How can technology companies successfully approach, educate, and partner with engineers in the water sector? To help answer this question, WaterTAP invited Michele Grenier of XCG Consultants, Abe Khademi of The Municipal Infrastructure Group, and Trish Johnson of RV Anderson to participate in a panel at the December 2013 Marketing User Group (MUG) meeting. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.
1. Mid-sized engineering firms make great targets for new water technology companies.
These firms offer their clients unique benefits through the use of cutting-edge technologies. For these players, often retained to provide design work in extending the life of existing infrastructure, implementing new technologies and saving their clients’ money drives business.
2. Design engineers recognize the need for new technologies.
As engineers begin to encourage municipal clients to plan systems differently in reaction to climate change and extreme weather events, the world’s sprawling urban population also has our panel thinking of decentralized systems for major city centres. Regulation in Canada will have to adapt to this trend of mixed systems, but it seems our engineers are ready to get on board. In addition to decentralized systems, our panelists specifically mentioned their desire to see new technologies for in situ remediation, non-destructive testing, organics removal, and data collection/monitoring.
3. Engineers require a unique sales pitch.
Engineers are generally numbers-driven people who are uncomfortable with conventional sales pitches. Our panelists suggested several methods of approaches that have worked for them.
- Know your audience: Engineers’ time is valuable, and so is yours. Know which firms are interested in your genre of product, and the types of projects they typically do.
- Tell us a story: If your technology has been used successfully, turn it into a story. Consider submitting content to targeted engineering publications explaining the positive outcomes. Publishers appreciate the content, and engineers are reading it.
- Educate us: Leave the sales pitch at home, and let the numbers speak for themselves. Lunch and Learns are educational, they familiarize new engineers with your technology, and they are almost always guaranteed to generate attendance.
- Follow up: If an engineering firm has been reluctant to specify your components, ask for direct criticism of the product. You may have the opportunity to respond or ask for reconsideration based on new information or a new product line.
However you choose to pitch your technology to engineers, be sure to focus on the need you are fulfilling. Nothing will throw up red flags faster than a sales pitch that a technology will “do anything and everything.” Life-cycle details and the cost per connection are important parameters to communicate to design engineers. Finally, keep in mind that these engineers will be asked to justify their choice of your product to their customer, so give them the tools, numbers, and messaging to successfully champion your technology.
It’s difficult for new technologies to enter the marketplace, and not many engineers are comfortable being first to specify a new system. However, a positive takeaway from our panel is that engineers are aware of the need for technological advancement. Engineers are doing their homework to stay educated on the ever-changing water technology sector, so do your homework and reach out to them in a smart, productive way.
Research Analyst, WaterTAP