Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

My Broken Toolbox: The top 3 reasons why salespeople fail

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on October 16, 2009

I’m a native Texan, so a little bit of ‘cowboy’ in the DNA comes with the package.  Cowboys, as you know, drive trucks and mine is a King Ranch F-150 4×4.  The cab in my truck doubles as a private lounge where George Strait and I have regular business meetings and occasional conversations about life issues like politics, religion and women.

When I bought this truck it was missing one critical piece of equipment: A toolbox.

Naturally, my first trip in the new cowboy cruiser was down the road a piece to the local Tractor Supply Co. to purchase a masterfully crafted, metal insurance policy for my precious power tools.

Truck Toolbox 101:

After the toolbox is installed, the strike pins need to be calibrated so that when you slam the lid shut it will latch securely in place.  Somehow I managed to have the time to calibrate the latch on the driver’s side but not the one on the passenger’s side.  Fortunately, the driver’s side is the one with the lock on it so my tools are always safe, but I’ve never gotten around to calibrating the latch on the passenger side.  As a result the lid on my toolbox, while still a gorgeous piece of metallic masculinity, sits slightly off kilter like a silk tie haphazardly pinned around the neck of a crooked politician.

Calibrating the other latch pin is a small task and it would only take a few minutes…

Here are the 3 reasons this project has been left undone:

  1. Not having the tools for the job. It seems like every time I have an extra minute or two to calibrate the latch I don’t have a wrench handy to adjust the nut on the strike pin…so mentally I just put it off for another day.
  2. Embracing mediocrity. Every time I close the lid I think to myself, “Well at least the side with the lock on it latches so it’s not THAT big of a deal that the other side is broken.  I can always fix it when I have some extra time”.
  3. Excuses that justify procrastination. i.e. The reason I’m not out there fixing the tool box right now is because I need to finish this blog post.  The toolbox will be fine for just one more day, right?  We all know that another day only brings another good excuse to put off what needs to be done.

These are the same 3 things that cause salespeople to be less than excellent:


  • If you are in sales, do you have the tools for the job?
  • How much are you reading?
  • What trainings have you been to?
  • If you employ a salesperson have you given them the tools they need to win? (Hint: Don’t answer this without asking them first)


  • Are you allowing ‘good enough’ to comfort you?
  • Do you put out just enough to hit your quota or required call volume so you can pacify a minimum standard of performance?
  • Is the good money you’re making squelching the fire in your belly that pushes you to make great money?


  • You can always call them later, but later never comes.
  • Quit telling yourself that you’re just not mentally on your game today and that you’ll be better off waiting until tomorrow when you’ve had some time to get back in ‘the zone’. News Flash: You will be tired and unmotivated tomorrow too.
  • When in doubt: Call someone.  Knock a door.  Make a pitch.  Quit screwing with your email settings, your website data, your marketing people, your spreadsheets, your charts, your booth set up, your fax machine/copier Blackberry/iPhone, the coffee maker or anything else that keeps you from doing the one thing that makes you money: Selling!

Go get ’em cowboy.

  • For great ideas on selling in a social media world be sure to follow Tom Ziglar on Twitter.
  • If you’re a small business owner and you want to turn your team into an army of sales champions then check out Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Master Series.

Don’t get married yet!

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on October 8, 2009

rent_me_tshirt-p235044901218092157tr3q_210I spoke with a small business client yesterday who is experiencing some trepidation about hiring a new team member.  He knows he needs the help but is a little uncertain about how and when to pull the trigger on creating this new overhead.  He has been a ‘one-man-operation’ so far and naturally wants to make sure that the person he hires is going to be perfect for the position.

We discussed several steps that should be included in the hiring process but the one thing that I encouraged him to really think about is to start off by making the position a temporary one.

If you communicate on the front end of the hire that this position is only for 60 days then you have very little obligation to them, BUT if you make it a full time position it gets a lot more awkward for each of you if this person does not work as well as you initially thought.  There are plenty of highly qualified people ‘on the street’ right now who will be thrilled just to get a temporary position.

I advised him to plan for 3 temporary positions with 60 day terms for each.

This six month ‘trial period’ will give him a lot of valuable information on his strenghts and weaknesses in the areas of:

  • Communication: Everyone has a different personality style and will ‘gel’ differently with your style.
  • Delegation: Can they complete tasks AND concepts?
  • Leadership: Some of your blind spots will be relieved.
  • Compensation Structure: You might not get it right the first time and will want to have a second chance on this one.
  • General Chemistry: Sometimes there’s just not a good vibe and you can’t put your finger on it.

You can always offer a full time position to any of the temporary employees if you find one who is a champion and a great fit for that role.

Take Away:

Whether your a sole practitioner or have an established firm consider taking some pressure off yourself on your next hire by lowering the commitment to the new team member.  This will give you time and options on finding the right person for the job.

P.S. I would also recommend getting a temporary tattoo before getting a real one.