Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

No one cares about your snow.

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on February 17, 2010

Most of the country has been experiencing more winter weather than usual.

Weather changes things

  • It’s a hassle
  • Things get wet
  • ER rooms & body shops get busy
  • People run late
  • Flights get canceled

Guess what?

It snows in the winter.  This should not come as a surprise.  Dave Ramsey led our staff in a great thinking exercise this week about staying focused midst of a storm.  He reminded us that while it’s snowing here in Nashville, our 8:30 am conference call with Tampa Bay doesn’t care.

We tend to let off the gas on our commitments when we feel like we have a ‘legitimate excuse’ (legitimate defined as something out of our control).

Sure, people will understand.  They just don’t care.

It snows every week

This week it’s snow.  Next week the kids are sick.  Then it’s tax season and, and, and…

Our customers want us to bat 1,000.  Our lack of service doesn’t become resolved in their mind when we inform them that we’ve had a crazy day.  Excellence may seem like an ambitious mantra in the midst of distractions beyond our control.

Well, your competition certainly hopes you feel this way.

We’ve all used this one:

“My dog ate my homework.”

When I tried using this line, my algebra teacher told me I shouldn’t keep a pet that caused me to fail an assignment, then pulled out her grade book and wrote F.

Customers don’t write F, they just leave.

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‘Switch’ comes out today!

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on February 16, 2010

Switch goes on sale today!  Chip and Dan Heath have put together a great study on what causes change to take place.

You’ll find this book insightful on the necessary ingredients that cause change to occur.  I was planning on writing an extensive review, but since you hear from me all the time I want you to have a chance to hear from some other change agents today.  I’ve asked several friends to help me out by reading an advance copy of this book and commenting on this post today with their own summary thoughts.

Check back throughout the day to watch the conversation unfold!

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What keeps you going?

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on February 12, 2010

The January-February issue of Outside Magazine has a great article on ‘Fun Raising’ (raising money for charity by virtue of training for a marathon, triathlon or other group event).  The cause-fitness movement has really taken off over the past decade as more and more pavement pounders have been recruited in the name of supporting a good cause.

What motivates people to do this?

Excerpt from the article:

In 2008, a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine [demonstrates that] motivation increases the more an individual meets three criteria: autonomy (you call the shots); competence (you measurably improve at what you’re doing); and, perhaps most important, “relatedness” (you have a purpose and connect with something larger than yourself).

Motivation principles are universal

As I read the article and learned more about the principles that motivate average people to go out and accomplish something extraordinary, I couldn’t help but analyze the same data through the lens of a business owner or sales professional.

I submit that the same principles which bring anyone to a point of ‘voluntary physical torture’ are at work among business leaders and salespeople all over the planet.  Here’s how I translate them:

  1. Autonomy: Calling the shots.  If I work harder than the the guy running the company across town or the sales person in the next cubicle, I expect to be compensated more.  I want to control my own destiny.  I want the books I read, events I attend and late hours worked to impact my future; I want them to matter.
  2. Competence: If I didn’t do better this month over last month, I’m frustrated.  I am my biggest critic.  I set goals that push me to a higher standard than I had for myself last year, and if I don’t hit them I feel like I didn’t grow personally as much as I should have.
  3. Relatedness: Everyone wants to be connected to something bigger than themselves.  We want to sell products that offer more value than we charge for them.  I sleep better at night knowing my customers are better off because I took the time to sell them my product.  The bottom line is we need people.  Our customers, our team, our vendors…none of it can happen without them.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Do you have what it takes?

Can you identify these motivational elements in your life?  If you employee people are you fostering an environment where their vote counts and they feel a sense of progress and connectivity?

Take out just one of these pillars and the opportunity will be short lived by champion players.  The vacuum left in their place will soon be filled by a buzzard.

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A little game this Sunday…

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on February 5, 2010

Lot’s of buzz right now about football.  ESPN has a full line up of commentators with tons of stats and opinions about this years Super Bowl match up between the Colts and the Saints.

Question:

If you had to bet your life on it, which commentator would you want to teach you how to throw a football?

Answer: None of them!  They don’t throw footballs for a living, they comment.

To get the best advice on throwing a football I want to get on the field with Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.  They have thrown thousands of passes under pressure and they are PLAYING in the Super Bowl.

Who are you listening to?

There are thousands of commentators in our lives.  We often give them too much credit because they’re loud, marketed, and have lots of compelling data.

We tend to put to much credit on the ‘what’ before the ‘who’.

Be aware of WHO wrote the book or blog you’re reading.  Pay attention to WHO is teaching the event you attend.  Be careful of WHO’s opinion you adopt as your own.  Whether it’s business advice, spiritual mentoring or lessons on how to be a great father, I want to learn from the guys who are on the field when the game clock starts.

Shameless Plug:

This is what I love the most about Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership event.  Dave is teaching from experience.  This is rare as far as training events go.

Shorty Awards

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on February 5, 2010

Here’s some legitimate reasons for why you might not want to vote for Dave Ramsey to win a shorty award:

  1. If you’re like me you had no idea what a ‘shorty award‘ was until yesterday…an award for short people? Huh?
  2. If someone asked for your vote without explaining what a shorty award is and why your opinion counts.  (Consider this your explanation)
  3. You’re afraid this might take too long and won’t matter that much.
  4. You’re not on Twitter

Here’s why I think you might want to do this despite the reasons not to:

  1. If you’re not on Twitter it’s a great reason to join the conversation
  2. People will probably follow you if you vote…other Dave Ramsey followers want to follow you if you’re a fan.
  3. Dave Ramsey helps millions of people with the best common sense advice on personal finance out there today!
  4. He’s the real deal. I’ve worked for him going on 7 years now.  I can assure you his heart and vision truly are to help people get out of debt and have a better quality of life. It’s not smoke and mirrors, it’s not magic pills, it’s just good old fashioned advice that is in YOUR best interest.
  5. If Dave Ramsey wins a shorty award in the finance category then more people get helped, pay off debt, stimulate economy…everyone wins!
  6. It’s a fun chance to learn what a shorty award is and find out who is engaged in the social media world
  7. It doesn’t take long at all and it’s painless.

Voting ends in about an hour so jump on it quick if you want your vote to count!  Thanks for your vote!

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I’m STILL waiting…

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on February 5, 2010

Happy. Regular. Customer.

I ran into the store yesterday after my swim workout to grab one of my favorite quick-bite-standbys, the turkey avocado wrap.  The lady behind the counter knows me by name (even though I always seem to forget hers)…she asks if I want the usual, and all I have to do is give her the affirming nod and she’s on it.  She’s proud of her wraps, and she loves her customers.  She makes the wraps herself every morning, and takes great pride in the fact that by about 1:30 each afternoon they’re all gone.

They messed with my routine

When I went in to grab my wrap yesterday, I knew from across the store that I had a problem.  I didn’t see ‘my wrap-lady’.  Instead, standing in wrap-laddie’s usual spot was ‘hippie-dude’. Now, I’m not mad at guys  with long hair who wear earrings or other types of body hardware per se , but this guy looked like he just climbed out of a tackle-box!  His body language wasn’t very reassuring, and given his general hygienic disposition and overall vibe, I was really hoping that wrap-lady was just on break and not gone for good.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the Hipster is a really nice guy…he just wasn’t giving me a lot of reasons to accuse him of knowing anything about turkey avocado wraps.

I blew it off and took my place in line behind the customer in front of me and waited.  While I was standing there, another patron approached  the counter and stood in her own newly self-acclaimed-line to wait.  Guess what?  Hippie-dude waited on her before me.  “No big deal”, I thought.  Maybe he didn’t realize I was there before her, besides I’m a gentleman so, ‘Ladies first’.  No problem.

I didn’t really start getting frustrated until hippie-dude proceeded to wait on patron number five without ever acknowledging me!  This was ridiculous.  I almost walked out, but I had a need that not even more cowbell could satisfy…I had to get my wrap.  So, I raised my hand.  I stood there like a fool in the middle of the store with my arm held high until finally, hippie-dude took note and grunted something that sounded like ‘What do you want’?

I got my wrap and I got out, all the while praying that wrap-lady would be back next time.

They shouldn’t have to wait

As I was driving back to the office, it hit me that the frustrating feelings I experienced during this little scenario must be similar to the feelings our clients, prospects and co-workers feel when we make them wait.  A phone call returned 3 days later, a slow email response, or an unanswered web inquiry are all legitimate reasons for a customer to be disappointed, and for a prospect to abandon us.

Here are few habits I try to keep up in order to avoid making people wait:

  • Serve external customers first.  If a coworker is standing at your desk and your phone is ringing…answer the phone.  Help your coworker later.
  • Which Email? Allow complexity to prioritize speed of response.  If it’s small and fast then do it now. I typically return emails in the order I receive them, but I’m always scanning my inbox for things that I can reply to quickly with a few words and delete, regardless of chronological order.  Keep the small things moving and don’t let them bottleneck.
  • I read ALL my emails EVERY day. But I don’t always have time to give an adequate response, or I might need to get input or research something before I reply.  In this case I’ll simply reply with “I’ll get back with you on this”.  Then I drop the email into an Outlook appointment in the next day or two when I’ll have time to work on it.   I delete it from my inbox so it’s out of site.

Most people don’t expect an answer right away…just a response.

  • Return all phone calls ASAP.  If someone calls they’re hoping to get a live person…not a voice mail.  24 hours is too long for a voice mail to go unanswered.   If an assistant or secretary is returning calls on your behalf, make sure they are on top of this.  Discuss with them regularly the importance of returning calls fast.
  • Set expectations. If you’re out of town and won’t be looking at email, then use the out of office feature letting people know when they should expect to hear from you.  If they’re filling out a web form tell them your goal is to get to them in ‘X’ amount of time.  Maybe it’s as much as a week…that’s fine as long as you communicate it.  Otherwise the expectation is that you will reply immediately.  Chris Brogan had a great post on this yesterday regarding web forms titled Make it Easy to Connect

There are certainly times when we are simply unable to have perfect response times.  The key to maintaining happy customers is not perfect response time as much as it is helping them understand that you’re doing the best you can to get with them soon,  AND letting them know what to expect.

How do you do it?

I’d love to hear systems or strategies that you use to stay on top of response time.  Please take a minute to post a reply so we can all benefit from your experience!