This is the fifth in a series of articles about how Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s landmark book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” can be used to create powerful results in your contracting business.
Habit 4 is the first of what Dr. Covey called the “Public Victories.” While mastering Habits 1, 2 and 3 indicated mastery over self, thinking “Win/Win” is the first of the habits that is designed to help students become leaders in their communities, families and businesses and expand their influence beyond their personal lives.
Think Win/Win is the habit of “mutual benefit”, and it should be the goal when we are interacting with any stakeholder in our business. Whether it is an interaction with customers, suppliers or our employees and coworkers, thinking Win/Win is the most effective way to create agreements that result in mutual benefit and long lasting business relationships.
I often recommend that contractors should integrate a Win/Win conversation into the beginning of their sales process in the form of the “intention statement.” Essentially, the intention statement is a conversation with a homeowner setting the ground rules of the sales process and seeks to form an upfront agreement that the parties will find a solution that works for both. If an agreement that serves both parties cannot be reached, we agree that not moving forward is a viable option.
The conversation I recommend looks something like this:
“Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, have you ever had a bad experience with a pushy salesperson? Well, I’ve got great news, I am not a pushy salesperson; I am a professional (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical) design consultant, and I take my profession very seriously. It’s how I provide for my family. It’s how I serve my community.
What I have found is the best for my customers is that I want to take all the time you need to answer all your questions, design the perfect solutions and, of course, get it in your budget. All I ask at the end of that process is that you let me know, one way or the other, whether or not you think I am a good fit for you. And NO is a perfectly acceptable answer.”
By acknowledging that “no is a perfectly acceptable answer” we are setting the groundwork for “Win/Win or no deal” agreement.
Thinking Win/Win is only possible with people who possess “High Courage” and “High Consideration.” High courage ensures that we have the confidence to get what we want out of a particular transaction and high consideration ensures that we have the character necessary to make sure others get what they want.
Thinking Win/Win however is vital when we are working internally to improve our service, operational excellence or financial performance.
Oftentimes contractors unwittingly negotiate transactions that are actually “Lose/Win.” In other words, we negotiate a transaction that is great for our customers — they get a great price and great service, but we fail to charge a price that ensures satisfactory margins to grow our business and generate sustainable profits. When this happens we have inadvertently created a Lose/Win agreement. Our customers win but our company loses in terms of financial performance.
There are appropriate times when we should practice “Win/Lose.” For example, we would never go to market against out competitors and try for a Win/Win. When it comes to competitive situations we must out perform the other team. Imagine a competitive sporting event where the opposing teams are seeking a Win/Win agreement. That would not make for a very interesting game.
Thinking Win/Win however is vital when we are working internally to improve our service, operational excellence or financial performance. To effectively lead our companies we need the cooperation of the people who have a vested interest in our success. To achieve success and facilitate the necessary relationships to maintain that success, we must have the courage to win and the consideration to allow others to win.