Question: Being a branch manager and having six reps and no sales manager, how do you delegate some of the reps’ requests for help back to them without discouraging their efforts?

Answer: Begin with clear expectations. What you expect the salesperson to do should not to be a secret, or a matter for negotiation.

In the absence of clear and specific expectations, salespeople will default to what feels comfortable to them. So, naturally you'll have them coming into the office to do their quotes, source product and make phone calls. If you haven't indicated otherwise, they'll naturally fill that time with other stuff to do and some of that may involve you.

Now, before we go too far, let’s stop and think about this a bit. One of the biggest time wasters for salespeople is the amount of clerical work they are often expected to do. These typically include things like looking up prices, sourcing new products, creating quotes, managing price increases, checking on back orders, delivering literature, etc.

Do you really want a salesperson doing all of this clerical stuff when he could be selling? It’s one thing if the salesperson doesn’t have enough to do. So, if you relieve him of these clerical issues, he’ll take off every afternoon at 3 p.m. and golf or fish the rest of the day. If that’s the case, he probably should be doing the clerical stuff.

However, those situations are rare. If you relieve most salespeople of clerical responsibilities, they’ll typically spend more time with their customers. And that enlargement of their “sales time” will bring greater productivity and increased sales. This is particularly true of experienced and successful salespeople who pay the price of their success with more and more “management responsibility” within their territory. The more successful they become, the more paperwork they inherit.

So, the first question to ask is, “Would your salespeople be more productive if they were relieved of clerical duties?” If you think the answer is “yes” then arrange the structure to accommodate that. In other words, hire a sales administrator who can work with the salespeople to relieve them of the busy work.

Keep track of the resulting increase in sales productivity to make sure that the position will pay for itself. With six sales people, you should be able to support at least a part-time person.

With that change, hopefully you’ll deal with a lot less of the “requests.”

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written 10 books, presented in 47 states and 10 countries, and has trained tens of thousands of salespeople and sales leaders. He can be reached at Visit for more information of sign up for his weekly Ezine.