By Dale Filhaber

Don’t just sell a product, sell a whole new way of thinking
We all know the story: a company creates a groundbreaking new water conditioning system. Great product, state-of-the-art, unique and everyone is excited about the innovative features of the new system…and it’s introduced into the marketplace. When this great new system is launched, there is an initial flurry of sales, but then the sales cycle slows down. Pilot customers are enthusiastic, but broader adoption is slow, even with sales support and training. It looks like all the pieces are in place to create a successful program but the results are disappointing.

The problem is that data, information and value propositions are not enough to sell water filtration products. We all know the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But when it comes to selling a new product, the truth is often “I’ll see it when I believe it.” To sell a whole-house system to consumers, you have to change not only what they think, but how they think. Without the right mental model, they won’t see the problem, understand the benefits or make the change. Albert Einstein once said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Companies that help customers shift their thinking will be more effective at solving problems and ultimately selling products.

Mental models are how the brain makes sense of the vast amount of information to be processed every moment of every day. They are the lens through which we see the world, the filter that separates the signal from noise, the framework for attributing cause and effect. They are the Harry Potter ‘sorting hat’ to decide what makes it into our conscious awareness.

Determining what change is needed
In the water treatment industry, we know that water in many of our communities is sub-standard. We know there may be bacteria present in the water. We know that the pipes and infrastructure delivering the water to us is old. Every day consumers hear about another boil-water alert. We are reminded daily that there are serious problems in our water supply. There is even a new movie coming out about the Flint, MI water crisis. Water will stay front and forward in the news. But simply focusing on what’s wrong with the water is not the approach we need to take to be successful.

If we use our new mental model and the concept of shift thinking in our sales strategy, we understand that consumers care more about the rust stains on our sidewalks than why the iron in their water is causing it. Consumers are simply not as excited as you are about the new special cartridge that blocks manganese, iron or other rust-creating chemicals. They just want to know that the new system can inhibit rust and when company comes up to the front door, they are going to see a clean, rust-free sidewalk. Basically, we are shifting our sales paradigm from focusing on the features of our product to the solutions they provide. What we are focusing on in our lead generation as well as our sales presentation are the benefits.

  • Health and well-being of our families
  • Odor-free
  • Good taste
  • No unsightly stains on sidewalks
  • Softer laundry
  • Cleaner dishes
  • A healthier lifestyle
  • Environmental solutions
  • A brighter future

By focusing on benefits, we avoid the scare tactics that negatively impact the industry and do far more harm to lead generation efforts than it helps.

Let’s face it, people are already concerned about the quality of their water; it’s an argument we don’t even need to make. By concentrating on benefits, which is really what the consumer wants to hear, we also avoid boring the prospect to death with details about the features of the system, the membranes, the ions, the chemicals. The fact is that most of our prospects don’t care about the nuts and bolts; they care about how it can improve the quality of their lives. I am certainly not implying that we do not give the prospect all the information they need to make an informed decision about their purchase. I am only suggesting that your lead-generation efforts will have greater success by shifting the sales paradigm from product features to benefits.

About the author
Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber is President of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based direct marketing company founded in 1981. She is an author, lecturer and Listologist. In the past 30+ years, Filhaber has trained many water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques, ranging from direct mail to telemarketing to social media. Her latest book, Lead Generation for Water Quality Dealers, has received rave reviews and can be purchased on Amazon. Filhaber is also the author of Pure Water Profits, a blog on marketing focusing on the water treatment industry. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at the annual WQA conference. Filhaber can be reached at (800) 771-3282 or [email protected] or visit the website, Dataman Group is pleased to announce the launch of, a dedicated website focusing on lead generation and direct marketing in the water quality industry.


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