Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Challenge: No TV For A Month

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on April 2, 2010

What would your life look like if you gave up TV for a month?

Seth Godin recently challenged me to give up television altogether because there are so many other things better than TV.

I was already on the verge of doing this, but his post on this idea gave me the gumption to go ahead and pull the plug.  So we called the satellite company and cut it off.  All the way off…no basic cable, no major network channels.  Zero TV in the house.

And I’m still breathing

Not only has life gone on without TV, it has improved.  A lot.  I discovered that I was spending more time watching TV than I would have cared to admit.  I suppose most people talk about TV consumption the same way they talk about debt:  “I don’t have any debt…just a car loan and a few credit cards.”

Since we cut off the TV:

  • My wife and have have had more conversations
  • I have read more non-fiction literature than I ever have in my life
  • I took my daughter on an impromptu walk to the creek
  • I sat on my porch and watched the cars go by
  • I bought a high end stereo system, and gave my iTunes playlists a makeover

It’s changing me.  It’s making me better.

The Challenge

Give up TV for the month of April. After the big dance is over on Monday night just unplug the TV.  You don’t have to cancel it altogether, and if you hate it after a month, then just turn it back on…at least you’ll be able to say you tried it, and it wasn’t for you.

Why Not?

  • The weather is getting nice
  • College basketball is over
  • Major networks are starting to air reruns
  • There’s so many great things to do with your time

If you’re in:

Leave a comment on this post.  Commit.  You’re going to be tempted to read this and think – I don’t have to comment to do this…I’ll just do it on my own.  No you won’t.  You have to tell someone.  If you don’t comment here, then at least tell someone you know that you’re doing it.  Knowing they’ll ask you about it later will keep you committed to your goal.

I’ll check in and ask you to report occasionally on how it’s going.  I already heard one great story from Chris Mefford about his kids playing together more and having meaningful conversations after he recently cut off the TV. Dino Evangelista told me his family has been TV free for a year, and it’s the best thing he’s ever done.

I want to hear about all the great stuff you’re doing instead of TV.

Invite some friends…start a movement!

Retweet this, email it, talk it up!  Let’s put together a case study of how much meaningful productivity is increased for one month when a bunch of change agents get together and take action on a simple challenge:  Pull The Plug.

Already TV Free? Leave an encouraging comment for someone who’s not sure they’re ready to take on the challenge.

Update: 4/8/10

For you golf enthusiats…I guess this is cheating a little bit.  But it’s not technically TV, and it still falls in line with being an intentional consumer.  At least you won’t be tempted to leave it on all night when it’s over.

I’m sure I just lost some points with the wives who made their husbands get on board with this.  Sorry.  At least it’s over in 3 days.

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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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.

Great Monday mornings happen when…

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on August 17, 2009

I don’t recommend scheduling sales calls on Monday mornings. My week is more productive if I use this time to plan and prepare for the things to come. Just like a marathoner needs to fuel up before a race we tend to preform better when we reconnect with our goals and our team first.

On Monday mornings I like to:

  • Meet with my teem about anything on the table for the week ahead
  • Read some blogs that are inspirational and motivate me. (Put gas in the tank)
  • Review my goals and modify actions for the week that have a bearing on my goals
  • Look over my calendar and clarify/delete/modify appointments based on priorities and relevence
  • Make sure my desk and work area is free of any clutter that could distract me from being efficient that week
  • Walk around and connect with the people on my team in person.  Compliment them, ask about their weekend, let them know if I can do anything to help this week that I’m here for them.  This is huge!  This sets the tone for any email/voice mail/text they get from you for the rest of the week.  In a digital age it’s imperative to establish rapport in person with your core team each week before you start firing off task heavy emails and meeting requests.

It’s tempting to just roll in to the office and start returning voice mails and emails and have a completely reactive approach to catching up on everything from the weekend.  If you’ll just take a few hours to set your week up then by the time you get to Thursday you’ll have twice as much done as you would have otherwise.

“Luck favors the prepared.”

People are assets, not obstacles.

Posted in Business, Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on August 11, 2009

I walked out of a meeting yesterday frustrated.

I had this thought:

“Things take so much longer to execute now and move so much slower than they used to.”

(this is a lie but the thought occurred nonetheless)

The project seemed simple: Send out an email and let people know about a promotion that we are going to run.  5 years ago the execution time from when the project idea was born to implementation would have been about 2 hours.  Yesterday in this meeting I came to the realization that no matter how much I tried push for a rapid launch this same project will take about 2 weeks.  It takes longer because of what my immature paradigm would deem ‘all the stupid processes we have to go through now to get something done’.

The reality is that this project could not have even been pulled off 5 years ago.  At best I would have written an email with a few links in Outlook, blind copied the recipients, fired it out and hoped for the best.

This project today will be a beautifully crafted piece of marketing genius including HiDef video, graphics, a dedicated web page, content edited by professional writers, email tracking, administrative follow up, celebrity endorsement and a marketing plan overseen by an accomplished  MBA/project coordinator.

All of the sudden it hit me that what we lose in ‘speed’ we more than gain in quality which ultimately is a gain in speed.  Yes it takes longer but we’re running faster and we’re reaching more people with a higher level of excellence than ever before.

Growing with a company is challenging.  I’m learning to appreciate what new team members bring to the table instead of complaining about how their new position complicates our process.  I’m learning that together is better.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”  – Ryunosuke Satoro

Know your numbers as well as your product

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on July 28, 2009

If you’re in sales there are several key numbers that you should have memorized and be able to recite any given time:

  1. Average new leads per day/week/month
  2. Average calls/appointments per day/week/month
  3. Sales closed per day/week/month
  4. Closing ratio of incoming leads to sales
  5. Length of pipeline: How long is it taking on average for a lead to become a sale?

Knowing and referencing this information will give you power in 3 areas:

  1. It will give your superiors confidence that you have a good sense of how your business is preforming and it will help them in their forecasting. (If you are the owner & salesperson this information is a favor to yourself for the same purpose)
  2. It will allow you to track how you’re doing.  Over time these numbers will really talk to you and give you metrics that help you make decisions about what is and is not working in your marketing and your presentation etc.
  3. It will give you confidence when you’re going through a slow time because you can look at your averages and know that if you make the right number of calls over the length of your pipeline that the sales will come.
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Meetings: Execution is not a Death Sentence

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on July 27, 2009

Despite how much I try to avoid this scenario I will occasionally have a day where I’m literally in meetings the entire day.  This is not healthy and it’s extremely inefficient.  Going from one meeting to straight into another one is dangerous.  Without scheduling time specifically to execute on a meetings action points immediately after the meeting takes place we can loose as much as half of the potential value of that meeting.

Here are 4 simple ideas to retain maximum value from meetings.

1) Be early to every meeting.  Most people are not early. So if you show up 3-5 minutes early you will command an unspoken respect that says I value your time and I value mine so let’s make this count.  Eventually people will feel guilty if they’re constantly showing up late and you’re already there and they’ll change their habit.  They will not feel guilty however if you’re occasionally late too.

2) Don’t leave a meeting without clear action points and an understanding on who is executing on them. If you’re not sure what they are then just ask. You may find out that other people are wondering about this too but feel weird about asking.  I’m amazed at the number of meetings that take place where everyone walks out feeling like something important just happened but no one has a clear plan of action.  The value of the meeting is rarely in the meeting.  The value comes from what takes place as a result of the meeting.

3) Volunteer to do the members of the meeting a favor and email out a follow up including the agreed upon action points and who is responsible for each one.  This way no one forgets or gets confused on who is doing what.  The other attendees of the meeting will get distracted on their way back to their desk or heaven forbid step immediately into another meeting.   Simply emailing out a follow up summary of the meeting will cordially obligate them to execute on their part.

4) Never schedule back to back meetings. The only way to accomplish these first 3 things is to have the time between meetings to do this.  If you wait until the end of the day or even until after the next meeting it is too late.  50% of the value, creativity, energy etc. is lost within 10 minutes of the meeting being over.  If the norm is a 30 minute meeting make it 20, if it’s an hour make it 45 minutes and use the newly found time time for execution.  If you have an assistant that helps you schedule meetings then train them to adopt this same mentality.  A meeting will expand or contract to the time allotted no matter how much time is scheduled. If someone else requests the meeting for an hour and you reply letting them know you only have 45 minutes they will realize how much you value your time, and they are likely to value those 45 minutes more than if you just casually accepted the initial request for an hour.

Summary:

1)      Be Early

2)      Don’t leave without clear action points

3)      Email out a summary to the members of the meeting including action points

4)      Avoid back to back meetings and schedule time for execution

Side note: This may seem trite but always make sure a meeting is actually in order.  People tend to call meetings as a default solution to ‘I don’t know what else to do to get everyone on the same page’.  Many times effective communication is possible without calling everyone together, and if you put the energy into connecting with the right people individually you will gain the respect of those who might otherwise have felt like your meeting was wasting their time.

How fast is your bobsled?

Posted in Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on July 17, 2009

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Utah Olympic Park outside of Park City, Utah.  This quaint little village nestled into the side of the Wasatch Mountain Range served as host to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.  My wife and I have fabulous memories from that warm Spring day where we watched snow skiers practice their jumps into a swimming pool, toured the little museum, and hiked around the nature trails surrounding that area.

The highlight of the day for me was an experience that I’ll never forget as long as I live.  I got to ride in a bobsled down the actual track that was built for the Olympic competition. I remember debating whether it was worth the $70 dollars they were asking for this 60 second blurp of fun, but finally my wife encouraged me to go for it since I may never get another chance.  After strapping on my helmet and being shoved into the fiberglass speed machine I remember thinking “I hope this thing doesn’t flip over…surely they wouldn’t let people do this if that was even a possibility”.

The driver sat directly in front of me in a way that was a little too close for comfort and when he gave the signal, they launched us down the ramp.  I have never felt so exhilarated.  The turns were so fast and all I could see was a white blur.  I literally felt like I was in a time warp of some sort as the humble realities of G force and inertia yanked my head in directions it was never intended to turn.   I yelled out loud through every turn.  I was so dizzy that I thought I’d pass out.  I was a complete slave to gravity and my destiny was to sit there and ride down the mountain completely out of control of the situation.  I couldn’t fathom how the driver could actually be doing anything up there that mattered at speeds that fast.

When the ride came to an end, we pried ourselves out of the bobsled and I inquired of the driver’s role in the whole thing.

“Were you really doing anything up there?” I asked him.  “It seemed way too fast for you to actually be controlling anything.  Surely it’s one of those things where we would have made it down OK regardless and you just kind of sit in the front and put the brakes on when it’s all over, right?”

The response from this hippie mountain man astonished me: “If I didn’t drive for you, the sled would have flown off the track in the first turn and you would have been strewn across the mountain side in a million pieces.”

“Wow! You’re kidding!” I said.

“Nope”.

I couldn’t believe it. “How on earth can you think that fast and react to the turns in time when you’re moving that quick?  I could barely focus on the back of your helmet much less the next turn.”

“It’s a lot faster for you” he explained. “My first time down I felt the same way.  I can almost do this in my sleep now; it literally feels like slow motion these days.  I actually forget how fast we’re going until the guy behind me screams.”

The hippie went on to explain that to train as a driver they’re required to ride as a passenger over 150 times down the one mile track before they’re even allowed to sit in the front seat.  It takes about 50 times just to have the direction of the next turn memorized and every trip down after that slows down the experience for them even more.  Once they have their bearings they are allowed to drive ‘survival style’.  They can go down but not with a customer until they have made over 500 trips.  This means the entire first summer at the track they are in training.  They are becoming an expert on the track so they can do it in there sleep.  Only then is it safe for them to take a passenger.

Selling is a lot like this.  So is public speaking.  The only way to polish your skills in these areas is to do it over and over and over again.  The first time you do it, your body is so pumped full of adrenaline that you can’t even see straight.  Eventually it starts to slow down though and after doing it for years you can make it look as if it just happens by itself and you’re there just to sit up front and put the brakes on at the end.  Becoming excellent requires many many trips down the mountain.  Be honest with yourself about how much experience you really have and don’t get disappointed if it feels fast and scary.  I promise it will slow down the more you do it.  You will become more confident and more successful, but you have to keep riding.

“Any ordeal that you can survive as a human being is an improvement in your character, and usually an improvement in your life.”
– Viggo Mortensen

Carry a yellow pad…

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on June 26, 2009

Often walking through the office it is easy for a salesperson to get pinned down by someone who assumes you don’t have anything better to do than to talk to them about nonsensical matters.  Your time is money but since you don’t want to be rude you end up engaging in the conversation at the expense of bogging down YOUR productivity.  A little conversation here and there is not a big deal but these can add up throughout the day and become a nuisance.

If you carry a yellow pad everywhere you go (even if it’s just going to the restroom) you have the appearance of getting something done or going to a meeting.

This nonverbal cue will stave of about 80% of the random distracting conversations from other people who have too much time on their hands.

I rarely write anything on my yellow pad but I make it a goal to carry it around with me all the time.

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