“Sellin’ ain’t tellin’, askin’ is.” This simple homily bubbled from Texas soil some years back and has since been heard around the world. It’s a powerful lesson, often trumping masterful education about what it takes to sell and to succeed. To succeed in sales, you must master the art of asking questions. David Bucchi, sales manager for Jon Wayne Heating and Air based in San Antonio, Texas, has learned the lesson well, and he’s evangelized it among his growing fleet of talented sales pros at the firm.

Bucchi, who’s been with Jon Wayne since 2005, was previously a territory manager for Carrier and Bryant serving the San Antonio and Southern Texas regions. He approaches his work with a strong base of experience. And he knows the long-term value of building relationships with his team, and customers, too.

To fuel sales and outreach efforts at Jon Wayne, Bucchi and other managers have embraced technology, enabling them to ask questions better and to improve their ability to engage customers and to differentiate their “sell” skillfully.

Technology Makes It Possible

Bucchi recalls an experience from a two-day, ACCA-sponsored training event in San Antonio in 2006. He and the firm’s technical trainer, Wes Breazeale, were attending the seminar about computerized load calculations.

“We were immediately impressed with the software used by the instructor,” said Bucchi. “We’ve used other, less comprehensive load calc programs prior to our attendance of the class. We knew immediately that we were looking at an opportunity to improve. On that first day, at lunch break, it was all we could talk about.

“With better software, we’d not only improve the accuracy of our load calcs, but we’d do them more quickly and easily, too, enabling us to better engage and interact with the customers,” added Bucchi. “We would also be able to tighten our estimates — making it possible to offer a range of options, each with a price that reflected all of the job’s essential stages.”

Bucchi explained that he and Breazeale were the only local contractors at the event. There were contractors from Austin and Houston along with instructors from tech schools around the state.

Before the afternoon session began, they asked the instructor what software he was using. They learned that the software was developed by Wrightsoft.

As the training continued, Bucchi and Breazeale saw the value of greater accuracy in sizing equipment and also some functions that enhanced the sales process.

“Wes and I were enthusiastic participants in the class and never gave a thought to the cost of the software; our only thought was that we wanted it,” added Bucchi. “We both saw that we could take all the guesswork out of sizing equipment by learning to do what the instructor was demonstrating.

“We also thought that it would give us a competitive edge,” he continued. “At the time of the class, a Manual J was not required by the city of San Antonio for replacement or new HVAC installations. It’s still not required by the city for replacement jobs. We thought that we could be both confident in our sizing recommendations and demonstrate to our customers that we go beyond the minimum standards set by the city to ensure customer comfort and the highest system efficiency.”

The Opposite Reaction

The last segment of the seminar was a question-and-answer period. Bucchi recalls that one of the first questions was asked by a contractor from Austin. He asked about the cost of the software. The instructor stated that a complete package could be purchased for around $1,000. At that, the contractor slammed his workbook and left the class, saying loudly that the cost was exorbitant.

“We had the opposite reaction,” said Bucchi. “Wes and I thought that if we were able to sell one job because the prospect perceived the value of our diligence, the software would be paid for, let alone the peace of mind that we were offering the best and most accurate solution to our customers. We left the class confident that whether the boss would provide the software or we purchased it ourselves, we were getting a new toy that would make us better at what we do.”

According to Bucchi, company president Don Rackler gladly bought the software. Since then, Bucchi; Breazeale; Brandon Rackler, vice president; and Jeff King, service manager, have helped to introduce the technology to a rapidly growing cadre of software-proficient sales pros at Jon Wayne.

“We now use the software for every equipment change-out. It’s never let us down,” added Bucchi. “We attend Wrightsoft classes every year and have brought their instructor — Alex Meaney — to our office three times. All of our comfort advisors, comfort engineers, and selling technicians use Wrightsoft’s Right Mobile Consultant loaded on our iPads to calculate loads in the field prior to quoting equipment prices.”

“The key value to our firm is that customers have trust and confidence in our recommendations,” said Brandon Rackler. “Occasionally one of our sales professionals will question ‘what the iPad determined’ the load is. They’re reminded that the iPad only takes the information they gathered and entered, then incorporates it into an accurate Manual J report.”

“We tell our guys that if they’re diligent in their reporting, to trust the results. It hasn’t failed us yet,” added Don Rackler. “Without a doubt, our use of Wrightsoft has helped separate us from less qualified contractors, and that’s driven sales. In 2011, we had our best year, yet it was the worst economy since the Great Depression. In 2012, we’re up over 20 percent year to date.”

In the Clouds

Most of the computing and system design and specification work performed by Jon Wayne’s sales pros and technicians is cloud-based. Yet, many professionals don’t know the meaning of cloud computing.

When “working in the cloud,” there’s really no mystery to it. It merely means they’re accessing software services and files wirelessly, connecting with information stored in a secure data center in another location.

So, whether they’re wielding an iPad, a handheld device or a laptop with all the bells-and-whistles, technicians and field sales pros alike at Jon Wayne are adept at putting technology quickly to work when recommending, sizing, or specifying systems. And they can send information to one, or several locations, simultaneously — and receive lightning-quick response as well.

“We use the Wrightsoft Bryant Comfort Builder Right Suite Universal product in the office and the Wrightsoft Right J Mobile in the field,” explained Brandon Rackler. “With the iPad app, our techs and sales pros are able to quickly and accurately perform block load Manual Js in the field. When Manual D data is required, the Wright Soft Universal is used to design the duct system and to generate an accurate bill of materials.”

Jeff King, Jon Wayne’s service manager, routinely uses the Manual D software for access to airflow data, to properly size equipment and ductwork, and to diagnose airflow or capacity problems on service calls.

“When we’re connected in the field and using the Manual J load calc software, we know we’re making sound recommendations,” added Bucchi. “There’s no guesswork. When we use the software, it’s clear to customers there’s value in the extra work we do prior to the installation. Our guys might take an additional one to three hours to do detailed load calcs, but it gives us a competitive edge.”

Bucchi explained that, using the software, they’re able to easily alter envelope characteristics to demonstrate system consequences. For instance, they can add insulation, or specify better ducts or triple-pane windows. With a couple of clicks, dramatic or subtle changes can be made, yet the influence of every change is seen in the heat load calculation.

“In many cases, windows are 45 percent of the cooling requirement here in Texas,” continued Bucchi. “Then, there are internal gains. The software provides us with a visual key to the many parts of a heating or cooling requirement.”

“We’ve also been able to spot and remedy airflow issues in our customers’ homes by comparing flow hood data to the Manual D report,” added Bucchi. “The Load Breakdown and Adequate Exposure Diversity reports have proven indispensable as tools to prove to our prospects the benefits of envelope enhancement and zoning.”

Extreme Makeover

Recently, Jon Wayne managers were asked to participate in what turned out to be the very last Extreme Makeover Home Edition episode. The recipient was a local Wounded Warrior whose injuries required dependable comfort levels in the home.

According to Bucchi, Jon Wayne managers were provided with a set of plans and a preferred heating/cooling/air filtration strategy. They installed two Bryant heat pumps and an engineered air distribution system. The chosen systems were Bryant inverter-driven Extreme Evolution heat pumps — the very first models to be installed nationwide.

Bryant Evolution zoning was used since the Wrightsoft Manual J report indicated a wide diversity in the solar heat gain due to the windows. The ductwork was R8 Johns Manville Agion® Silver Anti-Microbial, which is Greenguard® Indoor Air Quality Certified, and was provided by the local Carrier CE distributor (Charles Rios, territory manager). The systems are equipped with IQAir filters and UV lights.

“Our pros had an eight-hour window for the installation of the systems. It was a tight schedule, but it was made possible in a big way by the Wrightsoft products,” said Bucchi. “We were able to properly size the systems, dial in the cfm requirements for airflow and use the Manual D report to size the ducts. The software’s ‘bill of material’ feature made it possible to acquire exactly the right quantities of materials for the job.

“Needless to say, the producers of the show were thrilled,” added Bucchi. “More importantly, a local hero and his family are completely comfortable in their new home.”

Actions like this aren’t out of character. The owners have been steady supporters of the community.

According to Don Rackler, “We use our blaze red, repurposed ambulance at the local Mi Casa Makeover. It’s a program sponsored by a local TV network affiliate and the local utility company. Deserving families receive home makeovers. At each reveal ceremony, one of the major contributing contractors is responsible to provide food for the family, friends, TV staff, and contributors.

“We thought the ambulance would be the perfect vehicle for a trailer-mounted BBQ pit, which we use when it’s our turn to feed the troops,” added Don Rackler.

Jon Wayne Heating and Air has been involved in this program since its inception. Today, the unveiling ceremonies are major community events.

A Deeper Meaning

“One of the most obvious reasons we ask questions, and lots of them, when visiting with customers and prospects, is to acquire information. We try to probe deeper and to get a real understanding of what a customer’s needs are before jumping to conclusions about the best way to solve a problem,” said Bucchi.

“As professionals, it’s our responsibility to know everything that can impact a job. Having the right technology on hand is the next most important facet of what we can offer as problem-solvers,” he concluded.

Publication date: 6/25/2012