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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Use Priority Management to Delegate Tasks and Get More Done

priority-managementI’ve got you at a 10 and I need you at a 5.”

I say that to my youngest son sometimes… when he is coming at me full-steam and talking to me a mile a minute. Of course I say it in a joking way, and he knows what I mean—that I need him to slow down a little bit so I can actually understand what he is trying to tell me.

I was reminded of this statement recently while providing feedback to some extremely talented salespeople on their top strengths. The focus of these individual meetings was on helping each person maximize their top talents—and there was abundant talent to talk about.

But what happens when strength is too intense? When you have something “at a 10" and really need it "at a 5.” Does that “10” become a weakness? One seller in particular shared this fear with me. She was afraid that her desire to organize and control everything to an extreme level was getting in her way.

Let me explain.

One of the things we know leads to success in sales is a talent we call Discipline—being precise, accurate, structured, and detail oriented. Precision is a key component in this talent theme. Ideally, we are looking for people to have a healthy dose of Discipline, the ability to remain focused, multi-task with ease, and demonstrate accuracy and attention to detail in their work.

What happens if, instead of a “healthy dose,” you have an “over-the-top, very big helping of this talent?” Does it paralyze you? Do you insist on doing everything yourself because it needs to be done exactly right and you don’t trust anyone else? Are you done with your proposal and 30 minutes later find yourself still “messing with the fonts?”

So many talented sellers I have talked to voice this same complaint: “I have trouble giving things away… I can just do it myself and then I know it will be done right and completed on time.” I respond by asking, “What else could you be doing during that time that actually requires the level of attention and detail you would bring?”

If You Can't Delegate, You End Up Doing All the Dishes

I’ll use a personal example to illustrate the point. I live with three boys: two sons and my husband. I am without a doubt the best in our house at loading the dishwasher. I maximize the capacity and I do it “just so.” But one day I realized, “If I am the only one that can load the dishwasher, then every dish, every pot, every spoon used in this busy house has to be loaded by me!” It dawned on me that this is not very effective use of my time. So, I taught, I demonstrated, and I enlisted help. Now my sons and my husband pitch in. Is it done the perfect way I would do it? No. Do I sometimes have to look away? Yes. But are the dishes clean? Yes! I now have that time back, time I can now apply to a more important priority. I didn’t gain more time, but it feels that way because I exerted more control over my priorities.

In your current role, what is the equivalent of my dishwasher-loading obsession? What tasks are you currently keeping on your to-do list that would be accomplished nearly as well on someone else’s list? Are you insisting on entering all of your orders because you do them “just so?” What if you used that time you saved to re-tool your prospecting strategy for this quarter and mapped out an improved plan on your calendar? If you are extremely organized and have a high level of attention to detail, don’t waste it on the little things. Apply it instead to something bigger, something grander, something more significant and more potentially profitable.

Your time and your talents are extremely valuable and should be treated as such. In fact, there’s really no such thing as time management (it ticks away another minute, every minute), but there is priority management. We have no control over time, but we have lots of control over our priorities. Commit yourself to investing your time in the most important priorities.

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 Talent is only a strength when the fit is right.