Think of any recently implemented energy project.  How many steps did it take to get from an idea to motivation to investigation to evaluation to approval to implementation?  How much selling was happening along the way, and who was doing it?

The original idea may have come from a vendor or service provider. Or perhaps a C-level exec, energy manager or sustainability director.  Regardless of the path it took, that idea would not have emerged as a completed project unless at least one link in the decision-making chain knew how to express the project’s benefits persuasively.

What would have happened if every link in the chain knew how to sell persuasively? 

  • What if every manufacturer knew how to reframe the benefits of its solution and express them in ways that would genuinely excite end users?
  • What if every distributor knew how to train contractors to look for facilities that could most benefit from the solution?
  • What if every contractor made a habit of “looking up and left and right” on every jobsite, scanning for ways to cross-sell and up-serve proactively rather than simply reacting to their customers’ service calls?
  • And what if the sales manager in any energy solutions business realized that many non-traditional sales roles (think project managers, energy auditors, customer service reps) could be deputized to support business development?

Over the last 28 years I’ve witnessed energy-related decision-making in more than 3 billion square feet of facilities.  In the overwhelming majority of the projects that I saw get approved, one or two links in the chain understood all the other links well enough to present a case that was compelling enough to carry the day.  I often wondered how many fewer projects would have been ignored or rejected – and how much shorter those sales cycles would have been – if every link in the chain actually knew how to “sell” these solutions.

We’re beginning to see various links in the decision-making chain educating other links in the chain to be more effective at getting projects approved:

  • Manufacturers sponsoring our training for their distributors, value-added resellers and reps
  • Distributors sponsoring our training for their contractor customers
  • Utilities sponsoring our training for their account reps, trade pros and even internal champions (e.g., their larger customers’ energy managers).
  • Trade allies recommending our training to non-competitive vendors they partner with so that they can approach customers together and be singing from the same hymnal

We’ve also seen another powerful trend: 

  • Sales managers sponsoring sales training for non-traditional sales roles like energy auditors, project developers, marketing

Take the example of a lighting retrofit.  As the auditor is casually interacting with the prospect during the fact-finding stage of proposal development, they could be conditioning the prospect to focus on something other than utility savings or rebates.  They could be motivating the prospect by citing segment-specific non-utility-cost benefits that similar facilities have seen in the wake of lighting upgrades.  They could be setting the stage for a proposal that is no longer constrained by lowest first cost or fastest payback.  Properly trained in the basics of energy solutions selling, these non-traditional salespeople can really help move the ball forward!