Scare Tactics or Excitement: Can You Tell the Difference?

Dec. 28, 2000
Last week at a seminar, I ran into a water dealer who was concerned about scare tactics. It struck me that we are one of the only industries I know of that spends so much time and effort talking about scare tactics, high pressure tactics and ethics. I, too, am concerned about using the truth about water, but I realized that truthful water concerns and excitement about products often get confused with scare tactics, and it costs many sales as well as the public an important information resource. If they can’t get information from water professionals, where can they get it?

The Truth
Some people confuse bad news with scare tactics. Paul Revere saved our country by riding through the countryside yelling, "The British are coming." We would all be drinking tea and speaking with a British accent if he had walked by saying it the way many water dealers do, "The British may be coming sometime but not necessarily to your neighborhood, and they probably will do you no harm. Besides, the government has it under control." Telling people the truth about their water—whether good or bad—is ethical and an essential sales ingredient.

Some facts are scary, but don’t shield the public because it may upset them. We owe it to them to stay informed and share the absolute truth. Anyone reading magazines or researching the Internet will see examples concerning local water. The following are just a few examples of my recent findings.

  • New York state’s guide to eating game fish suggests restrictions on the consumption of fish and ducks—especially by children and pregnant women. Should people be concerned with ducks and fish becoming poluted from the water?
  • In July, the largest fish kill in a decade occurred on Chesapeake Bay with 500,000 fish dying of Pfiesteria, which is now thought to be harmful to humans.
  • The Environmental Working Group issued a warning about the pesticide atrazine in the Midwest. Levels are reportedly so high in western and central Iowa that children will exceed lifetime recommended intakes by age five.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced steps to sharply limit Penncap-M, which hinders brain development, but remains allowed on fruits and vegetables l.
There are plenty of other stories about deformed frogs, radiation in drinking water, boil water orders, failure of local governments to meet federal standards and many other topics.

The truth is one factor that some of us confuse with scare tactics. Another factor is enthusiasm for our products. Enthusiasm sells water equipment.

Watch an infomercial to prove that excitement and enthusiasm sell. You will notice immediately how excited the star is about the product and its benefits, no matter how mundane the product. I saw an infomercial for plain, old orange oil wood polish. The star’s excitement was contagious. He proved that life without this product was poor quality indeed. He also showed how I could save thousands over the next few years from my $19.99 investment, not to mention save my family heirlooms, increase my status and enjoy life more. If this sales person was that excited about our products, he might be labeled as using scare tactics.

Our products make a difference in the customer’s quality of life while saving him money. If your sales staff isn’t as informed or excited as they could be, it is costing sales and the public a chance to make the right decision. Have your sales people do a demonstration for you to make sure there is unbridled enthusiasm and excitement.

There is no place for lies in a good presentation, but to really help your clients and yourself, stay informed and don’t confuse the truth or enthusiasm for your products with scare tactics.

About the Author
Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068;

About the Author

Carl Davidson