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Winning the Team Sale: Chapter 4 - The Captain

Oh captain, my captain.  This chapter’s title may trigger images of a captain’s hat, a pipe, turtleneck, and pea coat.  Okay, wrong kind of captain.  We’re talking now about how to captain a selling team in executing an effective sales meeting or pitch.

If you can snap out of the ship captain daydream, we’d like you to consider a different picture.  Imagine instead a point guard during a basketball game.  She is responsible for handling the ball, running the plays, passing the ball to the player who is in the best place to score, and rescuing the player who is trapped in a corner.

Leading a sales meeting may be less exciting to you than skippering a ship or playing hoops.  But being your selling team’s captain during a sales meeting or pitch is just as important.  Every team needs a leader, a point person to captain the effort.  Without one, the team loses its agility.  Customer meetings can take all sorts of unexpected twists and turns, including:

  • The meeting starts late, and you have less time than expected.
  • The customer stakeholders who show up are different from those you planned for.
  • The interests of the decision makers changed or conflict with those you were told about.
  • The technology for your on-screen demo isn’t working.
  • Members of your team freeze, become defensive, or talk themselves into a corner.


Where’s that ship captain when you need him?

Selling squads that are well led are focused and visually connected — to customer stakeholders and each other — during a sales meeting or pitch.  What actions can you as a salesperson take to successfully play the role of Captain — your team’s point guard — during a meeting or pitch?

  1. Realize: Your work as a Recruiter, Organizer, and Director before a sales meeting make it easier to be an effective Captain during one.
  2. Gather: Get together for a pre-game huddle to share last-minute details and review your game plan.  That way, you and your selling partners can walk into the meeting feeling and looking like a unified team.
  3. Manage: Ensure the customer’s priority topics of interest are covered as planned and within timeframes that allow you to accomplish the meeting’s objectives.
  4. Scan: As the meeting develops, monitor customer decision makers for cues about both hits and misses.  Stay visually connected with your colleagues to course-correct as needed.
  5. Own: There is a reason that your customers and colleagues committed to this time.  Make sure that they and you leave with what you came for.  Own the outcome.


Effectively captaining a selling team avoids chaos.  When executing a sales meeting or pitch, maybe no one will refer to you as “skipper.”  As Captain of a selling squad, however, you will drive your team’s alignment with the customer — and each other — so you gain the commitments you are seeking and advance or win the sale.

Sound daunting? Leading a team in an effective sales call is straightforward when you approach it methodically. This eBook will show you how to effectively win more deals when teams are required.

About the Author

In addition to facilitating highly interactive Richardson workshops for sales and sales management professionals in a variety of industries, Michael is also a highly skilled Executive Sales Coach who utilizes the practical insights and strategies that he has gained throughout his career to help sales teams strengthen customer relationships, increase qualified opportunities, and grow revenue. Prior to joining Richardson, Michael spent more than 20 years with State Street Global Advisors. Under his leadership, assets under management for the business he managed grew from $8 billion to more than $100 billion. He built, developed, and managed a team of professionals covering sales, relationship management, and client support.

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