Two days ago I wrote on the three biggest killers of sales productivity. I wasn’t writing about what prevents salespeople from producing results, like a failure to qualify, as much as I was writing about “me management,” which you might call time management. The post was about where you spend your time.

One commenter pushed back against what I wrote, suggesting that there are some tasks, like providing their dream client with technical information or taking customer service calls, that the salesperson should do themselves. Mostly, I disagree.

As a salesperson, you don’t scale.

But I do have a test that I use to determine whether or not I should complete a task myself or delegate it. Like most things, it’s easier in theory than in practical application. That said, it works.

Do I Create the Most Value Here?

There are some tasks that it feels like you should complete because they find their way to your desk. Let’s use the examples from the commenter. You are selling to your dream client and they request technical information. It is the sales engineer’s job to provide them with the information, and they have the technical expertise to make it meaningful. There are a couple possibilities, and neither can be understood without some context.

You could provide the information yourself. You may be correct in doing so, especially if you believe your presence is going to demonstrate your commitment to be there and to help your dream client through their buying process. In that case, you may be the only one who can provide this value.

But it’s more likely that the sales engineer is a greater value creator when it comes to answering technical questions and helping your dream client to understand the opportunities and constraints that might accompany a solution. You might also be depriving the sale engineer the ability to understand the client’s needs well enough to help give them what they really need.

Worse still, you might be creating the impression that you don’t have the resources to handle their business or that you don’t have real subject matter experts.

What’s wrong with arranging the meeting as value creation?

The same might be said of taking customer service calls. You might want to take the call, and you may in fact be right to take the call and to demonstrate that you care to help your client obtain the outcome that you promised and that you sold. That might be something that you need to do, and you may be the best person for the job.

But by handling the customer’s problems, you may be getting a few outcomes that you don’t really want. You might be demonstrating that you don’t have the confidence in your operations team to solve the client’s problem themselves. Your lack of confidence can easily become your client’s lack of confidence. By taking the customer service issues yourself, you might be training your client that all problems, great or small, go through you. And, you might be trying to take care of a problem that your operations or customer service team might be way better prepared to handle and, by doing so, might create more value than even you could.

What’s wrong with listening to your client, proving you care, and giving the issue to the person best capable of handling it?

You Don’t Scale

The problem with believing that you can or should do everything yourself is that you don’t scale. When you are investing your limited time, your limited energy, and your limited focus on one task or issue, there isn’t another you somewhere prospecting, making face-to-face sales call, helping clients understand and develop their needs, or helping them to build a vision of a better future.

In most organizations, if the salesperson isn’t selling, no one is selling. If you are helping operations and customer service, you aren’t selling. And neither is operations or customer service.

The best and most effective way to help your operations team and your customer service department is to win the next opportunity for them. They’ll thank you for it.

The best way to help your clients is to make sure you have the right resources working on their problems and challenges. Sometimes, that’s you.

I am not suggesting that there are easy answers, but to be effective you have to start with the question as to whether or not you are the very best person with the greatest ability to create value for your client. If you are, have at it. If you’re not, then protect your time for the tasks for which you are the very best value creator.


Have you ever been spread too thin because you felt like you had to do everything yourself?

What are some of the things that you do that someone else might do better? Why do you really do them?

Where do you create the most value for your clients and your dream clients?

How do protect your time for the tasks for which you are the greatest value creator?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 25, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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