Cannon Carr Asks Are You Selling or Solving Problems?

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By Alexa Ward

Cannon Carr shares the insights he’s learned over the years about why he’s not a sales guy, but loves business development. Learn about the key mindset shift that unlocks the power of business development and makes it something fun, easy, and repeatable, and how to instill simple habits that deepen relationships by being proactively helpful every single week.

Mo asks Cannon Carr: When did you realize that business development was great?

  • There was not one moment, but a story stands out in particular for Cannon. When his father was retiring from the firm he was working at, he told him that he was a great analyst but not a great salesperson, and if he wanted to succeed, he would need to figure that out.
  • When a professional services firm reaches a certain revenue threshold, the same things that got them to that point won’t help grow past it. Simply hiring a rainmaker won’t necessarily solve the problem.
  • You need a broader team working towards business development to tap a broader network to grow a firm.
  • The real mindset shift that unlocks the power of business development is “Are you selling, or are you helping to solve problems?”
  • Take the sales hat off and integrate yourself into your client’s lives. Understand what their problems are, and if you can be alongside them during the inevitable transitions in their life, you can deepen the relationship. It’s about relevancy and solving problems. The sales and referrals will come naturally out of that.
  • Life has transitions that create challenges along the way. Cannon helps his clients with a wealth plan that keeps their legacy and lifestyle intact.

Mo asks Cannon Carr: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • If you have a craft that you know and love and want to grow, you are naturally going to step into business development so you might as well do it right.
  • For Cannon, business development is about connecting people and ideas. He thinks of it as purposeful engagement that connects those two things.
  • Connecting people with ideas often becomes deeply personal. During the pandemic, Cannon noticed a number of clients struggling with aging parents so they put a lot of effort into coming up with and connecting clients with ideas to help manage the issue.
  • Taxes and the rapidly changing legislative landscape has been another area where Cannon and his team have been working with clients to stay ahead of the curve.
  • The foundation is always being helpful rather than looking directly for business. It’s not about the revenue, it’s about enriching lives.
  • Sometimes the solution falls outside of the firm’s specialty and that’s okay as long as the end result is helping a person out.
  • You have to think of your relationships as a portfolio with investements in people all the time. Being proactive and helpful will eventually pay off.
  • Not everything will connect. You have to look for additional opportunities to be helpful and keep reaching out.
  • Think about business development as solving problems through connecting people and ideas together. If you are doing a good job, you will naturally get your share of the business. Proactive engagement is vital for service businesses.

Mo asks Cannon Carr: What is your favorite science, step, or tool from the Snowball System or GrowBIG training?

  • The most interesting science for Cannon is around habits and the metaphor of the rider and the elephant for the conscious and subconscious mind.
  • The elephant is a lot more powerful, and if you can’t control it, you are not going to get where you want to go. This is where the habits and routines come in to provide alignment with your elephant.
  • Our emotions and our habits determine most of what we do. With the right mindset around business development and our emotions and habits, we can be more successful.
  • Cannon sees this play out in client’s lives when wealth transfers to another generation. His team spends a fair bit of time helping their clients manage their own emotions.
  • You have patterns. They are either the right patterns or the wrong patterns. Putting in deliberate time and getting out of your comfort zone is how to take away the wrong ones and instill the right ones.
  • The key is to simply start and commit to 15 minutes of planning time each week. Combine purpose with a better pattern, and let it grow over time.
  • The Protemoi List is a great tool you can use to create the habit of investing into the relationships that matter the most to your business development efforts.
  • Every Friday, Cannon looks at an Excel sheet that he uses to track his business development work and make sure he is doing something every week to make progress on his most important relationships.

Mo asks Cannon Carr: What is the business development story you are most proud of?

  • Cannon’s business is about long-term relationships, sometimes multiple generations, so being able to separate out personal risk and business risk is very important.
  • Cannon’s favorite business development story involves helping personal friends navigate their challenges. He and his team found ways and resources to help them in a time of need and often anonymously
  • It’s amazing what you can get done when no one takes the credit.
  • Cannon’s role was in uncovering the need. The client mentioned something that triggered Cannon to listen more closely and look for ways to help. He tapped into his team to go deeper and be even more helpful for this person.
  • Listen, notice, act. Cannon picked up on some fatigue in the person’s voice and some comments that led him to believe there was something more going on. Some good follow up questions helped too.
  • There is no stock follow up question that works every time, but there are common themes that everyone shares. The goal is to listen closely and the follow up question will reveal itself. You should be able to summarize what they are saying accurately and paraphrase it back.

Mo asks Cannon Carr: If you could record a video about business development and send it back to your younger self, what would it say?

  • Cannon would record a few simple vignettes, mainly focused on the why of business development as well as the storytelling, patterns and habits involved.
  • The first one would basically be a quote from Maya Angelou. “I learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • Following videos would involve some inspiring Rocky music, Steve Jobs’ iPhone keynote speech, and an interview with Jimmy Fallon and a guest creating something fun together.
  • So many people struggle with business development because they believe that they didn’t get into their profession to sell.
  • Playful exploration and spontaneity can make things fun, but there has to be purpose involved. Sales have none of those elements. If you can build that kind of fun energy into what you do, you can deepen the relationship, provide value, and grow your business at the same time.
  • Don’t be afraid to have fun and be vulnerable. Making your Most Important Things into a game can add another level of motivation and enjoyment to building business development habits that lead to growth.
  • It’s about creating the right behaviors. You can’t control the outcome, only what you put into it.
  • Cannon’s firm has an internal coach to help keep everyone on track and doing proactively helpful things for the marketplace, knowing that the revenue will follow.

Mentioned in this Episode:

GrowBIGPlaybook.com

ccarr@cornercap.com

cornercap.com