Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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“Mother, Please, I’d Rather Do It Myself!”

December 27, 2013

Having trouble delegating tasks? Try looking at the benefits you’ll reap.

I’m probably dating myself, but there’s an old commercial that featured a woman trying to cook while her mother looked on and offered “suggestions.” The daughter, who was suffering from a headache that apparently only Anacin would cure, finally lashed out at mom with that oft-repeated line.

Todd Martin 120113 image 1Does that strike a chord with you in terms of your ability to delegate tasks (headache and cooking and mother aside)? Do you tend to overload yourself with work that could be done by others because – for whatever reason – you’d rather do it yourself?

Maybe you don’t want to impose. Or you don’t feel something would be done as well by someone else. Or you just feel like you’d be shirking your responsibilities. Or you’re just too dang busy to take the time to explain a task that needed to be done.

Try to turn your negative thoughts about delegating (like, It won’t get done right. They’ll resent the extra work. The higher-ups might think I’m slacking, etc.) into the realization that you and your sales team could actually benefit from your willingness to let others help carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Consider that:

  • Your salespeople will appreciate your confidence in them.
  • Someone else might actually know a better, faster way to get something done.
  • You’ll be able to attack your more critical tasks with renewed vigor because of your abbreviated to-do list, and
  • You’re helping your team develop new skills, which in turn can make them better salespeople and more effective leaders.

The art of delegating is a sound management skill, one you should cultivate. Experts in the sales discipline recommend that you follow best practices for delegation though, as always, not everyone agrees on what they should be.

So use common sense. Delegate to others as you would like them to delegate to you. Here’s what I suggest:

Make sure that the task’s outcome is well-defined. Notice that I said “outcome.” You want to provide a thorough explanation of what the end result should be, but you don’t necessarily have to draw a road map. Offer suggestions if asked, but let your designated salesperson see this as a learning experience. Encourage fresh thinking.

Tell the individual or team why he/she/they were selected. Todd Martin 120113 image 2This is an opportunity to instill confidence in your staff that will likely carry over into their other work. Make any necessary resources available.

Together, create a realistic timetable. You don’t want to cut into anyone’s income-making ability, so ask your assigned person or people how much time they think they can put into the task. Designate periodic milestones if it’s a multi-step job and ask for status updates so you don’t come to the deadline and find a lot of loose ends.

Finally, do thorough evaluation and follow-up. Be honest, but look for ways to offer positive feedback even if the task wasn’t completed to your absolute satisfaction.

And keep delegating. You may discover hidden benefits that you hadn’t anticipated.

Stock images courtesy of


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