Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

5 Tips For a Zero Based Inbox

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on March 31, 2010

My email inbox is my daily to do list

I even email myself reminders when I’m out since I have trained myself to regularly read and respond to every – single – one.  (Notice I said respond and not reply).

As I write this post there are only 2 emails in my inbox.  This is fairly normal even though my inbox sees anywhere between 50 to 150 new messages per day.  I travel quite a bit, attend meetings and make phone calls just like everyone else.

It is not easy or natural for me to keep my inbox cleaned out, but thanks to encouraging posts like this one from 43 Folders, I have become relentless in the discipline of staying on top of email correspondence.  I’ve learned that if you don’t manage your email, it will manage own you.

You have the tools – use them

Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up that help me grease the bearings on the revolving email door:

  1. Use your calendar: I specifically schedule time for email.  If a meeting request comes in for that time, I’m just simply not available.  I start each day with 30 minutes of email time where I scan my inbox and hit some quick forwards and replies.  Emails that involve projects or lengthier responses get dropped into a calendar appointment specifically scheduled for working on that task.  The last 30 minutes of every day is blocked off to clear out my inbox at all cost.  I leave the office almost every single day with zero emails lurking behind.
  2. Use your team: A lot of times I receive an email that would be better handled by other players on my team.  Rather than feeling obligated to answer someone’s question, I reply and copy 2-3 other people and simply ask, “Hey Guys, What are your thoughts on this?” or “What can we do to help with this?”.  Many times a dialogue will ensue that results in everyone else resolving the issue while I just observe the exchange.  The result will often be better than if I had tried to tackle it on my own.
  3. Use your folders: If I’m gathering data or doing research for a project, I don’t let emails related to that project just set up camp in my inbox while they’re waiting around to be executed on.  I drop them in a ‘project folder’, and I put a reminder on my calendar for a time when I need to work on that project.  This way everything is in one place when I’m ready to focus on that project.
  4. Use your backbone: When I get emails that are social in nature or involve looking at something that’s not relevant to my responsibilities to my organization, I’m not above replying with a simple “I’m sorry but I don’t have time to look at this”.  I usually don’t get a reply back to that one.
  5. Use questions: Typically people don’t email us questions because we have the answers and they don’t, but because they’re hoping that we will do the thinking for them.  If I get the sense that someone is being lazy then I like to reply with a question such as: “Do we have enough time to do this?”or,”What are you hoping to accomplish with this information?”or,”What’s our plan if we can’t get this part figured out”or,”Can we chat about this in person?”…you get the idea.  More often than not they’ll reply with a more thought out response that many times ends up resolving their original issue.  The key is getting them to engage!

You can do it

Keeping your inbox clean is difficult, but with some practice you can do it.  You might not be able to do this overnight either because it takes time to implement the right tools that are needed to stay on top of it.  You’ll find yourself adjusting and correcting your processes as you go, but stick with it.  It’s just like surfing – you have to swim your tail off to get on top of the wave but once you’re up, you can ride with just a little effort.  Getting to zero the first time is the hardest part.

Since I’ve adopted this practice I’ve noticed several benefits:

  • I don’t lose emails
  • With few exceptions, I’m able to get back to everyone within a 24 hour period
  • I don’t stress about wondering if there’s something important buried in my inbox that I’m not getting too soon enough
  • I’ve developed a reputation for being dependable in this area
  • I have a greater sense of control of my work throughout the day

What other tips do you have for managing your email flow?  I’d love to hear them!

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Is your social media plan costing you sales?

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on March 26, 2010

I’m Sold On The Brand

When I joined Prairie Life Fitness Center I became a big fan of their facility.  It’s new, clean and close to my office so I can easily get over there for a quick workout during lunch.  In the fall, I changed my workout routine to an off season maintenance plan for my triathlon training.  Most of this program didn’t require the use of a gym so I canceled my membership with Prairie Life.

Today I’m ready to join up again:

  • Triathlon season is in full swing
  • I’ll soon be living closer to this gym so I’m also interested in a family membership now
  • I enjoy working out with one of their current members, Bill Hampton, who recently made the comment, “Tardy, you should join back at Prairie Life so we can swim laps together at lunch!”
  • I heard about a special they ran last month with a fairly competitive rate
  • I’m motivated and ready to go…I just need an easy way to buy.

Can I PLEASE Just Give You My Money?

As luck would have it, I just received  an email newsletter from Prairie Life this week.

My first thought:  “Great!  I don’t have to find a phone number and call someone…I can just reply to this email real quick and get some more info…

Great content with no hook

This was a a good newsletter and someone clearly put a lot of time into it.  I certainly understand that it wasn’t designed to be a marketing piece since the recipient list is mostly made up of current members.  I also understand the concept of creating customer loyalty by sharing content versus just pitching your stuff.  That’s all fine.

BUT

  • No where in the newsletter did it have a section with contact info
  • Nothing about “Tell your friends about this month’s special and get a discount on your next massage”
  • I can’t even reply to the email: donotreply@prairielife.com
  • I just want someone to tell me how much it is and take my money

I’m qualified.  I know the product well.  I have the money.  I need the product.

It’s just not easy enough to buy.

The Social Media Risk:

We’re running businesses in a day when Social Media Marketing gurus are challenging us to produce content, and establish brand equity as a priority over simply turning up the volume on our marketing messages.   This is clearly an imperative action for any business hoping to survive in the twenty first century.  However, blindly adopting Social Media Marketing tactics introduces the risk for an organization to fall short between the words ‘Media’ and ‘Marketing’.

Yes, as a consumer I want your brand to have a ‘social’ aspect that causes me to feel like you’re engaged.

  • I still need a call to action.
  • I still need you to sell me your message.
  • I still need a way to give you my money.

Until then, the relationship I have with my good friends at Prairie Life Fitness Center will be ‘strictly social’.

Mr. Tardy, I’m calling about our plastic, boring, vanilla waste of your time

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on March 25, 2010

That’s what I hear when you cold call me.

  • Please don’t do this.
  • It’s painful for everyone involved.
  • You know someone who likes you.  Ask them who they know and then ask them who they know.
  • Get referrals. Use references.
  • Life is too short to cold call.

I might really want to buy your product, but it’s only happening if I think its my idea or someone I trust says it’s a good deal.

Do you disagree with this?  Am I crazy?  I’m willing to bet that no one responds to this saying they enjoy being called on cold.

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What’s up with ‘Serving You’?

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on March 24, 2010

This is my email signature:

Serving You,

Daniel Tardy
Director of EntreLeadership Promotions
www.EntreLeadership.com
Direct: 800-983-3385
Twitter: @DanielTardy

Serving You

A lot of people ask me why I write ‘Serving You’ instead of Sincerely, All The Best, Thanks, or any other ‘normal’ valediction.

This particular complementary close reminds me that these Latin words are penned inside the front cover of my journal:

Inservio Deus. Inservio Populus. Prosequor Integritas.

Serve God. Serve people. Pursue integrity.

This is my goal.  If I can focus on these three things, then everything else in my life is just a smaller supporting part of this focus.  I am not naturally inclined to serve.  I actually tend to be quite selfish.  My actions rarely reflect the intentions of this goal…that’s why it’s a goal.  It pushes me out of my comfort zone.

When I write an email and read the phrase ‘Serving You’, I see it with a question mark on the end:

Serving You?

  • Am I really serving them?
  • Should I rephrase something?
  • Should I save this as a draft and send it tomorrow (or not at all)?
  • Is THAT word really necessary?
  • Should I add some courtesy phrases and put a little more thought into this?  Maybe even ask how their day is going?

I tend to fire off emails with a healthy dose of cynicism, laziness and a general lack of service.  If I’m not careful they just become a task that needs to be eliminated from my inbox.  This little reminder pops in front of my eyes 50 – 100 times a day, and each time it challenges me to lean away from my self centered perspective and back toward my goal of living a life of service.

I have not arrived

There are plenty of times I hit the send button prematurely without processing through all of this in my mind, but since I started including this line in my signature, I’ve seen my character slowly shift toward a spirit of humility.  Not to say that this technique itself has caused the change;  it’s certainly not a magic formula.  I just find that reminding myself daily of how I want to live helps me to focus on the goal.

What tricks do you use to remind yourself of your goals?  Different things work for different people…I’d love to hear any techniques you find to be helpful!

Sell the launch

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on March 22, 2010

Most amateur product life cycles look like this:

Apple, Hollywood and Ticket Master do it different:

  • The iPad doesn’t come out until April 3rd, 2010, but a Google search on ‘iPad’ currently returns over 35 million results.  I’m pre-ordering mine this week.
  • The Gulliver’s Travels film will come to theaters on December 22, 2010.  (You could have a baby between now and then).  Marketing campaigns are already rolling out for this film.
  • George Strait & Reba are coming to Nashville, TN on April 28th.  I’ve heard commercials for weeks promoting the event? Nope.  Promoting the ‘Tickets go on sale’ date: Sat, 03/20/10 at precisely 10:00 AM CDT.

Emotion Creates Motion

Many organizations like these are learning to create an event around the product launch.  Events allow marketers to rally their campaigns around two key motivators in human behaviour:

  1. A sense of urgency
  2. A fear of loss

Sales are the natural next step when marketing causes one of these emotions to be stirred up in the mind of the consumer.

BUT…

  • You can’t market the launch if you don’t have a date
  • You can’t set a date without a product (or at least a product development time line) in place
  • Good products don’t happen without market research

What if you don’t have events?

But Daniel…

I’m in retail.

We just service HVAC units.

My business is different because we’re just consultants.

I recommend brainstorming ways to incorporate events into your business model.  They are the only thing left that customers can miss out on.

Sales, Specials, VIP days, Open Houses, Company Picnics, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, April 15th :-(, Grand Opening, Try our new __________ day, Marathons…

These are all events.

How can you weave them into the marketing fabric of your brand?

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Follow up: Drive until the road dead ends

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on March 2, 2010

In my experience, it’s 3 times as hard to get a new, warm prospect as it is to exhaust the potential of the one you already have.

Here’s my mantra: Follow up until the road dead ends.

Dead End = When we discover we are not dealing with a qualified prospect or they tell us to leave them alone.

Keep pushing…

  • If you send an email and get no reply, send another one.
  • If you leave a voice mail and they don’t call back, call again.
  • Send snail mail, post cards, smoke signals, whatever it takes to follow the road until it dead ends.

The Temptation

We often assume the road dead ends based on a trend of unanswered voicemails or emails.  We feel like we’re bugging them.  So what?  If we are, they can tell us to go away, and only at that point should we respectfully yield.  We have to get this notion out of our heads that we are bugging them.  We are SERVING them!

I want to attend Bill’s conference. He told me about it.  I liked what I heard.  I have the time and money. I asked him to email me something on it. He never did.  I lost his info.  He lost the sale.

Dead ends are OK

They are a reality.  BUT – many times what looks like a dead end is just a turn in the road with a sale waiting around the corner.  We don’t know the difference until we follow up.

Wow!  Check out these stats on follow up

48% of Sales People Never Follow Up With A Prospect
25% of Sales People Make A Second Contact and Stop
12% of Sales People Only Make Three Contacts and Stop
Only 10% of Sales People Make More Than Three Contacts
2% of Sales are made on First Contact
3% of Sales are made on Second Contact
5% of Sales are made on Third Contact
10% of Sales are made on Fourth Contact
80% of Sales are made on Fifth to Twelfth Contact

Can you relate?

How are you with follow up?  What holds you back when you know in your gut that you should try to connect just one more time?

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