Practice Makes Perfect -
Especially With Conversations
by Ron Roberts and Ranger Kidwell-Ross
If you want to maximize your results and not get caught offguard, then practice all sides of an important conversation before it takes place.
A friend of mine, who was the operations manager of
an excavating contractor I worked for, was an absolute
master at getting people to do what he wanted them to
do. His secret? We'll get to that in a moment but I'd
like you to get to know a little bit about Steve first.
Steve ran both sales and operations for our company.
He was and is a very unique individual and is doing
quite well for himself now that he's off developing
land. By the time Steve parachuted in to our company,
he had already become something of a legend in our
little part of the construction world.
Steve originally moved into my home town to open a
branch office for his employer. He opened the
office and proceeded to build sales to $20 million
in just five years. And, he virtually did it by
himself: He did the selling. He created the estimates. He
organized the field crews. He ordered the materials.
The home office did run his accounting and he did
have an ace superintendent to help him with the
10 pipe and dirt crews. But still, to do
everything he did masterfully was almost inhuman.
Steve was and is incredibly efficient and incredibly
smart. Steve had a handful of tricks he used and I
would like to share one of the more unique tricks
that he used to manage his clients and manage
his cash flow.
Pay attention. Here comes the secret that I promised
to tell you about.
One time while we were sitting across his desk,
taking a breather from the pressures of life, Steve
and I discussed how he was so effective in his conversations with prospects and clients.
"I invest time in thinking about the
conversations I'm going to have with my clients and
He had my attention. "Tell me more, tell me more," I asked.
It turns out that Steve rehearsed conversations he was
going to have with his client over and over in his
head. He explored and practiced every angle a
conversation might take.
He'd think about what the client might say in
response to his attempts to get the client to do
"If the client responds this way, I'll say that.
If I say this, the client might respond in one of
three ways." Then he'd explore the appropriate
answer for each of the client's three possible
He'd follow that chain of thought in his mind over
and over through all the various possible twists
and turns and multiple replies his client may have
throughout the conversation.
Because he had run through each conversation
multiple times, Steve was a master at controlling
the real conversation, never being surprised by
something someone said. Let me give you an example
of how he put this to work.
Steve was brilliant at closing a sale. Because he
had thought through all the reactions the client
might have to his statements, all the concerns the
client might voice to his suggestions, and all the
objections the client might raise, Steve could get
them to sign on the dotted line with little to no
He was never caught off guard. He was cool as a
cucumber when the client tried to throw him a
haymaker. Steve just went with it and redirected
the conversation back to where he wanted it to go.
He wasn't using sales tricks. He was genuine, but
was always a step ahead. He would do this to get his clients to hire him,
to spend millions of dollars with his company. He would do
this when he was bringing them horrible news such
as "We've hit rock. It's going to cost you another
The customer might have budgeted $1 million to
develop his residential property and now he's going
to spend $1.5 million to get the job done. Steve
made sure he knew exactly what to say to keep
the guy from bailing on him.
Conversations were like chess games to him. Chess
games he played over and over in his head prior
to actually starting the game live and in person.
And he virtually always won.
I've been working on it myself and have found it
to be quite helpful. When I practice, I become
much more disciplined and effective in my
interaction with prospects and clients.
So, if you really want to make great gains with
your existing clients, close more sales, and get
your own guys to work harder and smarter, I
encourage you to give Steve's trick a little try.
Practice critical conversations ahead of time.
Until next time, best of luck with your business!
The Contractor's Business Coach
More information about Ron Roberts' and his company may be found on his website FilthyRichContractor.com. Ron may be reached via email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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