“A Sales team needs a captain’s leadership in the field” – Interview by John Smibert
A sales manager has many roles.
In the second chapter of his book ‘Your roadmap to sales management success’ the sales management guru Wayne Moloney challenges sales managers to think of themselves as a team captain. Today I ask him to explain why.
Wayne pointed out that a sales team, like any sporting team, needs leadership on the field. And that is a function that a sales manager needs to excell in if the team is to succeed.
In this discussion Wayne explains why the team captain role is vital and how it needs to be conducted. It is great advice for sales managers old and new.
View the discussion below. This interview is likely to be of interest to the CEO, CSO, CMO, COO and CFO, sales leaders and sales managers.
Wayne Moloney is a leading business strategist specialising in sales and business development. Wayne has a very specific specialisation in ‘lean selling’.
John: Hello, I’ve got Wayne Moloney with me again – welcome back, Wayne!
Wayne: Hi, John!
John: Hey, in our last discussion we discussed the first chapter of your book which was on sales leadership, the book being ‘Your Roadmap to Sales Management Success‘. I’d like to talk about the second chapter, and the second chapter is about being a team captain.
Wayne: That’s right, yes.
John: Now, I’d never thought of a sales manager being the captain of a team, so that was an interesting insight. Tell us why you came up with that.
Wayne: We call it a sales team, and it is a team, and like any sporting team they need leadership, not just in their planning, i.e. off the field, but they also need planning on the field, and they need guidance on the field, and that’s where I see a team captain actually taking part of a role of a sales manager.
John: Typically in a sporting environment you’ve got two individuals though. One, you’ve got the coach or manager as it’s known in the world of what we know as soccer, football, they talk about the manager, and then you have a captain on the field. Here you’re talking about a person holding both roles.
Wayne: Yes. I guess a bit like the old days of a captain-coach, the person does have to take on both roles in this instance. And they need to wear those hats interchangeably, because when you’re actually out and you’re captaining the team on the field, you’re not able to coach them. Coaching is about development, it’s about training, it’s about skills development, it’s about putting together the game plan. When you’re actually out on the field you don’t have time for that. It’s more the reactive sort of decisions that need to be made, more tactical than strategic, and that’s aimed at bringing that team together and getting the best out of each individual for whatever the situation demands at the time.
John: So, just to reflect again. Why do you think it’s important for a sales manager to think of himself or herself as a team captain?
Wayne: Team captain’s got to communicate, they’ve got to be competent, they’ve also got to have the respect of those around them. While a sales manager in a coaching environment might have that, unless they can take that on to the field and earn the respect of the players – their team members, their salespeople – while they’re in that sales environment, actually playing on the field, they’re not really going to be successful.
John: One of the things that I coach is that sales managers shouldn’t be doing it for their people. If you’re out on a sales call with one of your people, you let that person do it, and then later on you’ll coach them as to how they addressed it, but you don’t take over from them. You’re not suggesting we do that.
Wayne: No. A sales manager needs to be that, they need to be a sales manager. There’s no point in them actually doing all of the selling, otherwise what’s the point of having the sales team there in the first place? But, as you just said, they’ll take that coaching back, and they’ll do that outside of that sales environment or off the field. That’s exactly the same as if you think about a sporting environment; the coach will be watching the game and looking at what didn’t go right in the game plan, where a player didn’t quite fit into what was being planned as far as the game was concerned. The captain’s role out on the field is to make the most of those opportunities, and change depending on the situation. So, depending on what your opposition’s doing or what the referee’s doing, he needs to make those tactical decisions on the field in real time, and that’s really where a sales captain fits in, as distinct from a sales coach.
John: I think that very valid; as you’re talking it through, it really makes sense to me. When I look at some of the great sales managers I’ve worked with, they were great captains as well. They were out working with us in the field, they’re looking at what we’re doing, talking to us about it, looking at tactics on the go and so on. I think it’s a very valid point, thank you very much. I know you talk about three Cs associated with being a team captain. What are they?
Wayne: A team captain needs to be ‘Caring’, they need to be ‘Courageous’, and they need to be ‘Consistent’.
John: Okay. Look, we probably haven’t got time to talk about those in some detail, but let’s break and have another interview next time we get together, and let’s talk through the three Cs, because I think there’s some insight to those three that I think the audience will get a lot of value out of.
Wayne: Great – thanks, John!
John: Thanks for your insight – team captain, I love it! Let’s move on and talk about the three Cs to make us better captains.
Wayne: Thank you
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