Client Spotlight: Mueller

Citylitics Marketing
April 14, 2021

For over 160 years, the Mueller name has been synonymous with innovation that has enabled utilities to accurately measure and regulate the flow of water and gas as it is transmitted from source to customer. It has developed many 'firsts'​ for water and gas infrastructure that have become industry standards. Mueller Water Products’ leadership position has resulted in their valves or hydrants being specified in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Their broad product and service portfolio includes engineered valves, fire hydrants, pipe connection and repair products, metering products, leak detection, and pipe condition assessment.

To learn more, visit their website at www.muellerwaterproducts.com.

Citylitics recently spoke to Mike Uthe, Area Manager at Mueller for WA, OR, ID, WY, MT, UT, CO, and AK regarding the role Mueller has in the industry, insights on the sales process with the water infrastructure industry, and success they’ve seen as a result of implementing Citylitics data. Mike Uthe is the current Northwest area manager for Mueller’s Water Management Solutions group. He has spent the last 7 years working in municipal water as a technical resource for utilities and engineers. His expertise includes asset management, control valves, and non-revenue water. He has a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering, and a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently resides in Bozeman, MT with his dog and cat.

Q: Who are the types of utility customers your team targets and what are some unique benefits your product / service provides them?

Mike: The majority of customers we target are water utilities for cities, for example ‘the water department of City XYZ.’ We see ourselves as a trusted provider of branded products and services known for superior quality, reliability, and value. Our brand is based on both trust and on products that are tried and true, with name recognition that speaks to our long-standing history and the value we bring to clients.

One of the unique benefits that I see coming out of our size and market standing is our ability to innovate and continue to develop and introduce new technologies. We strive to be an ‘end-to-end,' solution provider, manufacturing control valves and meters, and supporting everything from water quality to leak detection. Every quarter, we launch new products so it’s exciting to see us leverage our standing and brand history to continuously evolve in line with our customers’ needs.

Q: What made you pick Citylitics’ solution over other solutions and alternatives?

Mike: We looked at several different types of solution providers, including those who made cold calls on our behalf to generate leads – but didn’t find much success. It’s really difficult to grow a sales pipeline if you don’t have a reason for talking to someone and in our industry; the amount of public information to sort through for names and projects online is almost insurmountable.

Citylitics not only specializes in giving us a precise list of targets to pursue, but also the right context to use when we’re reaching out. In addition to the opportunity summaries, the source documents allow us to pull relevant speaking points when prospecting, without which we wouldn’t get very far.

Q: What feature of Citylitics has been the most helpful?

Mike: The Citylitics reporting we receive is exactly what I need to call prospects and turn opportunities on paper into qualified leads. Because our team covers large territories, I find that the regular alignment calls are invaluable in keeping me on top of (and held accountable for) my targets in the midst of a busy schedule. I also like hearing what other people from the team have to say, how they’re using the intelligence, and how they’re progressing as well. The Citylitics Client Success team is very much a part of our own team in bringing us all together and keeping us on track.

Q: What was the biggest success that Citylitics generated?

Mike: Most recently, I had two targets in the Citylitics reporting turn into larger projects that we would have not known about if Citylitics hadn’t brought these to our attention. In our industry, if you’re not involved in the early stages, it’s incredibly easy to miss out – and just like that, there’s $1M of potential revenue gone!

Q: What are some best practices you would recommend to your industry peers on how to best integrate Citylitics data into your team's day to day activities?

Mike: I would definitely recommend going into the source documents for each opportunity to have the right context and speaking points before reaching out to the prospect. The ‘why’ behind your email or call is crucial as well; without referencing the right information or pain point from your Citylitics report, the prospect may ask themselves why you’re reaching out, or how you knew about their need in the first place.

I’ve also shared the information in our Citylitics report internally and externally within our rep firms, to see if they know others at the municipality. You never know who knows who and keeping our internal staff appraised of opportunities can often lend itself to adding an element of familiarity to that first contact and give the relationship an initial boost. Even if you don’t know anyone in the municipality, using the information in the source documents provided is still really valuable. I recently reached out to someone for an upcoming project with whom we had no connection, and they were incredibly impressed by the fact that we had taken the time to understand their particular issue, all of which was laid out for me in the Citylitics report.

Q: What advice would you give to your industry peers facing the same challenges you have?

Mike: It’s normal to face a lot of status quo mindsets in our industry, especially from utility professionals who have been doing what they do for 40-50 years. In sales, it’s always easier to speak with people interested in change and innovation as opposed to the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” type of thinking. The best way to face this type of challenge is to set the stage for value early in the conversation. It’s not about “look at all this cool stuff we have”, but “tell me about the problems your utility is having” and from there, leaning into your products and services that speak to that issue. Starting with their problem and working through solutions is not only a more efficient sales process but makes the utility much more interested in what you have to say.

Q: What are you most excited about for the water infrastructure industry in the next 12 months?

Mike: The $2 Trillion infrastructure investment bill! For the portion set aside for water, I see it as a great opportunity for a lot of towns who have had the same budget year over year to be able to do something different and embrace new technologies and innovation.

I’m also excited by the increase in outreach programs utilities are putting in place. These programs give the general public important information on how things work, what effort goes into the water they see and use every day, and helps them to see the value in it (which is difficult when much of it is under the ground, out of sight). It helps to create a different mind set in local areas where it’s not always seen as valuable unless for whatever reason, you don’t have it.

Q: What advice would you give to your industry peers facing the same challenges you have?

Mike: Don’t get disheartened when the prospects aren’t initially interested. You never know when there may be a ‘changing of the guard’ at the utility. I wouldn’t write off the utility or customer if you’re not making progress right away. Instead, I suggest keeping a list of prospects ‘not interested at this time’. At some point, there will be a problem that surfaces or a change in leadership that your products and services can solve. Organizations and mindsets change over time, including their perspective and what matters. Just because it’s not the right time just now, doesn’t mean it won’t be later.

“If it hadn’t been for Citylitics’ reporting, I would have entirely missed a recent opportunity that had money set aside for it on the prospect’s end. Citylitics not only handed me the opportunity on a silver platter, but also took care of the leg work so that I only had to focus on building the relationship, establishing credibility, and presenting a solution to get it across the finish line.”

For more industry insights, check out Citylitics’ Client Spotlight with Mark Halleman from Inframark.

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