Thirty-five years ago, while still in my twenties, I grasped a winning idea that a lot of mature salespeople still haven’t figured out. Perhaps, at that time, I had stumbled upon a little known secret; something I learned years later from Richard Koch in an audio version of his book, The 80-20 Principle. (see video here) He says, that you should do what you do best and delegate the rest.
His research indicated that most successful people are intelligent and lazy. That confused me at first. I put in lots of hours so I don’t consider myself to be lazy; but, given a choice between doing things I like or those that I dislike, the ones I like seem to garner most of my attention. So, if hard work is equated with doing things you don’t like to do, then perhaps I am lazy.
As a new insurance salesperson in 1976 I knew that you had to make appointments, but I didn’t like cold calling. The nature of insurance companies is that they bury you in paperwork. And I didn’t like filing. So even though I was just starting out in a non-salaried, commission sales job, I convinced myself (and my wary spouse) that it made sense to hire an assistant. It did pay dividends.
Let’s suppose that you enjoy a sales job for which you get paid for performance. If you were to take your annualized income and divide it by the number of hours during which you engage in activities that ‘you do best’ I’m confident those hours would be worth a lot. Probably in the range of $200 per hour or more. I’m guessing those activities would include face-to-face meetings, problem-solving, and developing creative solutions, but would not include filing, reading and sending routine email messages, and phoning for appointments.
You’ll end up further ahead any time you can delegate tasks that:
- are worth less than your hourly rate,
- are boring and mindless, or
- suck the enthusiasm and energy out of you.
Maybe you’re waiting for your company to recognize your brilliance and supply you with an assistant. There’s an old saying, “Starving man wait long time for roast duck to fly into mouth.”Take some initiative yourself and make it happen. You might have to pay for it yourself. Would it be worth it if that assistance helped you double your sales? If you doubled your sales would you be worth more to the company? Could you get a raise or a bonus that would more than offset your cost? Even if you broke even but did more of what you like and less of what you don’t like, would it be worth it?
Count on it.