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RAB Research Archive

Role Priority Versus Task Priority

Kim Johnson is the Director of Sales here at RAB, and not only is she a fantastic seller, she is also a fantastic person. Many of you know this already based on your contact with her. I get the pleasure of working with her.

Recently, we were on a training engagement call and she did such a great job with the call, I asked her to write a sales tip detailing the story. In true Kim fashion, she shared with me from our teaching about managing your time and responded to my request with this email:


Just want to set realistic expectations – I’m happy to work on a sales tip, but I do not anticipate being able to get it to you today. I am working on my proposal, need to get materials from CRSM class that you had me jot down to Jean, and prepare budgets to get to Van tomorrow. If you prefer I re-prioritize any of those, please let me know. You may regret that I listen when you teach, and I’m implementing the “saying no” lesson from last week. And actually, I’m not saying NO, I’m saying “not today.”

What Kim is referring to is our session on Time Management during the recent Sales Essentials class, where we talk about role priority versus task priority. Who among us couldn’t use a few extra hours in the day? When we determine how to prioritize our time and get things done, we must evaluate them through the lens of role priority versus task priority. What that means is that anytime you are asked to do something, you must filter it through the lens of your role – your primary role. Writing sales tips is not Kim’s normal role, but it was a task that she was being asked to do.

Rather than drop everything and complete the task, she reminded me of all the other ROLE PRIORITIES she has in front of that. Kim was setting expectations for when that task might be complete. Often, we get ourselves into issues when we don’t properly set expectations like Kim did, which is exactly what we encourage you to do when managing your time. Author Seth Godin talks about the difference between urgent and important. We have lots of things fly at us every day. Emails, phone calls, etc. Urgent is usually someone else’s agenda, and important are the things that we must do to contribute to the long-term success of our role in the organization.

By saying “no,” or more accurately, “not today,” Kim has demonstrated her excellent time management skills and set reasonable expectations. And what she might not have realized is that she gave me another sales tip at the same time.

Look at your “to-do” list and see if it’s prioritized by someone else’s urgent needs or requests or prioritized based on your role priority and your important tasks. You might find some extra time if you prioritize it in this way.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB