Contractor Tom Wallace (far left), of Wallace HVAC, gives a testimony for Maytag for the cameras. At the recent Maytag National Meeting, Carol Baker, director of communications (with microphone) went looking for contractors and dealers willing to discuss the value of the Maytag brand.

LAS VEGAS - Who said the Maytag repairman is lonely? You couldn’t tell it at the first-ever Maytag National Meeting, held recently at the Aladdin Resort and Casino.

Instead of long faces, the majority of the invited Maytag distributors, territory managers, and dealers - 679 attendees in all - wore broad smiles and appeared uplifted after hearing, seeing, and touching all of what the HVACR manufacturer has to offer each, as well as customers, in 2007. Of the meeting registrants, 447 were dealers and 142 were representatives of the 23 attending distributors.

The primary objectives of this three-day event were to provide professional development and build a sense of community among attendees, as well as continue to grow business and personal relationships. The meeting also served as a forum of exchange in best practices, selling techniques, and the use of the Maytag brand.

Dave LaGrand, president and chief executive officer of Nordyne, had some fun with Elvis, who was in the house, along with many Las Vegas showgirls, performing at the kickoff reception of the first-ever Maytag National Meeting, held at the Aladdin Resort and Casino. Elvis belted out some of his old favorites, with the lyrics slightly tweaked to include the mention of Maytag in each updated version.

It definitely had a Las Vegas feel to it, too. For instance, the kickoff reception - which included a welcoming address and some surprising new company developments and announcements from Nordyne president and CEO Dave LaGrand - featured Elvis on stage accompanied by more than a few Vegas showgirls. Maybe even more entertaining was the fact Elvis belted out some of his old favorites, with Maytag mentioned in the updated lyrics.

“Our intention was for everyone to walk away from this inaugural meeting feeling like a winner and part of the greater Maytag HVAC community of distributors and dealers,” explained Drew Fitzgerald, Nordyne vice president of marketing.

Regional sales manager David Taylor, who was among the second-day breakout speakers, was more emphatic.

“I know that they say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” he said, quickly adding, “But I want you to tell everyone what happened here, and I want everyone, including the competition, to know about Maytag and what it has to offer.”


LaGrand set the early pace. In addition to telling the invited guests of Maytag’s history, LaGrand zeroed in on the pull of the Maytag brand. “We all know that a brand is a promise because it creates expectations. And, the Maytag brand carries a big promise,” he said. “It creates expectations with consumers as they love Maytag and what it stands for - a promise of dependability, reliable performance, quality, and much, much more. The Maytag brand affords personal and emotional connections for many people.

“Consumers love Maytag, trust Maytag, and want Maytag. So embrace the power of this brand. It will work for you. The more you identify with and use the Maytag brand, the more the brand will help you to increase sales and margins.”

To the delight of the crowd, LaGrand formally announced a new Maytag “Dependability Promise” and worry-free warranty program for 2007.

The following morning, one-hour breakout sessions were offered. Contractors and dealers had several different topic choices, including “Power of the Brand,” “Using Financing to Close Sales,” “How to Sell Like a Retailer,” and “How to be a Smart Advertiser.”

Jay Rathbun, principal of JBResources, provided plenty of helpful tips in his session, “How to Get and Keep Customers.” He told his audience that if there is nothing very special about their work, no matter how hard they applied themselves, each would not get noticed, “and that increasingly means you won’t get paid much either.”

Rathbun went through some noteworthy results reported in the 2006 American Home Comfort Study, put out by Decision Analyst Inc. The study disclosed, among other issues, that many homeowners labeled their visit with a contractor “a poor experience.”

“Therefore,” said Rathbun, “the door is open for competition.”

The lesson learned is simple, he said: Keep the experience memorable for the customer.

“What is your company image on a sales call?” he asked. “Are you respectful of a customer’s time? Do you have a clean vehicle? Do you represent the Maytag brand? … Remember, making an appointment needs to be one remembered.”


At a different session, titled “Selling Comfort for Higher Profits,” regional sales manager Taylor noted that comfort is the result of the consumer being physically, economically, and emotionally satisfied by a system and services received.

To meet the physical needs of a customer, he noted that air temperature; surrounding surface; odors and pollutants; dust, pollen, and pet hair; relative humidity; and motion of the air figure into the equation. That which affects economical comfort include lower operating costs, fair installed cost, and less repair costs, he explained.

To meet emotional comfort, Taylor said trust in the dealership is needed, along with trust in brand, workmanship, and “trust you know their problem.”

“That’s very important,” he said. “You have to listen. You have to ask the right questions. You have to make the buyer comfortable with you.”

Taylor recommended using the SPIN® (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need) selling model, developed by Neil Rackham, author of “SPIN Selling.” The model is based on extensive research and is currently used by many Fortune 100 companies.

“It embodies the underlying truths about successful sales calls,” stressed Taylor.

Those truths about successful selling, he listed, include:

  • Customers do most of the talking.

  • Successful salespeople sell solutions, not products.

  • Most poor salespeople introduce solutions (products and/or services) too early in the call.

  • Successful salespeople seek to understand, rather than convince.

  • Salespeople who focus on understanding ask more questions and listen better for needs.

    Before closing, Taylor stressed the importance of the proposal. The document, in his estimation, “identifies your integrated comfort system solution and captures your dealer-added value.”

    “You offer three options, but always begin with the most efficient package for the environment,” he suggested.

    To help dealers and distributors produce professional proposals, Maytag introduced Comfort Quote™ at the Vegas meeting. At each of his one-hour sessions, Taylor gave his audience a quick rundown on the new software program and tool.

    At the afternoon trade show, Taylor, along with communications director Carol Baker, gave all interested parties a complete hands-on demonstration of the program, which, among other items, allows the operator to build a proposal that estimates annual energy savings.

    Regional sales manager David Taylor (right), playing the part of a salesperson, questions “homeowner” Diane Lutz (left) during a mock sales presentation at the recent Maytag National Meeting. Taylor supplied attendees with many selling tips in his talk, “Selling Comfort for Higher Profits.”


    Before the evening gala, attendees had the opportunity to get caught up on the latest Maytag offerings at its afternoon trade show. At the marketing program booth, information was available regarding the Lonely Guy’s network, dealer locator-Web template program, consumer literature, consumer advertising templates, and more.

    Other vendors included Arzel, Danfoss, Emerson Climate Technologies, Equiguard, GE ECM, GE Money, Panasonic, and Sanuvox.

    Best practices, entered from selected dealers and distributors, were shared in the last morning’s general session. Maytag dealers from all around North America were recognized for having the best practices for using the brand to sell, incorporating showrooms in their selling processes, selling whole-home comfort solutions, and practicing the Maytag philosophies of quality, dependability, and reliability.

    Before heading out the door, attendees heard from Jeffrey Gitomer, who discussed “Selling Maytag for Success.” The best-selling author believed in the power of the Maytag brand. Gitomer presented sales techniques to both inform and challenge dealers to exceed their sales goals.

    Most left inspired, as Tom Wallace, of Wallace HVAC, certainly did. When asked to discuss, among other topics, the value of the Maytag brand, the contractor made sure to give a strong testimony for the roving (and recording) camera crew at the national meeting.

    “This was a very good show,” said Wallace. “It has helped me a lot.”

    Publication date: 02/26/2007