He who sweats more in training, bleeds less in war… and Business

There is a saying that “he who sweats more in training, bleeds less in war”. A few people are credited for this quote but one thing is certain, the Spartans lived by it.

Spartan warriors were the most fierce fighters and were highly feared by their enemies. They were a group of warriors that had a solid understanding of what it took to be the absolute best. It took lots of hard training and sweaty days. and nights.

It goes without saying that the Spartan’s ability to train harder than any other warrior is single handedly the secret weapon that made them #1 so it only makes sense that we abide by this rule in business as well.

How to “sweat more” than your competitors

A spartan would train in his craft from sun-up to sun-down. Only taking breaks to use the restroom, eat, and tend to his family (unless he was away at war). In business, you need to be doing the same…

Hustle from sun-up to sun-down

If you have a desire to create the absolute best business in a particular market/genre/niche or own the largest corporation in America, there is absolutely no reason why you are not working from sun-up to sun-down (and beyond to tell the truth).

I can recall many days where I woke up, and with little time to waste, had to get right to work. I worked extra hard throughout the entire day, and did not stop working until I absolutely had to go to bed. This is not every day for me, but working from sun-up to sun-down sure is. Why? Because I want to be the best. I want to win. I want to dominate!

Train in your craft

You should never thing that you know all there is to know in your industry. At the rate that technology is changing, there is always something to be learned.

I have a business in the construction industry and it amazes me how many ‘old guys’ in my market discredit our company because “I don’t have a store front” or because “we use satellite images to measure properties and provide proposals” or because “they know everything about their products… the same ones they used in 2001…“.

The truth is, while these folks were busy down-talking our company over the past 7 years because we were the “young kid in the market that thinks he can change how things are done“, we were busy training and becoming better at our craft which led to us taking almost $1.5 million in market share each year.

This is not for everyone.

I do not want you to think that I only advocate for hustling every hour of the day and punting the rest of your life away. While this may very well be the recipe to get where you want to go, it is certainly not for everyone. It takes a very special type of person to be a Spartan. Likewise, it takes a very special type of person to dominate in business.

You cannot talk about being a “baller” if you spend your evenings hanging out, playing video games, or partying. Well, you can talk about it but the fact is, your not a baller and will not become one with those habits.

In order to dominate, be a baller, and become a titan in business, you must sweat more in training (the day to day learning, practice, and hustle of business) so that you bleed less when it comes time for war (fighting for market share, downturn in the economy, landing contracts, hiring, etc.).

Now go be a practitioner!

The Truth About Passive Income & Starting a Business

Yesterday, while I was driving, I went on a rant about passive income and what it is REALLY like to start a business.

The rant started because I was watching a show with my wife the other night and there was a man in the show who had a desk job at a home building company who made the comment “I think I am going to go out on my own, start my own business so I can have more free time and spend more time with my family“. My wife looked at me, chuckled, and said “Only someone with an office job that does not own a business thinks that if they start a business they will have more free time or more time with their family“. And she is right. Here is the truth about starting a business…

Let’s Start With Passive Income

I hate to break it to you but there is no such thing as passive income. No matter what area of income we are talking about, it requires any combination of the following: hustle, hard work, research, maintenance, time and money. None of those sound passive to me…

I understand that there are some markets with “seemingly” passive income like home renting, stock investing, multilevel marketing companies etc. But even those markets require lots of hard work to be successful. Sure you can buy some stocks and never look at them again, and if you are lucky you might even make a few dollars. But to truly be successful in the stock market, you have to do many days of research, constant monitoring, and making lots of moves. Not very passive

If you are renting out homes as “passive income” you will learn quickly how non-passive that really is. You have to deal with the tenant, you must repair the home and appliances when something is not working properly, you have to make sure the house is not being destroyed, new paint, carpet… Sure, you can hire someone to manage the property/rental and hire contractors but even then, you are managing those people so they can properly manage your assets.

Multilevel marketing companies are famous for preaching “financial freedom and passive income”. However, the very core of those companies are to build a team and manage them to success. That does not sound passive at all. Being a successful leader in multilevel marketing requires tremendous leadership and motivation skills to keep your team going. Not necessarily because they are bad at staying motivated, but because they signed up for the promise of passive income and are just now realizing that they have to WORK for that income.

NOW, I am not saying that investing in stocks is a bad thing or that renting your home is a bad thing or that you should not work with a multilevel marketing company. My point here is that there is no such thing as making money without working for it, short of winning the lottery. If you are planning on starting a business or embarking on the journey of being an entrepreneur so that you can have passive income, you are in for a big surprise and will likely fail.

What It Is REALLY Like Starting a Business

When I started my first business, it was not because I had some great idea and was ready to generate financial freedom, it was because I lost my job as an executive for a New York fence manufacturer and had to do something to put food on the table for my family. Having a background in the fence construction market, I decided that we would move back home to Detroit, Michigan and I would start Paramount Fence, a fence installation company.

I have always been an entrepreneur. I remember stealing candy, pens, and pencils from the local drug store every morning on my way to grade school and then selling the stuff out of my backpack to classmates. Not the most honest living, but hey, lets keep the focus on the hustle here. In all honesty, since starting Paramount Fence, I have spent less time with my family than before. Sure we are able to take vacations more often and I most certainly get a healthy dose of family time because it is a priority of mine. But the point here is that starting this business did not grant me more free time. It actually took up all of my free time.

If your goal is to start a successful business, build an empire, or create a machine (company) that will eventually continue in business after you retire or move on to other ventures, then it will require a very strong hustle muscle, massive action, lots of hard work, late nights, early morning, money, determination, good priorities, and an ability to lead. Without these things, or if you are getting into business because you think it is the ‘easy way out’, you are most certainly going to get beat up in the market and eventually fail.

It is not all glitz and glamour…

From the outside, being the business owner seems great, it seems like the easy life, lots of free time, and easy money. Just kick your feet up, point, and everybody will do what you say. The truth is, We spend our days putting out fires, dealing with problems, managing employees, lawsuits, innovating, dealing with disgruntle clients, putting out fires, dealing with problems, PUTTING OUT FIRES AND DEALING WITH PROBLEMS. Sure, there are highlights and perks of being the boss of a successful company and I would not change the course of my career for anything, I love it. But, it is far from constant glitz and glamour and requires you to have a very strong mental game and thick skin. Pro Tip: This junk ain’t for everyone…

Focus on the Macro. Not the Micro

If you want to be successful in business, expand your earning ability, and be a successful entrepreneur, you must be able to stay focused on the Macro and not lose sight when the Micro sucks… The “Macro” is your big picture. It is the end goal. It is where you see the company and/or yourself in the next 30-50 years. The “Micro” is the day-to-day crap that you have to deal with in order to make that happen.

How to stay focused on the Macro

To stay focused on the Macro, you need to know what your Macro is. You need to know what your biggest goals are and where you want to go in life and in business. Knowing these things will allow you to set the proper goals and create the road-map to your success. Once you have this road-map and goals created, you will know that your actions line up with reaching those goals which will help you to endure through the rough days when you are getting beat up in the market, getting discouraged, and/or start second guessing your efforts…

Need help to find out what your Macro is? Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @johnrburke2 and lets figure it out.

How To Be A Better Fence Salesman

Often times I hear complaints from a sales team or from sales reps that “all customers care about anymore is getting the lowest price” and that the “backyard contractor just undercuts until he wins the job”. This is a faulty thought and a sure tell sign that the sales rep is poorly trained and inexperienced in sales.

If you are looking to revamp your sales process, skills, and percentage of closed sales, this blog post is for you. And will help at making you a better fence salesman.

Qualifying YOUR Customer

The first step to any sale is qualifying your prospect. Selling fence product and services is no different. By properly qualifying your prospect (homeowner, business owner, maintenance manager, etc.) you will know if the prospect is ready to buy a fence, if they want to buy a fence, and if they can afford a fence.

Doing this will allow you to manage your time more efficiently by not wasting time with “tire kickers” and focusing your direct attention on the “buying customers”.

While doing an estimate, you should always be asking yourself the following questions to qualify your prospect/home owner:

Is the prospect the decision maker?

You always want to make sure you are talking with the decision maker so they can make the decision to give you a deposit.

Can the prospect afford your product/service?

You don’t want to judge a book by the cover when considering this question but you do want to watch out for comments such as: “we are looking for the lowest price”, “the economy is so bad…” etc.

This is often a sign that the prospect is just curious about pricing and most likely will not buy your product/service. Unless you are one that doesn’t have enough confidence in your service to attend your ground on price.

Does the prospect want your product/service?

In sales, it is said that you want to get your prospects ATTENTION, gain their INTEREST, influence their DECISION to buy, and then take ACTION! Is your prospect ready to make a decision? You need to know this so you can take action and properly go for the close.

Handling Objections

Before going on an estimate, it is important to know what objections your customer may have and how you will handle them. You should always be asking yourself ”What are some objections that a customer may have?” After asking these questions, you should consider a solid and persuasive response to each of the objections.

Below are some examples:

“We would like to get a couple more estimates”

This is a classic rebuttal that customers will always throw at you. Sometimes there is nothing you can do in this situation however, you can always save a final offer for the customer if they sign the deal with you today. (ie: free removal of old fence, free decorative caps, extended warranty etc.) Never offer an additional discount (such as 5% off etc.) because that makes the prospect feel like you could have given them a better deal in the first place but chose not to. Instead offer them something for free, most will love you for it!

You can also try to overcome this objection by selling based on timing, your reputation and warranty, or any other competitive advantage you might have. If a customer wants other estimates, that means they are looking for something you did not provide for them. You need to find out what what something is, and correct it.

“The other company had a lower price”

Never just lower your price because the prospect says they received a lower quote. This shows a customer that you do not value your product and service enough to know that it is worth more than Pookie Fence down the street.

In this situation, sell based on the value of doing business with YOU. I have been known to tell customers “yea, but you don’t get ME if you hire Pookie Fence”. Don’t be afraid to let your confidence show. Many uncertain consumers will love this and find security in it.

If you find that the lower quotes are comparable to your product, service, reputation, etc. And that you have no competitive advantage against them. You might need to re-evaluate your pricing all together. As you might not be in line with the market’s pricing.

“We have another project that we would like to complete before getting a fence”

This one hurts, and is a good time to throw in the deal that was mentioned before. For example, if a customer tells you that they would like to get new siding on the house before having their fence installed, You can try telling them something like “Mr. Prospect, If you would like to do it the other way around and have your fence installed first, I would be willing to remove your old fence for free which would save you approximately $300 and we can also discuss an extended warranty on the installation”.

Try to cater your offer to a ‘direct need/want of the customer. If they were talking about decorative caps but decided not to because of price, you could offer a free upgrade on caps and an extended warranty. It is important to make an offer that greatly benefits your customer because they have already set their mind to a different project and you are trying to encourage them to change their mind.

“We are just getting prices for right now”

This one can really get under your skin! In this situation, there is nothing wrong with asking the prospect a simple yes or no question that may be able to turn the tide in your favor and that question is… “So, if you were ready to get your fence installed, would my quote be acceptable enough for you to approve?” If they say yes, ask them when they are looking to have the installation completed and make sure you follow up!

What you want to accomplish here is finding out the ‘one true reason’ that the customer is not ready to get their fence installed and try to address it. If they are researching prices, they are interested in having the fence installed sometime in the future. It is your job to encourage them to buy right now. (This is also a good time to throw in a deal as mentioned above). What you DO NOT want to do is say “uhh, well you know… material goes up so much now days, it will cost you more on a later date so you should get it done now” because your competitor’s salesman who offers something free as encouragement for the deposit will obtain the sale and you will be wondering why your sales are low this month.

Closing – Getting The Sale

Whether you are the company owner or a salesman for the company; the name of the game is what I like to call “CHA-CHING” (Close the deal, make the sale, get the deposit). This is easily recognized as the toughest part of doing an estimate when you are a fence salesman. Below are some general tips for helping you close the deal and get a deposit from your customer.

Offer Incentives

“Mrs. Prospect, it appears that you are quite eager to get your fence installed quickly, maybe I can help your decision by upgrading you to some decorative caps for no additional cost or removing your old fence for free and we can take care of the paperwork right now”.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For The Sale

Telling is not selling! The worst thing you can do as a fence salesman is tell your customer “it will cost you this much, call me if you want to move forward with the job”. Instead, try closing with something like “Mr. Prospect, we would love to install your fence for you. I believe we have the price you are looking for and we are able to get started on your job right away. I have a good understanding of your needs for this fence and know that we will address your needs. Can we agree on moving forward with this job today?”

Talk As If They Have Already Hired You

When you are speaking with the customer, say things like “when our installers are here…” or “after we are finished…” etc. This will psychologically get your prospect thinking about your company installing their fence and make their decision to select easier.

Follow Up. Follow Up. Follow Up.

If for some reason you do not get the customer’s deposit during your estimate, the new single most important objective at hand is a proper follow up strategy. By using good follow up strategies, you will keep your company’s name in the prospects mind for when they are ready to buy.

Below are some good follow up strategies that are ideal for fence salesman:

Send a ‘Thank You’ Card (or Gift Card)

When was the last time a salesperson or rep met with you and then followed up with a thank you card or by giving you a gift card? It simply does not happen anymore and will dramatically set you apart from the rest of your competition.

I only recommend this follow up strategy for larger jobs that have potential of bringing you a larger ROI. A simple thank you card will usually do the trick however if you really want to excite your customer, send them a $5-$10 gift certificate for Starbucks, be sure to include a letter of thanks and let them know that you are looking forward to installing their fence. I assure you that more times than not, this will score you the job.

Follow Up Calls

You should always make follow up calls to your customers 1-3 days after performing the estimate. I personally would make a follow up call 2 days after the estimate and ask the prospect where they stand in the decision making process. You will usually get a solid response on when the prospect is looking to have the fence installed or they will say something like “I still have to talk to my wife about it”. If this is the case, you can respectfully ask to follow up at a later date. Make sure you take notes and follow up on the later date. Many sales require 5-10 follow up efforts before closing the deal. I bet you aren’t even making 3 follow up efforts right now…

Follow Up Emails

I recommend following up with an email immediately after your estimate and after your first follow up call. This is another venue that you can use to maintain further communication with the prospect and ensure that your company will receive the sale when the time comes.

Facebook

If your customer has a Facebook page, do not hesitate to include them in your network and send them a message letting them know that you want to make it easy for them to contact you when necessary.

Conclusion

While every prospect and situation is different, the above strategies will greatly increase your chances at making the sale and obtaining a deposit at the time of your estimate. By using them, I guarantee that you will close more deals and increase your income.

Have a tip that I forgot?

If you would like to share a tip that I forgot, please share in the comments section below.

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