Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

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?
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Here’s how I almost died the other day

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 4, 2009

dogbite

I wasn’t familiar with the road I went running down this week (mistake number one).  As I was enjoying the soothing autumn air and letting Ray LaMontagne coax me through the pain in my tired legs, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something fast and fur-covered out of the corner of my eye.

“Oh crap!”, I thought.  “Some four legged beast is about to enjoy full meal of Tardy steak and Brooks Trance running shoes for dessert!”

I don’t know what kind of dog it was.  I do know it was big, fast, and it had teeth that would make a Husqvarna chainsaw envious.  I pulled out my iPod ear buds in time to hear this beastly creature growl and then bark and then ‘scream-bark’…yes, he was literally screaming as he sprinted toward me,

“Come here fat boy. I’m going to kill you and eat you!”

I panicked.  This demon was closing in fast, and I was doomed.  I kept running, and I started flailing my arms, yelling, and kind of skip-jumping in a way that would make a bystander think he was observing a wrestling match between an octopus and a bull horn on a conveyor-belt.  My diversion tactics were futile, in fact, I think they actually enticed this crazed animal even more.

Just as the death monster was preparing to lunge through the air toward my jugular vein, and I was beginning to make my peace with The Lord, I heard a loud voice yell,

“Hey, get back here!”.

Suddenly the storm clouds that had been building diminished, the sunshine broke through, and my life un-flashed before my eyes! The Dalai of this hound dog’s Lama had spoken!  A very large man wearing nothing more than a very small pair of overalls uttered four magic words, and it was all over.  The pooch tucked his tail, whimpered, and began to strut back toward the man in the tight overalls.

“Don’t worry about him. He couldn’t hurt a flea”,

Overalls Man assured me.

“Thanks” I thought. “Maybe you should tell him that.”

Take away:

As I began to jog back home I started to wonder how many times have I been like that dog?  How many times have my intentions been completely playful and pure yet my actions were perceived as threatening and scary?  I have a dominant personality style and I tend to justify my flippant actions with the fact that I care about people deep down inside and I’ll never hurt anyone…at least not intentionally.  People should just know what I’m thinking, right?  Wrong.

When I don’t slow down and acknowledge people in the midst of charging the hill and getting things done I loose my biggest ally, trust.  Perception is reality.  My intentions aren’t good enough.  My actions are what communicate whether I’m a viscous killer or a trusted friend.

I have a lot to work on in this area of my life.

Proverbs 15:1

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”

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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How to sound confident.

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on June 29, 2009

Do you want to come across more confidently when you’re talking to your prospects?

Here’s the secret. Tell the truth. Always. Don’t even exaggerate.

No one is a good enough liar to sound more believable than someone telling the truth. If you don’t know the answer to a question just say ‘I don’t know’.  Then follow up with ‘Here’s what I do know…’ and keep going with something great about your product.

If your product sucks.  Don’t act like it doesn’t.  Find a new product to sell.  If that means getting a different job then do it today.  You will never be successful in sales if you don’t believe in what you’re selling.  You can’t fake it.

Ironically if you act like you have all the answers you become less believable.  Sales do not get closed unless there is a high level of trust.  The only way to build trust is to tell the truth and sometimes this means ‘losing a sale’ by telling someone that your product is not a good fit for them right now.

Sound too extreme?  Just ask Bernie Madoff.  He has lots of time to discuss it with you.

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