Create a positive environment if you want your technicians on your side.

Lately, I've been thinking about motivation and persuasion. As Robert G. Allen said, persuasion is storytelling and storytelling is selling.

There are 12 laws of persuasion. The first is the law of dissonance. The secret of this law is internal pressure. People feel internal pressure to act consistently with their beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and commitments.

If people are not comfortable with what you want them to do, they feel awkward, unpleasant and uncomfortable, and it creates tension. If you want an action that requires change, you first must get as public a commitment as possible. Get people to say yes as many times as possible, and make it voluntary so that it is something they want to do.

For example, if your company has never sold many service agreements, despite many years of trying, and you want to sell more, you have to overcome a lot of negative thoughts and actions. You must create dissonance.

However, first you need to create the dissonance, the need to change, in yourself. This is a change of culture, a new way of doing things, and you're not going to be too comfortable with it at first, either.

Get a commitment from yourself. You may want to make the changes with other colleagues, noncompeting contractors you have trust in. It's easier to do it when you are reporting to a group other than yourself.

After you are committed, then you have to get the technicians and others in the service department committed. Initially, you'll get a commitment because you're the boss and the technicians think that you'll go back to your old ways within a few weeks.

The technicians are a public group. They can each say yes in a meeting. Then you'll have to re-inforce that commitment individually with encouragement as they achieve success in selling the agreements.

The yeses are easy: They want 40-hour weeks, additional income and better benefits. Service agreements can give them all of these things. You'll just have to keep reminding and re-inforcing the positives as the program continues. As they gain experience and success, the dissonance will disappear and the behavior will change.

Law of continuity

The law of continuity is that there is contagious cooperation. The more your audience feels a bond or sees themselves as similar to you or attracted to you, the more persuasive you become.

Similarity is important. If your employees see you as having done what they are doing, they are more likely to respect you.

If you have worked in the field, they know that they can't fool you. If you ask questions and visit the jobsites, they will have more respect for you.

Answer the telephone occasionally and see the reaction you get.

Trust your employees and give them the benefit of the doubt. Get their side of the story before you return a call to a complaining client. The client is always right. However, you need to hear both sides of the story before you make a decision.

A sense of humor is always critical. And you need to smile. If you're in a rotten mood, don't come into the office. Your moods affect everyone else. The tension in the office will increase when you are tense.

When one contractor I know gets upset, angry or in a bad mood, he goes to visit a client. This always makes him feel better, it allows everyone in the office to get their work done in a good atmosphere, and he usually sells something, which makes him feel even better.