The Psychology of Knocking on People’s Doors with Paul Aucoin
“You should become the leader of the communication in the room.” —Paul Aucoin
Understanding the psychology of sales and business building is the key to success in today’s competitive marketplace. It’s not just about knocking on people’s doors and offering them a product or service, it’s about understanding what drives their decision-making process and tailoring your communication to meet their needs. Entrepreneurs who master the art of psychology in sales are able to build their businesses faster and more effectively than those who simply rely on their products or service to sell themselves.
Therefore, by understanding how to communicate with your customers, clients, partners, and employees in a way that resonates with them, you can lead any conversation without coming on too strong that you lose their interest. In this episode, we are joined by Bulletproof Your Mindset author, Paul Aucoin to discuss how we can improve our communication and overcome setbacks and frustrations in our entrepreneurial journey.
Join JP and Paul as they delve into the psychology behind knocking on people’s doors and pick up some practical pointers on preparing for setbacks, setting up exit agreements, and managing your employees. They’ll share advice on resolving conflicts, the value of excellent communication skills, dealing with frustration, and draw on insights from Paul’s book, “Bulletproof Your Mindset: Think Like a Business Owner” and the ABCs to remember when you get into a sticky situation.
01:31 Shifting to the Sales Industry
06:09 Prepared for Failure
09:09 Bulletproof Your Mindset
11:22 How to Take Control of the Situation
15:45 Listen to Your Employees
17:56 The Psychology of Knocking on People’s Doors
20:24 Communicating Intent
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Get Your Copy of Paul’s Book
- 10:16 “When you start getting frustrated, that’s actually when you’re growing.” —Paul Aucoin
- 10:41 “Those types of people that go and search out advice when they get stuck, those are the people that become successful.” —Paul Aucoin
- 11:21 “When you’re going into a sticky situation… you don’t want to blame; you don’t want to put it on somebody else. You want to take control of that situation.” —Paul Aucoin
- 12:28 “If you stay blaming, you’re the loser.” —Paul Aucoin
- 13:25 “When you’re trying to manage these emotions… one of the best ways of getting out of that is to believe that the other person has good intent.” —Paul Aucoin
- 19:42 “People generally speaking aren’t very good communicators… We try, but it’s so easy for us to mess up what it was we wanted to say.” —Paul Aucoin
- 21:56 “You should become the leader of the communication in the room.” —Paul Aucoin
- 26:00 “When you’re frustrated, that’s a good thing. You are not going to continue to put up with whatever it is that it’s frustrating you. Take a deep breath and figure out how you’re going to take control of the situation even in a very small way.” —Paul Aucoin
A Little Bit About Paul:
Paul Aucoin is a small business guru and an entrepreneur extraordinaire. With his background in engineering, construction, sales, and business ownership, he brings fresh perspectives to help take your business to the next level. He authored Bulletproof Your Mindset, Think Like a Business Owner to help others turn taking responsibility into a skill to help them succeed.
He started his own business, HVAC Systems, and Solutions Ltd., from the basement of his house back in ’99, and watched it grow to an impressive $15M sales and 23 employees before selling it in 2015. Prior to that, Paul had a 13-year career as a Sales Engineer. He then went on to start his own HVAC company in Vancouver. But it doesn’t stop there – he was also one of the three founding members of SHARC Energy Systems (CSE: SHRC), where he played a crucial role in its industry-leading, wastewater energy-saving technology.
With his 14 years of experience at The Alternative Board (TAB), Paul has seen that the core issues that small businesses face are often the same, no matter what type of business it is – whether it’s a trucking company, a consulting firm, a bowling alley, or an HVAC Custom Equipment Supplier. Paul’s got the expertise, experience, and passion to help you unlock your business’s full potential.
JP McAvoy: Hi, thanks for joining us. Happy to be here. On today’s show, we’ve got Paul Aucoin. He’s regrowing a business from the basement. That’s a prototypical entrepreneur from his basement, grew it to 23 employees and $50 million in sales, but for selling it, and wealth of expertise there. He’s now written on it, and he’s sharing the lessons he learned along the way. Here’s my conversation with Paul.
Paul, thanks for joining us here today, fella Canadian from Vancouver, right?
Paul Aucoin: Right on. Yeah. Happy to be here.
JP McAvoy: Great to see you. Where are things like on the West Coast these days?
Paul Aucoin: Well, it was really hot. And now, it’s really cool. That’s the coast.
JP McAvoy: That’s what you get. Well, glad to have you here. Thanks for agreeing to be here. You’re obviously a seasoned vet. You’ve been in the trenches, people like to hear some of the war stories. The first business, how did you build it originally? What was the business that, I guess, as you wrote, grew and subsequently sold, right?
Paul Aucoin: Right. I’m an engineer, I got my degree at Concordia University in Montreal. I realized early on that I wanted to be in the sales business because there were a lot of guys that were smarter book wise than I was. Anyway, I gravitated to that. I ended up getting into a sales engineering job in the HVAC industry, and I did that with the same company for 13 years,.I moved from place to place. I wanted to grow. I wanted to increase my responsibility. I wanted to take over a franchise. And then the parent company decided they weren’t gonna let that happen anymore. They were buying back all of the franchises. They used to be all independently owned, and they just owned the big ones. Anyway, they bought them all back. So at some point, I was trying to get ahead in Vancouver. I’d moved to Vancouver trying to get ahead and all the management positions were taken. And so the opportunity came to start my own company, HVAC, supply custom air handling units and chillers, big equipment for big buildings. And so I did. I started in the basement of my house with just myself and my dog. That’s where it all started. And we eventually had three people, four people in my basement, including myself. My wife was going a little crazy, you gotta get out of here. So we moved into an office and eventually grew that to 23 people. I took on a partner at some point in the process, and he and I, one of us needed to go.
JP McAvoy: Wait for that. I do want to get into it, the more commonly getting into bringing partners in, what are the pros and cons of that, and then how these relationships can come to an end. It’s interesting, your stories, the prototypical from the basement, and we had a lot of people say, was it take us. Well, that’s what it takes you. Blood, sweat and tears. You grow by the sweat of your own brow and take it to this spot where you did as a going concern, the partner and you. Obviously, as people begin things with the best of intentions, it doesn’t always work that way. And your experience, obviously with this partner, you got the spot where it got legal. And we were talking offline about the use of a shotgun clause as a lawyer. Frequently having a conversation with people saying to them, you will require something in your agreement to break a deadlock if you can’t deal with an issue any other way to allow for a deadlock to be broken. Shotgun clause begins, it’s really a buy and sell agreement whereby something’s going. You’re literally holding up a shotgun, either you go or I go is kind of waiting to transpire. You explain to people many times, most don’t ever, fortunately, I would think ever have to go through the experience. You have, you did, right? So talk to us through, what you’re comfortable explaining how you got to where it was and what it felt like to actually implement the shotgun clause.
Paul Aucoin: So yeah, my partner and I, we have different core values about how the business should run. And that was increasingly becoming a problem, and we were trying to resolve it. And then he and I had a conversation that basically got to the point where he didn’t want to talk to me anymore. That was it. We weren’t talking and he said, you should just buy me up. And so I was like, okay, so that sounds like an option. I mean, he’s mentioning that we should probably think about doing that. And as part of our legal partnership agreement, we had a compulsory buyout, also known as a shotgun clause, in that agreement. I was in a peer advisory group, as a client. So I was one of the business owners. So there were eight business owners we’d meet every month for five hours. We had a facilitator. Each spends some time getting advice from each other. We acted as a board of directors toward each other. Basically, it is how it worked. So of course, I brought it to the group. And there was a significant amount of experience in the group. And one in particular had said, you need to talk to this guy before you do anything about the shotgun. He went through it, and it did not go the way he planned. You want to be prepared for how it might not go the right way. Because the way you normally think, oh, shotgun, I’ll offer him this because I’m the one that should be in the business, he shouldn’t be offering a fair price. And he’ll take it, I’ll give it to him. And he’ll leave. That doesn’t happen very often, by the way.
JP McAvoy: Prepare for something else to go with another person that looked in on this. This was as a lawyer, or how did they know? They obviously had been through it themselves.
Paul Aucoin: So this facilitator, a business coach, had another client who went through it. So he was part of another board and part of their board. Interestingly enough, he says, okay, you know, he’s recounting this to me, the other business owner. He says, so they said, oh, I think the business is worth a million and a half. And so I’m going to offer him 1.2, essentially, to buy him out. The value for his shares. And the group says, you better not do that. What if he buys you at 1.2? He says, well, he’s not going to buy me. He doesn’t have the money. He doesn’t have enough experience. Or wherewithal, I’m the guy with all the experience. He told me that he could never run this company, etcetera, etcetera. Not gonna be able to do it. But they convinced them, he says, no, you got to offer him that full 1.5 You have to get to the point where you at least be okay with him buying you up. Well, of course, you know what happens?.He buys him. He buys him out. However, he was not ready emotionally for this at all. Just devastated him. He was like, he had his head in his hands for the next three, four years because he was not prepared. He clearly was. That didn’t work for him. So I had that experience before I did mine.
I listened to this guy, almost his situation and my situation was so close. So similar that I was just like, oh, my God, so I have to be ready for this. Yeah, that’s just what it is. We tell people a lot of these things we’re not inventing. You volunteer on this. And you mentioned this, the peer advisory group. There’s a lot of textbook things that happen as we build businesses and exit businesses. This being one, bring a partner on, and when things fall apart, or if things fall apart, they exit itself. So you were able to get through the agreement itself. You had the agreement and offer went in. And it was, I guess, a transaction was consummated, ultimately consummated. There are some complications, and we had three other companies that didn’t have the proper agreements. So those got a little messy, but they weren’t big deals.
Paul Aucoin: According to, I don’t know, read a stat about how many business owners have partners. They write the agreement. They go through it, and like half of them don’t get signed.
JP McAvoy: Yes, yes. As a lawyer, they don’t actually have to complete it. It is best advice to put it into place. A lot of people talk about it, and they don’t ever do it. And those are the ones that are typically needed as well. So they typically need to rely upon where they haven’t done the work. And that’s an unfortunate thing. And that’s a tough lesson to learn down the road as well.
Paul Aucoin: Yeah. It was very valuable for us to have it because there’s no way that the negotiation would have gone nearly as cleanly if we didn’t have that.
JP McAvoy: That’s right. And that’s why they’re there. So you’ve learned some lessons along the way. You’re still involved in the peer advisory side of things as well.
Paul Aucoin: Yes, a little bit. I still do that. I still coach a few business owners. That’s still part of my business. I’m mostly retired. I wrote a book that was published two years ago, it’s in audible. The name of the book is called Bulletproof Your Mindset: Think Like a Business Owner. And basically, if you meet a successful business owner and you say, oh, that’s too bad that that happened. Whose fault was it at your company that that happened? Well, the ultimately responsible successful business owner is going to say, buck stops with me. And I want our company screwed up. It’s me, I’m going to deal with it. I take responsibility. And the people as they’re, when you’re growing your business as you’re learning it’s really natural, very common to say, oh, competitors are too tough. The pricing is too low. I can’t get any employees. So these are the types of things, this is part of the challenges of being a business owner. And realizing those types of things are going to come up. And realizing that when you start getting frustrated, that’s actually when you’re growing. That’s when you said, I’ve had enough of this. I’m frustrated. And as soon as you realize that that’s happening, realizing that you don’t want to get stuck. So it’s just a matter of figuring out how you’re going to get unstuck. Talk to people like yourself. Maybe I’ll talk to my lawyer to say, hey, this is the situation I’ve got. Can you help me? Those types of people that go and search out advice when they get stuck, those are the people that become successful.
JP McAvoy: And that’s just it, right? I mean, it’s a good philosophy for business as a good philosophy for life, right? When we’re using resistance and we overcome that, that’s how we need to grow. Whether it be just from a business perspective, but also life. So you learn some lessons along the way, and clearly learn those and written on them, and continue to coach people. If you’re coaching a business owner, well, I look for both business and life, what are some of the key things that you’d like to impart upon them?
Paul Aucoin: Well, there’s one little acronym that I came up with, which is in the book, which I feel is a good way to remember when you’re going into a sticky situation. So we talked about being frustrated. So one of the things that I learned along the way was when you get frustrated, you’re almost always blaming. So blaming and anger, those two things kind of go together. So if you can not be angry, if you notice you’re getting frustrated, okay. I need to take control of the situation. So what you want to do is you don’t want to blame, you don’t want to put it on somebody else. You want to take control of that situation so you certainly hire a lawyer, for instance. Might be one of those ways to take control. Don’t get frustrated. Find a way to solve that problem. So what the acronym is, so the ABC is the first three letters, and then 1, ABC1. But ABC, so when you’re angry and you’re blaming someone, you’re noticing those things are happening, that’s the key if you can notice. So anger could also be frustration or something else like that. When you notice that’s happening, you need to take control. That’s the C. C is for control. I need to take control somehow in this situation. How am I going to do it? The guy I’m driving in my car, somebody cut me off, I’m really mad at them. What should I do? How do I take control of that situation? Because if you stay blaming, you’re the loser. This is one of the things that I learned early is that if you blame, you’re the loser. You’re the one that has these bad feelings. This person is driven off, who knows? Maybe they’re just late for their first day of work or something, and they’re driving like a maniac. That’s almost the way you have to think of it. Okay, they’re just in a hurry, just let it go. So then you can feel okay. Otherwise, if you take all that anger and you manifest that, yourself, you’re the loser. So it was always a competitive guy, sports and all that kind of stuff. So when I got that in my head that I was the loser whenever I started blaming somebody, I was like, I stopped doing that. I can’t do that anymore,.I have to take control somehow of the situation. That’s the beginning of the acronym. And then you actually mentioned earlier about the intent.
So my partner, I originally brought him on. He had the best of intent. I have the best of intentions for him. Everybody seems like we’re all going, sailing the ship the same way. But when you’re trying to manage these emotions, when you’re blaming, you’re upset, you’re frustrated, one of the best ways of getting out of that is to believe that the other person has a good intent. So even my partner who was as acrimonious as it was, had his own reasons. For me to get mad at him, it doesn’t do me any good. So I have to think that he’s doing it for his own reasons. What could those be? It’s easy to kind of come up with some of them. He’s in his own place in his life. He’s got his family. Whatever else is going on, he’s got that. And so in his life, he may go, you know what? I gotta get rid of Paul because I have to take this company on because that’s my life. Otherwise, I have to wait for three years for this non compete thing. I can’t do business. He might not have had any options that he felt like he could really go to. So for him to buy me out, like some people say, oh, that’s totally unexpected. Well, not if you thought about him. So if you can give up being angry in those situations, and in my book, I talk about some other brutal example where I got totally screwed on by some supply situation who admitted they totally screwed up. And I could be mad at them forever, but that just doesn’t. It doesn’t help my head. It doesn’t help my mindset. It distracts me. It doesn’t serve.
JP McAvoy: It doesn’t serve. It distracts you or takes you away from the ultimate goal. You’re the betterment.
Paul Aucoin: Exactly, exactly.
JP McAvoy: For somebody from business to life, certainly a philosophy that works well. So you’ve learned it, you’ve written on it. Obviously, you’re teaching others this. What else are you doing with your time? And I mean, you’re not doing it, you’re not in business because of the way you were working previously. What else do you do with your time?
Paul Aucoin: I golf quite a bit.
JP McAvoy: That’s a good thing to say.
Paul Aucoin: Yeah. We bought a place down in Palm Springs. So we’re down there for five or six months a year, and meet a lot of similar situations. So doing that, but I’m really trying to, one of the things that I wish I could take back was, you’re a business owner and you’re running a company. And let’s say it’s like 8 people, 10 people, 15 people. So there’s people around you. And you look at them and say, oh, they’re kind of where I was. I’m sure they’re doing fine. They don’t really need too much of my advice. Other than that, I’ll give them technical advice. But they don’t really need the heart to heart stuff. And that’s the mistake. And as a leader, those little conversations that we have, open up and, hey, how’s it going? How’s life? Let me help you. How do you feel about your career? Do you feel your career is gonna ring? Offering advice or just listening to people even in your own company is so valuable. And people will remember that forever. Oh, my God, I got this gem of advice one day from my boss.
JP McAvoy: They take that with them. And again, from this conversation showing that there’s so much more to it as we talk business, but it’s so much beyond that. The types of things that we speak of to lead a fulfilling life, right? It’s interesting that you mentioned the things that you realize now, or would have done more of if you’d realized earlier, if you had to do over. It’s interesting. The company and the space that you got into, certain situations are handed to you, right? And it sounds like this was two at the time as well. You obviously had the sense to know what your skills were to where your strengths were. And then I think it helped define the way you were able to delete things or do things going back to Concordia days, or like the do over from education. Parallel life here for a minute, where else would things have taken you if you choose differently?
Paul Aucoin: Oh, I don’t know. The connection with the sales thing came because I couldn’t find any work. One summer, I was working with a landscaper contractor and his work dried up, and I had like six weeks left, I had to make money for tuition. I took a job, I answered an ad that showed up and always selling encyclopedias door to door. I’m like, oh, my God. Well, I learned so much about personal psychology that it just blew me away. Like all this common, uncommon, common sense that’s available out there and all these books and stuff. And oh, my goodness, the stories that like knocking on people’s doors and how my sales manager knew exactly what was going to happen. Exactly after talking to her a little bit, he told me to come back to this door and I thought, oh, we’re just gonna come back and pick up that sale in an hour. And he goes, no, no. We’re not even going back. I go, what are you talking about? They want it. They said, just come back. We’re 95% saying we’re not going back. He says, you go back. If you go back, you get the wholesale. I’m like, what? I run back, knock on the door. She didn’t even take the chain off the door. We were sitting in there with her for over an hour, didn’t take the chain off the door and said sorry. And I was just like, wow.
JP McAvoy: It’s interesting, right? And he knew. Again, you learn along the way. So what are some of these insights, some of the psychology of things that he was aware of until you?
Paul Aucoin: Well, that particular one was really interesting. We’re there, we’re talking to the wife and the husband, you have to have the wife and the husband together. The two people in the relationship, whoever they may be. So we’re talking about who’s going in those days, in these cases, you focus on the person generally in charge of the household, generally the wife, and you’re just checking in with the husband, you’re checking in to talk. And all of a sudden, the husband got up and went to the kitchen. And he said when that happened, and he didn’t come back five minutes later, the sale was gone. That was it. He stopped the presentation. He’s still talking to her waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally, he just kept going. And then we left. And he says, yeah, when that happened, we were done. That was so insightful. I think one of the things that I’ve come to realize is that people generally speaking aren’t very good communicators. All of us. No, some of us are. We try, but it’s so easy for us to mess up what it was we wanted to say. And especially for trying to be funny, or especially for trying to get on the edge of funny, you know humor. And it’s so easy to mess that up.
So somebody will mess it up and suddenly be offended. They’re like, wow, you know that’s so bad. And meanwhile, the person went, no, that’s not what I meant. And then they’re already kind of screwed it up. So they’re not going to say anything. So people walk away, and they’re all offended. And all it was. Somebody is trying to make a joke, and this person is just a nice person anyway. And if you hear somebody say something that’s like, oh, I might be offended there. Hang on a second. I wonder if I should be. I’m going to pretend this person has good intentions, and I’m going to say, oh, that’s interesting that you said that. I I don’t know if I feel the same way. Can you say that another way? And if you’re able to give someone another chance to clarify something, maybe a little controversial, something that upsets you, you give them a chance, you give them a break, you try to let them correct their communication mishap. You’re gonna have a friend for life that’s going to thank you so much for letting me correct myself. That’s not what I meant. I think that happens a lot.
JP McAvoy: It certainly does happen a lot. Communication is the key. And to ensure that you’re communicating the right way, what are some of the most effective ways to ensure you’re getting your message across clearly?
Paul Aucoin: I would say, depending on the type of messages that you’re trying to get across. It’s really important. You can always have them. I’m not sure if I said that clearly. What did you get from what I just said? I mean, if you’re talking to an employee, for instance. You are the boss, you’re talking to an employee, this is what I want you to do. Can you just repeat back to me? That’s one way, but having them talk back. Tell me more about what you think. What do you think about what I just said there? Does that make sense to you? I would say that the more you learn about communication, you should become the leader of the communication in the room. So if you’re in a group of people, 2, 3, 4 or 5 people, and you sense, oh, I wonder if he meant that. Oh, I see somebody took offense to that. You take it on, don’t let somebody else take it on. The more you learn about this stuff, the more you just jump in and say, hey, Joe, what did you say? Can you say that again? And then you can say, wow, that’s not the way I think. I think differently, but you know what? I learned from people that think differently than me. So tell me why you think that way. And if you can come up with a couple of lines like that that make it okay, imagine they have good intent. That’s the key. Never be offended.
You can get yourself to the point where you can never be offended. And if you think about what that takes and you still have an interest in people, an empathy and all those types of things, that whenever you do feel yourself getting offended, you go, okay, well, this person’s in a different space. This person was brought up this way. This person has these ideas. This person listens to these types of people, reads these types of literature, or grew up in this type of job, or this type of environment, or is from a different country, on and on. And on it goes. There’s so many different ways that people can get their own opinions, and it’s just great. See, where are you hearing that from? Oh, you got this from that? Oh, you got to watch this video. You’re like, oh, okay. Well, all right. Why don’t you send me that video because you’re a friend, and we really differ on this one. I had a friend, he’s way off on this other tangent. And I’m like on the other side. And I’m like, tell me more. Why are you thinking about this? Well, this guy, blah, blah. You got to, okay, so I googled that guy. He sent me the video, I watched it, and I Googled him, read, read. And I realized, okay, my friend doesn’t really know the whole story. This person, there are major flaws with this person. But we were talking about climate change, and I’ve got a lot of background in climate change. My friend is a little newer at it.
JP McAvoy: Not as much and is into conspiracy theories is what I’m hearing here. But the key thing, as you say, is to get through back to your philosophy, almost the ABC. Don’t be offended. Do your learning, take responsibility, and that leads to good things. That’s both, again, as we say, through business and in personal as well. What good things are coming for you, Paul? What do you have next lined up for you?
Paul Aucoin: Well, I am planning on promoting my book. Like I said, I wrote it two years ago, but I’ve just talked about it with my immediate Facebook friends who said I haven’t promoted it on LinkedIn or anything. So I do have some webinars and some seminars that I’m going to be doing that is basically teaching this skill. That’s part of what I am planning on doing. Mostly around the book. I don’t know that I want to write a book again because the first one took me two years to write. I got the first draft done in six months. And two years later, I–
JP McAvoy: Always understand how enormous and undertaking it actually is. It’s great to hear that. If people want to get a hold of a book or chat with you further, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Paul Aucoin: My website is paulaucoin.com, you might need to look up the spelling of my last name on the notes. It’s A-U-C-O-I-N. And I’ve got a calendar there that you can book, you can read more about me there. I’m on LinkedIn, there’s my information there, happy to talk or engage with anybody.
JP McAvoy: That’s great, Paul, appreciate that. Happy to talk and engage with any further. I’d like to end these episodes with one thing that someone can take with them for the rest of the day, through the rest of the week after this episode drops. And you’ve given us a wealth of information from this conversation. But what’s one thing you could point to somebody that’s maybe at an earlier stage building their business, building their life with something that you would say that, hey, you can do this one thing, you’re gonna be on the right track.
Paul Aucoin: I would say that when you’re frustrated, that’s a good thing. You are not going to continue to put up with whatever it is that it’s frustrating you. And now, you want to take a deep breath and figure out how you’re going to take control of the situation even in a very small way. So frustration is good.
JP McAvoy: As fun as it sounds to say. Thanks so much for this, Paul, appreciate having you on. I look forward to the next time in The Millionaire’s Lawyer.
Paul Aucoin: All right. You’re welcome. Thank you very much.