Published In January 2001
Here’s something lots of good salespeople know: In order to be truly persuasive, you’ve got to put the benefits out front, and forcefully show your prospects what your proposal can do for them. When you’re pitching a warehouse lighting upgrade, these benefits may seem harder to dramatize than they would for, perhaps, an office application. But many of the same benefits apply, such as energy efficiency, increased worker comfort, and maximum productivity. And they tend to be sought after on every level of every business organization, in every location where work is performed. A number of newer warehouse lighting techniques and solutions offer benefits that are easily quantified, communicated, and dramatized. Here are a few examples: T8/HO fluorescent lighting. High-output (HO) fluorescent lamps of the T12 diameter type have been used in warehouse applications for years, with particular usefulness in low-temperature situations. But now, T8-diameter HO fluorescents offer warehouses the same kinds of benefits that office spaces have obtained after conversions to 4-foot, 265 mA T8 rapid-start lamps. If it makes sense to stay with fluorescent lighting in the warehouse space in question, a retrofit from T12/HO to T8/HO is easily justified from a financial standpoint. If the T12/HO systems to be replaced are antiquated magnetically ballasted systems, the benefits can be even more dramatic. For example, if you have a warehouse facility equipped with standard two-lamp, 8-foot T12/HO fixtures employing old-style “conventional” magnetic ballasts, retrofitting the fixtures with electronically ballasted T8/HO lamps can reduce energy consumption by one-third or more. Such savings in anybody’s book are significant and can be achieved with no significant sacrifice in lumen output. In proposing a T8/HO retrofit, you can also cite other cost-saving benefits, many of which are shared with the 265 mA T8 fluorescents being commonly used in office spaces. For one thing, maintenance costs can be substantially reduced, since T8/HO lamps typically provide 50 percent longer life compared to T12/HO equivalents. In the course of their lives, T8/HO lamps also demonstrate a higher degree of lumen maintenance compared to T12/HO models, as much as 90 percent after 7,200 hours of operation. Finally, a T8/HO retrofit can also have benefits related to worker comfort and productivity, since the trichromatic phosphors they employ can result in substantially improved quality of light. Pulse-start metal halide. Pulse-start metal halide sources offer users lighting cost efficiencies very close to those provided by high-pressure sodium sources, the most popular choice for maximum savings. These savings are achieved in tandem with another key benefit—the eye-pleasing, comfort-enhancing white light provided by metal halide lamps. Compared to the yellow-glow light put out by high-pressure sodium lamps, pulse-start metal halide lighting can bring significantly improved color rendition (by as much as 30 percent) and an overall improvement in ambiance. A prospective user might dismiss the value of the aesthetic benefits of metal halide lighting in comparison with high-pressure sodium, especially in a warehouse environment. But, again, a strong argument can be made on the side of productivity. Many users have reported improvements in work quality and morale after a high-pressure sodium to metal halide changeout. When seeing is less of a chore, workers’ attitudes and performance improve. And a substantial improvement in color rendition can result in equivalent improvements in accuracy of work. If user-prospects are already employing metal halide lighting—of the conventional “probe-start” type—in the warehouse facility, they may still consider the new pulse-start source, since it stacks up well against older metal halide technology. Since it provides more lumens per watt, it can boost lumen output by 25 to 50 percent and lumen maintenance by as much as one-third compared to earlier metal-halide systems. To your prospect, this can mean a reduction in the number of fixtures employed, with resulting reductions in energy and maintenance costs. These are just two of the “new” proposals you can present to warehouse owners and managers to generate new business. But remember to emphasize the financial benefits—and resultant competitive advantages—improved lighting can bring. SCHNECKLOTH is director of public relations at Donald L. Arends, Inc., a Chicago-area business-to-business marketing communications agency. He may be reached at email@example.com.