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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 11, November 2011, Posted On: 11/16/2011

Making The Connection: Relate Features To Benefits In Selling Filtered Water Service

by Len Rashkin
bottled water cooler service, point-of-use coolers, POU water, office coffee service, office coffee service training, OCS, Len Rashkin, office refreshments, vending machine business, coffee education

Last month, we covered bottled water cooler service. This month, I will be discussing filtration coolers, commonly known as "point-of-use" coolers. As I explained in the previous article, salespeople must understand the features and benefits of each style of water service, even if they do not offer both systems. There are potential buyers who have the other type of cooler, and since you want them to switch to your water service, it is important to know the attributes of both.

Also, the prospect may not have any water service at present, and may want to know which type is better for their office or warehouse environment. If you don't have the answer, they might seek additional advice from a competitor.

One of the most effective selling statements that I have used in water sales is made to the decision-maker of a prospective account that currently has bottled water service: "Ms. Buyer, if I can show you a way to reduce your breakroom costs enough to allow you to almost pay for your coffee supplies, would you be interested?" Who in their right minds would answer NO to that question?

Let's take a look at how I prove my challenge to the buyer.

During our walk through her offices, I point out that she has approximately 20 bottles of water in the break area. I ask her how many bottles of water does her organization uses every month. If she says they get a delivery of 20 bottles every two or three weeks, or monthly, I figure out the total usage for the month and then start the math.

I ask her the price she is paying for a bottle of water. Many times a buyer will tell you its exact dollar cost. If they do not, then estimate the cost at around $7 to $8, depending on the geographical area in which you operate. The following assumptions should be pretty accurate, and show you what I have done with the information I gathered.

"Ms. Decision-Maker, you presently are using around 25 bottles monthly. At a cost of $7.50 per bottle, this comes to $188 each month. On a yearly basis, you spend $2,250 just for the water. If you add the rental cost of your hot/cold cooler, you can add another $120 yearly. Your total for water service is $2,370, plus the 7% sales tax, which totals another $166, bringing you to a grand total of $2,536."

At this point, you, as an operator, must explain how your filtration system works and how it will benefit the prospect.

Here are the features and benefits of using a filtration cooler that you must cover with the potential buyer. The features are first; the benefits follow.

• Direct supply of high-quality pure water - saves employee time spent placing orders, and you'll never run out of water.
• Filter changes every six months - insures high-quality, delicious drinking water.
• No more costly deposits - increases your cashflow and frees up valuable storage-space.
• No more interruptions by a water delivery person -- saves employee time, and so increases productivity.
• Pennies per gallon - reduces per-gallon cost from dollars to cents.
• Eliminates tax on water - again reduces cost and increases cashflow.
• No heavy lifting of a 40-lb. bottle - avoids injury, lawsuits and employee absences.
• No more leaking bottles - eliminates damage to flooring, surrounding area and nearby office equipment.

Now, simply explain the costs of your filtration cooler: "Ms. Buyer, our cooler is leased for three years at a monthly charge of $49.95, and we perform filter changes twice a year at $89 per change. Over three years, there are a total of five changes totaling $445. Add this to a three-year rental cost of $1,800. Now, your pre-tax cost for water service will be $2,245. Adding the 7% sales tax, totaling $157, brings your total water cost to $2,402 for the three years. You are currently paying $2,536 annually, so for three years, you are paying $7,608. The good news is that you will have an additional $5,206 to spend on your coffee supplies. Isn't that a huge saving for your company, along with all the other benefits of filtered water?

"We both know that this is something new, so to take away any doubts that you may have, I would like you to experience our newest-style filtered water cooler, free, for a month. Our service department plumber will install it in your break­room; you just use it and get feedback about it from your staff. What day would be good for you to have the installation done?"

The key to getting a prospective customer to take your water filtration service is to erase any doubts that the taste and quality of the water dispensed are equal to or better than what the location currently is using. As the salesperson, you must be totally up to date on all aspects of the filtration system that you will install.

If the buyer wants to know why you want a three-year commitment and not one or two years, you explain that the following items are included in a three-year lease:

• You will be installing a new cooler, not a reconditioned unit.
• The monthly rental is reduced under a three-year contract.
• You are guaranteeing the monthly rental cost for the three-year duration of the contract.
• You are absorbing the installation cost, which includes labor, the fittings and the copper tubing, as well as the first six months of filter changes.

Most buyers will accept these terms. If a buyer wants a shorter lease, it is up to you to decide whether you want to provide a reconditioned unit, charge for installation, raise the monthly rental and/or charge for the first six months of filters use.

Next month, I will discuss the favorite statements I use in my office coffee service sales training programs to get the prospect to become your customer.

I can be reached at (516) 241-4883, or by email at OCSconsultant@aol.com, if you have any questions.

LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and after 22 years merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million dollars. Rashkin is also a founder and officer of Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage Products Association. His industry honors include NCSA's (now NAMA) Silver Service Award and NBPA's Lifetime Achievement Award; he was inducted into NBPA's Hall of Fame in 1996. His marketing excellence earned him NBPA's Crystal Bean Award and three NCSA Java Awards. He is a frequent speaker at national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing and has is the author of two OCS training programs.

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