Do You Prepare Like Neapolitan Mister 33

Serie A’s Napoli are through to the Spring knockout rounds as group stage winners in this season’s Champions League. They are currently coached by someone who clearly values preparation.

Maurizio Sarri came through the amateur ranks and so perhaps holds higher gratitude for his career than contemporaries.

His nickname is Mister 33.

Born from his supposed lovingly developed black book of 33 different set-piece plays.

When I learned this, I riffed on football’s corner. Near-post, far-post, flick-on, nod-back, penalty-spot, edge-of-the-box, under-the-crossbar, along the deck, short. Not to mention all the different movement options to find that elusive space from a cross. My immediate thoughts was only 33? Variants appear to outstrip such a meagre number.

Also, in today’s coaching badge environment, reams of pre-rehearsed moves worryingly resemble American playbooks to shift balance away from in-the-moment creativity.

Still kudos for being ahead of the curve. And for admitting he only really ever used just four or five of them!

Mister Five wouldn’t have the same ring though, right?

I’m further reminded of the classic Sun Tzu quote. A base text so beloved of management presentations. I’m thinking here of his words around battles being won before the fight. Through ‘meticulous preparation and profound knowledge’.

Something sadly far too few salespeople heed.

I’ve worked in and around many salesrooms where prep is encouraged yet never pursued.

Think ineffectual meetings where the car journey there talks solely office politics. Failed phone calls made without pause because ‘a winner acts now’. Slideshow pitches that drag without commitment when no run-through beforehand ever took place.

An example of undocumented best-practice I recall involves an Objection Log. One arena encountered a round dozen. The idea was you wrote down successful handles as deployed. Honing your perfect way to overcome obstacles. Then came the meeting when everyone was asked to produce their list by plugging their laptop into the big screen.

Not a single person had updated their blank doc.

To a seller, no proof of doing anything but winging it.

Sure, no-one wants heads buried in keyboards. But process is process.

You’d like to think only five got used because they emerged as those that worked. A welcome ongoing refine of process.

The problem I see, is that too many salesteams do not know these for themselves. And do not know where to start.

Take a lead from Italy. The upfront effort certain to pay off handsomely.

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