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Delegation (not!)Views: 914
Mar 30, 2007 2:48 pmDelegation (not!)#

Mark Buckshon
Here's a shocker that proves the rules of delegation need to be revisited and sometimes the best way to sell is to do the thing you do that has nothing to do (on the surface) with selling.

I started my publishing business (newspapers and websites for the construction industry) about 18 years ago. Long hours of 80 hour weeks, for truly low hourly income. I did everything -- writing the papers, selling, and so on.

Then I learned how to delegate, some marketing techniques, and we grew -- to five locations in Canada and the U.S. 20 employees, and so on. Then things stopped working right.

We shrunk and shrunk, getting to the point where we had just 2.5 employees -- A part time administrative assistant, a commissioned salesperson (who had been with us since near the beginning) and a staff editor.

I hesitated to terminate the editor -- feeling that if that point ever happened, and I needed to start doing all the writing and editing myself -- we would be at the end. But times demanded the decision, and the editor left.

Then, in working on a story for an advertising client, I got so fed up with the client, I chewed him out. My only salesperson, on hearing the client's complaint, told me "If I were the owner of the company and you were the editor, I would fire him. Since I can't fire you, I'm resigning." That day, my administrative assistant gave me her notice for entirely unrelated reasons.

Was this the end of my business?

Actually, it has proven to be its rebirth I advertised offering a base salary to a new sales representative, knowing we had a base of contracts to help pay the bills and no residual obligations to the former representative who left without notice.

We replaced the half time administrative assistant with a full-time employee with a strong work ethic.

And I discovered that with new Internet resources writing and editing actually takes much less time than I had thought, and is my best way to help the selling process. I turn my interviews into intelligence gathering exercises and where appropriate, (and reasonable) I pose the business or closing question -- generating many leads and sales.

We've just hired our second representative (I have at last found an efficient hiring system for sales reps). I could have hired an editor at the same base salary, but it seemed a much better investment to hire a salesperson. I delegated some of the repetitive and routine editorial tasks to the administrative assistant, or contract freelance writers.

Eventually, we'll hire an editor. But for now, I'm content to do the work, as the business grows back to its fullest potential. And, yes, I've learned something about delegation -- you need frequent and regular contact and accountability with your key employees -- this is not something to leave to chance or ad-hoc solutions.

(The client that I chewed out, by the way, is happy to do business with us -- and we are generating profitable referrals from that relationship.)

Private Reply to Mark Buckshon

Mar 31, 2007 2:36 amre: Delegation (not!)#

Denise Michaels
Hi Mark:

I totally agree with you. My business is home-based - but I have a part-time assistant and I have several subcontractors that I'm delegating work to at any given time.

In the past I've had my assistants - gradually over the years write up their own procedure manuals ala Michael Gerber of "E-Myth" fame. Of course I've fine tuned and tweaked it - but now any reasonably skilled admin can walk in and will automatically know how to do certain tasks that I expect to get done by simply following the step-by-step manual. We have a weekly check-in meeting where we go over all my assistant's projects she's working on for me. She works mostly from home - but she's local so she can do things like go to the post office and send out shipments of my books or receive things from the UPS store or whatever.

The subcontractors on the other hand were another matter: since they're not in the area and they're freelancers and have other clients I found the need unfortunately to go after them to find how they were progressing with my projects:

At the moment I have a web designer, a graphic designer, a copywriter (helping me put together a new media kit), a virtual assistant, an online advertising specialist and a life coach. I don't have to keep after my coach because we meet on the phone - but with the rest of the people - keeping them all corralled and on track was kind of like bowling with cats.

I was always contacting them to say, "How are things progressing with ___________?" I've been through this before and things can slip through the cracks otherwise. A friend of mine I was brainstorming this with suggested, "Denise, you're personality is so much that of someone who's a leader and in charge - I think people you work with have a tendency to sort of follow your lead - maybe without thinking about it."

I decided to turn the tables so that I wasn't always trying to keep tabs on them. I told each one - in a nice way - that one of the terms of us doing business together is that it's incumbent upon them to contact me about twice a week to let me know how they're progressing on various projects. And if there's no progress at least tell me that and why.

Now, I don't have to track these people down and wonder where things are at. And by putting the responsibility back on them I've found that for the most part they are all more accountable for their actions and for getting my projects completed in a timely way.

All the best,

Denise Michaels
Author, "Testosterone-Free Marketing"

Visit me online at http://www.mentoringwithdenise.com

Private Reply to Denise Michaels

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