Will you be a coach or a player?

So let’s assume that you are bought into the idea of Account Based Everything and that you want to run plays on your accounts.

The key question is: Who designs these plays and who is going to execute them?

First, Some Definitions

Play A series of steps that orchestrates interactions across departments and channels to achieve a business purpose for one or more buying centers at target accounts
Team Players All the people on your team related to a play
Target Players All of the leads and contacts in the account related to a play
Coaches The designers of plays who orchestrate sequence, timing and content
Play Owner The “quarterback” of the play. This is the person ultimately responsible for the execution of the play.

In the coming months and years, more and more account plays will be run. How are you positioning your career so that you end up being a coach instead of a player?

In the spheres of influence, you can control what you do as a player. If you are a coach, you can construct what other people do, but only within your sphere of influence. And finally, there is everything in your sphere of concern (things you care about) of which you can hopefully advise.

Why want to be a coach?

If this is your first job, you are likely a player. You may be an SDR or a marketing associate or customer success manager. Your job is to execute the plays designed by other people. This is fine at the start of your career, but you should always be trying to move forward. If you are further in your career you might manage some of the players above. Either way, here are some of the reasons you should aspire to be a coach:

Coaches have more opportunity to be creative. As a player you can improvise and be creative within the context of the play. As a coach, you can express bigger ideas and coordinate more people. This opens the door to more creative endeavors.

The reality is that coaches will generally make more money than players. It’s the same as when you manage people. Being a coach is a position of authority and responsibility. There are usually monetary benefits to these positions.

Not everyone has a desire for control, but if you do, the coach is the way to go. Designing plays sets the context that others can then improvise.

Designing plays is inherently strategic. It’s not just tactics anymore. It’s orchestrating using the whole business.

Imagine if every client-facing department sang from the same hymn book (mixing metaphors, sorry). Imagine if they coordinated about brand, messaging and current initiatives. Coaches should be in the middle of this conversation.


Currently, your company is unlikely to be coordinated and orchestrated from top-to-bottom. Each department is focused on their own issues and are making up their own content and rules. Technology will continue to expand this capability. Imagine if every department had their own workflow engine and content creation mechanisms. Is this the best way to run a company? Is this the best way to execute?

I think the answer is no. It’s a recipe for chaos and for most companies, it is the current reality. Coordination is better. It might sound obvious, but it’s not turning out that way.

Your company is designed perfectly, to get the results you get now,
If you want different results, you should change the design your company.

Companies need to start thinking more cross-functionally. They need to use their human assets more strategically. This means tearing down silo walls and instituting a coaching class of employee.

Again, the key question: Who will those coaches be?

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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