In 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote his landmark book “Think and Grow Rich” after being commissioned by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to study the world’s most successful people. In his book, Hill outlined 17 principles that were common among the men that pioneered the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century. If you want to succeed in business today, Hill’s principles are invaluable tools to help you move beyond the day-in and day-out struggle of just getting by, and experience transformational success in your life and business.
Recently I was honored to partner with sales training legend Tom Hopkins, “Chicken Soup” author Mark Victor Hansen, the Napoleon Hill Foundation and 48 of the world’s leading “success” thinkers to update the Hill’s principles for the 21st century. We found that the principles are as relevant and necessary to financial and business success today as they were 100 years ago.
Napoleon Hill wrote that “thoughts are things” and that our businesses and financial results are reflections of our habitual thoughts. If we expect to be successful, we are. If we expect to struggle, we do. Today we have neuroscience to understand this phenomenon and we have learned why Napoleon Hill was a man ahead of his time when it comes to conditioning the mind for success.
When we have a thought, an electrical impulse goes into a part of our brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then secretes a chemical which triggers an emotion. The emotion then drives our actions, which in turn drive our results. It’s a linear process that cannot be short circuited because it’s an automatic response: thoughts trigger emotions, which drive actions which determine results. It’s a very reliable and simple model of the factors that determine our business results.
For example, suppose one of your sales reps has the basic thought that the economy stinks and homeowners only care about a cheap price. What emotion flows from that thought? Very likely it’s a defeated state that gets reflected in body language and tone of voice. You simply cannot short circuit the neurology that connects thoughts and emotions.
Now ask yourself what actions does the sales rep perform on the sales call? Does he truly serve the homeowner with passion and purpose? Does he take the time to demonstrate why his company delivers superior value over competitors? Does he take the time to fully explain the benefits of investing in cutting-edge technology and high efficiency? Of course not! Why would he? After all, in his mind homeowners don’t care about anything but a cheap price!
Predictably, the sales result that flows from that sales call is a low-margin deal on a basic system. Ironically, the sales person mumbles to himself as he walks out the door, “I knew it. I knew they only cared about a cheap price!” Our pathetic friend has become the quintessential self-fulfilling prophecy and the company’s financial performance remains at the mercy of his self-defeating thoughts.
I have taught thousands of sales professionals how to be powerfully effective at the kitchen table. Yet in my training programs I teach how to “Get the Mind Right” before I teach the actual sales process. Without the Prosperity Mindset, the sales process doesn’t matter. The sales process is useless without a mindset that is programmed to thrive in the face of economic and competitive challenges.
A huge component of the prosperity mindset is the conversation we have with ourselves when the inevitable bad things come our way in life and business. Having a prosperity mindset means asking ourselves the right questions when a problem creeps up on us. Winners ask themselves, “How can I improve the situation.” Whiners complain and belly ache. For example, it’s easy to lament the cheap competitors who seek to undermine our success. That’s what a whiner does. A winner will figure out how to outperform the cheap guy and communicate superior value and service to homeowners.
Ultimately, whining about a bad situation serves no purpose, but to allow us to wallow in misery. Figuring out how to transcend the bad situation always guarantees a more profitable and productive outcome.
Emerson said, “We become what we think about all day long.” If you truly want massive transformational success in business, you must “think about what you think about.” Take a close look at your thoughts about the economy and your customers. They will both reflect the thoughts you have about them. If you expect to find success you will. If you expect to find struggle you will.
Of course the mindset alone is not enough to be successful. Winning in the HVAC and plumbing business requires having a systematic approach to the sales process.
It’s an interesting phenomenon in our industry that we have specialist for service, install, accounting, etc., yet we often throw any warm body on a sales call. To dominate your market you must commit resources to training and developing a professional sales force and implementing a sales process. What worked for our father’s generation is not going to cut the mustard in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.
Imagine going on a service call or install and the homeowner starts telling you how you should do your job. You wouldn’t allow that. In fact, if a homeowner began telling you how to do your install you might have some choice words for him.
Yet when we go on a sales call we often allow the homeowner to dictate the process. If they want a price while we are in the driveway, we give them a price in the driveway. If they want us to go look at the equipment first, we go look at the equipment first.
We wouldn’t allow the homeowner to dictate how we do an install and we can’t allow the homeowner to dictate how we run a sales call. We rely on a process to do installs because that ensures consistent high quality. If we want consistent sales results we must implement a consistent sales process. A random sales process can only produce random sales results.
What breeds success in today’s economic environment are not the same factors that led to success in the past. The economy is different. The competition is different. The homeowner is different. To think that we can succeed without changing is foolhardy. And if you think change is difficult, try extinction, because that is the reality of many companies who have not developed the skills and strategies to overcome the challenges that face every business today.
Exceptional financial and business performance requires developing a prosperity mindset that is programmed to prosper in the face of adversity and implementing a proven sales process that is designed to communicate superior value to our homeowners. If you think the right things and do the right things you will only create the right results.
Weldon Long is a New York Times Bestselling Author and an expert in growing residential HVAC companies. He grew his own HVAC company from $0 to more than $20,000,000 is sales in just 60 months. In 2009, his HVAC company was selected by Inc Magazine as one of "Americas Fastest Growing Companies." He is the founder of The Residential Sales and Business Academy where he teaches HVAC sales and business professionals how to dramatically improve sales and business performance. Long's work has been endorsed by Tom Hopkins, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Tony Robbins and the Napoleon Hill Foundation. For more information on The Residential Sales and Business Academy visit www.HVACSalesBuilder.com.