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Staying Out of Operations While Still Managing Outcomes

There is no to end to the non-sales related tasks that vie for your time and attention. To succeed, you must take inventory of your time and protect it for selling.

Sometimes, the demands that are placed upon you are demands from your clients, the very same clients that you promised that they could call you and that you would be there to help.

Am I the best person to handle this issue?

It feels right to help get your client the answer they need or resolve their issue. The bigger question you have to answer is whether you are the right person to do so.

Are you the person who can create the most value for your client?

Is there some special value that only you can create and that it would be impossible for someone on your team to equal?

When it comes to operational tasks and issues, there is almost always someone with greater subject matter expertise, and there is usually someone else who is responsible for the non-sales related issue that caused your client to call you. By handling the problem, issue, or question yourself, you may be depriving the person responsible from the opportunity to create more value for your client by handling it themselves than you could anyway. You might also be forcing your client to have you acting as the intermediary for the three or four phone calls it will take to resolve the issue.

Am I doing this for me?

The truth is that it feels good to be needed. It feels good to have your clients depend on you. It is always good to put out fires; you know you have done something valuable. But that is all about you being needed and feeling as if you have made a contribution. Your contribution to your company is based on your ability to sell, not to handle the day-to-day operational issues that inevitably demand someone’s time and attention.

Another way of thinking about this is that the special value that you can create above all others in your company is to sell. No one on your operations team can sell as well as you can. The special value that your team members create cannot be created if you prevent them from doing their work. You may feel like you are helping your team by handling operational issues for them, but in reality you are hurting them.

If you aren’t out pursuing your team’s next dream client, who is? They aren’t selling, and they are counting on you to do so. Your whole company is counting you.

How To Manage Outcomes and Stay Out of the Weeds

First, you must call and let the client know what resources you have activated, why you gave that person the responsibility, and their subject matter expertise and experience. You need to give them confidence that the issue will be handled.

You sold the deal. If there is a problem, you are still responsible for ensuring that it is resolved.

Second, you have to follow up with your team to help them understand the outcome that you promised, the problem that you are trying to resolve, and what your client’s expectations are as to the right resolution and response. They may not know the client well enough to know their individual preferences or their communication style.

Finally, it is your job to follow up with your team and your client to be certain the problem or issue is handled and resolved. It is your job to manage your team, it is your job to manage the outcome, and it is your job to follow up.

Once you have set things in motion, it is your job to get out of the weeds and get back to your primary role: selling.

Managing the outcomes your clients need and solving their problems is part of selling, but to be effective you have to know where you are valuable to your client and your team, and where you are valuable by allowing someone else to handle the issue.

Questions

What problems or challenges do you handle that someone else on your team could handle better because they have the subject matter expertise or because it should fall to them?

How easy is it to enjoy the satisfaction of helping with a problem and putting out a fire instead of doing the hard work and heavy lifting of, say, prospecting?

If you are not selling because you are handling issues and problems that could be handled by someone else, who is selling? What is the eventual outcome of not selling for periods of time, say, two or three months down the road?


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Comments

comments

  • Cara Celli

    It’s true that people sometimes feel important when they are able to help with something outside of their job description. But as salespeople, we need to draw a line somewhere, even with colleagues who try to pass that stuff on us. If it’s their issue, they should handle it, not us. I’m not working in sales so I can do other people’s work. I’m in sales because I love selling, and that’s when I feel happiest, when I’m doing what I’m paid to do….sell! It’s also true that when you spend a lot of time on those issues that maybe you should pass on someone else, then you’re hurting your company, not helping.