Manchester United 1999: why teams should accomplish together

Manchester United’s ’99 treble winning team are still #1 team in football for me. Watching Manchester City get knocked out of the Champions League last week is a shame for Pep (anyone but Liverpool though!). But, it did get me thinking about ‘teamwork’…

Britain Soccer Champions League

For over 10 years, I’ve placed 100s of salespeople across a range of sectors – many at Water Treatment, Chemicals and Asbestos companies. Different levels of sales experience bring unique challenges and believe it or not, rarely are 2 placements ever the same.


Simply; people don’t move companies if they’re happy at work. If everyone in a team contributes to the vision and has a purpose, it’s hard to break up a winning unit. And that’s why it’s vital for businesses to nurture a sales team accomplishes together.


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Why is it important for sales teams to ‘accomplish together’?


When teams work together, you can accomplish great things as a collective.  It’s all about collaborating with your colleagues to achieve a common goal.


Selling is intrinsically related to success. Pay, promotions and public recognition all play a big part in sales. I’ve yet to meet any salesperson succeed without the support of engineers!



In water treatment sales, what characteristics should have a team have?


Individuals within a team will have unique values and characteristics. Everybody can bring something to the party! But, there are a few traits that everyone in the group should own;

  • Passion for what you do; enthusiasm!
  • A scientific brain, to help better understand your client.
  • Customer-focused mindset.



What new managers should look for to build their teams?

If you’re running an internal sales team or leading a field-based team, there are common traits for managerial success.


  • Set high but realistic goals.
  • Give constant feedback.
  • Incentivise success (company holidays, trips together, meals out as a team).
  • Make learning a priority.
  • Ditch KPIs – install OKRs.
  • Avoid the same approach for everyone.
  • Manage expectations.
  • Lead from the front.



How can you tell if teams are performing well?


Targets are not the only indicator of success. They play a big part in highlighting strengths and weaknesses, but hitting targets do not mean you have a winning team.


  • Innovation comes from working well together. New processes and winning ideas help teams to stay on top.
  • Trust is a big issue. Some teams are only as strong as the weakest link – to succeed; sales teams need the engineers – and engineers need the sales team!
  • A true leader who believes in the company vision can galvanise success.


Conversely, in weak teams there is;


  • A distinct lack of trust.
  • Plenty of conflicts.
  • No clear leadership or decision making.
  • Complete lack of accountability.
  • A focus on the past.
  • Labouring on current issues.



Why Manchester United’s 1999 treble-winning team is the best in history


No other team in the Premier League have achieved this feat. To win the league, cup and European cup treble will not be achieved for a long time, by any other football team (I hope!)


In Barcelona, Manchester United’s team of players, leaders and support staff showed a ‘never say die’ attitude.


Salespeople can relate to being 1-0 down at 90 minutes. Targets may be missed, and clients may not renew contracts. But, top teams will never give up.


Having a hunger to accomplish together is what all sales team should strive for.

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