Most salespeople feel they must be intimately involved in every administrative task for customers. They feel obligated to make small deliveries, put out fires, and field phone calls that would be better redirected to others. This type of salesperson ends up as a middleman in the information chain by taking in and passing on information. That increases the chances for errors or, worse yet, gets the rep mired in time-consuming tasks like repairs and small- volume deliveries.

One of the most successful salespeople I ever met told me that he got rid of his pickup truck so he could no longer handle deliveries. It was a pre-arranged excuse that allowed him to delegate. Another one changed the voice mail on her phone to delegate to clients (by suggestion) that they should call her support desk to phone in orders and get service support.

Instead of feeling victimized by demanding customers, try changing your response by delegating tasks. Here are a few ways to start.

  • Turn down random requests for bids. At best, they are a prospect’s method for keeping existing suppliers honest; at worst, they're a sure sign you are not in dialogue with a loyal future client. Prospects who won’t give you the time you need to understand their businesses are not good prospects.
  • Change your voice-mail message. Record one that identifies who to contact at your main branch when placing small orders. Salespeople consistently learn that their customers are happy to oblige and enjoy the speedier response they get in lieu of waiting for a response to a voice mail. Clearly state the phone number and even the name of the right contact person.
  • Don’t be able to help. The next time a crisis emerges, first ask yourself how you’d handle the situation if you were 90 miles away. You’ll either inform the customer that you can’t be at the jobsite that day or, better yet, discover a creative method to delegate a solution to the problem.
  • Coach and mentor your teammates. Great salespeople are leaders in their organizations. They don’t behave as prima donnas and dump tasks on their teammates. Instead they involve everyone by praising good performance. They teach new team members how to accomplish the tasks of our profession. Take time to teach and praise the good performance of your teammates. If you haven’t complimented a driver, load builder, inside sales representative, or even your branch manager, then it’s high time you start. They’ll work harder in support of you when you delegate tasks.
  • Work off the grid appropriately. The most successful salespeople use business hours to interact with clients. After hours are invested in take-offs and other administrative tasks.

It’s easy as an LBM salesperson to get caught up in the belief that there is no more time in the day or that you are maxed out. If this is the case for you, then trade up the value of your time by focusing on more profitable actions. The outcome will surprise you. Clients will feel your company brings higher levels of service excellence when your entire team is involved and helping. You will find more calm in the day to do the real job of selling. If you want to find new sales opportunities, delegate to free up time.