The ‘hard-won’ sales of the B2B energy market

Lesson 1 : The Challenges of an Energy B2B Sales Manager
Lesson 1 : The Challenges of an Energy B2B Sales Manager

Another day, another sale…you have to put a lot of effort into a successful sales process.

It isn’t easy for the customer either, as they need to spend precious time selecting the right suppliers and trying to decipher various offers to make a useful comparison. That aspect in particular is always a constant concern. Do they really understand how good your offer is? You have to make multiple calls to reach your customers (so they can seriously consider your offer) - and catch them at a good time, so they are receptive.

Then there’s the paperwork: preparing personalised quotes, updating customer files, and the myriad of miscellaneous, repetitive, administrative tasks that suck every moment of spare time from your schedule. If you do manage to find any spare time, you’re probably checking your inbox, replying to endless emails, and checking LinkedIn. Or perhaps you’re on the road; going to or making your way home from meetings with customers.

These are only a couple of the small, ‘basic’ pains affecting your ‘day-to-day’. Now there are bigger issues to consider too.

With the rise of digitisation standardising many aspects of your role, the tools you need to win a sale are changing. You might also be struggling with matching your customers’ expectations - especially considering the volatility of the market. The burden of an increasingly multi-facetted buying cycle could be a particular headache as well, possibly due to your customers' varied knowledge of the energy markets.

Changing technology and a shifting market

With the liberalisation of the energy retail market, the industry is facing changes as well as challenges for its key players. This shift, coupled with the growth of renewable energy, has led to an increase in energy suppliers as well as the growth of the prosumer; a consumer that has their own energy generation capability. This means control has been shifted closer towards the consumer. They are now making informed decisions on their provider - not just based on the commodity itself - but the extra service provided along with it. It has also created an opportunity for machines and other technological solutions to handle supply streams in a rapid and automated manner.

These two effects would mean the Sales department could find themselves without a clear role, but in fact it has opened up a new opportunity.

Traditional roles are not becoming redundant - they're simply changing. The digitisation and handling of certain existing processes by smart machines has meant there is now room (and time) to improve the quality of the service level. This has significant appeal to the new age of consumers.

How can you proactively change your role within your organization?

The first thing to consider when trying to proactively change your role within your organisation is your product offering. Consumers are actively seeking products, services and customer value propositions that provide flexibility and transparency.

The best way to do this is by switching to flexible energy contracts. Flexible contracts have been on the rise since the liberalisation of the industry and there’s no surprise about why: They’re more convenient.

By providing this possibility to your customers you’ll be able to flexibly follow the changes in the market (especially energy prices), and provide the opportunity to directly take advantage of profitable transactions in a transparent way.

However, this might be out of scope of what the sales department currently has control over - in which case this is what you can do:

 

  • Bring it up: It would definitely be worth discussing the topic with your management team. Take the time to speak to your customers and the rest of your sales staff too; does it seem like they would be interested in something like this? Have any customers been turned away due to your company not offering flexibility?
    Are your customers aware of the benefits of leveraging attractive market prices or the possibility to hedge energy budgets at the right moment? If your research uncovers such possibilities, make it clear to your PM that the company would be ignoring a large number of potential clients. Being at the forefront of the customer interaction, you know best what they want most.

 

  • Become their partner: Traditionally the sales role used to revolve around purely selling the commodity (while making a profit), but now you have the opportunity to become your customer’s partner in the sales process. Rather than sitting on the opposite side of the customer you can sit side-by-side with them and build a collaborative relationship. By offering up your knowledge and expertise, you’ll be there to help them make the right decisions when trading on the market and, most importantly, reduce the length of the buying process by providing buying knowledge. This places you as an integral component in their buying process solely from changing your approach towards consultative selling.

 

  • Gain more knowledge: It’s encouraged to become knowledgeable about trends in the market; this is the best way to gain trust from both your customers and ‘higher-ups’. You should ensure you are aware of what makes up your price point, or how you stand out from your competitor or simply how to advise them on the right decision.