Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Cyber Monday (AKA check your brain at the door)

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on November 30, 2009

When you take a driver’s safety course they will tell you the first thing to do if you’re getting sleepy while driving is to turn off the cruise control.  Keeping your mind engaged in active driving will minimize your chances of ending up in the ditch.

Many Americans will turn on the cruise control today

It’s ‘Cyber Monday’ which means an estimated 100 million people are shopping online right now instead of working.  Christmas songs are on the radio and our tummy’s are still full with turkey and pumpkin pie.  ‘Tis the season, right?

Were you tempted too?

I caught myself slipping a little bit mentally this morning as I was packing my gym bag.  I thought to myself, “Maybe I should just wait until January to get going again on my physical goals”.  I was tempted to turn on the cruise control.

Dave Ramsey called me out

Dave Ramsey gave our staff a great core value talk this morning about keeping our eye on the ball during this time of year while everyone seems to be letting off the gas a little bit.

This is my take away from his talk

  • If we are doing work that matters, then it matters that we work.  It matters that we finish the race we started.  People are stressed out and hurting right now, but we have something that can help them.
  • I am the only one who can maximize the opportunity I’ve been given…no one else is going to be there to pick up my slack.  If I let off the gas then we slow down, period.  When we slow down our customers don’t get served.
  • I want to start 2010 with momentum.

Do you see the signs of people turning on cruise control around you this week?

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Hate Meetings? 5 easy tips to make them worth attending

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on November 25, 2009

Meetings are typically viewed as a necessary evil.  Most people absolutely hate meetings.  So be a change agent, do something about it…be the hero that brings life and energy into your organizations meeting culture.

I highly recommend Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting.  It’s full of great ideas on how to approach meetings and how to break them down into either strategic or tactical agendas.  Lencioni will show you how to get buy in from all the players in the meeting and how to ensure that the meeting results in productive activity every time.

Here are 5 ideas on meetings. Add them to your business tool belt along with all the great content put forth in Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting.

When in doubt, invite

It’s a sinking feeling to hear about a meeting that you were not invited to if the subject matter in that meeting was even remotely connected to your roll in the organization.

  • Get ALL the players in the room.
  • If their relevance to the meeting is questionable, then give them the option to attend or the option to leave early if they feel like it’s wasting their time.  People will appreciate being included.

Plan for follow up meetings

  • If the meeting is strategic (vs. tactical), make it clear to the players in the meeting that the goal is to cover information which is relevant to everyone in the room.
  • Avoid fostering a meeting environment where ten people become bored listening to two people go back and forth about an action item that involves only those two people.  This happens often, and it’s one of the top reasons that people hate meetings.
  • Action items involving a few people simply need to be discussed in a follow up meeting to keep creative energy flowing in the group.

Somebody please lead!

The worst meetings I’ve been in have occurred when the attendees of the meeting did not have a clear understanding of who was leading the meeting.

  • The meeting leader’s job is to to ensure that all of the players give input (not to talk the whole time).
  • If you are the meeting organizer then by default you are the leader of the meeting, but if someone else is going to lead then the organizer needs to open the meeting with their endorsement of the meeting leader and then let them take over.  Set the meeting leader up to win.
  • If you are the meeting leader consider having someone else introduce you/your ideas or endorse you to add credibility.

Meet before the meeting

  • If you know there is going to be some tension or controversy in the meeting then identify your allies ahead of time and meet with them to let them know how they can best support you in the upcoming meeting.
  • Meet with the players who will be in opposition to your agenda and ask them what their concerns are.  Let them know you’re going to consider their concerns between now and the upcoming meeting, and that you hope the meeting will offer a solution that they are content with.
  • You will be amazed at how doing these prep meetings will increase the buy in and the chemistry in the room when everyone meets together.  Our tendency is to just show up and start shooting from the hip.  Don’t do this.  You will be frustrated with people when the meeting is over.

How long?

  • The meeting will always expand to occupy the time allotted.
  • Think about how much time is really needed to have an effective meeting and remember that follow up meetings are encouraged.
  • You can always schedule another meeting but once the time is set it’s extremely rare that a meeting will take less time than scheduled.
  • Consider using odd time segments like 12 minutes or 40 minutes instead of the standard 30 minute or 1 hour blocks.

When in doubt bring lots of candy to the meeting.

For more ideas on how to have better meetings, read my previous post about meetings or check out Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership events to get the tools for building a team, increasing communication and hosting more productive meetings.
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You don’t deserve the touchdown dance

Posted in Business, Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on November 23, 2009

A Rare Breed

There are many casualties in the high stakes games of selling and small business leadership.  It takes a tremendous amount of tenacity to thrive in an environment where personal responsibility is your only bail out plan.  As small business owners and sales people we work tirelessly, betting on the hope that one day our dream will come to pass if we commit our lives to the principles of success mapped out by those who have gone before us.  Sales people and business owners are far too familiar with the feelings of defeat, fear and stress that ensue early in our journey toward success.

Our survival tactics are fueled by information.  Knowledge is the currency of entrepreneurs and sales tycoons.  Acquiring the tools for effective communication and the perspective to stay motivated in the face of adversity are the two greatest reoccurring hurdles between us and our dreams.  So we rally together.  We read books, attend conferences and continuously scan the horizon looking for the next piece of advice or encouragement.

Our Struggle Toward Success

Keeping our goals in front of us, we stumble forward and try to learn from our mistakes.  Fighting.  Dreaming.  We welcome the opportunity to be refined by our experiences.  As my friend Tom Ziglar says, “We embrace the struggle”.  We learn how to serve our customers and sell to them in a way that is not manipulative.  Then we earn enough money to find ourselves in a place where we are no longer desperate for new business and so our customers gravitate towards us even more.  Our customers then become our fans and start bringing us their friends and family and our momentum grows.  The snowball starts turning over faster and faster until we look up one day and realize that we have become successful…we are finally winning!

This is the day that we have been running towards for countless years and now we have arrived.    This is the day that the spotlight is on us as we revel in all of the work and energy we have put forth to get to this point.  This is the day that the gratification finally surpasses the painful sacrifices we have made.  This is the day we dreamed about, and this is the most dangerous day of our lives. If we are not careful, this is the day that we forget how we got here because we are too distracted with the trappings of our success.

How DID we get here?

We like to take credit for our success and point to all of the books we read and events we attended and the extra hours we put in, and to some small level, these things have a bearing on our destiny.  The bulk of our achievements, however, are rooted in the efforts of other people in our lives that helped us along in our journey.  None of us really get to win on our own.  Any level of true success is always a team effort.

  • Who are the players on your team?
  • Who built the product that you sell?
  • Who was it that gave you that book or audio recording that ended up being a hinge-pin resource for you to take the next step toward your goals?
  • Who invited you to that conference or networking event or gave you some encouragement when you were down?
  • Who are the people working diligently behind the scenes to produce something of value for you to offer to your customers?

I would contend that there are no self-made-men.  We all pull energy and ideas from our friends, family, team members and customers.

The Temptation

The problem with being a successful small business owner or sales professional is that we are usually the one holding the ball when it crosses the goal line and we start to think this means something about how great we are.  After all we get the credit for scoring the touchdown.  We get to do the victory dance and the crowd chants our name when we score the game winning goal.

What about the team?  What about the guy who just blocked for us and is laying on his back on the 20-yard-line holding his busted knee in sheer agony?  Is he not the real reason we are here?  We have to do our part and become more so that we are ready to receive the pass for a completion, but it’s the unsung heroes on our team that allow us to win.  Without them I am just a guy with a little bit of passion and a dream.

Take Away

When we start to achieve success in business it will be our name that the masses will adore, but we must never forget that it is our team that has brought us here.  It’s the players in our lives that have gone before us and taken hits on our behalf that we owe the credit to.

I’ve been guilty far too many times of doing the touchdown dance…it’s easy to do when you just scored a game winning goal.  I regret every time I yielded to that temptation.  I’m learning to recognize the value of the players around me who take the hits and do the heavy lifting.  In reality I didn’t score a goal at all…my team scored a goal and I just happened to be touching the ball when it crossed the line.

Before you speak

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on November 12, 2009

We are in Cancun, Mexico this week for our EntreLeadership Master Series event.  Over 100 small business owners and leaders from around the country have gathered here to learn from Dave Ramsey on how to build and grow a business more effectively.

I was challenged today by one of our guest speakers, Dr. Michael Easley, during his special bonus session this morning.  I tend to talk too much and my experience says that most sales people tend to overtalk.  Dr. Easley asked 4 simple questions that we should consider each time we are about to say something:

  1. Is it kind?
  2. Is it true?
  3. Is it confidential?
  4. Is it necessary to share?

If not then we should really think hard before we say it.  I’m going to work on applying this from now on.