Let’s face it – in every business, price is an issue that customers can use to delay, defer or cancel purchases. OK, maybe if you’re selling Ferraris, it’s a smaller issue, but for those of us in the real world – it’s our every day. Whether it’s Lakewood selling equipment, Water Treaters selling chemicals and services, or distributors distributing whatever – customers always push back. Even in an installation with a $500,000 cooling tower in a $5 million installation, customers push back when they are faced with a $1500 purchase. Automating water treatment systems benefits your customer, so how do you sell them on making the investment?
Well, only you know the best answer for you. And here are some ideas that can help:
As always, focus the discussion on the benefits that come with the new automation or updated equipment. Even an expensive, high-end controller is a modest investment in the facility. The risks of declining heat transfer, equipment damage from corrosion that can result from poor water treatment, etc.: these are all very high expenditures that improved water treatment automation helps avoid. If you’re old like me, you may remember the old Fram oil filter commercials, “You can pay me now or pay me later…”
One great way to start a discussion about new equipment or upgrades is to ask what they like and what else they wish they had on their new system. By listening to their answers, you can build a list of attributes important to them – which is a way to make your own checklist of what to recommend.
But be sure to remember the stages in a customer’s buying cycle: awareness, consideration, decision, loyalty, referral. If they are already your customer, you are well past awareness of you as a supplier, but they may need some help becoming aware of what’s possible in their system. Consideration – this is the stage when you can make them aware of what they are spending if their heat transfer efficiency is declining by 5%, 15%, 25%, etc. Generally, these energy losses will dwarf equipment costs for improved performance. Decision – have a response for when they say, “I’ll think about it” or “maybe in the future.” Be ready with the numbers – how much extra they are spending each month/quarter without making the equipment upgrade. Use this information to show them the cost of not making a decision right now.
When it comes to justifying automation benefits, there are several key advantages.
Reduced labor for physical testing
The more you have automated sensors in the system, the less reliant the staff will be on wet water tests and manual checks. Trust the sensors and the controller, and the team (theirs and yours) will be freed up to do less tedious work. There is a tradeoff, of course, with some time spent maintaining the sensors and control equipment, but a good system doesn’t require a lot.
Improved System Performance
No matter how excellent a driver you are, try to maintain a steady speed as well as your car’s cruise control does. OK, discount Illinois where there are no hills. But for the rest of us, the automated system is just more reliable and accurate. This is a good analogy for conductivity or pH control, or both. The newest controllers (Lakewood’s Model 3175 and NexSys) will log system data for you as well, which can give you a record of how the system has been performing over time. This log can answer questions about the duration of a system excursion, why more or less chemicals are being used than expected, etc. And you can choose either email or texts alerts to be set up so that you are notified of a system excursion.
Get the Most from your Water Treater
Remind your customer sitting on the fence that your best value-add is your experience and knowledge of water chemistry. They get more bang for their buck if you are spending more of your time analyzing data and making decisions as opposed to gathering data. The more info you have available to start your monthly review of their system, the more of your available time can be spent determining the best chemistry solutions for their application.
In the end, all sales have some price sensitivity. By guiding your customer through the process of choosing what’s most important to them (performance, confidence, equipment life, heat efficiency) you can help them get reacquainted with why water treatment automation is a good investment.