Lessons from the greatest football coach – English football

I happen to be a football fan – on both sides of the pond.

So I found it intriguing that researchers at the Harvard Business School have studied what has made Sir Alex Ferguson inarguably the best coach in the history of football, or what Americans call soccer. They have drilled his success down to 8 points which, if internalized, could be applied to most professions.

There are a few that stood out to me, a sales guy. I can see why Harvard is interested in his philosophy.

Lesson 2: Dare to Rebuild Your Team
Sir Alex says: The hardest thing is to let go of a player who has been a great guy — but all the evidence is on the field. If you see the change, the deterioration, you have to ask yourself what things are going to be like two years ahead.
Sales guy says: The hardest thing for many people to do is let go of prospects who aren’t an exact fit for your company; some sales people want to sell to everyone. If they aren’t returning your calls, if they aren’t committing to a sale, if you can’t make it right, then let them go. Why waste time on someone who isn’t going to buy, or who’s going to be so difficult to please they’ll end up costing you money?

Lesson 4: Never, Ever Cede Control
Sir Alex says: There are occasions when you have to ask yourself whether certain players are affecting the dressing-room atmosphere, the performance of the team, and your control of the players and the staff. If they are, you have to cut the cord.
Sales guy says: Sometimes there are clients who, as above, the sales team cut a deal with just to make a sale. But they’re never happy, seldom satisfied, and argue their invoice. Calculate the hours spent trying to be successful for them against the amount of their invoice, and you’ll find they’re a losing proposition. If they are, cut the cord.

Lesson 8: Never Stop Adapting
Sir Alex says: Most people with my kind of track record don’t look to change. But I always felt I couldn’t afford not to change.
Sales guy says: Listen to your customers and your prospects. What are they looking for next? What can you build or adapt to provide them more and better services and products? If they use your system or your product, they’re the most informed critics you have. Make a change, and make them happy; they feel like a partner in your company, and not just a number.

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