Craig Durosko is the founder of Sun Design, a design/build firm located in McLean and Burke, Va. He can be reached at

What is Head Trash?

Don’t assume your beliefs about something are the truth or that they are the same as your clients, peers, employees, or friends.

August 06, 2014
Craig Durosko, GMR, CR, CGP

We all go about our day, unconsciously avoiding things that are unpleasant to us. Sometimes those things we are avoiding might be what would make us wealthier, healthier, and create more time to have more fun and develop better relationships.

What is head trash? Head trash is the negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions you have and the assumptions you make about them. They are your beliefs about things, and not always the truth.

What do I mean by that? For example, you might have a stack of client files that you want to follow up on. One person might have the belief that calling them too soon is rude, and you have to allow the client to respond. Someone else might think it is rude not to follow up, and you must follow up within 24 hours. Another may believe calling every week is too much, while another person may call everyday to follow up.

Flip that around and think of the client. They are all different and they all have different beliefs, too. Don’t assume your beliefs about something are the truth or that they are the same as your clients, peers, employees, or friends.

Understanding your client 

In selling, head trash could show up in many places. For example, I have seen some people who would never ask for the sale on the first visit, while others expect a sale on the first visit.

You could say I don’t have a product or service that would allow for a sale on the first visit. Perhaps you could offer a multi-step process that would allow for a sale on the first visit. A good salesperson can sell to someone who buys similarly to themselves, but a great salesperson can sell to many different personalities.

For example, you might buy things on sale, and you might believe that you have to offer discounts. Another may be that when you buy, you have to look at three vendors and gather information before you buy, even when the client was referred to you and wants to buy from you. Or it could be you don’t like cold calling or door knocking. What is holding you back from being more successful?

Head trash also shows up in your confidence. Some think you have to know everything; you have to be an expert. But often in business, there are many ways to solve the same problem. Sometimes staying curious and offering different solutions is better than being the expert.

Some might get hung up in the technical details when it really doesn’t matter to the client. At the end of the day, the only person’s beliefs that should matter to you are those of the person in front of you, whether that is a potential client, your spouse, or your children. 

I am not saying your beliefs are not important. I am saying if you want a client to understand you, you must first understand them and their point of view, then you can find out how to relate to them.

Asking questions and not assuming you have all the answers can do that. Let’s say you just finished a presentation, and the client says they need to think about it. You reply, “Great, I will touch base with you next week.”

Stop! You are making a ton of assumptions. Ask the client when you should follow up and ask them how to follow up. Ask them what they need from you in the interim. They might be ready to buy tomorrow, they might be out of town next week, or they might not check email daily.

Get on the same page 

We all have head trash from our previous experiences. Your client might have had a good or bad experience with a prior remodel, and that has shaped their beliefs about remodeling. Your job is to understand their beliefs so you can get on the same page. 

Many people have head trash regarding money. Your beliefs about money will play into how you present to the client. The client has their own beliefs, which in turn plays into how they receive your presentation.

Sometimes you will have to talk about money when you don’t really know how much it will cost without some further exploration. What you don’t want to do is make an assumption, spend weeks with a client, only to find out they were thinking $45K and you are at $115K. Some solutions to that problem are having discussions around money with bracketing (e.g., $30-$50K or $150-$200K).

An important element is staying curious; don’t be defensive about your numbers. You know what they are and you know your costs. When a client shares their budget, ask questions about how they came up with that number. What were they including? Are there options or regular deferred maintenance of the home you will also be doing? Is there a line in the sand they cannot exceed and, more importantly, do they want to see options that could put them above their budget?

What else are you not doing that you might have negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions about? Are you making assumptions that are getting in your way? How does this show up in other areas of your life? What would make you wealthier, healthier, and create more time to have more fun and develop better relationships? PR


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