Groundhog’s Day is not good in sales

BY: Joe Crisara

Ground Hogs Day: % hacks to be a student of your customer Does it feel like Groundhog’s Day is everyday?

With Groundhog’s Day upon us once again I am reminded of the classic movie Groundhog’s Day, starring Bill Murray.

In case you forgot, the film is about a television reporter that is assigned to this event in rural Pennsylvania. Essentially he keeps repeating the same day over and over again until he finally gets what life and love is all about.

Unfortunately, too many contractors, their sales people and technicians are living this Groundhog’s Day scenario as well, but they’re not getting what it’s all about.

Failing the same way over-and-over

What I mean is that poor performers tend to get themselves into a rut and continue to normalize poor performance.

Each day is essentially the same.

Trotting out the same sales routine, or ‘dog and pony’ show that never seems to resonate with their customers. Even the excuses sound the same. Day-in, day-out they blame the economy, the call, the customer, whatever political party is in office or even the weather for their lackluster performance.

Groundhog’s day is not good in sales

And you and your team can no longer afford to be lulled into this poor performance ground hog trance.

High performance sales professionals find new opportunity each and every day. The reason that new opportunities are found where others cannot see them is simple…

Top performers are students of their customer.

Therefore, I think we can all agree that if each and every customer is unique and that we will learn something that others have not if we would only take the time to listen to them and learn.

5 simple hacks to be a student of your customer

  1. Your #1 job on every call is to make a friend with the customer. Put aside selling and simply go into the call with the intention of making a friend and doing everything you can to make sure that new friend has a home that is safe and comfortable.
  2. Clear your filters and let go of assumptions. We all have filters which we use to view and interpret the world. These filters are assumptions, assessments or judgements based on past experiences.The good news is that these filters give us shortcuts for decision making. The bad news is that often our filters can get in the way of truly learning about our customers because before we even gotten to know them, we’ve judged them and made our mind up about who they are.
  3. Learn every family member’s first name. Find out about every family member in the home and learn their first names. This will get you in the habit of discovering specifically how each person is impacted by your service (HVAC, Plumbing or Electrical).
  4. Ask a lot more questions. This is a biggie. Force yourself to learn about your customer by asking questions. Learn about their home, their work, what they like to do, the system and the family. Remember, this call is not about you, it’s about them.
  5. Listen more than speak. In other words… shut up and let them talk. Great sales performers have trained themselves to be fantastic listeners. They do this by truly letting go of their agenda, focusing on the customer and listening intently to every word spoken. Resist the temptation to get on your soapbox and start preaching to them how smart you are, what you know and your life story.

Create the change to succeed

If you find yourself or your sales team failing, then do you and them a favor and break the monotony of your Groundhog’s Day trance and do something different… Be a student

Doesn’t if figure that if you get poor results with the methods you use now that creating change instead of waiting for it may be just what it takes to succeed?

So don’t delay, take action on these 5 hacks and start learning more about your customer in order to provide Pure Motive Service that will make your customers feel great and increase your sales.

Give Your False Assumptions A Knockout Punch

BY: Derek Lauber

boxing_glove_512x512We face seemingly unlimited obstacles when trying to manage and grow our businesses.

Some bigger than others. Some more persistent than others, but none the less our job is to navigate these obstacles.

Large or small, some of these obstacles can be more obvious than others, like…

You need a bigger location to continue to grow your company. Or your budget doesn’t allow for investing in staff with a needed skill set.

But what about the obstacles that are far less obvious?

What about the obstacles that we put in front of ourselves that maybe aren’t actually there?

Obstacles that are just false assumptions

These false assumptions can impede your progress and success everyday without you even realizing it. We see this all the all the time helping our coaching clients work through problems they’re facing. Here’s just a few examples:

  • Personal beliefs about what they “can” and “can’t” do prior to giving it a shot.
  • Perceptions of opportunities that are and are not available to them without doing thorough due diligence and then going after what they want.
  • Believing they “know” how other people will respond during difficult conversations without actually having the conversation.
  • Believing they “know” if staff will or will not meet their requests without making the request and setting clear exceptions so the staff can have a chance to meet or exceed the request.

The list goes on and on but I think you’re starting to see how false assumptions can really get in your way of achieving what you’re trying to do.

Here’s what you need to know…  You have complete control over these false assumptions and you can knock them out.

False assumptions fog up the lens of reality

Assumptions are thoughts and ideas that you accept as truth without concrete proof and are usually formed from past similar or repeated experiences.

More importantly, the assumptions you make determine your actions and outcomes.

So, it would make sense that if you change your assumptions you change your actions and outcomes. Right?

But here is the rub.

Changing assumptions can be hard, because they are the truths we tell ourselves and they are self-reinforcing. We see the world through the lens of our assumptions and then only choose information that supports them.

This can blind you to the reality that exists.

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in. – Alan Alda

Here’s how to remove these barriers to success.

Four steps to knockout your false assumptions

Now I said changing assumptions can be hard, but it’s not impossible. As a matter fact,  I help clients do it all the time using this simple 4 step knockout process.

  1. Admit that you have assumptions: Don’t pretend you don’t have some false assumptions that are holding you back or causing you to make mistakes you can’t afford. We all have them.
  2. Create awareness around those assumptions: You need to uncover them and bring them to light. The easiest way to do this is to look at places you’re stuck, have challenges or areas where you keep repeating the same behavior and expect different results. These are the juiciest hiding places for false assumptions.
  3. Challenge your assumptions: The following questions will help you begin to trace back where the assumptions started and what real factual solid evidence you have to have to support them. (Be aware of trying to support your assumptions with other assumptions.) Just the facts…
    1. Where did the assumption come from?
    2. How did you arrive at that assumption?
    3. What if the assumption was untrue?
    4. What might happen if you chose a different action or thought?
    5. How can you verify or disprove that assumption as truth?
  4. Reframe a new assumption: The key to reframing your new assumption is letting go of your past results and step into new possibilities.
    1. What if you tried another approach?
    2. What can you do differently?
    3. What would that look like?
    4. What may happen?

Pure Motive: Knocking out false assumptions

With greater clarity in every area of your life, the better actions you will take. All of which leads you to achieving the desired outcomes you want faster with greater ease and certainty.

Knocking out your assumptions is a central skill for every business owner

Literally your success depends on it.

No matter how strong or true you may feel your assumptions to be, before you just assume what can or can’t happen, before you assume you know the outcome… double check them.

You’ll be happier and more successful that you did.

Image courtesy: Ramotion

Take action, feel the fear and try it anyway

BY: Joe Crisara

You’ve heard of the many behavioral conditioning experiments in which animals in a laboratory are rewarded with sugar pellets or punished with an electric shock for pushing for a particular button.

What if the animal was randomly shocked with no regard to which button was pushed? 

The answer is that the animal will take no action because they are not sure what will happen.

Basically it becomes to risky to do anything therefore they go into a stressed out shell and wait for something to happen. Eventually the stressed out subject of this type of experiment loses the ability to think clearly due to the environment they find themselves in.

Contractor behavior experiment

This experiment is being repeated with service contractors around the country. The average hvac, plumbing and electrical service contractor will not take a chance on investing in their team because they either don’t believe in the people, themselves or the that the training will work.

Limit risk for improvement

Contractors who are treading water or losing money can find themselves in a self-defeating pattern that ends with the carnage of their family finances, loss of employees and eventually loss of their entire business.

Here are three simple yet powerful actions to improve your sales and profit without laying everything on the line.

  1. Evaluate The Risk Of Doing Nothing – Look at your people, the sales revenue and your profit and make a determination about what will happen if you do nothing. Is the trend going to move upward? Will you spiral downward? Will you wait too long? Being decisive is the most important element of leadership.
  2. Sample The Information – If you have information on ways to improve your company, it’s service, sales and profit then ask yourself if you believe implementing these ideas will make a more positive impact than doing nothing. Every leader must have a vision and be able to sell this to their team. Let your people look at, discuss and comment on what you see being possible for your company, the customers and employees.
  3. Prototype the Change – Don’t jump in or try to steer your company with too sharp of a turn in direction. Employees and customers will leave if you make change too quickly. Take the person who is most passionate about succeeding and let them try the change under a controlled experiment. Train the employee to “try on” a new behavior for a given period of time and see if the results are worth the investment. If the new methods or ideas work then go full tilt with a company-wide implementation plan.

One thing that is certain in business…

Those who take action and keep moving toward attempting to improve themselves will be rewarded a lot more often than not. When any living creature stops moving and fails to take action for too long, the demise of that entity is not far behind.

Take action, feel the fear and try it anyway.

Lead Like Martin Luther King: 5 Values to Embody

BY: Derek Lauber

Lead-Like-Martin-Luther-King-5-Values-to-Embody1Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 87 years old this year. In his short but inspiring life he left an incredible legacy on our nation and people.

I’m a believer that the values we honor in ourselves are often found in our heroes or people we admire.

MLK is one of those people for me.

While not a perfect man, he did embody 5 core values that I cherish and try to live by everyday. The impact of living these values can be large or small, but in all cases, I know living by them will make a difference.

Martin Luther King led a bigger life to create a greater world and I believe it’s within each of us to do the same. His courage, vision, compassion, integrity and inspiration changed history.

As I challenge myself daily, I challenge you to embody these values and lead a bigger life.

#1 – Courage

MLK consistently displayed incredible courage throughout his life. In the face of overwhelming difficulty and threats, he led. Through non-violence he marched through areas full of racial hatred and bigotry. His courage enabled him to face the difficulty and dangers inherent in his quest to establish a more equal and peaceful world.

His bravery in the face of ever-present violence to his person is an example for leaders to aspire.

His determination to stand up with those oppressed and less fortunate is an inspiration to me everyday.

#2 – Vision

MLK’s vision for a more just world resonates years after his passing and was forever embodied on August 28, 1963 when he delivered “I Have a Dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He created a vivid, passionate and beautiful vision for a future where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

It still sends chills down my spine to hear and read these words.

The value of creating a powerful vision for a future is what allows great leaders to move beyond insurmountable odds to their destiny.

#3 – Compassion

MLK’s deep compassion for those disadvantaged by society was a driving force for his work and legacy. His incredible service in the civil rights movement and for the poor all showed a man who cared deeply. MLK was a man who displayed great sympathy and empathy for those less fortunate and lived his life to alleviate the suffering of others.

Having compassion for others is a hallmark of great leadership. Compassion is more than displaying emotional intelligence; it’s showing a true caring from your heart that goes beyond words.

As MLK displayed, a leader with great compassion can truly change the world.

#4 – Integrity

Up until the day of his assassination on April 4th 1968, MLK led his life with integrity and displayed a consistency in his principles, values and actions, which every leader should strive for. He never backed down from what he believed.

Through great struggles and great success, MLK lead himself first by embodying and living integrity.

#5 – Inspiration

MLK’s powerful oratory inspired and motivated thousands all over the country to stand up and push for equality and justice. He had a unique ability to move not only the emotions of people but also their intellect to take action.

Every leader needs to read and listen to his speeches to feel the energy and passion he delivered to inspire and change a nation.

Embodying the core value of inspiration will give your vision a voice to impact change.

Lead for a legacy

The values, which Martin Luther King embodied, enabled him to inspire a nation to change and left a massive impact on humanity. It’s my belief you should strive to live by these values and embody them in your core being.

You can lead a bigger life to create a greater world with courage, having a vision, being compassionate, living with integrity and inspiring those around you.

Martin Luther King Jr. led his life without fear and changed the world and so can you.

Image courtesy: Mike Licht,

Review The Past, Then Let It Go

BY: Joe Crisara

Review The Past & Let It Go_Review The Past & Let It Go_Randy HeinitzUnderstand the Past So You Can Let It Go

One of the things that hurts the possibility of creating more success is the stubborn habit of clinging to the past. Because we relive our past experiences for years both in reality and in our retrospective minds, it feels like a very comfortable place to be.

Placing a high value on certain legacies we have achieved can be fine…

However, when those legacies are toxic they can be outright dangerous and can ruin your business and your life.

Seeing Toxic as Normal

How many times have we heard about or saw a friend who was in an abusive relationship that seemed obvious to most outsiders that they should leave their abusive partner?

Usually we stand confounded that anyone would put up with such behavior. But because they are familiar with this behavior in their past, they cling to this viewpoint as a “normal” relationship even when everyone around them can clearly see they’d be better off moving on.

Captain Obvious Saves the Day?

Okay Captain Obvious, so you look at your past and you DO see the problems.

However, even though you think you’re done with the problem, the problem may not be done with you. This is because we sometimes carry unresolved issues from our dysfunctional past into our future and beyond.

Sometimes these unresolved issues surround feelings about having to “do everything yourself” and so you make several mistakes with your books and now you pay more taxes than you should have.

Sometimes people have unresolved issues about the way they feel about money and are afraid to invest in something that will allow their business to become more profitable.

Many times it goes all the way back to unresolved issues they had with their parents which robbed them of their self esteem and the ability to become the truly great person they are deep inside.

Cutting the Past Loose in 4 Simple Steps

  1. Look at your past year and think about how what you experienced has either helped or hurt you.
  2. Take an inventory of the good things that have happened on accident and now instead make them happen on purpose.
  3. Alternately, look at the bad things that happened and take inventory of the people and feelings that caused them to occur as well.
  4. Then “cut loose” the people and feelings that allowed the bad things to occur.

Keep Calm

There will be tears and anxiety as you face releasing the comfortable but dysfunctional people and things in your life. And that’s perfectly Ok. Just keep calm and know that you are releasing the need to be accepted by other people.

Then look in the mirror and realize that the only person who really matters what they think about you is you.

Once you realize that, you are on your way to building a new future which will be very comfortable indeed.

Image Courtesy: Randy Heinitz

What Every Contractor Can Learn From Hospital Clowns

BY: Joe Crisara

Scary Or Comforting?

Almost anyone would assume that the typical clown that we have seen so often at the circus, would bring smiles and joy to all they visit.

As it turns out, the odds are that an unchecked assumption like this one we make about clowns is a pretty good bet to be wrong. Research is actually showing that clowns may be more scary than comforting to a young child.

Think about the times you may have visited a children’s ward or maternity section at most any hospital. Whimsical drawings of fun things to make kids feel happy often decorate the wallpaper. Some of this decorated wallpaper depicts drawings or illustrations of circus clowns.

Question All Assumptions

Research is actually showing that the hospital is trying to inspire “comfort” in the little ones by providing a fun theme like clowns. This raises the question of whether this motif actually produces the desired effect or not.

An article written by the Telegraph in the UK indicates that the idea that clowns create comfort for small children may be dead wrong.

The article states, “Studies show that instead of creating the intended pick-me-up or ‘cheer’ in the little ones, this motif inspires ‘fear’ or a reaction of clowns as being a bit ‘creepy’.”

Are You Creeping People Out?

This really got me thinking about how far off we may be when we present our options as sales professionals to our customers and the reaction that we inspire in them due to our misinterpretation of what we think they want.

What assumptions are we making that may be equally wrong?

For instance, we may assume that customers want to spend as little as possible. Other research shows the exact opposite is true. People tend to choose a higher quality solution when they are unfamiliar with the service they are purchasing, which actually results in spending more money for this premium.

In the case of the first study about clowns and children, the results were a landslide.

The Telegraph article stated, “The survey of more than 250 children, aged four to 16, found that all 250 of them disliked the use of clowns in hospital decor, with the teenagers seeing them as even ‘scary’.”

“Given that children and young people do not find hospitals frightening per se – and only express fear about those spaces associated with needles – this finding is somewhat ironic,” said Dr. Penny Curtis of The University of Sheffield.

“Researchers discovered that although children appreciated colorful walls and ceilings, many found the decor babyish. The fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia, can cause panic attacks, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and feelings of dread,” the article concluded.

You may want to think about the way the hospital displays its decorations before you check your child in.

Minimize Shock Value

What can you do as a sales professional to minimize your customer’s shock at your next presentation?

You could do many things to minimize being so “off code” with what you are presenting. However, one thing is obvious.

You must ask your client not only what they want but how they want to buy it instead of mind-reading or guessing.

Stop Pretending To Know

Stop pretending to know what your customer wants and instead just ask them, “If you could have the solution that was perfect for you today, what would that be?” Furthermore, don’t use assumptive or leading questions that attempt to “sell” the buyer.

Allow the buyers to sell themselves by asking them about the consequences of choosing higher quality and lower quality solutions.

You could ask, “How do you normally purchase things for your home? Do you buy higher quality that lasts longer, or more economical choices that are more temporary?”

The bottom line is to stop clowning around on your sales and service calls and ask your buyers what they want instead of assuming.

You may be shocked to find out that your ideas on how you could help your customer are very different from theirs.

Poll: Webinar or in person…which do you prefer?

BY: Joe & Julie Crisara

In the age of online many people find it convenient to do webinars or attend online classes of some sort. On the other hand, many people also enjoy getting out and attending conferences in person, meeting people and networking.

As we gear up for 2016 we want to know which you prefer (if you do). A Webinar online? In person conference? Both? Look forward to having you at our events (online and in person) in the New Year. Here’s the poll, please pick one answer:

Would you rather do a webinar or attend a conference event in person?

View Results

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Bonus, here’s an example video from one of our Total Immersion Summit events:

Beyond New Year’s Resolutions & S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Part III Discovering Core Values

BY: Derek Lauber

Beyond New Years Resolutions-Part-IIIValues are who you are.

They are your beliefs, morals and philosophies that serve as guideposts towards the actions you take to achieve the results you desire.

They are your internal reference points for decision-making.

Discovering, refining and understanding your core values is an integral part of business ownership and critical to successful planning and goal attainment.

The exercise below is designed for you to discover your core values as they are right now.

Discover core values through your peak moments in time

Discovering your core values takes place in two parts.

  1. The first is broad level unearthing of values.
  2. The second is condensing and refining these values to 7-10 core value strings.

Part I: Identify three special peak moments when life was especially rewarding or poignant

This is just a “moment” in time, not an entire experience but a snapshot. We are seeking experiences that are particularly rich and fulfilling. For example: closing a big sale, successfully completing a large project or completing a live event.

Ask yourself the following questions regarding each of your peak moments:

  • What was happening?
  • Who was present and what was going on?
  • What were you doing?
  • What other factors contributed to your happiness?
  • What need or desire was fulfilled?
  • How and why did the experience give you meaning?
  • What were the values being honored in these moments?

Write out as many key words/values that you felt in these moments. You will feel certain energy around the words that feel right. It is more valuable if you use your own words to describe your values.

Part II: Condensing and refining your values into strings

Use several words together to form a string describing the value. Grouping similar values together allows you to not have to find the perfect word for whatever value/emotion. For example:

  • Integrity/Honesty/Truth
  • Loving/Caring/Empathy
  • Leadership/Collaborative/Empowerment
  • Place the most significant word at the beginning, such as integrity and leadership above
  • Take your time and create your 7-10 value strings

Values can change over time

These values may take some time to flush out and fully develop but this is a great place to start to visualize and verbalize the core values in your life.

Of note, core values are usually stable, yet they don’t have strict limits or boundaries and can change over time.

For example: what was success to you when you first entered the workforce may be different now as a business owner.

As your definition of success changes, so do your core values, therefore, revisiting and updating your core values is a lifelong exercise.

Up next we start putting your plan together with a very cool vision exercise and goal setting based on your core values.

Listen, if you haven’t done your year end review click here and do that now. Doing your year end review will help you with discovering your core values, planning and goal setting.

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Beyond New Year’s Resolutions & S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Part IV Visioning and Goals

BY: Derek Lauber

Beyond-New-Years-Resolutions-SMART-Goals-Part-IV-Visioning-and-Goals“Clarity precedes mastery” – Robin Sharma

In order to achieve success you must first envision what you want.

Having finished the year end review and discovered/refined your core values, you are now ready to start vividly picturing what you desire in the upcoming year.

From this compelling vision, you have the raw materials to set your goals and put your plan together for an amazing year.

This post will take you through a simple yet powerful visioning exercise and the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework. Continue reading “Beyond New Year’s Resolutions & S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Part IV Visioning and Goals”