Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Know your numbers as well as your product

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on July 28, 2009

If you’re in sales there are several key numbers that you should have memorized and be able to recite any given time:

  1. Average new leads per day/week/month
  2. Average calls/appointments per day/week/month
  3. Sales closed per day/week/month
  4. Closing ratio of incoming leads to sales
  5. Length of pipeline: How long is it taking on average for a lead to become a sale?

Knowing and referencing this information will give you power in 3 areas:

  1. It will give your superiors confidence that you have a good sense of how your business is preforming and it will help them in their forecasting. (If you are the owner & salesperson this information is a favor to yourself for the same purpose)
  2. It will allow you to track how you’re doing.  Over time these numbers will really talk to you and give you metrics that help you make decisions about what is and is not working in your marketing and your presentation etc.
  3. It will give you confidence when you’re going through a slow time because you can look at your averages and know that if you make the right number of calls over the length of your pipeline that the sales will come.
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Meetings: Execution is not a Death Sentence

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on July 27, 2009

Despite how much I try to avoid this scenario I will occasionally have a day where I’m literally in meetings the entire day.  This is not healthy and it’s extremely inefficient.  Going from one meeting to straight into another one is dangerous.  Without scheduling time specifically to execute on a meetings action points immediately after the meeting takes place we can loose as much as half of the potential value of that meeting.

Here are 4 simple ideas to retain maximum value from meetings.

1) Be early to every meeting.  Most people are not early. So if you show up 3-5 minutes early you will command an unspoken respect that says I value your time and I value mine so let’s make this count.  Eventually people will feel guilty if they’re constantly showing up late and you’re already there and they’ll change their habit.  They will not feel guilty however if you’re occasionally late too.

2) Don’t leave a meeting without clear action points and an understanding on who is executing on them. If you’re not sure what they are then just ask. You may find out that other people are wondering about this too but feel weird about asking.  I’m amazed at the number of meetings that take place where everyone walks out feeling like something important just happened but no one has a clear plan of action.  The value of the meeting is rarely in the meeting.  The value comes from what takes place as a result of the meeting.

3) Volunteer to do the members of the meeting a favor and email out a follow up including the agreed upon action points and who is responsible for each one.  This way no one forgets or gets confused on who is doing what.  The other attendees of the meeting will get distracted on their way back to their desk or heaven forbid step immediately into another meeting.   Simply emailing out a follow up summary of the meeting will cordially obligate them to execute on their part.

4) Never schedule back to back meetings. The only way to accomplish these first 3 things is to have the time between meetings to do this.  If you wait until the end of the day or even until after the next meeting it is too late.  50% of the value, creativity, energy etc. is lost within 10 minutes of the meeting being over.  If the norm is a 30 minute meeting make it 20, if it’s an hour make it 45 minutes and use the newly found time time for execution.  If you have an assistant that helps you schedule meetings then train them to adopt this same mentality.  A meeting will expand or contract to the time allotted no matter how much time is scheduled. If someone else requests the meeting for an hour and you reply letting them know you only have 45 minutes they will realize how much you value your time, and they are likely to value those 45 minutes more than if you just casually accepted the initial request for an hour.

Summary:

1)      Be Early

2)      Don’t leave without clear action points

3)      Email out a summary to the members of the meeting including action points

4)      Avoid back to back meetings and schedule time for execution

Side note: This may seem trite but always make sure a meeting is actually in order.  People tend to call meetings as a default solution to ‘I don’t know what else to do to get everyone on the same page’.  Many times effective communication is possible without calling everyone together, and if you put the energy into connecting with the right people individually you will gain the respect of those who might otherwise have felt like your meeting was wasting their time.

How fast is your bobsled?

Posted in Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on July 17, 2009

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Utah Olympic Park outside of Park City, Utah.  This quaint little village nestled into the side of the Wasatch Mountain Range served as host to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.  My wife and I have fabulous memories from that warm Spring day where we watched snow skiers practice their jumps into a swimming pool, toured the little museum, and hiked around the nature trails surrounding that area.

The highlight of the day for me was an experience that I’ll never forget as long as I live.  I got to ride in a bobsled down the actual track that was built for the Olympic competition. I remember debating whether it was worth the $70 dollars they were asking for this 60 second blurp of fun, but finally my wife encouraged me to go for it since I may never get another chance.  After strapping on my helmet and being shoved into the fiberglass speed machine I remember thinking “I hope this thing doesn’t flip over…surely they wouldn’t let people do this if that was even a possibility”.

The driver sat directly in front of me in a way that was a little too close for comfort and when he gave the signal, they launched us down the ramp.  I have never felt so exhilarated.  The turns were so fast and all I could see was a white blur.  I literally felt like I was in a time warp of some sort as the humble realities of G force and inertia yanked my head in directions it was never intended to turn.   I yelled out loud through every turn.  I was so dizzy that I thought I’d pass out.  I was a complete slave to gravity and my destiny was to sit there and ride down the mountain completely out of control of the situation.  I couldn’t fathom how the driver could actually be doing anything up there that mattered at speeds that fast.

When the ride came to an end, we pried ourselves out of the bobsled and I inquired of the driver’s role in the whole thing.

“Were you really doing anything up there?” I asked him.  “It seemed way too fast for you to actually be controlling anything.  Surely it’s one of those things where we would have made it down OK regardless and you just kind of sit in the front and put the brakes on when it’s all over, right?”

The response from this hippie mountain man astonished me: “If I didn’t drive for you, the sled would have flown off the track in the first turn and you would have been strewn across the mountain side in a million pieces.”

“Wow! You’re kidding!” I said.

“Nope”.

I couldn’t believe it. “How on earth can you think that fast and react to the turns in time when you’re moving that quick?  I could barely focus on the back of your helmet much less the next turn.”

“It’s a lot faster for you” he explained. “My first time down I felt the same way.  I can almost do this in my sleep now; it literally feels like slow motion these days.  I actually forget how fast we’re going until the guy behind me screams.”

The hippie went on to explain that to train as a driver they’re required to ride as a passenger over 150 times down the one mile track before they’re even allowed to sit in the front seat.  It takes about 50 times just to have the direction of the next turn memorized and every trip down after that slows down the experience for them even more.  Once they have their bearings they are allowed to drive ‘survival style’.  They can go down but not with a customer until they have made over 500 trips.  This means the entire first summer at the track they are in training.  They are becoming an expert on the track so they can do it in there sleep.  Only then is it safe for them to take a passenger.

Selling is a lot like this.  So is public speaking.  The only way to polish your skills in these areas is to do it over and over and over again.  The first time you do it, your body is so pumped full of adrenaline that you can’t even see straight.  Eventually it starts to slow down though and after doing it for years you can make it look as if it just happens by itself and you’re there just to sit up front and put the brakes on at the end.  Becoming excellent requires many many trips down the mountain.  Be honest with yourself about how much experience you really have and don’t get disappointed if it feels fast and scary.  I promise it will slow down the more you do it.  You will become more confident and more successful, but you have to keep riding.

“Any ordeal that you can survive as a human being is an improvement in your character, and usually an improvement in your life.”
– Viggo Mortensen

A letter from an old friend.

Posted in Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on July 15, 2009

This is written by a guy who used to be a close friend of mine…pretty interesting. – DT

——

I have a lot of friends.  I guess it’s because I’m so easy to be around.  It’s amazing how quickly people love me when I introduce myself to them, in fact, my friends are always referring me to their friends and family so I definitely benefit from the power of networking.  I get a bad rap for a lot things that I do, but one thing I am definitely good at is making people feel better when they are in pain or when they’re tired.  I’m almost always available for my friends which I guess is why I have so many.  I’m not on Facebook but I’m sure that if I was that I’d max out the friend limit pretty quick.  Call me arrogant but I’m just telling you like it is.

One of my biggest goals in life is to know someone that’s extremely successful.  Sure I’ve met plenty of successful people but they wouldn’t know my name if they saw me out somewhere.  I’ve also met a lot of people that seemed successful but when I got to know them I realized that they weren’t really that great.  Regardless of how broad my network is I can never seem to meet a really successful person.  Whether it’s in business or athletics or even a top producing salesperson…just once I’d love to hang out with someone who is at the top, a champion, but I can never seem to make it happen.

I’m really tight with a lot of salespeople because they’re always coming to me when they’re frustrated and I usually help them out.  I don’t know a lot of truly great salespeople but I know plenty of salespeople all the same.  I have kind of a love/hate relationship with the salespeople I know.  You see when they’re together with their other sales buddies they’re always talking bad about me behind my back, but when they’re out in the field and having a rough day I’m the one they call for support.  I find this ironic but I’m OK with it because I know I’m the only one that really makes them feel better.

I tend to have relationships that last a long time and I pride myself as someone who doesn’t give up on people.  Occasionally though one of my really good friends will get fed up with me…inevitably they’ll start focusing on my weaknesses and we’ll get in a huge fight about why I’m such a bad influence on them. Next thing you know they’re telling me that we’re not going to be friends anymore…kind of junior high drama if you ask me…but whatever.  This usually happens when they start hanging out with people who I’m not friends with; the successful people.  I think the successful people influence them more than I can and when they get close to them I tend to get the boot.

I don’t know if you know me or not but the chances are pretty good that we’ve met before and if it’s been a while since we’ve talked I’d love to hang out and catch up sometime.  You know me as the word “Quit”.  If you’re feeling beat down and discouraged I can take your pain away…all you have to do is talk to me and we’ll work it out.  Also if you know anyone who is successful, I mean REALLY successful, I’d consider it an honor if you would introduce me to them…chances are they don’t even know who I am.

-Q

Experiences vs. Principles

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on July 14, 2009

I tend to form opinions a lot based on my experiences.  I think we all do this.  When something works  for us we tend to assume that it is valuable and that it should work for others.  When something doesn’t work for us we tend to assume that it doesn’t work for anyone or that it is of little value.

Principles are tested through the process of lot’s of people’s experiences in many settings over a long period of time.  Principles are usually universally true…they don’t change.

Principle says: Exercise is good for everyone.

Experience says: Running is too hard on my knees and riding a bicycle is not practical where I live so swimming is the best form of exercise.  A different experience  may say: I’m allergic to chlorine so I can’t swim, but jumping on a pogo-stick get’s my heart pumping so the best exercise comes from pogo-sticking.  These are fine conclusions individually but problems arise when swimmers and pogo-stickers have to sit on a board together to oversee a community rec center development.  Unless decisions can be made on principle the result will be the induction of a new sport called water-pogo.

Experiences are a unique part of everyone’s story but when the goal is to create unity and inspire team work the focus should be on principles.  Everyone can buy in on principles because they have broad application and are typically true for everyone.  Establish principles first and then let people formulate their experience or opinion in the context of that principle.  This will produce results where each team member involved better understands why the decision was made the way it was, and the more they understand the more they own and support the decision.

Sports commentators don’t win championships

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on July 9, 2009

Howard Cosell is arguably one of the greatest sports announcers of all time.  In fact according to David J. Halberstam’s ranking of The top 50 network TV announcers of all time, Cosell comes in at number one.  Cosell has covered the ‘who’s who’ of sporting events including Muhammad Ali fights, The Olympic Games, The World Series and 13 consecutive years of Monday Night Football.  Cosell was idolized in his day for his uncanny ability to recall sporting statistics and bring energy and passion to the viewing experience.  Cosell could  tell you almost anything you want to know about boxing, baseball, football and more.  The only thing Cosell never had going for him is that he didn’t play the game.  Cosell’s expertise ended at the microphone.  You see, Cosell never took a hit, never swung a bat and never threw a pass at the professional level.  He was a commentator – not a player.

The world is full of commentators.  Some of them are very good at their art and they’re never short on book knowledge in their respective area of interest.  People comment on everything from sports to business, from sales and marketing strategies to fashion trends and fitness, the economy, politics, movies…the list goes on forever.  Commentators make life more entertaining; they can even get us to change our perspective by offering new information and ideas.  They spark debates and analyze theories.  Typically they are up front in the spotlight when everyone is listening in.

Rarely though do you find a commentator who is first a practitioner.  Far to often we give more credit to commentators than we do to experts.  If I had to bet my life on my ability to throw a football through a tire swing at 20 yards out and I was allowed to pick one person to get some advice from before I throw…I’m not going to choose Howard Cosell regardless of how much he knows about football.  I’m going to track down Dan Marino or John Elway or Joe Montana.  Why?  Because they’ve thrown the ball, a lot, and they’ve done it consistently while under pressure.  They know how to win because they’ve done it…not just because they have a theory about winning.

Who are you listening too?  Who are you learning from?  If you want to be great at something then find someone who is already great at it and study them…not the people who talk about them.

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Give more than they expect

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on July 7, 2009

If I tell my wife I’ll be home from work at 5:40 and I don’t show up until 5:50…I let her down.  I set her expectations and then disappointed her in my follow through because of where I set them.

If I tell her I’ll be home at 6:15 and I get home a few minutes early then she’s more excited than if I got home at 5:50 given the previous scenario even though the net result is that I came home later.  Why is this?

Expectations.

It’s so easy in sales to pull out all the stops on the front end just to get the deal done.  We actually tend to over promise what we are able to deliver in an effort to impress the prospect enough to buy.  Short term this could work in your favor.  Long term it’s a train wreck.

Get good enough to sell them on 90% of the value.  Once you close the deal unveil the other 10% and they will be a friend for life.  If they weren’t expecting it and you gave it to them – they love you.  If they were expecting it and you didn’t give it to them – they hate you.  It’s that simple.

You will stand out because hardly anyone does this and people are accustomed to getting less than what they paid for…if you give them more they will sing your praises and send you more business.

Always under promise and over deliver.

Call Reluctance

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on July 7, 2009

Anyone that has been selling for more than two weeks has felt call reluctance at some level.  No matter how much you love your job and the company you represent.  No matter how thick your skin is and how polished you are…you inevitably will face the ‘don’t want to dial blues’.

Sometimes it’s the fear of rejection, sometimes it’s mental or emotional fatigue, or it can even just be a spell of boredom.  Here are 3 steps to overcome call reluctance:

1) Clear everything off of your desk.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Throw everything in a drawer except for your computer and phone.

2) Write down the names and numbers of 10 people that you’re committed to calling that day.  Make the 1st 3 people on the list people who you don’t have to sell something to.  People who will want to talk to you.  It can be an existing customer, a co-worker, your mom…it doesn’t matter who they are as long as you’ll look forward to talking with them.  Make the next 7 warm prospects.  No cold calling.  Put the names on a yellow pad (not on your computer…we’re trying to break away from the normal cycle and make it fresh)

3) Turn off your computer…not just the screen but the whole thing.  Shut it down.  Take a 5 minute (no longer and no shorter) walk and commit to calling everyone on the list as soon as you return.  Call everyone on the list before you turn on your computer or do anything else.

Simply dialing the phone 10 times will get you back into a sustainable rhythm that will break the dry spell.  Call reluctance is like sitting on the side of a swimming pool wanting to get in and swim but not wanting to go through the initial shock of the cold water on your body.  Analyzing the decision and preparing for days does nothing to make it better.  You just have to jump in.

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Internal Customers

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on July 6, 2009

There are a million books about customer service and by in large they focus on external customers: people who buy your product or service.

How often do you think about serving your internal customers?

–  The guys in the mail room who ship your stuff for you?
–  The lady in accounting who processes your orders so that your check clears?
–  The receptionist who ensures your calls get to you?

Our relationship with our internal customers count more than we tend to give them credit for.  Serving them well and letting them know they are appreciated goes a long ways in extending our reach to external customers.

Optomism or Mediocrity?

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on July 6, 2009

I like to consider myself to be optimistic.  Looking for the best in every situation is a virtue that I pursue rigorously.  The world can use more optimists, no doubt.  There is a difference between an optimistic perspective and defending mediocrity.

Selling someone on why average is as good as excellent is not optimistic; it’s lethargic.  I’ve been guilty of spending more time and energy defending the sliver of nobility in something done poorly than it would have taken just to fix it.

If something is done without excellence there is no shame in pointing out where it could be done better.  There is definitely is no glory (under the disguise of optimism) in defending why average is good enough.

Give 100% every day and if someone calls you out on a day when you gave 90% don’t tell them why that extra 10% wasn’t that big of a deal or why the 90% was justified.  Someone called me out today and the first thing that came to mind was a very good excuse that I definitely could have spun in a positive light, but the more thought I gave it the more it haunted me that excellence never has to give excuses because it stands on it’s own.

I had to do 3 things in response to being called out:

1) Fight the urge to defend it and swallow it.

2) Learn from it and ask myself why I dropped the ball.

3) Fix it and commit to not doing it again.

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