Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Kick the week off right

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 12, 2010

shoot for this:

not this:

The dreaded ‘M’ word

“Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings”

Ashleigh Brilliant

Sadly, this is often true.  However, I propose that meetings themselves are not the culprit as much as the  lack of  purpose, leadership and effective communication IN the meetings.

Someone does it right

Here at The Lampo Group (more popularly known as Dave Ramsey’s company), we start every week with staff meeting on Monday morning.  In many organizations, staff meetings rank in popularity somewhere between root canals and waiting in line at the DMV.

Our staff meetings are actually pretty fun as far as meetings go, not to mention extremely valuable.

Dave’s philosophy on staff meeting is all about over communication.  He’ll often remind us, ‘We do these weekly meetings so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing’.  Around here, it’s kind of like the last minute pep talk in the locker room before everyone runs out on the field.

How’s it work?

Dave typically leads the meeting, and asks each department leader to stand and update the group on  key things going on.  Team leaders will share or call on someone on their team to share:

  • Victories, wins, high points, brags on team members
  • New team member introductions
  • Prayer requests, updates on things we’ve been praying for
  • Information to be aware of that might benefit the group i.e. upcoming media appearances
  • Drawings for hockey tickets, other  fun giveaways, awards and recognitions

Where to start?

Our EntreLeadership clients will often ask me how they should start implementing a staff meeting in their business.  Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Do it Monday morning: If your set up allows for a staff meeting at the beginning of the week, this is the best time to schedule it.  It sets the tone, and gets everyone’s mind engaged right out of the gate.  Make it mandatory for everyone to come.
  2. Keep it brief: We rarely go more than an hour.  If everything has been covered after just 20 minutes, we finish up and go to work.
  3. Make it fun: This is a great time to recognize your team and their accomplishments from the week before.  Catch people doing things right, then praise them in front of the team. This is a great way to define what winning looks like without having to ‘lecture’.
  4. Be personal: As a leader, you have a tremendous opportunity to share how you’re processing things that are going on in the company.  Maybe a certain area is struggling, and you read an encouraging quote or article that helped you see it in a new light.  Share this with the team – they appreciate seeing you humanity.  Just be sure that it’s not presented in a way that’s pessimistic.
  5. When in doubt, share. Don’t assume everyone on the team observes things that seem apparent to you.  You may feel like some of the concepts you’re sharing are elementary, but your team will appreciate being included.  Teach them to think like leaders.  Help them understand how the organization works.  Over time you will notice them taking on a greater sense of ownership in their work.

What works for you?

I’d love to hear some techniques and ideas for better staff meetings.  What’s working for you?  Please leave a comment with your favorite meeting tip.

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Fear and Transparency

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 5, 2010

Fear

I recently witnessed a leader experiencing a melt down in front of their team members.  They were emotional, irrational, and everything about their body language communicated desperation.  Clearly, they were afraid of something.  They were having a bad day.

We all have bad days, and we all need people in our lives that we can turn to for support when we’ve been kicked in the teeth.  As a leader, look outside of your team for support when you’re afraid.

Fear doesn’t lead well.

  • The team will amplify your fear
  • Fear darkens the spirit of the organization
  • Fear Paralyzes: Productive activity stops until the leader’s drama is resolved

Dave Ramsey has often told me,

It’s OK to be afraid… just don’t make decisions based on fear.

I would add:  Don’t vent your fear to the team without a solution…there’s little up side.

Transparency

Transparency has tremendous upside.  When you talk openly about issues with your team, positive or negative, they will appreciate you’re candidness:

  • Everyone wants to be treated like an adult
  • Adults understand that no one is perfect, and they respect a leader who doesn’t act like they have it all together
  • Fear doesn’t thrive when everyone understands what’s really going on

When being transparent on negative issues, you will do well to lead your team in exercises that allow them to see the issue objectively.  Don’t the hide negative realities from your team, help them process through it.  Get their feedback.

Let your team know that while you may not have all the answers yet, you are not going to be motivated by fear.

Gut Check

  • Do you have a place to unpack fearful situations outside of your subordinate team?
  • What are practical ways you express transparency without becoming demoralizing?
  • Do you have a tendency to keep people in the dark on information that might help them?

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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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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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.

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:

TOOLS

  • 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)

MEDIOCRITY

  • 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?

EXCUSES

  • 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.

Resources:
  • 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.

Mix it up

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 22, 2009

trail-running

I run a lot.  Not a whole lot by most people’s standards, but definitely a lot for a 210# guy with a desk job.  My M.O. is to go out and pound the pavement for 2-4 miles with my iPod and my heart rate monitor; same routes, same pace, same music mix…but today I did something completely new.

A buddy of mine, Bill Hampton, talked me into doing a 4.5 mile trail run in Percy Warner Park.

I didn’t really know what to expect, and it’s probably a good thing, because parts of this trail made me feel like I needed a climbing harness and a rope.  It was  muddy, slippery, rugged and fast.  We were leaping over logs, dodging under branches and shuffle-stepping to avoid stumbling down 150 foot vertical drops  just inches away from our feet.  It was dark and wet.  It was hard.  I yelled out a few ‘war cries’ and got Bill to do the same.  We got lost but we kept running under the theory that “all these trails have to come out in the same place, right?”.  So it added a couple miles and we were ticked- part of the adventure and drama.

With about a mile left to go I told Bill, “This has to be the biggest release I’ve had all year”.  I felt alive and free.  The last time I felt this way when I was running was….hmm, not sure I’ve ever felt that way.  Running had become boring.  I had no idea that mixing it up like that would take it from vanilla to exhilarating in just one work out.

The point?

Doing the same thing in a new way defeats the boredom.  It’s easy to get bored with selling and running a business so mix it up daily.

  • If you normally make phone calls sitting down, then try standing up all day
  • If you drive the same route to work every day, try leaving 30 minutes early and take a new CD and a new route
  • Bring breakfast in for your whole office one day and tell them you appreciate them
  • Stand on your chair in a meeting and ask people a thought provoking question (I’ll never forget when Tara stood up on her chair on her first day in staff meeting to introduce herself)
  • Give a high five to everyone you see for a whole day
  • Take a walk on your lunch break
  • Sit on a ball
  • Sit on the roof during your next conference call
  • Play the Rocky Theme at your desk until one of your coworkers makes you to turn it down
  • If someone is in your office having a meltdown, dump water on your head and tell them to chill – they will laugh – and then they will chill
  • Throw up a rock fist every time you close a deal

Don’t be afraid of cheesy.  Cheesy beats boring every time.  Mix it up just for the sake of mixing it up.  Take a risk…leave the pavement behind.

more resources on trail running

Un and Re Employed

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 9, 2009

unemployment

  1. To be unemployed means you were employed and now you’re not
  2. Being unemployed is better than never having been employed to begin with
  3. If you have never been employed then you are just ‘trying to find work’…this is a journey for some I suppose
  4. If you are unemployed then you are simply in the process of becoming re-employed, and you will, because with the character that you’ve gained recently you’re more valuable now than you’ve ever been
  5. Stay employed, employ yourself, or get re-employed but don’t ‘try to find work’.  By definition if you’re unemployed you’ve already found it at least once

Some will say this is semantics or a play on words and it doesn’t help them get a job.  Some will see this as a paradigm shift.  I probably wouldn’t  hire the ones who say it’s semantics.

P.S. If you’ve never worked…this just means you’re lazy so please stop making yourself feel better by saying that you’re unemployed.  Unemployed is a distinguished title for people who know how to work and are simply in the process of becoming re-employed.

Play baseball on your next sales call.

Posted in Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on August 13, 2009

I remember getting my first baseball bat and ball when I was a kid and running out into the backyard ready to smash the tar out of that new ball.  Whenever my dad would pitch to me I was on cloud nine, and just like every other kid my age I was now on the fast track to become the next Babe Ruth.

I did face the problem that most aspiring ball players face during that season of life which was that  I wanted to hit the ball more than people wanted to spend time pitching it to me.  I formulated two solutions in an attempt to overcome this dilemma.

  1. Tie a rope around the ball, throw the rope over a tree branch and swing away.  This worked.  Sometimes.  However, after one solid hit the ball usually flew out of the yellow nylon rope and it took forever to get it tied back just right.  This was not a good plan since you only had so much time before the sun set to get your batting practice in.
  2. Self pitch.  This method requires a lot of focus for a nine year old boy.  You simultaneously hold the bat in your right hand, toss the ball up with your left hand high enough to give you time to grab the bat with both hands and take a swing as the ball plummets back to the ground.

The problem with these methods is they are both awkward. They are also inaccurate training for a real game scenario.  They do very little to actually prepare you for a ball being pitched to you with velocity from the pitchers mound.  They also don’t allow you to hit the ball very far.  A ball that is pitched to you will travel much farther than one that is horizontally static because the contact with the bat not only applies new force to the ball but it actually re-directs the momentum the ball already has.

Here’s how this applies in selling:

We often tend to be self promoting in an effort to build credibility and trust.  It’s extremely difficult to do this without sounding cocky plus it’s awkward for both you and the prospect (i.e. trying to pitch to yourself).  It’s extremely dangerous to ever say anything that is self promoting.  But what if you really need that credibility to be established?  What if you really do have things that if your prospect just knew about you would lead to them respecting you more?  How do you communicate those things??  You get someone to pitch to you.  Here are 3 action points you can start applying today to get someone to pitch to you:

  • Get a written testimony from an existing client about how great your product is and be sure it includes something about how great it was to work with YOU…how fun you were to work with,  how diligent you were to get them the best price, how you went out of your way to serve them.  We ask for testimonies about our product all the time but why not ask for it to include something about your character.
  • Coach your references on how to talk about you.  Let them know that you’re counting on them to build you up for the sake of the prospect and that you don’t feel comfortable bragging on yourself.  They’ll get it and they’ll be happy to brag on you if you just ask them to and explain the goal behind this method.
  • Take an associate with you to a sales call or meeting.  This always adds what’s called Third Party Credibility.  Talk through the dynamics of the meeting ahead of time and agree to promote each other and set each other up to win during the meeting.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a peer, your boss, or a subordinate.  Just having them there changes the dynamic considerably.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. – Proverbs 11: 2

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