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when it’s your circus but NOT your monkey

Let’s face it – inside sales IS (at least sometimes) a circus! As an inside salesperson, the great news is it may not be your monkey… especially if you’re the lion tamer, clown, or part of the high wire act.

Here are my top tips for figuring out what to do about those monkeys people keep trying to make your responsibility:

  1. Customer Monkeys: there is a saying “Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” (attributed to Bob Carter on the internet) – which may seem to war with “The customer is always right.” (coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge back in 1909).

    Helping them is NOT the same as taking responsibility for the monkey.

    One example is someone calling you needing deliver Tuesday for something they already know has a standard 2-week lead time. Certainly tell them you’ll see if a rush can be put on it, Absolutely see what you can do to speed up delivery. DO NOT allow any perceived delay between their Tuesday request & the 2-weeks to be your fault.
  2. Other Departments’ Monkeys: these (in my experience) are things that are urgent to THEM, but not to the success of an inside sales person. They may even be important to your role – it’s the urgency level that is their monkey NOT yours.

    Prioritize other people’s requests based on your priorities.

    It’s certainly part of your job to assist other people with organizational requirements. Those things that are important overall: helping accounts receivable with collecting, gathering paperwork, getting answers to questions… whatever the request, determine it’s priority among all the things your working on rather than dropping everything without evaluating.
  3. Management / Leadership Monkeys: some of the monkeys that swing into your circus come from above. It’s easy to think you have to drop everything to take care of those monkeys. The problem with that thinking is if you are the lion tamer, and walk away from your lion to take care of the monkeys; chaos and disaster will most likely follow (not to mention the potential for bloodshed).

    Ask questions first!

    You probably don’t have someone to delegate your tasks and responsibilities to. Ask the manager / leader about: timeframe for response AND priority over the things you currently have on your plate, before you do anything.
  4. let’s not forget the Emotional Monkeys: depending on your personal temperament these may be the most difficult to not take responsibility for: feelings of guilt, anxiety, disappointment, etc for things that are neither your fault nor your responsibility.

How you spend your time and your attitude are the two things in sales… and life that I believe we can control. Be careful what monkeys you start to take care of: all of the sudden you may find it’s not only your circus – by default they’re now your monkeys (and you didn’t get to let go of your previous responsibilities).

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