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Avoid the Chimney Fires in Your Contracting Business

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“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” -Helen Keller

You and I cannot sell if we don’t believe in our product or service. Confidence makes all the difference in sales.

When I was a young chimney sweep, I truly believed in the products and services I provided. I witnessed a chimney fire at a bed and breakfast one weekend with my wife. Chimney fires get up to 1,400 degrees F and sound like a train is running through the house. It was terrifying! It’s one thing to read about them, it’s quite another to experience the sheer terror and uncertainty of it.

The owner screamed, guests ran outside to witness flaming balls of creosote shooting out of the chimney like a giant Roman candle. Being the only person in the room that understood what was really going on, I reached up and closed the flue. The fire died down almost immediately. You see, oxygen fueled the fire. By shutting down the flue, I cut off the supply of air that allowed the fire to rage.

After the Fire Department left, I turned to the owner of the B&B and said, “It might be a good idea to find a good Chimney Sweep in your area and have him by to clean it at least once a year.”

After that experience, I would look my customers in the eye and say, “Trust me when I tell you, you never want to experience a chimney fire! It can, in short order, burn your house down. Let me explain your options on how to prevent that from ever happening to you.”

I would sell a chimney cap (to let the owner know when creosote had accumulated to dangerous levels and it was time for a cleaning); a fire extinguisher; education on burning seasoned wood, as opposed to green wood which has a much higher creosote content.

One day I sold $350 dollars’ worth of products, compared to $35 for the cleaning. You see, the sales I made from that day on were based on my unshakable belief in the value of the service I was providing. Sales is a transfer of belief and confidence in your product and service.

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” -Norman Vincent Peale

Here are five things you can do to create confidence in yourself and what you sell. They work. Why not give them a try?

  1. Invest in the product or service your company provides. Put your money where your mouth is. “If this were my mother’s house, this is what I would tell her…”
  2. Be honest with your prospects. If it is not a good fit, tell them so.
  3. Look the prospect in the eye and tell your story, when it’s time for you to talk. Even if they don’t buy from you, leave a trail of trust behind.
  4. Your spirit of intent, your motives are transparent. Like dogs that smell and sense fear, your prospect can smell desperation or a lack of confidence.
  5. Your aspect, countenance, dress, words, tone of voice all communicate confidence. Make sure you have covered all those bases. The devil is in the details.

I tell my audiences when I speak, “I can tell you to keep a journal [as I hold my current one up in the air] because I have filled four of these up a year since 1982. Journaling will change your life and the life of your children and grandchildren!” Why? Because its true and I believe it with all my heart and soul.

Trust me when I tell you, “chimney fires are avoidable.” Do what you need to to prevent the Chimney Fires of Life from burning down your sales. It’s a very modest investment for the peace of mind and safety that doing the right thing affords us all.