Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Communication in the drive-through

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on June 9, 2010

picture of drive through speaker

The power of the guy with the headset

There are few things more affirming to me than the voice on the other end of the Starbucks drive-through speaker system.  When I place my order for a tall black eye, and the voice in the speaker repeats my order back to me, “that’s a tall black eye, coffee with 2 shots, right?”, all of the sudden I feel a sense of peace come over me.  I breathe a little easier knowing that they heard what I wanted, and that they’re in control.  I think this happens because our minds have been trained by poor drive-through service experiences to approach that speaker with a sense of trepidation.

I used to think I was the only one who dealt with this, but I’ve started to realize that almost everyone suffers from DTSAS (drive-through speaker abuse syndrome).  You can observe the symptoms of this condition by simply rolling down your window, and listening to the person in the car ahead of you placing their order.  You’ll notice someone suffering from this condition usually yells at the speaker the entire time they’re ordering.  They also talk slowly and over annunciate, often interjecting ‘did you get that!?’ every few seconds.

Here’s the quintessential expression used by DTSAS sufferers: “Can you read the whole thing back to me? I just want to make sure you got it”

Why do we do this?

We just told them what we wanted, and they process orders like this hundreds of times a day, right?  Why all the stress?  I think it’s because we crave validation.  It just takes one experience of asking headset guy to hold the pickles, and then biting into that juicy burger moments later, only to be struck with that undeniable vinegar ridden flavor to develop cynicism toward all drive-through speaker people on the planet.  Spending money is emotional, no matter how little the amount.  We want to feel good about our purchase; we want to be confident we’re getting what we paid for.  I love it when the guy with the headset just volunteers to read my order back to me.

What’s your validation process?

If our emotions go through this cycle in the drive-through, then how much more important is it for us to affirm our customers when they give us their money for OUR product or service?  I make sure each of our customers receive immediate confirmation of their purchase with a follow up email detailing the transaction, and an explanation of the next step so they can begin to shift their emotions from slightly nervous to extremely excited.  This is especially important when we’re selling tickets to an event – we have their money, but they don’t receive the product for several months.

I think validation is underrated.  We enjoy buying good products, but we want proof that we bought so we can start getting excited about it.  If the guy at the drive-through doesn’t read my order back to me, I’m not completely sure they won’t hand me an order for the car behind me.  When I ordered my iPad, I received an email update every 2 days regarding the status of my order – I loved it – and I told my friends about it every time I received an update.

If you have a product or service that ships later than the payment is processed, how do you validate your customers to keep them emotionally engaged in the transaction?


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
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!

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.

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!

Salespeople should think like mechanics

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on September 25, 2009


  • My mechanic, Rodney, has been looking at a few things on my car this week.  Rodney is a great mechanic and can fix almost anything on my car, but he runs computer tests to see whats wrong with it before he picks up a single wrench.  He listens to the need and then fixes what’s broken.
  • It’s easy as a salesperson to start replacing parts, tuning, greasing and completely rebuilding the entire car for our prospect without listening to their needs first. While your product or service may have all the answers, your prospect may not have all the problems.
  • Positioning your product or service as a solution to their needs is the best way to serve them.

Summary: Don’t try to sell them a new transmission when all they need is an oil change.

*(this all kind of presumes that your mechanic is the honest straight forward type)

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He can use my card

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on August 17, 2009

My family is taking a trip to NYC soon and my Dad is working with a tour guide to help plan our trip. I’m a triathlete and in an effort to stick to my training regiment I asked my Dad to see if the tour guide knew of a lap pool close to our hotel that I could pay to use.

Here was the tour guide’s response:

“I am a member of New York Sports Club. I can let Daniel use my card to get into the 49th and Broadway club where there are lap lanes- 18 yards long. He will just need to call and make a reservation under my name, Matt K., for Thursday Night, any time Friday, or Saturday morning. 212-977-8880, ask for the pool and give them my name. He will be using my personal card.”

WOW! Now that’s going above and beyond.

I wonder how many times we have opportunities to ‘wow ‘ our customers in a given week.  It’s not too hard…it just takes a little intentionality and treating them the way you’d want to be treated.  If I had to guess I would wager that Matt’s company is not participating in the recession.