The “Maintenance Mode” Trap

“I’m sure it’s ME that’s blocking myself from making more money. No matter how hard I try, I’m letting administrative issues slow me down or even rob me from performing the tasks that make me money.”

This was a recent response to a question I asked my audience. The exact question was…

What’s blocking you from earning more money personally?

This was one of many responses…a pretty honest one from a person who, at the very least, understands what the problem is. They may not have their answer yet, but they are more than half way there, because they’ve identified the stimulus of the challenge and seem open to finding a solution.


In my first book, The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales, I outline the most essential Competencies, Attitudes and Pipeline practices needed to ensure your success in commission sales. If you don’t own a copy of this book, you should pick one up.

Go read the first 2 chapters FREE here:

In Chapter 4, The Majors, and again in Chapter 23, Invisible Noise, I write about the issue of time, and the proper allocation of it as well as distractions. If you won the book and you are experiencing time management challenges, make sure you review those two chapters.

In this content I would like to focus on the above response that was sent to me and break it down a little—analyze it—and maybe reach a conclusion or two.

First, let’s go back to the original question I asked:

What’s blocking you from earning more money personally?

Let’s focus on the word, “blocking.”

I think we would all agree that the money is out there in the form of targeted prospects and willing potential clients. We simply have to find them, engage them and get a predictable percentage of them to say, “YES”. We certainly have to ask ourselves if we are with the right organization and we have the right products to sell at the right price, but given that, we know the market is there…we know it’s possible to reach our desired income goal.

So, if we have vetted all of those things out, then we are left with two simple dynamics…

…ourselves and any factors that are blocking us.

So we are wise to continually identify those little or bigger…roadblocks on the path to our income goal and REMOVE them.

In the case of this specific response to my question I’d like to address the progression that typically occurs in sales when someone gets started and begins to have some success.

There is the initial phase of building…

Let’s call this the CREATIVE phase of the business.

It’s fun when you figure out what to say and who to say it to. Your pipeline starts to fill up and sales start shooting out the bottom. You’re creating a base of business. Some people call it a block of clients or book of business, but regardless of what you call it, you now have a number of clients that may need periodic attention or service.

Your business is beginning to take shape. When it’s just a small base of clients it doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. You just steal a little bit of time from prospecting or presenting to handle the service or administrative needs of the client. You just rob from Peter to pay Paul and everyone’s happy.

As you continue to grow your client base over weeks and months, and the service needs of those clients multiply, you then realize that you have a beast that needs to be fed.

Let’s call this the MAINTENANCE phase of your business.

So, you have methodically stolen more and more time from the creative tasks of prospecting, presenting and closing to feed the growing beast. It’s logical and natural to move in this direction (who doesn’t want to have happy clients?), but it’s more like you’ve been PULLED in this direction.

You have gone from a 100% CREATIVE mode to perhaps something like 50/50…50% CREATIVE – 50% MAINTENANCE.

You wake up one Monday morning, and realize that ALL you’re doing is service work. And you ask, “How did 100% of my time suddenly become service and administrative work?”

The truth is, it DIDN’T happen suddenly.

It happened just a little bit at a time and you didn’t notice it, and if you did, you did little about it. So now you’re STUCK in the muck and mire of MAINTENANCE mode. You’re neck deep in it and you can’t even see your way clear. The fact that you GOT there shouldn’t surprise you…

You didn’t multiply yourself as your client base and their needs multiplied.

It’s simple mathematics. You need more hours in the day and they aren’t making any more hours. Or, you need to clone yourself and that’s still a few years off. The answer here is to—ideally—move proactively and consciously to another phase of your business.

Let’s call this the BANDWIDTH mode. It’s a very mature and stable mode to get into, and you want to get there as quickly as possible.

So, let’s talk about the steps you can take that will get you there.

  1. Customer Service Awareness & Analysis

When you secure your very first client, start to become aware of:

  • What they need
  • When or how soon they need it
  • How many man-hours it takes
  • Who can provide it
  1. Begin Drafting a Proactive Customer Service Plan

As soon as you have a cluster of clients and you begin to notice that you are robbing small pieces of time from the CREATIVE side of your business to serve the MAINTENANCE side of your business, ask and answer the following questions:

  • What are the definite categories of service or administration that my typical client requires?
  • Which of those items are time sensitive or unpredictable (urgent) and which of those items can be performed on a calendared and pre-scheduled basis?
  • What number of hours per month/quarter does my typical client require?
  • Which of those items can be delegated to another well-trained person and which of those items require my personal time?
  • Determine what type of administrative assistant you can and will engage:
  • W2
  • 1099
  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Create a budget and proactively begin to siphon off (escrow) commission dollars to fund the admin position
  1. Initiate Your Admin/Service Plan  

As soon as you have a cluster of clients and you notice you’re being pulled into the MAINTENANCE area of the business to the detriment of your prospecting, presenting, closing and production, do the following:

  • Interview several (at least 3) candidates for your admin/service assistant position
  • Hire and begin training the best of your candidates
  • Be willing to re-train your selected person
  • Be willing to refine your plan and/or replace your candidate with another
  • Inspect what you expect!!!

“You always hear about delegation, but people make the mistake of delegating and not following up. I give authority, but I stay in touch. Otherwise it doesn’t work.”

Wayne Huizenga, Former Founder/CEO Waste Management, Blockbuster, Auto Nation, former owner, Miami Dolphins

So, this word DELEGATE or delegation is ultimately what it comes down to. Either nobody has been caring enough or wise enough to tell us, “Hey stupid…you need to delegate”, or we’re simply BLOCKING the strategy for some reason that may seem logical to us.

I want to give you the 3 most common excuses people use for NOT delegating and then I want to quickly de-bunk each one…shoot each one down:

  1. “I can’t AFFORD to hire someone”
  2. “I can’t find the RIGHT person”
  3. “Nobody can do the work the way I need it to be done”

Okay, this is easy…

  1. “I can’t AFFORD to hire someone”

How about this…you can’t afford NOT to! If you earn $100-200 per hour in commissions when you are actually selling (transacting) your products and you can pay somebody $15 per hour (or a commission split equivalent) to deliver service, then you are telling me that you’re willing to trade $200 per hour for $15 per hour.

That’s not very smart and that kind of thinking will keep you BROKE! 

  1. “I can’t find the RIGHT person”

You can’t because you haven’t tried. You spoke to one or two people and didn’t like their attitudes and you gave up. Go interview 25 people and then tell me that not one of them would be a decent and trainable candidate.

You can’t.

  1. “Nobody can do the work the way I need it to be done”

Oh…this is a good one.

Congratulations…you are officially a control freak! I know…I can spot you because I’m one.

The truth is, there are hundreds of people out there that you can train to deliver service to your client base in an adequate manner. Are they as smart as you or as skilled as you or as experienced as you? No, they’re not. But if they can’t answer a question or they need periodic hand holding you are right there to assist them.

“But what if I lose a client, Joe B.?”

The truth is you might lose a client or two over time because you weren’t personally there, but how many others did you ADD over that period of time because you were out aggressively prospecting and closing?

You’ve probably doubled, even tripled your block of business and your income practicing these three steps!

So you lost one or two fussy clients! So what. Worry about it when you are moving into your dream home.

Let’s revisit the original question I asked and the response it drove…I asked…

What’s blocking you from earning more money personally?

And one of our subscribers responded…

“I’m sure it’s ME that’s blocking myself from making more money. No matter how hard I try, I’m letting administrative issues slow me down or even rob me from performing the tasks that make me money.”

So now this subscriber (and you) have a proactive 3-step plan to solve this problem. It will be about you deicing to follow these steps. It will also be about you getting over the fear of delegating.

Eli Broad, the former CEO of both Sun America and Kaufman & Broad said:

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.”

Now, I also need to mention that Mr. Broad is the only person to have built two Fortune 500 companies in completely different industries. He’s a multi-billionaire. If he’s telling you that the INABILITY to DELEGATE is a huge problem, then you better listen and take that to heart.

So, if you are facing this challenge, take the 3 steps we suggest and solve it.

  • Number ONE…immediately become aware of what your customers need and what it’s going to take to keep them happy 
  • Number TWO…begin drafting a proactive Customer Service Plan that includes a budget and start creating those funds
  • And Number THREE, initiate your plan…don’t be afraid to delegate!

If you haven’t had a chance to read my book, The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales, please click on the link below. It’s now available on Amazon:

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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at:

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