The Client-First Experience With Mike Claudio (Part Two)
The cumulative client experience you create throughout all the jobs that your company does will ultimately make or break your market share. Part of putting yourself out there is making sure everything is consistent in a positive sense in order to show that yours is the right company for a job that needs to be done. Mike Claudio is an expert business coach, sales trainer, and the owner of WinRate Consulting. Mike joins Sam Wakefield to talk about creating a consistent and appealing client experience. Social media, guerrilla marketing, and referrals play a big part in today’s market landscape. Let Mike and Sam guide you through creating a client experience that will draw people in when complemented by these differing platforms.
This is part two of the episode with Mike Claudio, who is an expert at what he does. He is a business coach and sales trainer. What we learned in part one is he’s clearly an expert in social media. There’s an old book called Guerilla Marketing, which is the whole theme before there was internet and social media. It was all of these amazingly massive ways to guerilla market. It was zero-cost marketing to get the word out about your business, services, products, and what you do without having to spend a whole lot of ad dollars. Now that we have the internet and social media, there are massive ways to do that without a lot of ad spending as well. Mike is an expert in the digital world online using that as a guerrilla marketing in this century, guerrilla marketing in what works now. This will be a continuation of part one. Mike, thanks for joining us again. Let’s dive right in. We’re not going to have a big crazy intro this time. If you haven’t heard part one, stop right now and go back and read part one, then come back and read this episode or watch it if you’re on YouTube. Let’s jump right in. Mike, give us a quick refresher, and then let’s move forward.
One of the biggest issues I see with contractors as a whole and where my methodology came from is that everybody tries to take on every client. We talked about that last time. We got into some of the details of that from the targeting to the qualifying perspective. My pillars are to identify target, qualify, then acquire. Many people are afraid to say no around that. I did this. I was in the trenches that a lot of you guys are in. I sold to homeowners, I sold B2B, and I was a sub and remodeler. I’ve been on all sides of this. The first part of the process is the identification part, which we dive too far into in episode one of this series. It’s important to know more about who your ideal target is and what your ideal client looks like not just from a demographic, but also a psychographic perspective.
You have to ask it both externally like, what makes somebody right for you? What neighborhood are they in? Where are they at? What do they do? Who are they about? What do we do best internally? In that way, you are putting your best foot forward because what happens is and I see this a lot, you put your guys in the positions that they don’t want to be in. They’re doing a job they’re not used to and not using the right type of tools. They’re doing something they’re not used to doing. In general, when that happens, people start to get complacent. One of the worst things you can do from a client experience perspective is to have your guys on-site complaining about what they’re doing that day.
Especially complaining to the homeowner. How many times do we have crews out there and the homeowner tells you later, “Your guys said you never do this, they don’t even know why they’re here?”
Even worse, they’re in the driveway smoking a cigarette talking about how they can’t wait for this day to be over, or they show up unprepared because they’ve never done a job like this before. Even if they want to do it, they don’t do a lot of it so they show up unprepared, which makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve seen this because I came from a remodeling background. I worked for a kitchen and bathroom addition guy. Putting flooring guys in a tile position isn’t a great idea. Sometimes they can do a good job but sometimes they can’t. Your audience is more HVAC-focused but in general, you want to ask yourself internally like, “What are my guys best at?” It then helps give you a better client experience but then also allows them to do consistent work so they can start building systems and processes around how to be more efficient, how to get more work done, how to be prepared, and what to be prepared with. They see the same things every day.
The days of ‘no job too big or too small’ don’t work that way anymore. Everybody that has a house with duct work is not your ideal client. There are a number of things that make clients better or worse for you, so it’s asking yourself some things. The activity I typically take my clients through is making a list of your last twenty clients. If you look at your last 6 to 12 months, look at the best twenty clients you had. Try and find similarities among them. Where did they come from? Where did you get them from? What referral source? What networking group? What was the project? What will happen is you’ll look at your top 10 or 20 client experiences who were the best clients and your top 10 or 20 profitable projects. Ideally, you’re going to find 8 to 12 that overlap, “These were great clients we made the most money doing.”
That helps you find the list of attributes like, where were they? What are they into? How do they operate? What do they like? What was good about them? What was bad about them? What side of town? How many kids? Things like those allow you to branch into the targeting side and be a lot more focused on who you’re looking for. If you say, “Anybody that needs heating or cooling is great for us, no job is too big or too small,” no one can align that with a person, a thing, or an environment. What you want to get so grandly with telling that story about the attributes of your ideal client or project is you want someone to be able to raise their hand and say, “That’s me.”
That gets a lot more difficult when you’re trying to be for everybody. What happens when you try to be for everybody is you create some brand confusion, even if it’s subconsciously among your audience. If you’re posting about a commercial project now and a residential tune-up tomorrow, the commercial prospects will say, “If they do tune-ups on residential, they may not be big enough for us.” If there’s a commercial, the residential tune-up is saying, “If they do commercial work, they’re probably too expensive for us.” You create that brand confusion because you have not identified and been willing to target a specific group of people. I had done this and it can be scary but I’ve proven it to work. When I went from the remodeling company to the roofing company, I cut out 50%-plus of our revenue because it wasn’t the right type of work and the right type of clients.
We realigned ourselves with specifically what we were best at. We double our business two years in a row. We’re talking about millions of dollars. We were a $2 million business and then we were a $4 million business. We were turning for a $6 million business before I left. The year I left, we had a pipeline and contracts that if we had continued as we were, we would have been north of $6 million. What we did was we got the roofing, siding, windows and gutters. I got rid of siding and windows, and a big percentage of our work. We had in-house crews, which was our focus. It’s very rare for roofing companies having in-house crews. We would sub our crews or the roofers to keep them busy when we didn’t have enough work for everybody. We made no money on that. That was practically a break-even to keep our guys busy. We’re a $2 million business and I took over $1 million off our books and say, “We’re not going to do any of this work anymore.”
That had to be scary at the same time.
It was and I’m the new guy, I was only six months into my role saying, “This isn’t worth it. We’re making too many mistakes. Our guys aren’t good enough at it.” If anybody who does windows, when you were to replace the windows, if you’re off by a quarter-inch, that window is trash. It’s your fault for mismeasuring it. Our guys weren’t good at it. Me as a salesperson and my sales team weren’t great at it. I’m like, “We’re losing money here but we’re great at the low slope and specialty roofing.” We pivoted and I was telling everyone, “We’re not doing any more sub-work. I’ll find a way to fill our guys’ time with the work we’d be profitable on. We’re not doing any more of this.” It wasn’t a light switch. It wasn’t like boom and we’re there. It was like steering a ship to an extent. Within 2 or 3 months, everything that I wanted off our plate was off our plate. We focused on what we were good at, and we still doubled the business. We quadrupled our core workload. That was cool to see it happen. I thought it would work in theory, and it panned out.
I could imagine the crews were much happier because now they’re doing the things that they were good at, the things that they knew and they’re not all over the map. It seems like morale and the company culture would even go up.
What happened is we were able to better prepare ourselves for the work. Because we were doing the same things, we were able to build better systems and strategies around consistently setting our guys up for success. If you’re on shingle roof now, cedar roof tomorrow, siding repair the next day, and window installed the fourth day, you can’t prep your guys well for them. It’s different tools, different skill sets, you’re moving guys from one crew to another because they have the window expertise. One of the best things that it did for us was it simplified our approach. That approach made dozens of businesses in the last years. I had everyone cut out what was not and they each had grown. I don’t have the exact numbers.
I don’t dig into the books after I leave. I worked with it for 3 to 6 months. They’ll all tell you, that simplifying what they were going after and not being for everybody, made them win more of the right types of clients. It allows you to tell a more granular story about who’s the right client, what’s the right project, and what makes you good at those types of projects. I’m not saying no to the fish that jumps into your boat and say, “Can you do this for me? You did a project for me like this last year.” You’re’ like, “We don’t do that anymore.” Don’t say no to stuff when it comes to putting the message out there, you’re tooling your sales team or your technicians for upsell. In your world, going in and upselling the environment is a great way to add profits.
It’s huge especially right now in the current climate.
You have to take advantage of every client you’re in front of because very few want them into your house.
The world is educating everyone on the importance of indoor air quality. We don’t have to do it anymore.
They’re like, “I feel funny in here.” In general, if you’re going in and trying to sell every service that you can always do every time, you’re not going to be as successful. You go in with a specific strategy around, “If we’re going to do these services, these are two types of things we need to upsell because of the neighborhood, the age of the house, the type of service we’re doing.” You need to get granular on that because it makes everybody better at doing it consistently. When you do something consistently, you’re going to learn to be better. If every day you’re showing up and you’re doing something different, you never catch that wave, you never get in the routine and you never go about it in a great way. That works as well in B2C as it is in B2B if you’re a commercial HVAC company. In that world, it is a lot more temperamental because in the commercial world, they’re looking for more of a relationship with somebody.
They don’t want to have to hire somebody new every time. If they don’t know what you’re best at, they’re not going to trust you. They’ll take the guy that says, “We do commercial roofing the best specifically in TPO. We’re the TPO HVAC roofing guy.” That mark will begin to get people to trust you more and it allows you to charge more. That’s one of the biggest things I missed when I made that transition. Because we got better and faster, because of our system, because we looked and acted more professionally and consistently, we were delivering a better service. Our client experience increased, so we were able to charge more. Not only do we get rid of stuff we weren’t good at and we’re losing money on, we started doing more what we were good at and I will start charging more for what we were good at. Part of that was the market went up, labor and materials went up, and the roofing industry went crazy in ‘17 and ‘18 but everybody’s industry did.
Labor and materials have gone up for everybody or it’s only going to get worse. In general, being able to be more targeted and being the person for a type of service, we were able to charge more. We went from not even sniffing specialty roofing to selling 10 or 12 cedar roofs in a six-month period when cedar roofs is $80,000 to $120,000, then we got good at them. We were good but we all weren’t good. We had a few guys that were great when we started doing them. More of our guys got good at it, so we could handle more of them at the same time. It’s the same thing in your world if you have certain guys who are great at one part of the job. We all have that employee that’s like, “He’s got to be on this one.” The other crew loses their leader, which doesn’t do well for your business. Overall, we got better at closing bigger deals with the right type of work so that we could scale. It starts with identifying. I built an entire online course on these four pillars. Everything starts with identifying because the decision is around targeting. What are you saying? Where are you saying it? Where are you networking? Who are you talking to? How are you qualifying? If you don’t know what a great client is for you, what questions are you going to ask on that initial phone call?
You Don’t Have A Clue
It’s like, “Do you have a heat pump? Great, now you’re perfect.” The entire ecosystem of decision-making around how you’re targeting, how you’re qualifying, what you’re doing to close the deal and acquire the right client, it all depends on identifying what the demographics are or the psychographics of the project, and the person you want to deal with. We might have talked about this last time. I apologize if I’m duplicating.
This is good because even if we did, it’s a little bit different because of the time. It doesn’t hurt anybody to hear it multiple times because it’s valuable. I love the fact that even hearing it the second time, it hit me in a little different way. It dawned on me that you have three steps. The thing that’s hit me is you have three full steps in-depth before we ever talk about acquiring customers. That is huge. Most people jump and they skip steps 1, 2, 3. To restate what we’re talking about, the old saying is, “Nothing happens until something gets sold.” Everybody goes out and tries to make the sale but then skips all those first parts, and then wonders why they’re on this floundering sea of, “I can’t get past these certain thresholds.” We keep running into these same walls and don’t know why.
The acquire phase works a lot better when you avoid objections. I’m huge on avoiding objections. Overcoming objections is incredibly difficult. I’m going to explain why it’s important to say why. An objection is a client deciding to not hire you or they’ve decided to their head, “I’m going to throw whatever objection at you that I think you’ll believe to go away.” It’s very rare that the objection gives you the actual root of the problem of why they’re not hiring you. It’s a decision. Any adult human knows that someone changing their mind is very difficult. If nothing else, you have to admit you made the wrong decision, which none of us like doing. I compare it to the movie, 8 Mile, with Eminem. There’s a scene at the end where he bashes himself in the entire rap battle and the other guy doesn’t know what to say. If you talk about what makes good clients good and bad clients bad, you’ll qualify out the wrong ones before you ever have to talk to them.
You can say things like, “If you’re in a 6,000-square-foot house or more, we’re the perfect contractor for you.” If you’re not comfortable saying that because you’re afraid you’re going to lose the 3,000-square-foot house that has a much smaller budget, maybe one-unit sub several, you’re losing out on opportunities where you can hone in and be the expert on that thing. When you get to the actual acquire phase to close the deal, there are significantly less objections because they already bought into the fact that you were telling a story that related to them. The minute a client can see themselves as a character in your story, you’ve won. The objections are different. Sometimes it’s timing like, “We’re going to hire you but we’ve got to figure how we’re going to pay for it.” It’s like, “We think your price is fair but we still need the money.”
What Do You Offer? How Can We Solve This Problem?”
Talking about that one, if you try to dive in and sell everybody, you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to close the wrong people, and it’ll turn into long losses. There are fast wins, there are slow wins. There are fast losses and there are slow losses. Slow losses are the worst thing you can have as a salesperson because you invested a ton of time into that person who did not close. I’d rather lose you on the first phone call than come out and spend three hours with you, to find out three weeks later that you fell off the face of the Earth. That covers the identity part of it.
We went into the targeting and some of the qualifying last time, but I want to reiterate this. It’s incredibly important. There are three things that you need to uncover in the qualification process. There are a number of ways to do this, but it is how transparent is the customer, how flexible is the customer and what is their geographic location. That is incredibly important. If any one of those three things are not good, it’s going to be a challenging experience because we’ve all had clients who are hiding something. We’ve all had clients who won’t budge and want you to do it their way. We’ve all had clients that are way too far out, we shouldn’t have taken it. You can ask things about scope, budget, and flexibility around the time of the meeting. If someone can’t meet with me during the normal 50-hour work week, it’s subjective but you can’t meet with me during the 50-hour and you have to meet me on late nights or weekends. What’s going to happen when it’s time to write that check or pay that invoice? “I’ll get to it,” then all of a sudden they’re not getting to it. Whenever you get to the actual acquisition phase, this is where I personally shine. I’ve sold nine figures worth of sales in my fifteen-year career. It’s cocky but I’m not trying to boast. I’m saying, “I’ve proven I know how to close deals.”
Client Experience: Finding out what your guys are best at allows them to deliver a better client experience and more consistent work.
It’s Confidence. There’s A Difference Between Cockiness And Confidence
It’s because of the process I’ve created. I’m going to go over the five parts of the sales process everybody needs to nail. They’re the five parts that most people miss wildly. The first one is when you get to the client’s house, you’ve qualified them, they’re right, you’re there, whether it’s a technician or a salesperson, you have to break the ice and you have to then build rapport. Break the ice is the first part. I did this for years. Andy Frisella was the one who put this in terms for me. Give a compliment and ask a question, “That was a great picture of your family. When was that taken?” Let them talk about themselves open-ended to an extent. We have all of those clients who want to spend 3 or 4 hours talking about their kids, their boss, the plants, and their garden. We’ve all had those people. Once you’ve done that, build rapport by understanding their decision criteria and setting an agenda.
One of the best questions I have asked or I learned to ask, I didn’t always ask this but when I learned it, this changed the game for me, “What is the problem you’re hoping I can solve for you? How important is that problem to solve for you? What are you willing to invest to solve that problem?” You uncover a lot of their decision-making criteria in that. Asking questions like, “Have you ever been involved in a decision like this before? Who else will be involved in the final decision? When do you plan to make the final decision?” That’s building rapport. You’re letting them tell you their priorities, agenda, timeline and everything. That is some of the most powerful information I see salespeople miss all the time. They get in, they collect information, and say, “I’ll send you a proposal. Let me know what you think.” You didn’t uncover anything. You didn’t build any rapport. They’re not going to remember you. They’ll be like, “Who was that guy? What were we talking about? I can’t remember.” You didn’t do anything. You came in, you took some information, you sent a proposal and you walked away.
One of the things about asking when they’re planning on making a decision is different when you ask this at the end. Salespeople get lost when they’re trying to close the deal, “When are you planning on making a decision?” They’re building follow-up and it’s unnecessary. Asking it upfront is different because you’re showing them that you’re concerned about their timeline, which is important. In heating and air especially, too many salespeople have gotten lost in the concept that, “If I don’t close it in the house right now, it’s not going to close.” They’re going to go with somebody else, which is totally not true if we handle it properly.
You get several things out of that rapport section. If you understand what the problem is, why it’s so important, what they’re willing to invest, what their timeline is, we get to the third part which is the information and the scope collection. You’re able to now be a value-added consultant instead of an order taker. If you understand what the real problem they want to solve, why it’s so important, what they’re willing to invest, what their timeline is, you can start giving them professional consultative suggestions and pushback. Pushback is scary for some people but it is necessary to differentiate yourself from everybody else. If the client calls you as the expert, they want you to guide them. If they say, “This is the problem I wanted to solve and here’s how we should solve it.” You go, “I don’t think that’s right, and here’s why.” You’re still building that rapport. You’re giving them value-added suggestions. You’re saying, “If you’re not going to do this in the next six months, have you also considered about this? That might go also go bad in that timeframe.” “No, I didn’t think about that. That’s a great idea. Thank you so much.” You’re starting to build rapport by being the value-added consultant, as opposed to just doing what the client asked you to do. Nine times out of ten, the client is not right.
It’s Based On What They Learned In Google And Two Hours’ Worth Of Research
Maybe their neighbor told them to do and they were probably wrong too. You’re in that position now because you have that information prior to the scope review. You’re able to guide them to the right solution for the actual problem they wanted to solve, and then understand why, what’s driving the decision, when, who’s involved as they’re giving you information in the scope or you’re doing your research. In the HVAC world, there’s a lot of diagnostic stuff you can look at to say, “I see this.” You do better at giving them value-added because you’re relating it to solving the problem while you’re there.
If you walk in, start looking, and say, “I think you should use these twelve things and they’re all equally prioritized,” you’re not going to be able to get them to connect the dots on how that works for them. They are going to think you’re trying to upsell them. If you’re like, “Here are the twelve things you could do, but these three things relate well to that problem you said you wanted to solve.” You’re giving them a reason that what you’re selling them or how you’re upselling them connects the dots with the problem while you’re there. This is something that I did for a long time and I didn’t realize it was unique. Immediately at the end of that, because I asked all those questions already, I can say, “If I can do X scope within Y budget by Z timeframe, are you prepared to move forward with me?”
That soft close and pushing them to make a verbal confirmation with you in person, you either then now feel confident because they said, “Yes, you answered all my questions. If you’re comfortable, we’re feeling great to move forward with you,” or you uncover the actual reasons you may not get it. “No, we’re not.” “Why?” It might sound abrupt, but it’s the reality of the situation. They’ll say, “We’re getting a couple of other estimates. I need to talk to my husband. I need to talk to my wife. We don’t have the money yet.” Whatever it is, but what’s stopping you from moving forward with me right now? Now you know what you have to overcome. If they say something along the lines of, “We’re going to get a couple of other estimates.” “I think that’s a great idea. You don’t know me, I don’t know you. It’s good to get a couple of ideas. In that process, what can I provide to you to give us the best chance to win the business?”
It’s The Question Nobody Asks
Now I know what they’re using to compare it. Sometimes they’d be like, “We’re going to go with the cheapest guy.” You should have known that already. That’s been part of the phone call that you had before you went out to their house. That’s not always how it goes. It’s saying, “I appreciate you getting a couple of other estimates. That’s a great idea but what can I provide you in the meantime to give us the best chance to win your business?” They might say, “We’ve reviewed you. We’ve talked to some people. We know you’re good. We just need to make sure we’re getting it great.” The next step is to set the next steps. No matter what happens at the end of that question of, “Are you prepared to work with us?” The final step is to set the next steps with deadlines and who owns it. Sometimes it might be, “I need you to do this so that we can do this. I’m going to need that by Wednesday, so I can have your formal proposal by Friday.”
You commit to that. Get their buy-in and it’d be done. Don’t oversell it and don’t talk yourself out of the deal. Don’t just sit there and keep trying, “I know your priorities. I know what the scope is. I know what’s stopping you from making a decision. Here are the next steps. Here’s what you need to do. Here’s what I need to do.” There it is. As part of the next step, discovery when you’re building it out, you want to reverse engineer the steps from whatever they decided or told you their deadline or when they want to make a decision. If they say, “We’d like to make a decision by the end of the week.” “I’m going to need that from you tomorrow. I’ll send you the proposal on Wednesday. Is it okay if I follow up with you on Friday?” You’re setting the actual next agreed-upon conversation because many people will say, “I’ll meet you tomorrow, let me know if you have any questions.” We’ve also done that in a sales meeting.
They Will Never Get In Touch With You
You’re sitting there on Thursday going like, “I don’t want to bug them. I don’t know when to follow up.” You should not leave an in-person meeting without a defined next step and deadline.
Book A Meeting From A Meeting, BAMFAM Every Time
In any conversation in business and life, it became such a habit. I do it with my wife, “What are the next steps and when can we have it done?” It doesn’t matter if we’re getting groceries or taking the kids for a walk. I wanted to know. It’s weird sometimes, but I do it all the time.
As a side note, this is what you find with truly successful people in life. They act immediately and set schedules and deadlines with everything in life, compared to the people who seem like they’re always about to do something but never accomplish anything. That’s one of the big missing pieces.
The big thing there is that because you were so professional and you set the next step even if they forget to get back to you, when you call them and say, “It’s Mike, I’m just following up on Friday like I said I would.” That’s differentiating and you saying you’re going to do something and following through on it. They are still probably waiting on that proposal they have not gotten that’s 3 to 10 days later that they said they were going to get it and you’re the guy that is following up. It’s more likely you’re going to win that deal. You’ve created and shown in effect your professionalism, and integrity and you can follow through.
At the end of the day, the reason many people want to get multiple bids is the trust factor. If you’d had a bunch of projects in the past that all turned out awesome and they were the great price, they wouldn’t even be shopping around. They’d be like, “When do we get this done?” It’s building that trust and those little steps do that along the way.
People expect us in this world of home services to drop the ball and not deliver it. The unfortunate reality of the world is they don’t believe in you. The more you can do to avoid objections by being on time, being professional, being prepared, setting the next steps, and following through, those are all the things that you have control over that will differentiate you compared to your competition. Many people miss those steps. People don’t think they’re necessary because they’re not mission-critical. They’re not going to close the deal in the moment but it’s building that reputation. Here’s what is important. Let me recap, break the ice, build rapport, collect information with value-added suggestions, soft-close, and set the next steps. Those are the five steps. Where most businesses fail is they have a good salesperson that they move into management who doesn’t know how to teach that to everybody else.
What happens is your client experience becomes inconsistent. If your messaging and your client experience are inconsistent, no one’s going to be able to trust to refer you because they don’t know which version of your business they’re going to get that day. That’s when businesses start to stagnate or decrease in market share. It’s because your market has lost trust in you because your people are not operating congruently. That’s huge. Setting some systems and processes around a sales and actual sales process that you hold people accountable to, even if it’s not exactly that, it has to be consistent. That way, people are confident enough to refer you. They know that whoever they’re referring you to is going to get taken care of.
If you don’t know this at this point, I will start to break this to you. When someone refers you, they hold the responsibility on how that goes. If you do a bad job, you make that person look bad. Not only do you not get the new client, you lose a referral partner in the old client and that’s how people start to lose market share. If the people who did hire you that had a great experience refer you to somebody else and you let somebody else down, no one is comfortable referring you. That’s where companies that scale too fast and don’t have solid systems and processes in place start to suffer because they’ll hire and you’ll be like, “You’re in the field, go.” There’s never any type of accountability and structure created, so everybody is operating on an island. The bottom line is no one’s going to care as much about your business as you do. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you’re not structuring that system and process in place. You have an identified standard operating procedure on how sales consultations should go.
It involves that and culture to get that buy-in from everybody. I’ve seen that happen where I’m at now. When I first started years ago, it was the Wild Wild West. We’ve got a handful of people all over the map doing whatever they wanted and pricing however they wanted. It came to a head one time when we did an awesome job for this guy. He referred us to his neighbor and six months later, a different consultant went out and the price was thousands of dollars different just because he felt different that day. They called us out, “What happened? What’s going on? You’ve taken advantage of my neighbor. I referred him.” It’s exactly what you’re describing. From that moment forward we said, “We’re going to have consistency. Here’s our standard pricing and here’s our book.” There’s a little bit of negotiation factor, a fractional amount, and beyond that, end of story. These are our prices. Everyone gets the same experience. Just like you’re describing, from that moment forward, this company has multiplied in growth because everybody is getting the same experience.
Whether you realize it or not, you are building a relationship with your marketplace, your content, your social media, your website, your technicians, how your bonds look, and how you consistently deliver on what you promise. Think about it. Would you be friends with your business? You’re going to be friends with somebody who operates the way your business does. It’s that simple.
Look in the mirror, “Would you buy from you today?” It’s the hard truth a lot of times.
The reason people can’t do this is because they’re trying to win everybody. They’re trying to close every deal and be what everybody wants them to be. That’s not realistic in the marketplace. That’s not how it works. I’ve never sold HVAC specifically. It was part of the remodels I sold, but I did not do in-home HVAC sales. What’s one of the biggest issues you see in your market, your ecosystem, and your peers dealing with?
One of the biggest ones for sales, and this is an interesting one, and in fact, it’s top of mind for me because before we had this interview, I was on-site with the project that’s going on. I’m having this conversation with the lady. It came down between us and one other company. The example had to do with the copper line set. The other company said that it’s not necessary to change the copper line set even though it’s too small. They said, “The new equipment will function fine. It shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s going to be hard to do, so we’re not going to do it.” My price is a little higher because I’m putting in there and saying, “It’s necessary.” In the conversation with the homeowner, she said, “I’m glad I went with you because I was talking to my neighbors across the way.” It was in this condo complex. “They’ve had their system changed years ago. They didn’t change the line set and they said their system froze up fourteen times in one month.” I’m like, “That’s exactly why.”
To answer your question specifically, here’s where the struggle happens. On paper, the companies may have similar reviews. The company may be using the same exact brand or model of equipment, and many things seem like it’s a little bit cheaper price for the same thing. The biggest struggle is communicating those differences and the importance of the little things outside of the appliance, how it’s installed, and those extra levels of detail. After she had the conversation with her neighbors, she was like, “It was an easy decision at that point because we didn’t want to have that problem.” That’s where we circle back like, “This is why we have our guarantees and all of that.” How would you handle that situation? On paper, you all look like the same company. What’s the difference there?
Client Experience: If your messaging or client experience is inconsistent, no one can trust to refer you because they don’t know which version of your business they’re getting that day.
I don’t care how good you are in person, on the spot, that’s difficult to overcome. They’ve got to take your word for it. It’s your word versus their word and they’re like, “We’re $1,800 less.” Their words sound better. That’s what we go up against. What I have found the best way is overcoming that objection by avoiding it. This sounds easy saying it but more difficult implementing it. In that situation, what I would have done if I were you, I’m getting on my social media on my Facebook, shooting a video with my phone, and telling that story. When ’people are finding in their research and they’re watching your content where they’re saying, “My sales guy said we didn’t need to change the line set. He’s saying, “I do, and why? I don’t want that.” I’m avoiding the objection by educating them through my content ahead of time. You can’t overcome that if you haven’t been doing that.
In general, the world is saying, “I have integrity, we do the right thing and we put clients first.” Saying that doesn’t mean anything anymore because everybody says it. If you were to get on and say, “We had this awesome client situation where we were able to save them a lot of heartaches, and here’s how.” If you’re putting out videos like that all the time, you won’t have to deal with the questions. They’re going to call you even if they weren’t getting a competitive bid because you taught them like, “If someone says they don’t replace their line set, make sure that you don’t hear some ways to look at it.” They now trust you. They built a relationship with you because you educated them and saved those some heartache. They might even call you and say, “I talked to a guy. I was going to move forward with them but I saw your video. I want to better understand. Can you come look at my stuff?” I’ve seen that work incredibly well. No one in the service industry does a good job about having their sales and technicians on their social media telling stories.
Having that situation where at the end of every day, “This is the biggest problem I solved,” and getting on your platforms and talking about it will be how you overcome those objections. That person built a level of trust with you that nobody else can do in a single sales call. They’re going to be following you or engaging with you for a period of time or one of your educational videos where you talk about a problem you solved and why you solved it with the way you did. They believe you more than the other guy they never met before. The bottom line is people build relations with people online. We all have somebody we follow on social media that if we see them in person, we run to them like, “What’s up?” They’ve never met you before. You build a relationship with them. You don’t have to have 100 million followers to be an influencer.
If you’re in an HVAC Company and you have 50 property management companies and 50 real estate agents that follow you on social media, you’re an influencer. How you communicate to them, what you’re saying, how you’re educating them, all impact how well they feel about you. How I would overcome that objection is by avoiding it. If I’m telling consistent stories on my social media about problems I solve, why I solve them, things to look out for, questions to ask, the way to diagnose one proposal to another. Educating them on things that help them overcome the fear of making the wrong decision because that’s what you’re doing. If I told you I was going to give you $100,000 in value for only $1,800 more, you’ll be like, “Of course.”
That’s one of the things I teach is how to value stack in the proposal to start with.
That’s huge. That’s not made up. That’s real. That’s how people make decisions. If you can tell stories that say, “I know we’re more expensive but here’s why we do things differently. Here’s how we make decisions. Here’s how we replace units. There are plenty of ways to do it. Here’s our way and why we do it that way.” You’ll have people who agree with how you make decisions and they won’t question you. That’s how we do it.
What you have is you’ve created a very valuable tool. The more you do that, the more you have this library that you can pull from, so that the next person you come across with that same issue say, “Here’s what we’re doing, and here’s why. I would love to share this story with you.” You send them a link to that video and say, “We came across this before. Here’s how we solved it there.” They can watch someone else’s story and experience which now becomes, “They’re not making it up on the spot. This was dated months or years ago. They’ve been solving this for forever now.”
It’s evergreen and it’s passive. We all have to say the same thing to those people every day. Tell the story online and then it gets those touches with your market that are passive. It’s not you actively going out and talking to people. You’re putting the message in front of the right people at the right time. That’s evergreen because the videos I shot years before are still relevant. Your world hasn’t changed much at all where the problems you solve one year are different than 2, or 3 years ago. It’s incredibly evergreen. Once you do it, it’s there forever and it’s always accessible. I would avoid that objection by doing that. That way you can overcome it.
That’s the biggest one with anybody. It doesn’t matter the industry, “On paper, you all look the same. Why should we choose you?” It’s where our whole conversation started with the beginning of episode one. It’s that whole thing, “Why should we choose you compared to everybody else?” “Here’s why. It’s because we know how to overcome all of your concerns. Here’s our story. Here’s what we’ve done,” and developing that consistency.
One of the best things you can do when you have that asset that’s already built out, you can say things like, “We may not be able to solve your problem the way you want to, but please look at how we solve problems and see if that relates to how you want it done.” Let them decide. You’ve closed them without closing them.
That’s inception. It was in their mind first.
They told, “I need to work with you. I’d like to but I don’t know.” Now it’s, “I need you.”
Everybody is telling us different solutions. I’m not sure what to pick because they’re all different. It’s not that anymore.
You can’t do that if you don’t start now. You can’t magically appear a backlog of videos utilize as an asset for that. You need to start creating that content now. It does need to be highly produced, it just needs to be literally. As long as you can hear it and somewhat see it, it’s good enough.
Some of the best ones I’ve ever made, and everybody who’s reading should do this. Everybody who’s got a cell phone, grab it. When you’re on-site, it’s so effective. I took pictures earlier with the crane behind me pointing to the roof. When you’re standing right there, flip it on and make your videos standing in front of your projects. If you’re on-site and you want to show people something, turn the camera on and say, “Here’s what I’ve found. What you have that looked like this or this, that’s not supposed to look like that. Here’s what it’s supposed to look like.” It only takes two minutes. You don’t have to do the production. It doesn’t have to be crazy but it’s a matter of getting it, doing it, and getting it recorded.
The biggest thing too is that HVAC, the roof, and the crawl space are the three places that no one looks at. They walk past their equipment and have no idea what it’s supposed to look like. They’d be like, “That is exactly what ours looks like. I didn’t know that was wrong.” It’s so powerful to build that relationship that shows you as the expert and the authority in whatever it is you do. The industry is relevant. You’ll be the authority in what you do by talking about how you solve problems.
This translates to everything we do. It’s hook, story, and offer. The hook is, are you experiencing this? Whatever that looks good to catch somebody’s attention, then put them in the story. At the end, the offer can be as simple as, “If you want more information, follow our page.” It could be, “We’ve got a special on solution for this right now.” It can be anything you want but it has to be the story.
Client Experience: Just tell your story online and it gets those touches in your market that are passive. You’re putting your message in front of the right people at the right time.
You don’t even have to offer every time, just tell the story. People will raise their hands and say, “That’s me. What can you do for me?”
The story is the meat of it.
It’s incredibly more powerful than our industry gives it credit for. We’re all used to the Labor Day Sale and buy one, get one. If you can prove you know what you’re doing and people can trust you to get the job done, you don’t have to do that anymore. A lot of people are utilizing the content creation side, which is what I specialize in. Tell the story appropriately. It’s not very difficult to win consistently. I love stories.
Thanks for jumping on with us again. Everyone, you’ve got to check out Mike Claudio’s information. Give us the hit list of all the places they can find you. Tell everybody about your podcast.
I have the Big Stud Sales podcast. It’s a sales marketing and general business development podcast. Mike Claudio on YouTube. I post a ton of very high-quality videos there that are very educational and longer format. I have Construction Selling as a Facebook group I manage. It’s 700 or 800 members of people in the industry who are trying to get better at sales. I love to connect with you. If you found me because of this, let me know. Reach out to me. I love to see where people are coming from and how it’s happening. If I can do anything to help you, it’s @WinRateConsulting on Instagram. It’s the best way to DM me and get direct contact. If you want to email me, it’s Mike@WinRateConsulting.com. I put out content everywhere. If you watch videos, listen to podcasts, and like to read, I have a blog too. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook groups, and podcasts are the main ones.
Thank you so much for this. For everyone, thanks for reading this blog. We’ve covered a lot of territory in the last two episodes. If you didn’t read part one, go back now to episode one with Mike Claudio. Big Stud, I understand why you’ve named it that. This guy knows what he’s talking about. Thanks for being our guest. I look forward to what we do together in the future. This has been Close It Now. Go save the world one heatstroke at a time.
About Mike Claudio
Hi, I’m Mike Claudio.
I have spent the last 14 years not just selling products but learning how to go out and actually develop a business.
My sales and management career started in retail with Verizon Wireless before working in their enterprise sales. During my time in Corporate America, I was given some of the best training in the world and really developed an obsession-like energy for communication and the client experience.
While my formal training is in the corporate setting, I’ve always been pulled towards smaller companies where I could work with entrepreneurs to help them bring big changes to grow their businesses.
I was a great salesman, but I found my love and passion for the people, processes, and services of the construction industry. When I was given the opportunity to work with New Leaf Construction, a residential general contracting business in Charlotte, I jumped at the idea of using my experiences and training to help create a sales and client management system specific for this market.
Over two years working with New Leaf Construction, both as a salesman and as their construction sales consultant, the company went from doing a couple hundred thousand a year to well over $1 million a year. While I can’t take 100% credit, I was able to bring the brand awareness and business development growth that brought New Leaf the bigger, higher-paying jobs the owner was looking for.
After helping lay the foundation at New Leaf Construction, I set out to look for new opportunities with construction companies with even bigger growth plans. I was lucky enough to land with Daniel Enterprises, a commercial and residential roofing and siding company, where the owner’s visions for growth aligned very well with my skill set. In my first 12 months with the company, I was able to bring in over $2 million in sales and helped the sales team to more than double year-over-year. As of June 2018, Daniel Enterprise is quickly approaching the $5 million mark, already doubling 2017’s $2 million in total sales.
I have proven my system and processes to Identify, Target, Qualify, and Acquire clients work. With a heavy focus on communication, follow-through, and follow-up I believe any company can increase sales and profits and I want to be the one to help you do that!