When was the last time somebody asked you, “How can I make you smile today”? When Danielle answers the phone at “72 Degrees Air Conditioning and Heating, Your Comfort Experts,” she asks this very question with sincerity.
“It all about building rapport,” says Doug Clay, 42, sales and general manager for 72 Degrees. “Danielle’s job is to let customers know that we are their allies. We’re here to provide a solution for their needs.”
Clay is the co-owner of San Clemente, CA-based 72 Degrees, who along with his wife, Edwina, manages the office. Together, they have built a successful heating and air-conditioning company with 14 employees (including their daughter Danielle) and a second location in Longview, WA
Smiling, a simple act, one filled with importance.
Clay contributes their expanding success to relationships with clients and to a consultant named Joe Crisara. “I had a friend in Buffalo Grove, IL, who ranted and raved about Joe Crisara’s Total Immersion Seminar,” says Clay. “I decided to attend a seminar.”
In 2007, Clay attended one of the ‘mini’ immersion seminars and instantly recognized what Crisara had to offer. Clay is no beginner in the HVAC industry. He started as a technician when he was 19 and began his own business at 25. Crisara was not the first consultant he met who claimed to know something about the industry. But something about Crisara was different.
“Joe is one of the few that can capture your attention on the business side and the personal side,” says Clay.” When Joe and I met, it was an automatic friendship that fell into place.” Clay describes Crisara as a true people-person and says that Crisara argues to be successful in sales, you have to like people.
A People Person
“I truly love people,” says Clay. “I like to be around people, make them laugh, make them comfortable. Clay recalls his earlier selling days of pressuring and persuading customers to buy, long before he met Crisara. He says the focus was on the sale, not on the people.
“I used to go to a home and look at their equipment,” Clay recalls. “Then I would ask questions about their budget, then give my presentation. I didn’t take the time to build any rapport.”
Clay’s tactics seemed to work. He had above average closing rates of 51 percent with an average ticket of $7,600. It was have been easy to fall into the trap of believing he had figured it out.
But he remembered something significant from Crisara’s Total Immersion Seminar. Clay recalls Crisara promising his audience that if you were lousy at sales, you were going to improve dramatically, and if you were doing well, you could become great at it. “After all, don’t all of us, even if we’re doing what we consider to be fairly well, want to get to the at next level?” Clay asks.
Creating Honor, Trust & Respect
It was after the Total Immersion Seminar that Clay began practicing Crisara’s method of selling. “Joe emphasizes that people buy from people they like,” he says. “Which helps build real rapport with customers and establish trust.”
Family, occupation, recreation, merchandise (FORM) is a technique that Crisara encourages salespeople to use. By asking questions about the customer’s family, what they do for a living, how they spend their free time, and then moving to the equipment, it builds a rapport.
“If we are going to do the work, it’s not putting in the system and leaving,” says Clay “It’s building a relationship. If you put in a system, I want to get to know your family so we can help you take care of the system. Now when I go into a home, I take time to build rapport.”
Offering Options Not Optional
Another part to Crisara’s method is offering several options to customers. Clay offers five and is confident at least one will fit the customer’s need and budget. “All of the packages are good units that I would personally install,” Clay says. It’s just the bells and whistles that are different. But every unit is reliable.”
Clay offers packages ranging from standard to platinum and clearly outlines what each has to offer. Then he answers all of their questions. Customers usually gravitate toward one option, and Clay spends time discussing that option. “As a salesperson, all I need to do is listen to the customer’s needs,” says Clay. “And then create a solution for it. My job here is to show some options that address their concerns and let the customer decide what is best for them.”
He uses a technique that he learned from Crisara called funneling. As a customer gravitates towards one option, Clay asks why the customer likes that package. “It’s truly funneling because I basically have the customer sell the unit back to me and we narrow down each feature. Many salespeople will tell you what you want to hear,” says Clay “Telling isn’t selling. I’m not selling you anything.”
After customers have chosen an option, Clay explains his background, describes his company and demonstrates how they are going to serve the customer. “Value supersedes the dollar, this is what Joe teaches,” he says. “When a customer buys, they aren’t just getting a system, they are getting me, the company and our service. The value is behind those guarantees.”
Service Contracting CAN Be Fun
By moving away from the old tactics of high pressure selling to Crisara’s method of building rapport and trust, Clay says sales has become fun for him, and the results are incredible.
“If you can master the real art of selling, then it’s fun,” says Clay. “Nothing in our nation happens without a sale. If I don’t sell, my employees don’t have a place to work. The manufacturer won’t have a need if nobody’s buying. Everything starts with sales, and what a great industry to be in,”Clay adds.
Since working with Crisara, Clay’s closing rate is now 68 percent, a 17 percent increase, and his average ticket has increased from $7,600 to $11,000, an almost 45 percent increase.
Living The Life He Imagined
Clay always shares success stories with Crisara. “We talk on the telephone and touch base,” he says. “When I get a very high ticket, I’ll call him and tell him how I accomplished getting that sale. I enjoy letting him know that what he taught us works. I follow his program and live it. I don’t have to sit and role play anymore, it’s part of my personality now.”
Clay says the results he’s seen go beyond business. “I follow and literally live what Joe teaches,” Clay says. “I would do anything for Joe. He not only helped my business, he helped my life. My relationships with my wife, kids, co-workers, customers and strangers are more natural.”
Clay’s wife, Edwina, sums up their Crisara-based success best. “If you want to go somewhere fast, you go alone,” she says. “If you want to go somewhere far, you take others with you. With the help of Joe Crisara, the Clay family and the team at 72 Degrees are clearly going somewhere far and faster than they thought.
And that has definitely given them all something to smile about.