Lesson 5: How can I help my end customer make the right decisions with their energy buying?
Lesson 5: How can I help my end customer make the right decisions with their energy buying?

Before, it was easier to help customers with their energy buying decision; you quoted a price and they said ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Now the emphasis is on providing much more than a mere commodity – your role has become that of a consultant who can understand the clients’ business model and guide them through their own renewable energy transition journey. For energy companies operating in this developing industry the best value will be achieved through unique product offerings and solutions that match the strengths of your company with the needs of the customer, but there are some essential strategies that will maximise success.

Building a solid relationship

Forming a solid relationship is of paramount importance to a consultative-selling energy business model. The focus of this relationship is quite different to what it once was – instead of selling to the customer, you are working with them to find solutions that match their needs.

This collaborative approach should be consistent throughout every point of contact with the client, and the language you use should reflect this new partnership.

Using the Buyer Personas you have already developed will help to create your own scripts for phone calls and email contacts, but moreover it will help you to identify what concerns are common for each persona, and this can launch the conversation in the right direction.

Keeping regular contacts with clients will ensure you have an opportunity to find a solution to their pains before they start ‘shopping around’, and it will help to keep your own offering current by incorporating their feedback to sense market demands. This information can also be fed back into the Buyer Personas as a part of the regular review and update process.

The specifics of what you offer will depend entirely on your company’s position in the market and your target customers, but following these core principles and best practices to build a good working relationship will make your consultations more productive.

Creating a detailed customer dossier

Going beyond the broad strokes delivered by the Buyer Personas, you need to collect individual data to produce detailed customer dossiers for each client. You may even be able to repurpose your existing CRM for this, but your dossier needs to be fit-for-purpose so don’t rely too much on an existing CRM to determine the shape of this.

This dossier should clearly identify the following:
  • Their company name, address, contact details, contact person
  • Contact preferences (email, video call, phone, app, or letter)
  • Which products/services they have used in the past
  • Which products/services they currently use
  • Which products/services are they interested in and why
  • The industry or sector they operate in
  • Energy assets (generation and storage)
  • Opportunities for flexibility (DSR, electrification, EV fleet, etc.)
  • Appetite for risk (energy speculation)
  • Site properties (roof-area, location/wind speed, meter details/properties/grid connection etc.)
  • Energy usage profile
  • Tariff preference (guaranteed or flexible)
  • A summary of their business model (diagram may be sufficient)
  • A summary of which products they might find useful in the future

 

Although you need to follow the data privacy laws, this dossier doesn’t need to be a secret. By involving the client in maintaining their own profile you will keep them engaged with their energy use and your company. Think about making this accessible through a secure client web-portal, for example.

The dossier also doesn’t have to be ‘made fresh’ each time – it should be based on a template and consist of modular parts that can be selected and updated regularly, which makes it easier to handle as data and to translate to an online dashboard.

To begin with, the client will appreciate the personal service provision that comes from a regular check-in via phone or email, but the ultimate goal is to move them toward a ‘fully-dashboarded’ self-service that puts them in control and lowers the service burden.

How to recommend products and services for the future
Clarity

There are two important things to consider when presenting a possible solution, and that is how it benefits their business model, and how easy it is to implement or cancel.

As we have covered in the previous lessons, the products you offer will already reflect the needs of your ideal customer, but the benefits will need to be clear and relevant to them and flexibility reduces doubt. If these two factors are clear to the client, they are in the best position to make the right decision.

By combining your Buyer Personas with a systematic approach to profiling customers in detail, you can start to map out all the potential product/service offerings that might interest each client type as they progress through their energy transformation journey.

You can also identify specific ‘trigger points’ that indicate a change in need and an opportunity for additional services. These might include changes in energy consumption (or generation), a change of premises or expansion, a threshold commodity price, or specific communications with them.

Having a clear picture of each individual will make the client feel that they are important to you, and that you’re on their side. It will make you seem more competent and knowledgeable when you speak to them because you won’t always ask the same basic questions, but instead display an informed interest in their business.

Identifying the best leads

As always, some customers will be much more actively interested than others; being able to sort these out at an early stage (or being able to move a client into a different category based on key indicators), will prevent you from wasting time on clients who only want one basic service. They’ll be happy too, because they aren’t being bothered by offers that don’t interest them.

These are relatively simple points, but also fundamental to optimising your efforts and building a good relationship – with a systematic approach you can ensure every point of contact is timely and genuinely helpful.

Your approach to offering new products should include the following:
  • Understand their risk profile – are they interested in exposure to the energy market or hedging options? Would they prefer automatic/algorithmic hedging or would they actively follow the market?
  • Identify their core needs vs. ‘extras’ – determine which main services they really need, and then look at what extras they might want, now and in the future. Building the perfect package for their business model is the best outcome, but their actual needs should be clear.
  • Lower the bar – start with simple but valuable solutions with minimal customer risk, before moving to more complex products - unless there is a clear signal they are ready for more. Consider offering free trial periods (or simulated trial periods) to demonstrate the possibilities and give them confidence.
  • Offer a freebie like a smart meter and/or analytics to get your foot in the door. This can provide valuable data for you and it gets the customer engaged in your products with minimal risk. When they use your app or web-portal to see their energy usage they can see what other products might be of benefit too.
  • Display the benefits. For every potential product, use your customer dossier to calculate a personalised analysis of the (estimated) advantages and savings to them. Make this really clear.
Use AI and digitalisation

By digitalising all the possible data-points in this journey you are paving the way for more efficient processes and services in the future. Much of what we have discussed in this lesson contributes towards this, because it is about collecting rich, personalised data.

Smart algorithms can comb-through your rich data sources to automatically suggest improvements to existing services, to identify which additional services are of likely interest to customers, and to power a personalised self-service experience that will keep customers happy and engaged.

But first you need that data.

Using an energy-trading platform is one of the best first steps you can take on this journey and it will help ensure your customer has the maximum flexibility to select the solutions that best fit their needs. It is also a great way of staying focused on the customer, which is the best strategy for staying relevant in a swiftly changing market.