You Are The Conductor, Not First Chair

As a salesperson, you own the outcomes you sell. You are accountable for the results that you promise. But being accountable for the outcomes doesn’t make you accountable for the transactions that make up those outcomes. It makes you accountable for orchestrating the team that produces those results.

Let’s imagine an orchestra conductor. She stands in front of the orchestra bringing in the right instrument or instruments at just the right time. She keeps everyone on the same page, producing something together that couldn’t be produced alone. Even though our conductor is responsible for the resulting music, she doesn’t play any of the instruments.

Our conductor isn’t first chair violin or first chair cello. She doesn’t leave her podium to fill in for a missing percussionist. She likely isn’t a percussionist at all. Without her, there wouldn’t be a symphony. There wouldn’t be anyone leading and directing the effort of the team.

Owning the outcomes you sell your clients means that you orchestrate the efforts of your team in producing results.

If an order comes to you, you bring in the person responsible for that order. It’s not your order to manage. If a support call comes in, you should surely listen to your client, ensuring they know how much you care and that you are in fact going to be responsible for helping them get the outcome they need. But that doesn’t mean you are going to manage the support incident yourself.

You can’t be the conductor and all of the first chairs, too. If you aren’t selling, then no one is selling. If you aren’t managing the outcomes instead of the transactions, you aren’t doing the part of the job for which you are responsible. You are the conductor.


What causes you to feel that you have to play first chair?

How do you find yourself dragged into transactions instead of outcomes?

What is the healthiest role to play on your team?

How do you balance helping without actually switching roles?

Can you work in operations and still sell effectively? Would you produce better results if you sold and were only responsible for outcomes, not transactions?

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Filed under: Leadership, Sales

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