Listen and Deliver
(How I landed my second whale in two years)
by Larry Zollinger
Listen and Deliver. That is such a simple statement, easy to say, hard to do. Like the Golden Rule, we all agree it should be a habit and the world would be a better place if everyone did it. I am glad most of our competitors don't practice what I preach. It's how I landed my second whale in two years, a service agreement for a little over $200,000. Here is my story. My hope in writing it is it will assist you in landing a big fish in your market.
This particular 440,000 square foot building had been used over the years as a manufacturing facility for cell phones and computers. The entire building is conditioned to the tune of 1,800 tons, all roof-top package units.
It all started when I got a call about this building. I had very intimate knowledge of the systems, as I had, over the years, worked hard to form a great relationship with the owner. I was called in to discuss the possibilities of repairing or replacing the existing units for a prospective new tenant. A meeting was scheduled with the owner and the prospective new tenant's representatives. I was asked to provide pricing to replace all the units and to repair the units as well (85 RTUs).
This was a high-profile project; they weren't leaving anything to chance. In attendance was the vice president of the new tenant, the vice president of the general contracting company they had hired to oversee the renovation of the building, the superintendent of construction, several other key project managers, the executive vice president for the property management company, the building owner, the leasing agent, and me. The property management company really didn't have a place at the table and all they did was muddy the water and slow things down.
I wish every project could have the decision makers involved from the start like this. However, this also caused a problem; everyone thought their priorities were more important than everyone else's.
We were to be working for the owner, the general contractor, the new tenant, and the property management company (insert Muddy Waters singing "I'm a Man").
After an hour or so of discussing capabilities and much gnashing of teeth, they were convinced that we were a good fit and had the capabilities to make this happen.
Did I mention that this project was to start and be finished in two months? Yikes! We ended up working seven days a week, 16 to18 hours a day.
It turns out that I was able to get my construction group involved, and they ended up performing around $1.8 million in renovations to the inside mechanical systems, adding 10 additional A/C units, one CRAC unit for the computer room, and installing compressed air lines throughout the complex. All this was done through the general contractor they had brought in.
My service side was busy repairing all 85 units on the roof. Each unit was in various stages of disrepair; that turned out to be around $200K in repairs.
The building also had a really old control system that was no longer functional and needed to be replaced. Since we sell and service these as well, I initiated that conversation. It seems the property management company was trying to do "an end around" and had brought in a different company to do the controls without our knowing. I sniffed it out pretty quickly.
After speaking with the other control company, they were so smug and confident that they would be installing the new system, they would hardly talk to me. Little did they know that I had the relationship in this deal and not them. Never judge a book by its cover! The lesson they would learn? Never be too confident that it clouds your judgment. Two weeks later, we had closed the deal for our new control system-$180K!
As the project started getting close to the move-in day, I set up a meeting with the VP of the new customer and his on-site manager to discuss their maintenance options, what level and type of coverage they were interested in.
In the lease agreement, the owner would guarantee 65 of the existing units and be responsible for the replacement of any of these if at any time, during the agreed-upon length of time of the contract, the repair of one of these units would outweigh the cost of replacing it, or if we as the service company deemed it necessary to do so.
These 65 units would be covered under planned maintenance and the remaining 31 units would be full maintenance. On July fifth, I was able to pull this whale into the boat. Total annual service agreement was for $201,142.00.
There were a lot of moving parts in this one. It was a challenge to get this done in such a short time, since deals of this size usually take a year or so to work out.
Never underestimate the power of a great relationship and being able to rise up to the challenges of thinking outside the box.
This was my second maintenance agreement of over $200K in consecutive years. Mark Matteson taught: "I was given two ears and one mouth for a reason!"
I didn't even have to ask about their pain ... all I had to do was listen and deliver! I am going to need a bigger boat.
Larry Zollinger is a sales professional at TD Industries in Fort Worth, Texas. He loves to share his sales stories in his own unique southern style. To book Larry to speak to your group, call 817-319-0559 or e-mail him at email@example.com