In this guest post, Paul O’Donohue, CEO & Founder of Sales Star, uses England’s win over the All Blacks to highlight just how important it is to have a game-plan or strategy in business as well as sport. 


England beat the mighty All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup.

Right from the get-go the world could see they were in for a spectacle. The All Blacks threw down their usual Haka that psyches most teams out before the game has started. But England countered their fierce Haka by standing shoulder to shoulder in a V formation that neutralised the ABs pre-game advantage. It gave us an insight into an England squad was not just there to challenge the greatest rugby team in the world, they had come to win!

This staunch V formation signified that England not only had a game plan, a strategy to beat the Abs; but they had an unwavering belief that it was indeed possible.

Eddie Jones was the mastermind behind this win. He is one of the best rugby coaches in the world, with 150 test matches coaching Australia Japan and England. He infamously helped Japan beat South Africa in the 2015 World Cup. In this instance, he masterminded how to beat the ABs 18 months ago. He then selected and coached his players to execute on this game plan.

The All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, has been the most successful rugby coaches of all time. Regretfully, I think the ABs experimented against England, with young players playing out of position. History shows experience not experiments win word cups. England had the AB’s worried and instead of playing their usual game, they changed in an attempt to combat the English. The AB’s seemed so concerned about the English they appeared to lose sight of their own unique core strengths, what that made them so formidable. This can often undermine businesses when they focus too much on their competitor’s strategies. In doing this they fail to focus their own core strengths and their competitive advantage. It can rattle staff and we end up scrambling because we are playing out of position.

The English ended up dominating set plays, the line outs and the break downs. This, in turn, meant the ABs had no ball and were starved out of the competition. It also caused the AB’s to panic, make unusual mistakes and play catch up rugby.

So what’s this got to do with sales and how can you use these lesson to beat the competitors that dominate your industry?

You need to have an excellent strategy. One that does not compete head on with your most fierce competitors, but one that differentiates you to the point that you are winning more quality leads than your competitor. I have always claimed that “whoever dominates the front end of the market, wins the market”. Just like the English winning most of the ball, who were then able to convert this into more points.

You need an excellent coach, one that selects players for the right positions, performance coaches to the game plan and installs a huge amount of self-belief. Mind-set is 80% of success in sport and in sales.

The forward pack is like the marketing team, their objective is to win more ball/ leads and dominate up front. This puts the company on the front foot so they can then distribute ball/leads to the backs. The backs are like our sales team, they get to convert and score points. But this only works if the ball is clean and distributed in a fast and efficient manner.

Here is the challenge, most businesses don’t have alignment between Marketing and Sales. They are operating in silos, it’s dysfunctional! The sales team don’t score points because they are often starved of quality leads, putting pressure on them to scramble around and self-generated leads. No wonder most companies struggle to grow in a consistent manner, imagine if the AB’s backs had to win their own ball and convert points.

If you want to dominate your industry, you need a sound strategy that aligns with both your marketing and your sales departments. You need your marketing team to secure an abundance of quality leads for your sales team.

If you want to learn more about how we are helping our clients to align sales and marketing to disrupt and dominate their industry, make an appointment now to get the inside advantage.

V for victory

Paul O’Donohue

Paul O'Donohue
Paul O'DonohueCEO & Founder of Sales Star