An inside look of Marketing and Sales Training with Gene Slade, Owner of Ninja Sales Training & Marketing.
Sam Wakefield: Alright well welcome back to the Close It Now podcast, Sam Wakefield here and this is your Drive Time University. I hope you are out there crushing it. As we know, as we know, 15 year career, the statistics prove it, the numbers prove it, Charlie Greer always said that a 15 year career as the equivalent of three PhDs, if you use your drive time as education. So that is what we are all about here. Thank you for joining me today. I know you are going to love this episode. It's our next in the series of our, the guests that we're having. I hope you've been enjoying the interviews and this is the new format, I guess it's not new at this point. We're a couple of months into the new format.
So still have the solo podcast released on Monday, interview podcast released on Friday and today will not disappoint. I was so excited to connect to this gentleman. I know you probably saw it in the notes. So Mr. Gene Slade, he is our guest today. Uh, if you've been around the HVAC or trades industries at all, you know, this man doesn't really need much of an introduction.
He is a super tech, a lead ninja. Well, absolutely. His track record is 10. X-ing your service tickets? I mean, who else can say that with the amount of collateral to back it up in the testimonies and the history. So I'm not going to go on and on about this because we want to dive in to the content today.
Gene and I have the opportunity to chat a bit a couple of times, uh, preparing for this podcast and it's a topic that I know that you have all been wanting to, uh, wanting to hear more about. I've been getting a lot of questions about it, which is kind of a teaser into one of our main topics today. But you know, you hear me say a lot of times, if you can tell it, or you can ask it as a question, always ask it as a question. Always use the problem with most people is you're not using enough questions and there's not a single objection. You can't overcome by asking more questions. So that is one of our main topics today. But before we get into all that, Mr. Gene Slade, thank you for being on the podcast today. I'm so excited to hang out with you for this bit
Gene Slade: I'm excited. I'm jacked, man. I'm ready to go. I mean, let's do this. Absolutely. Some people, some stuff let's make some people some money. That's what I'm about, man. I want to help somebody out there more than one people. I want to help everybody we can to make more money, but to work less doing it. And to be able to get home for dinner on time
Sam Wakefield: A hundred percent. That is the, that is a hundred percent our philosophy here. I love how it aligns with, with this podcast. So yeah, let's do it. So before we get into it, let's get, give us a, I know every single time we talk or you speak or you you're on a recording, there is somebody listening that doesn't know who you are. So let's give them a quick history, give them a super nutshell of who you are, why you're here. What got you here and what, you know, kind of, what's your focus.
Gene Slade: Absolutely. So guys, my, I grew up in this business, my father owned his own heating and air conditioning business. Um, you guys heard two chucks in the truck, right?
We were two Genes in a truck. We were the guys that literally we would do two or three air conditioners a day and we were, the beer can cold guys. Right? You grab a hold of the suction line. As soon as it's called the beer camp, roll them up. Get out of that. And, uh, I didn't ever hear of a micron gauge before you kidding me, but I was 11. My father needed some help with his business and so he recruited me and he said, boy, if you want food, you want clothes come to work. So it wasn't really, there wasn't really an option. You know, it was a family business. So I began to follow him around with his tool bag and take stuff out of the basement that he didn't need anymore and eventually by the time I was 14, I would be well, 13, I'd be wiring up the outdoor system, leveling the pad, putting the disconnect on the wall. Like I knew the entire outdoor system. Fished, aligned, set into them from outside and cut them the whole. All of it, you know, a little, whole hog, you know, try to knock me out. But, um, and then by the time I was 15, um, I was qualified to do the indoor system, the outdoor system, like everything and my dad was a perfectionist. That was the one thing that he really instilled in me was that if you're going to do something, do it. Right. Right. So he hired, he bought another truck for himself. Gave me the old piece of shit. Chuck hired me a helper who was 25 years old and said, Gene, you're now leaving. Sweet. Right. So shortly after that, I became an installation foreman at a mechanical shop. I wrestled at university of Tennessee for a little bit, and then came back and got back into business.
And, um, so 19 I was a foreman at a big mechanical shop, 21, I got into sales and I never looked back. I mean, I loved sales. What pissed me off though, before I got into sales, I was an installer. And if you're an installer out there, this, this show is for you. At least as far as I'm concerned, because that's me, I'm an installer. So I'm making 42 grand a year as an installer. I heard that the salesman who sold the equipment that I was installing, who he couldn't even install it himself. He's just talking to the client that he was making like 120 grand. Yeah. I'm like son of a bitch, you gotta be kidding. I wonder if anybody gives me the opportunity to do that.
Right. So, um, I sent out 50 resumes to Michigan, 50 resumes to Florida traveled down to Florida for a week. Did a bunch of interviews, never heard of a maintenance technician position. Believe it or not. And that's what everybody wanted me to take, but I I've been selling multi-millions for years, right, three years in a row. And I was like, no, I don't want to do that. So eventually I came down here and helped another company grow from a million and a half to $8 million in three years, that was in Tampa bay. And, um, I was the general manager at the time and I gave this speech like I did every morning to 42 technicians, I would train them every morning. And one morning the owners both met in the back of the room and that was weird cause they didn't like each other. So they were never seen together. I'm like something was weird. So they called me back, told me my services were no longer needed because I had, I passed my mechanical contractors exam like accidentally. I didn't take anything. And I got like a 78 on the test and they're like, you, you pass, you can get a license. I'm like, holy shit. But my boss found out and he fired me. I was nowhere near, ready to start a company. I had a hundred dollars between four bank accounts because I was paying off all my bills.
Right. And the good thing is I had good credit.
So they fired me. I got a 50 mile non-compete, with this company, I got a five week old baby boy who just been cut out of my ex-wife's stomach. And, uh, you know, I, what am I going to do? So I went home and I said, Hey, listen, we're moving to Florida. We’re moving to Southwest Fort Myers. I went and took as many credit cards as I could get out. But before I did that, I went to the bank of the, or the dealership, the exact same day. And I bought two trucks because I knew that if the bank realized I didn't have a job, they wouldn't give me the trucks. So within two hours of losing my job, I purchased two trucks, loaded them up, got caps on them, got a bunch of inventory. Oh, here here's. Here's the great thing. Um, I got approved for like 26 different credits. It was awesome.
I was 70 something thousand dollars in debt before I ran my first call and I had a bitch of a time getting my license. That's a whole different story, but fast forward six and a half years later, I sell the company for a seven figure profit. Uh, we were doing over $2 million a year in, um, just IAQ sales. And I had developed a radio show on talk radio, like Rush Limbaugh, like Sean Kennedy, those stations, that was bringing in two to three new, two to 3000 new customers a year.
Wow. So, um, it was amazing. And then I just, I felt like I was just done. I was burnt out and I just, I sold it really quick. I sold it in two weeks and it was all cash. And I went into semi-retire semi retirement. I had a two week deal with the company that bought it. I said, I'll stay on for two weeks. But after that, I'm out. Peace, gone and we have a little bidding war with him.
Sam Wakefield: I'm sure most of that two weeks, it was like, you know, moving the desk, moving their stuff out of the office. It's not actually working.
Gene Slade: I didn’t move shit, man. I sold them. Everything, nothing I'm out peace. You can keep you keep the phones and keep. So, um, I'm sitting on my couch five months later and I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do cause I'm getting. And I was like, hell, I'll sell that radio show to other people. And so I did, I re I took a 26 page script, put other companies' names and it made sure they were willing to do the tune up the way that I promised that I was going to do another radio. And then I bought the airtime forum and I just started to ring every time the phone rang.
So every time they got an appointment for a new maintenance on the weekend, and I got just, you know, in Dallas, I got 82 appointments in an hour.
Sam Wakefield: Oh, geez.
Gene Slade: 82 appointments in one hour. My very first show was in Tampa bay and I got 42 appointments in an hour. And on January 6th, when you can't sell air conditioning or tune-ups right, right? So we created this demand and then I ran into another problem. I'm sorry, this is going long. But I ran into the problem. And that was, that was that, um, I was collecting maybe a hundred thousand dollars a year from each of these claims. Generating 2000 leads a year for them and their technicians weren't closing deals.
Right? So if you're paying, if you're paying a quarter million dollars a year, maybe on radio advertising, like I was, and your, your guys aren't closing deals, that's a problem. Right. So I ended up eventually having to go out and teach everybody how to make money on tune-ups right. Not selling equipment because let's face it, one of a 10 is an equipment opportunity. Sure. Right. Yeah. What do you do the other 90% of the time you get kicked in the balls? Right. You ended up 0 ticket, 0 ticket, 0 ticket, 0 ticket, 0, 0 tickets. Next thing you know, you're feeling like shit, right? I didn't want to do that and frankly, for the first two years that I operated my company, I didn't tell you this.We didn't even sell air conditioners or furnaces.
Sam Wakefield: No, Jesus, no equipment.
Gene Slade: We were 100% maintenance and service and we just sold the shit out of IAQ. Well, we sold a million bucks in IAQ within the first 18 months. So I'm like. Yeah. And, and that radio show, by the way, we did free tune-ups off of it. They were free. Yeah. We go out and do free. And our average ticket was $1,032 and 72.3, 6% closing ratio. You can tell I'm a numbers guy, right?
Sam Wakefield:If you don't measure it, you can't manage it.
Gene Slade: So I ended up going out and starting to do on-sites. I created a virtual platforms, all the sales training I use with my guys to hit the Inc 5,000, like three years,we had three awards. You're the 59th fastest growing construction company in the country, and all industries, all construction. And privately held that's that's the key. Um, but, uh, yeah, now I teach people how to do that. I teach them how to add a million, 2 million, $10 million in indoor air quality sales, water, polluted water, treatment sales to their tickets when there's not an equipment replacement opportunity.
Oh. And I teach the ductwork, ductwork side too. Like if you guys aren't selling ductwork at, you don't know what's going on, I've been still on two, 10 and $15,000 duckwork systems for.
Sam Wakefield: Absolutely a hundred percent, man. Yeah. I love that. You're going through this cause that's a lot of my background too, is, you know, for years. Some of the podcasts listeners may know that some of them don't, I owned a, a, a division of a home performance company, and I started it grew up for five years and then sold it in, uh, up in the Texas panhandle. And that was our, that was our thing. You know, we did everything besides the equipment, you know?
Sure. We were partnered with the eight-track company also, but, you know, we were doing $30,000 projects that didn't have any equipment in them.
Gene Slade: Dude. I was so blessed. My first HVAC job that I got and remember I said, I sent out a hundred resumes, the place that I went to, I didn't even submit a resume to, I just called them out of the phone book. They had one of the bigger ads. It turns out they were the most expensive company in the area. And I didn't know that they were 10, 15% more than everybody else. And I had no sales experience. Right. What a beautiful place to start. Think about that trial by fire learning. Yeah. Learning how to sell that way and we did the blower door there, so like that, I didn't hope for home performance stuff constantly. And so I think that's why I was able to jump into an air conditioning company. And so all this other stuff. Right? Slow pencils. Like, I mean, just amazing. Yeah. I love that side of the business and people don't realize contractors out there. You don't realize you're only scooping up a third of the cash that the customers have for the HVAC.
Sam Wakefield: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. She is. There's so much. And the industry has done such a poor job of educating people that don't even know it exists until Google comes in and takes over owners, allow them to take over our space.
Gene Slade: Elon Musk is doing it. Now, guys, he's putting, he's putting HEPA filters in the new additions of some of the higher end Teslas, the new model S I'm looking at the plat edition myself, and that thing's got to have a filter in it. Elon Musk is doing it. You guys we’re idiots. We're absolute idiots that we haven't taken advantage of this and beyond today, if you don't take advantage of it and beyond today, now that you have the information, it won't be that you don't know what you don't know. You'll have the tools and some guides today after we're done with this, and if you don't use it you’re a fool. Yep. Sorry. Right, right now it's not your fault, but after this, it will be your fault.
If you don't take action, you don't do something.
Sam Wakefield: A hundred percent, hundred percent, so. Cool. Cool. Awesome. So let's, let's dive in. Let's get into some stuff, actually, that segue what you were just talking about, segues into one of the questions that I wanted to ask you today, that was specifically. Surrounding when you started in a company that was 10, 15% higher. Because as you know, as a sales trainer, as a coach, you get this question probably more than just about anything else. How do I handle your price is so much higher. Objection at the end, everything was great, but the other guy is this much less. So I would love to hear your perspective just as a quick one on how you handle that?
Gene Slade: I am begging them to tell me it's the money guys. You guys realize that you can't handle. I want to think of about it. Absolutely. That's not an objection. And that's the objection. No, it's a fricking smoke screen. It's a, I'm going to be polite and not tell you what I really want. I really think people are wired for cooperation. So it's actually painful to not be cooperative, which is why they give you a brush off. They're trying to be polite. They're trying to be nice. They don't want to hurt your feelings and they don't want to have conflict themselves. Right. So we're going to think about it, we'll call you is bullshit. If it were free, would you tell me you needed to think about it? Well, of course not. No. No. So then it's the money. Yeah, a hundred percent. So I wouldn't go at it from that perspective. But if somebody tells me that it's the money, like I'm, I'm flabbergasted, I'm super excited that I got to skip all those other steps.
Cause usually I've got, I've got to, I've got to eliminate the veil that, you know, the, I want to think about it. Um, and here's, here's one other thing from Ron Smith when a man says, I want to think about it, he already thought about it and stopped thinking. Love it, but that's, it don't let that sink in for a minute guys. When a man says, I want to think about it, he already thought about it and stopped thinking, holy shit. Right. So the first thing, first thing, if they tell me my price is too, I'm probably gonna repeat it back in the form of a question like Charlie Greer would, you know, they say your price is too high. My price is too high? And shut up. I don't say more, right? Because you don't, you don't know what it is. Maybe, maybe it's too high compared to what they were expecting to pay. Maybe it's $12,000 and their budget was 10. And you need them to say that if they say that that's wonderful, you get to, you get to go. Okay. Perfect. Would you like to look at something a little bit cheaper or would you just like to use one of our payment plans? Like everybody else for the extra two? Right, right. If they say it's 12 grand.. shit my neighbor got one for 6,500. That's a completely different process. Isn't it. Right now. I got to say something like, would you like to know why more people choose us for this type of work, regardless of any difference in price? Or would you like to know why more people invest $12,000 on a new home comfort system with us when they can get a furnace and air conditioner down the street for 6k?
What are they going to say? Well, of course I do. Yes. They're going to give you an opportunity to tell them why you're more expensive. And just for the record, y'all 84% of the population said, says, Todd Lyles, you guys might know him. He says the 84% of the population buys based on value, not on price. And at 16, 15 to 16% buyss solely on price. The problem a lot of times too, is they ain't even on the right product. I agree, the product don't make them feel good product. Don't make them feel good. You just go peddle a bunch of 13, 14 sear, 80% bullshit, trying to make people feel good with that. Right. There are no benefits in that stuff other than, um, oh, um, oh, that's it.What's there to get excited about? What's there to get excited about?
Sam Wakefield: Exactly that we've talked a lot about is that people don't care what the price is, what they care is, how is it going to make them feel? They don't care how it. What they want to know is how is it going to make them feel?
Gene Slade: A hundred percent and you've got to transport them into that world before it even happens. Right. So here's, here's an example, your, your, uh, you know, so-and-so says so-and-so could give me one for nine grand. Sure....