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Field Marketing, Field Sales

7 Field Team Management Lessons from Game of Thrones

Okay. It sounds like a stretch, but stick with me.

The seventh season of Game of Thrones premiered on Sunday, July 16th, on HBO.

In preparation, the Repsly team rewatched last season, shared theories, and drank Game of Thrones beer (yes, it exists). Because we spend all day thinking about how to help field teams succeed, we couldn’t help but pull some lessons from GoT and apply them to field work.


***Obligatory spoilers ahead disclaimer***


1. Just Because Someone Isn’t a Leader Doesn’t Mean They Aren’t a Valuable Asset 

Hodor (may he rest in peace) was a simple, gentle giant, and an extremely valuable friend to Bran and the rest of his misfit crew. Hodor is a keystone character; Bran wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for him. Then we have Samwell Tarly, who is essentially the Game of Thrones version of Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. No one in the Night’s Watch saw anything in him, except John Snow. Samwell finds his confidence, killing a White Walker to save Gilly and baby Sam in Season 3.

Your team is likely made up of extroverts, introverts, and everything in between. Don’t confuse differences as weaknesses. Acknowledge the varying strengths of your team members. Sometimes all it takes is a good leader recognizing those strengths for them to shine through



2. Find Influencers and Work With Them

Whisperings about Daenarys have made their way across the Narrow Sea since the beginning of the show. Tyrion decides in Season 5 that he wants to make his way to Meereen, and now he’s the one standing next to Daenarys in the epic final shot of Season 6 as they make their way to Westeros with a massive fleet of ships.

Tyrion saw the opportunity for a strategic relationship and he jumped on it. Find movers and shakers in your space and connect with them.




3. Information is an Invaluable Currency

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baylish and Varys. Two men who deal in the currency of secrets and connections. Despite humble beginnings, they both rise to comfortable standings, and they’ve done so because they always have a pulse on their environments.

As a field rep, keep track of important nuggets of information. You remembered to ask a buyer how their vacation went last week? A store manager mentioned something in passing about a competitor? Listen, make human connections, and take advantage of face-to-face marketing. These are the things that make you good to work with, boost your brand’s equity with accounts, and give you a competitive edge.

As a field manager, make sure your reps are collecting the information they need to be effective. As a leader, it’s easy to get disjointed from micro field happenings, even with the best intentions (see: Tommen). Your reps are your eyes and ears in the field. They’re your “little birds.” Listen to them.




4. A Rep Has a Name

Arya thought that rescinding her identity as the daughter of Ned Stark would lead to her acceptance into the Faceless Men. She believed giving up her individuality was the key to becoming an assassin with the skills needed to cross everyone off on her hit list.

By the end of Season 6, Arya realizes her identity is a strength, not a weakness. Don’t let yourself become just a number in the retail machine. Don’t think of your teammates as replaceable employees. You’ll be stronger for it.





5. Don't Underestimate Your Competition

Oberyn Martell celebrated his supposed victory against The Mountain too soon. Rob Stark walked right into the Red Wedding. Everyone dismissed Daenarys as just the daughter of a crazy dead king.

Don’t get too comfortable. Just because you have a certain competitive position today doesn’t mean you’ll be in that same position in six months. Your competitive landscape is always changing, and your auditing process has to keep up with it. Make sure you’re doing your audits frequently enough, and when you are, you’re collecting the breadth of information you need to get an accurate read of the competition and market.




6. Avoid Complacency

Robert Baratheon was a strong, fearless fighter who turned into a soft, lazy king. Complacency is a dangerous thing in the retail world. While you may not be at risk of getting gored by a wild boar while hunting drunk, if you get too comfortable, even small things that shouldn’t be threatening could dethrone you.  




7. Winter is Coming. Plan Accordingly. 

White Walkers are making their way south and we’re looking forward to the epic battle when fire and ice inevitably collide. The signs of winter coming have been there. In the first episode of Season 1, Ned Stark executes a Night’s Watch deserter who was fleeing to warn his family about White Walkers. Jeor Mormont and Maester Aemon tried to pass on their concerns that something dangerous is lurking north of the wall, but King’s Landing ignored them.

Winter is literally coming. Even though it’s July, you should already be looking ahead to the end of the year. Preoccupation with a busy summer is no excuse not to have a well-thought-out plan to execute later. Just as important, if teammates are voicing concerns about the future, don’t sweep them under the rug.

How are you bracing for a dip in sales if you have a more seasonal product? Will your retailers see an increase or decrease in foot traffic in colder months? Are there seasonal promotions you need to start setting the groundwork for now? Valyrian steel and dragons won’t save you from a bad winter, but forecasting, listening to your team and planning ahead will.


Catch the trailer for Season 7 below, or check out HBO’s interactive, in-depth viewer’s guide here.




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Sarah Mooney

Sarah is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly. With a background in broadcast journalism, advertising and as a brand ambassador, Sarah is always looking for ways to connect with readers through concise, visual and interesting content. On the weekends you'll find her hitting a trail or at a live show.

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