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3 Ways to Dig Deeper on Sales Calls

3 Ways to Dig Deeper on Sales CAlls

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Many of you probably already have heard me talk about the 4 Knows to a Yes in the past. If not, check out this previous article, that I’ve written on that topic. For this article, I want to go more in-depth and focus only on the first “Know” – Know the Why.

To start, remember that the most important objective in a sales call is to get an understanding of the emotions that will ultimately drive the prospect to make a decision. At ArboRisk, we call this the prospect’s “why”. Once you have an understanding of their why, you will be able to walk through the remaining “Knows” and close the sale.

Below are three strategies to dig deeper on a sales call to truly gain a better understanding of the prospect’s why. Discuss these during your next sales meeting to help increase your sales team success rate.

1. Ranking 1-10, then “Tell Me More” – Directly after the prospect tells you what they want you to look at, you should immediately have them rank the importance of their situation on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most important pressing issue in their lives right now. Follow up that ranking with the simple phrase, “Tell me more” to learn why they gave it that ranking. The answer they give you will help you understand how to best service them and therefore win the sale. 

2. Restate, then 3 Why’s. – A simple yet effective way to understand the prospect’s why, is to restate what you heard the prospect say and then ask a few probing questions. If what you say back to them isn’t what they really mean you will have the chance to correct yourself and truly understand what they are looking for from you. After you restate their request and they agree that is what they are looking for, then you should dig deeper by asking ‘why’ at least three more times to uncover the true emotion behind their request. As an example…

Sales Arborist: I heard you say you wanted to have the honey locust removed in your backyard, correct?

Prospect: Yes, that’s correct.

Sales Arborist: 1st Why – Why do you want it removed?

Prospect: It drops too many branches.

Sales Arborist: 2nd Why – Why do the branches bother you?

Prospect: I do not want to continually have to pick them up.

Sales Arborist: 3rd Why – Why do you care if the branches are on the ground?

Prospect: My grandkids come over and play every Tuesday and I want a clean space for them.

It might not go that smooth in real life, but you can see how you get to the actual emotion of why they called you. Now you can directly solve their problem and offer other solutions to help them have a great backyard for their grandchildren to play in.

3. What’s your vision for your yard? – We have an entire article devoted to this question, but it’s such a great way to learn about the prospect’s why that I wanted to make sure and mention it again. This question opens up conversation much broader than just focusing on the original service request and can lead to future work or simply a better customer relationship once they hire you. 

Hopefully those three simple strategies will help your sales team dig deeper with their prospects and connect more on an emotional level with them to win more sales for your company. If you would like any more help with your sales team, our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package includes four hours of direct one-on-one sales training. For more information, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today!

Tom Dunn

Developing Your Business Culture Using Flashlights and Mirrors

Developing Your Business Culture Using Flashlights and Mirrors

Written by Kevin Martlage

In previous articles I have written about using flashlights and mirrors to help develop your personal leadership skills and the leadership within your organization. The concept is simple and helps you review leadership ability by using two different tools: a flashlight and a mirror. The mirror is used to help you see and reflect on those things as the leader you are doing to grow, sustain, or detract from the impact you are making on your team and organization. The flashlight is used to help those you are leading see a unique perspective or point of view when it comes to their ability to help grow, sustain, or detract from their leadership ability and impact. As a leader it is important that you are using both to help enhance your leadership, while also leading and coaching your team to enhance theirs. Using the two tools together can help you and your team grow while building trust using intentional communication which are both fundamental building blocks of any supportive and successful business culture. 

To build a successful business culture using flashlights and mirrors you must first identify what a good business culture looks like so you can then assess how you are supporting or detracting from those goals. Throughout my 30-year career I have had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing teams and in some amazing business cultures around the world. As a leader it is difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what made one business culture better than the other, however, there are common themes that seem to stick out when I think about the ones that were most supportive. If I were to hold the flashlight up to all the business cultures and environments I have worked in during my career the following strengths would be evident:

  • Roles and responsibilities were always well defined 
  • There was clarity around what is wanted or needed from each other
  • There was an elevated level of trust among all parts of the organization
  • Everyone pursued solutions that were mutually beneficial
  • People did what they agreed to do 
  • Information was timely
  • Communication was open and honest
  • People admitted to and took responsibility for their actions
  • There was timely and constructive feedback
  • There was proper and appropriate confidentiality
  • I felt empowered and trusted to make decisions within my scope of responsibility
  • I was asked for my input when appropriate
  • I had access to training and development
  • Values and principles were followed 
  • Opinions were shared constructively and never negatively

If you look at the items listed they can be combined into the following themes:

  • Shared Values
  • Intentional Trust
  • Transparent Communication

As a business owner if you can hold up your ‘culture mirror’ and say that you are actively living up to and supporting your personal and organization values, are building trust with your team, customers, and stakeholders, and doing so with clear, consistent, and transparent communication you could probably say your business culture is supporting the growth of your organization. In addition, if your employees can say the same thing about you and the organization, you are heading in the right direction. If you cannot say that regarding all areas, that is OK, it just means that you might have opportunity to gain experience in those areas as a leader and organization. 

If you do not have your business culture identified or outlined as an organization, that is OK. However, I would strongly recommend that you take time to identify what good looks like and the specifics of your culture that you are trying to build and support. There are many ways to do this including looking into the New Heights Package offered by Arborisk Insurance or to take the free Culture Assessment being offered this month. Both will provide you a high-level perspective on potential areas for business culture enhancement. Whether or not you do either, it is important to start to discuss, build, and document what good looks like for your organization. 

Once you have built your ‘business culture mirror’ by identifying what good looks like, it is time to bring out the flashlight and see what specifically is enhancing, sustaining, and detracting from your culture. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask your employees. Ask them their thoughts on how defined and effective they feel the business culture is in your organization. You can develop your own questions or use some of the following questions to begin the conversation:

  • What do you feel are our core values as an organization?
  • Do you feel supported in your personal and professional development? 
  • Are there any areas of the organization you would like to find out more about?
  • Do you feel like my communication to you is effective?
  • Do you feel like you are properly informed regarding the direction of the organization?
  • What are you enthusiastic about within this company? Do you feel supported in that passion?
  • What are you passionate about outside this company? DO you feel supported in that passion?

There are hundreds of questions you could ask, but the most important thing is that you are asking them to help shine the light on opportunities and specifics of what is important to your employees. As these conversations continue, you will start to shine the light on those areas of opportunity where you can further align your leadership approach and business culture with the expectations of your employees. Through frequent, transparent, and intentional communication you will also build trust among the team and within your organization which will help to ‘power the flashlight’ as you continue to identify, build, and assess the right business culture for your organization. 

If you are interested in learning more about how to identify, build, assess, and nurture your business culture, please feel free to take our culture assessment which can be found at the following link:

Company Culture Assessment

Once completed, a Thrive Consultant will review the results with you and develop a high-level action plan of next steps. 

For additional help with growing your company, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance team! If you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

Remember, Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What are you doing to identify and develop your business culture as you provide your organization the opportunity to advance and surpass the strategic goals of your team?

Tom Dunn

Growing Your Company With Trust

Growing Your Company With Trust

Written by Kevin Martlage

This month we are focusing on the culture of your business and how you can continue to work towards developing and providing a supportive and nurturing environment for your employees, customers, and those your business serves. So far this month we have discussed the importance of a strong business culture and its positive impact on the success of your team and company. We have also discussed how intentional and transparent communication can build trust which is the life blood of any successful company and team.

Trust is present in almost everything we do as a tree care professional so why is it not always a critical consideration in our approach with our teams and our company? When I think about trust in the tree care industry, there are numerous things that come to mind. For example:

  • Climbers have TRUST in their climbing equipment that the manufacturer made it safe.
  • Our customers TRUST that we have a level of knowledge to ensure we properly take care of their tree.
  • We TRUST that our customers will pay us the amount of money agreed to in our accepted work proposal.
  • Our customers TRUST that we will do the work to the best of our ability and according to the work order.
  • Our crews TRUST that as owners we will provide a certain framework and resources to do the work we are asking them to complete.
  • We TRUST our crews to do the work with a high level of safety, accuracy, and professionalism.
  • Climbers TRUST that the person who might be belaying their rope will not let go!
  • Climbers TRUST that their review of a tree and their equipment before using SRT will ensure their safety if they follow the proper procedures.
  • Tree Care Owners TRUST that Arborisk will have their best interest in mind as they insure their company.

Trust is evident in everything we do regardless of if you are a climber in a 50-foot oak, the ground crew member clearing and chipping brush, or the owner of 5-person, or 500-person tree care company.

There are also examples of trust in our personal lives which is what we probably all think of first when we hear the word trust. I am certain you can probably identify a negative situation which had a root cause of trust being challenged or not being present. If you review that situation close enough, I can almost guarantee that if trust was present the situation would have been resolved more efficiently while helping to continue to build the foundation of trust for any potential future situations with that person. You could also probably agree that trust was challenged in that situation because both sides were not on the same page or made up their own “story” about what was going on.

Bottom line, without trust we are left to our own mind and resources to try and figure it out, to tell the “story” and to protect ourselves, which can lead to confusion, lost productivity, and misalignment among our staff, colleagues, friends, and family. 

So why then do I call trust the life blood of any successful company and team?

The reason trust is so vitally important to success is because without trust, you are enabling your team to get sidetracked as they try to understand your decisions, question your intent, protect themselves, or simply feel comfortable about being on the same page with you. In extreme circumstances, a lack of trust can even help foster resentment and the need to be defensive and always right which ultimately takes away from collaborative progress and success of the team. 

Building Trust is sometimes difficult for organizations because it must be intentionally built over time. Much like a personal relationship or friendship, it takes work and intentional focus on providing the context, intent, and insight regarding your thoughts and approach. Whether you are interacting with a friend or a member of your team, trust is always on stage, and either being built or broken depending on the situation and conversation.   

There are numerous ways to build trust among your team and within your organization. However, there is one thing that can kickstart your journey of building trust. You must first start by looking inward as a leader to understand how you are impacting trust within your own company. To do this, I would recommend asking yourself these questions:

  • What “stories” might my team be trying to figure out?
  • How can I always provide a great experience of understanding and collaboration for my team?
  • What are some things that I may be questioning? Chances are my team is too.
  • How is a lack of trust impacting the productivity of the company and team?

By looking inward, you can then start to identify some key areas where you can adjust your leadership approach. These adjustments, while unique to you, should be centered around the following:

  • Always ensuring you are providing transparent and intentional communication
  • Providing information designed to help eliminate the need to “make up their own story”
  • Communicating your intent by providing the desired outcome and reasons behind your decisions

Providing insight in a transparent and intentional manner, will allow your team the opportunity to build trust with you because they understand the intent and reason behind your decisions, communication, and direction of the company. You are helping to eliminate the unknown and offering a collaborative approach to the direction of the company.

A culture built on trust will help to empower you team to make sound decision without the fear of betrayal or misunderstanding. Trust will also help to create a team that will be focused and aligned on moving the organization forward instead of being consumed by trying to answer the unknown or making up their own stories or direction. Trust is certainly difficult to build, and it takes times, however the return on that investment will pay dividends that will help to build a foundation for your company that is both sustainable and flexible.

As you build trust I guarantee it will become the X factor regarding your organization and be the secret sauce that takes you to the next level, helps to retain your employees, and streamlines your operations. This will ultimately help you enhance your ability of being the place where everyone wants to work, and your customers want to do business with. Thus, making Trust one of the most important ingredients to the sustainability, success, and growth of your company.

For additional help with growing trust within your company, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance teamIf you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

As part of ArboRisk’s Thrive family, we are also offering a FREE business culture self-assessment to help you begin to identify some ways in which you can continue to enhance your company’s culture. The assessment is extremely easy to complete and will take you less than 5 minutes. Following the completion of your assessment, you will receive a summary of recommended areas of impact to consider as you continue to enhance your company culture. 

Tom Dunn

Building Trust with Intentional and Transparent Communication

Building Trust with Intentional and Transparent Communication

Written by Kevin Martlage

This month we are focusing on the culture of your business and how you can continue to work towards developing and providing a supportive and nurturing environment for your employees, customers, and those your business serves. There are numerous approaches to building a supportive work culture, but two of the most important approaches focus on communication and trust. 

Trust is ultimately the most important ingredient in any positive work culture, but communication is key to building that trust and maintaining it effectively.   

It is widely thought that communication is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued of all the interpersonal skills. Despite this, most people feel that they communicate effectively. Whether you feel you are an effective communicator or not, how can you enhance your ability to intentionally provide the context of your communication in a way that ensures the recipient is successful in understanding your true intent. The answer is in reviewing the difference between Reactive Communication (it is about me) and Intentional Communication (it is about you). 

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to lead numerous teams. Some have been more successful and productive than others, but regardless of their performance my approach to leading them has always been the same. Without an intentional commitment to communication, the team will never truly understand the “why”. Without an intentional commitment to transparent communication, the team will become consumed with the “why” and lose sight of their ability to achieve goals. Without the intentional commitment to using both of those approaches while actively listening to my team to build trust, well… nothing else would really matter. 

Let me ask you a question. How much time and energy is being spent by your tree crews, your crew leaders, or your management team each day questioning the ‘why’ behind what they are doing and what you are saying to them? The answer to that question may depend on the position that person holds within your organization and certainly the situation that person may be in. 

For example, a person clearing brush from a work site may fully understand the ‘why’ behind what they are being asked to do by their crew leader.  The ‘why’ in this case is simple. Pick up the brush that is left behind as the rest of the crew prunes the tree and pile it by the chipper. That statement is clear and understandable by even the newest member of your crew. However, as you move upward within your organization, the understanding of the ‘why’ may become a bit more difficult to understand but is equally important. 

Perhaps you have an instance where a crew leader is requesting a new piece of equipment that is not in the budget for that year. The reactive communication style would go something like this, 

“Sorry, but we cannot pursue purchasing that piece of equipment at this time.” 

Even though the crew leader may appear to accept your answer and move on, there is still a chance that they may be questioning your decision or thinking about the ‘why’ behind your decision. This internal questioning could lead to lost productivity and lost time on the job site as they wrestle to understand why it was just “no.”

As the communicator in this instance, it is important for you to intentionally provide your response in a way that ensures the receiver of that communication understands the full intent of what you are saying and the reason being that response. This is the essence of intentional communication which is all about the recipient and their understanding. This approach will help to eliminate the possibility of lost time while they are focusing on trying to understand your decision instead of obtaining your full intent and the reasoning during the initial conversation. 

The intentional response in this situation may go something like this, 

“I appreciate your request for the new piece of equipment, and I have reviewed options to see if we can make that happen. I’d like to go over my decision with you.

Based on our budget for this year, we are not going to be able to pursue purchasing that item. However, I am committed to continuing to look at some other options including making sure, at the very least, we get that item in the budget for next year. 

While this piece of equipment is certainly important, I feel that there are other options we can use to get us through the rest of this fiscal year. Here are those options, and I’d like your feedback regarding this approach.”

As a leader you have just intentionally and transparently provided as much information as possible in anticipation of the questions that you may encounter. You have done your best to ensure that the recipient of your communication understands your full intent in a transparent manner. While the crew leader may still have additional questions or comments, you have allowed for the conversation to include the ability for the recipient to ask questions and to confirm your delivery has answered all their questions. As you continue to provide this type of communication it will start to build trust as there will be little opportunity for the person to ever question your intent. They will begin to trust that when you have a conversation they will be getting as much information as possible and that you will do your best to ensure their understanding instead of just assuming all things are good. 

I have witnessed firsthand a loss in productivity due to a lack of transparent and intentional communication among a work group more times than I care to admit. While it may be difficult to put a number on the productivity lost due to communication that is not transparent and intentional, the main point is that something was lost, and that loss could have been avoided or at least minimized. I am certainly a realist in that it is difficult to achieve a perfect world where transparent and intentional communication always coexists, however it is the pursuit of that end goal where incremental success can be realized. This will make your conversations more effective and efficient while building that all important trust among your team. 

It takes commitment by the leaders of any organization to ensure intentionally transparent communication is at the forefront of their leadership style when building a trusting culture. A trusting work culture will allow the team to focus on each other, the team, and the goals of the organization instead of becoming too consumed with trying to understand the “why” behind your decisions.

In next week’s tip, we will talk about why building and maintaining trust is important to the success of your organization. Trust is thought of as the life blood of any successful team and I look forward to talking about how that can help take your team and organization to the next level. 

For additional help with company culture, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance teamIf you’re looking to improve upon your communication skills or want to help one of your key team members develop personally, sign up for the Thrive Leadership Development package today! Additionally, if you find it difficult to find or keep quality employees, check out our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package.

As part of ArboRisk’s Thrive family, we are also offering a FREE business culture self-assessment to help you begin to identify some ways in which you can continue to enhance your company’s culture. The assessment is extremely easy to complete and will take you less than 5 minutes. Following the completion of your assessment, you will receive a summary of recommended areas of impact to consider as you continue to enhance your company culture. 

Tom Dunn

What Is Company Culture Anyway?

What Is Company Culture Anyway?

Written by Kevin Martlage

Austrian American management consultant, educator, author, and leader in the development of management education Peter Drucker once coined the phrase, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” While that statement could be discussed, argued, and debated based on your thoughts and approach to leadership and strategy, the essence of what Drucker is trying to say is extremely important for you to consider as a leader and business owner. So, what is company culture anyway? 

Your company culture is ultimately your brand and what makes you unique in a variety of different areas. It can be defined by your company values, attitudes, and beliefs which lead to you providing a supportive and nurturing environment for your employees, your customers, and your stakeholders. 

As a business professional turned consultant who has spent the last 30+ years developing, building, supporting, and leading teams in both non-profit and for-profit organizations around the world, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of different business cultures and with a lot of simply amazing people. Some of those business cultures have been more supportive and productive than others, but the companies that have had their culture defined as the ‘DNA’ of what they were about were the ones that I remember the most. To me, a defined and supportive business culture is the true X factor of what makes some organizations extraordinary vs just being great. Culture is all about defining how you are serving each other and your customers and then making sure that everything you do is based on the culture and those things that you have identified as being important. 

I spent 15+ years of my professional career working for one of the greatest companies in the world. FedEx and specifically FedexOffice. During my time with FedexOffice, I had the opportunity to advance to different levels of the company and was able to work alongside countless driven and influential people who were all extremely talented at what they did and brought to the table. 

As you may or may not know, FedEx is also one of the largest companies in the world and in 2020 was #50 on the Forbes Top 500 list. In 2020 FedEx had over 850,000+ employees worldwide who were responsible for $69.217 billion in annual revenue. To work in that business culture and alongside so many diverse and great people is something that continues to have a large impact on my view of the value of culture in any company.  

With that many people working in locations all over the world, having their own values, beliefs, backgrounds, and personalities, you can imagine how difficult it may be to ensure that FedEx delivered upon the corporate strategy every day. With so many moving parts, divisions, trucks, packages, opportunities, and responsibilities it could be very easy for things to go off track unless you have a great support mechanism to ensure each employee understands what is important. The FedEx support mechanism I want to share with you supports Drucker’s quote, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and is something I feel strongly can help take you and your team to the next level. 

FedEx has one sentence that defines their culture and their approach to that culture. It is known as the Purple Promise which has the purpose of building and earning trust and loyalty of the FedEx team members, their customers, and the communities in which they support. 

The Purple Promise is simply this:

“I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.”

The Purple Promise is something that is taught to every employee on their first day and remains an important part of how FedEx conducts their business around the world. The Purple Promise can be used in any situation, any decision, and any action you may be taking as an employee. Whether you are the most entry level package handler or the Chairman of the Board, the Purple Promise is the life blood of FedEx and is evident in everything they do.  

As you begin to understand the true meaning of the Purple Promise you understand that every action matters. Whether that action involves business conduct, integrity, decisions, your team, each employee, each package, every location, every driver, every truck, every plane, and even every individual shipping label, your actions, and the experiences you create are the most important part of what FedEx does. Regardless of the gravity of a situation, the unhappy customer you may be dealing with, or the decision you must make, if you can honestly say you did everything you could do to make that FedEx Experience outstanding then chances are you made the right decision.  

The Purple Promise illustrates Drucker’s point perfectly by saying it is the experience that is the most important, not the strategy. 

As a tree care company owner, if you were to approach everything you do by ensuring that the experience will be outstanding then how can you go wrong in your strategic planning, team member training, customer interactions, completion of your work, and most importantly how you approach your business as an owner and the support of your most asset, your team.  

So, the real question comes down to this. What is your company’s ‘Purple Promise’ and how can you enhance your current work culture to ensure that your team is supported with outstanding experiences? Over the next 3 weeks, we will be investigating various ways to assess, develop, implement, and enhance your current work culture. The overall concept and meaning of the FedEx Purple Promise is an interesting model to consider as you begin the journey of identifying and developing your own effective work culture.

As part of ArboRisk’s Thrive family, we are offering a FREE business culture self-assessment to help you begin to identify some ways in which you can continue to enhance your company’s culture. The assessment is extremely easy to complete and will take you less than 5 minutes. Following the completion of your assessment, you will receive a summary of recommended areas of impact to consider as you continue to enhance your company culture. 

For additional help with company culture, contact a member of the ArboRisk Insurance team! ArboRisk also can work one-on-one with you to create an extraordinary business through our Thrive Risk Management Leadership Development Package!

Tom Dunn

Why You Don’t Want a January 1st Renewal Date

Why You Don’t Want a January 1st Renewal Date

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Alongside a million other things going on at the end of the year, many tree care companies also have their package insurance (work comp, general liability, auto, etc) renewal to deal with. While there are a few advantages to having your insurance renewal on January 1st, like coordinating with your fiscal calendar year and the fact that it is traditionally a slower time for production, there are many more negatives to having your renewal at the turn of the new year.

Let’s take a look at why we recommend NOT having a January 1st renewal date. 

    1. Holidays – Isn’t there enough happening in December already? Between family vacations and staff taking time off, the work days are always limited late in December, thereby shrinking the amount of actual time you have to renew your insurance policies. 
    2. Underwriters are swamped – It has been estimated that 25% of all work comp renewals happen on January 1st! That is a tremendous number focused around one specific date! The underwriters that you and your insurance agent are relying on to give full attention to  pricing considerations are simply swamped. They don’t have enough time to work in the level of detail that they can during other times of the year. 
    3. Health Insurance Renewal – An even higher percentage of health insurance renewals happen on Jan. 1st. If dealing with health insurance and your package insurance on one day makes for an exciting time in your life, give me a call, we can probably find a spot on our team for you. There is almost noone that wants to go through both health insurance and your package insurance at the same time. 
    4. License Renewals – Almost all municipalities and state departments renew their licenses on Jan. 1st. Thereby requiring all of their license holders to submit new or renewal applications that include insurance information. These license applications are held up by a slow insurance renewal or there are issues when you switch your coverage to a new insurance company. 
    5. Tax Planning – December represents the last chance to work with your accountant on your tax planning. Like underwriters, accounting firms are very busy at the end of December as well trying to help their clients wrap up their years in the best possible financial shape. 

What can you do about it? Ask your agent to switch your effective date to a different time of the year. Preferably in late summer or early fall. That time of the year is much more conducive to getting the best attention from insurance company underwriters and giving you time to still budget for the coming year. If you have been struggling with your Jan. 1st renewal date, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today to create a plan for switching the date this coming year.

If you need additional help from our team, please contact an ArboRisk team member today or sign up for our Free Insurance Coverage Review to ensure you are protecting your business as best as possible. If you are ready to take the next step, check out ArboRisk’s Thrive Risk Management New Heights Package! Our most robust risk management package, our team of industry experts can help you focus on key areas to successfully grow your company.