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Practice Makes Perfect -
Especially With Conversations

by Ron Roberts and Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Ron Roberts

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 crews."

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 something.

"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 responses.

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 trouble.

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 $500,000."

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!

Ron Roberts,
The Contractor's Business Coach

More information about Ron Roberts' and his company may be found on his website Ron may be reached via email sent to

If you have new information to provide on this topic, let us know and we can add it in as an addendum to this article.

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