6 Rules of Dealmaking Demonstrated in Pro Soccer

I am a VERY happy man right now.

One of my biggest passions in life is BACK.

I love my family… dealmaking… educating entrepreneurs… premium beer… Freemasonry… cycling… traveling…

But one of my BIG passions in life is football – or soccer as it’s called in the U.S. and Australia (where, combined, I spent more than 50% of 2019).

My favorite team is Burnley – currently eighth (out of 20) in the English Premier League.

My son Josh and I have season passes to Burnley and even travel to away games.

carl and son

About 10 years ago, I owned an executive coach business that transported the Burnley team (and tons of others) to games.

I got to travel with the team, stay in the hotel with the team and eat with the team, and once I sat on the substitutes’ bench with the squad players. It was my dream come true.

My old corporate finance firm, Whitewater, also sponsored Burnley. I was an individual AND corporate fan.

Now, after a three-month absence due to COVID-19, soccer is back and both Sky TV and YouTube are streaming all of the games live, every night.

It’s total bliss in the Allen household.

As I watched the games, night after night (I’m a total addict) I realized there are SIX powerful dealmaking lessons that regularly show up in soccer:

Let’s discuss each in turn…

Success is a team effort

I wrote about this recently in reference to the Chicago Bulls and how the most successful sports teams don’t rely on ONE superstar player – they rely on the combined team. One superstar surrounded by a bunch of amateurs will not produce a championship team.

Same in dealmaking. You need badass people around you… an accountant, a lawyer, financiers, even partners to buy the business with you and add credibility if you need it.

Deal structuring is very important

When you buy a business, you pay SOME of the money at closing and then the rest over time (which is called seller financing). Perhaps even an earn-out to share upside.

In soccer, deals work in exactly the same way. When a player (under contract) is purchased by another club, the buyer has to pay a transfer fee, however the deal is structured.

If Team A buys a player from Team B for ¬£30 million, the deal will probably be structured as follows…

This is almost identical to how you could structure a deal to buy a business.

Mindset rules the game

Most professional soccer players have the same skills, abilities and track record. But there are some superstars that are miles better than the pack (think Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, etc.) and what differentiates them from the rest is MINDSET – the fuel to keep improving and learning.

That’s the No. 1 skill in dealmaking. The power to keep pushing forward and improving and believing you are the best in the world (even if you are not).

What you believe you will achieve. Especially if your WHY is dominant enough. That’s the fuel that will power you through difficult times.

In soccer, it’s called form. In periods where your form is a little off, that’s when it’s all about having the mindset and confidence to keep at it. Your skills just don’t disappear.

It’s exactly the same when you buy a business.

The power of the pivot is essential

Look at soccer right now. No fans allowed in stadiums. Players have to travel to games wearing their own kits in their own cars.

But the outcome is the same. Finish all the remaining games, complete the season.

It’s the same in business right now. But you will find lots of owners who WILL NOT pivot to the changing environment of COVID-19. Buying behavior of customers has radically changed in many industries (and may stay like this for a long time).

As a dealmaker, you can find those “stuck” businesses, pivot them, grow them and financially prosper.

The score is what matters

In a competition, the score is all that matters. Otherwise, why would you play?

That’s true in soccer and in business. Championships are awarded to the team who has the most points, has won the most games and has scored the most goals and conceded the fewest.

You can only have a winner if you know the score.

In dealmaking, track your numbers. How many deals do you have in your funnel? How many meetings with sellers? How many offers have you made? How many follow-ups? How many LOIs (letters of intent)? How many deals to do due diligence? To prepare for closing?

If you laser-focus on just ONE deal, it’s rare you will close it. You need to play the numbers game, play deals off each other and keep track of the score. Have multiple opportunities in your deal origination funnel so you can move around between your deals.

Relationships are key

Separately, outside of the actual sport, soccer is my go-to rapport building tactic with male business owners, especially in the U.K. In the U.S., I pivot typically to basketball, American football or baseball.

I always compliment the owner on their team (even if I think they suck!). It’s a great way to build rapport with anyone.

My allegiances, if you are interested…

In summary, there are many things in life we can compare to dealmaking.

Soccer (or any professional team sport) can teach us valuable lessons about the value of teamwork… deal structuring… having a badass mindset… the ability to pivot… keeping score… and, above all, strong relationships.

Until next time, bye for now.

Carl Allen

Carl Allen
Editor and co-founder, Dealmaker Wealth Society

P.S. To get your head in the dealmaking game, I recommend checking out this free workshop with our partner – and one of MY mindset mentors – Dr. Shannon Irvine. Master Your Entrepreneur Mind: From Unknown to Unleashed is happening live – today – at 3 p.m. EST (8 p.m. BST) and it’s totally free to attend. You’ll learn how to ditch imposter syndrome and sell yourself with confidence so you can build credibility and rapport with anyone. Reserve your spot here.

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