because of their skills but also the goals they have scored, the saves by the goal post and the spectacular fashion of doing so!

The sad reality is that star players like Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Lionel Messi (Argentina) Mohamad Salah (Egypt) and Toni Kroos (Germany) were heavily dependent or relied upon to bring the big cup home. Often, the netizens would react by saying the star players were the coach’s focus to get the goals in and not consider the fact that defensive and mid-field plays are just as, if not more, important.

The exact same concept is applied in the sales world. A lot of companies would just recognize and heavily rely on that 1 top sales person to bring the business to greater heights whilst completely forgetting the rest of the team that needs as much inspiration, motivation and coordination to succeed.


These are more of fan speculations than official team results but in the world of sales (and football), managers rarely criticize themselves or take responsibility for a failing team effort and put a lot of blame unto the players themselves. Circling around the internet was the issue before FIFA even began: the sacking of the Spanish coach, Julen Lopetegui. Just 2 days before FIFA even started, he was sacked because he agreed to take over the Real Madrid team management after the World Cup without informing them.

This misalignment threw off Spain’s best tactical game and afforded them their winning chances. Other speculations include Germany’s formation strategies have been observed to be the same since 2010. Even in the 1st 3 stages, Joachim Löw kept rotating their core players so they never knew who their best players were or the best tactic to play.

And also, not to forget that Lionel Messi disagreed and even criticized national coach, Jorge Sampaoli, as the coach’s tactics didn’t align with his own thus a conflict of playing styles.

Mismanagement like these happens almost all the time in sales:

  • Good team leaders are reassigned or fired because they DO NOT AGREE with upper management.
  • Sales Managers devise tactics to tackle sales objections and formulating plans to garner more sales but none of them are EFFECTIVE and they DON’T LEARN from past mistakes.
  • Upper Management ignores the STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES of the sales individuals that can contribute to the team and just focus on the star player.
  • Top Performer constantly disagreeing with management on how to run the team and ends up doing their own thing which only benefits him/herself and not the team.

Unity and Tactics

Year of the Underdog, indeed. This year, teams that many did not expect appeared magnificently and surprisingly unto the world stage. Many praised them to be very well played and good strategies played like Russia, for example. Stanislav Cherchesov knew his team stood no chance to win against Spain in a fair fight, so he strategized to go full out defensive until the game tied and won purely by penalty kicks.

Even England, who made a shocking come back after years of performing absence, was well praised. In the early rounds, Gareth Southgate purposely used fresh new players against Belgium to lose so that in the next round, they would not play against Brazil.

Even for France, Didier Deschamps self-praised himself for, “having a strong strategy to beat Argentina and to block Lionel Messi from scoring”, although he never made public as to what they were…

By these tactics alone, you can apply just as much in sales to:

  • Know when to use your strengths against a strongly-objecting client.
  • Never giving up especially when your competitor is better branded than you.
  • Defending your values when price becomes the primary issue.
  • Understanding your team’s individual strength and weaknesses to grow


Sales Ninja Training encompasses all the above. How to sell in Tough Times when the market is going against you, How to Lead in Tough Times so you know how to manage your teams and never focus on the single “star player” and a customized Unity Program to promote teamwork and communication.

Click HERE to join us and learn the secrets on:

  • HOW to manage your team effectively.
  • HOW to approach clients and GROW current ones.
  • HOW to effectively use your resources to gain more leads.
  • HOW to manage the expectations of your team and upper management.
  • HOW to grow yourself as well as your team when you have 1 Star Player.

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