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The Essential Components of an Energy Business Case

January 26, 2016 / by Max Dworkin

As a salesperson, every conversation you have with a potential customer should be about them. You are solving a problem they have -- whether they know they have it or not.

In the energy sector, that problem is often that your contact knows that her company needs to make a change when it comes to energy, but does not know how to set the organization up to make that change, or to convince stakeholders that a change is necessary. In this scenario, it becomes the energy service provider’s job to help build that business case during the course of the sales process.

Business Goals are Paramount

When you are able to maintain focus on your customer’s business goals, you are much more likely to keep them focused on you. At each stage of your process, be sure to restate the goals of your engagement, which should be directly aligned with the larger goals of the customer company. This does not mean that you should merely state and restate what your customer has told you, but that you should take the information you have learned about their goals and apply fresh insight, thereby demonstrating your value to the company. Your insight should not be a sales pitch about your product, but rather a broad-based indication that you know their business, their industry, and that you know how to help them accomplish their specific goals, whether that is shrinking a carbon footprint or simply saving money.  

Leverage modern business tools to help capture rapid feedback, including webinars, hosted document management, and web-based customer portals. These tools allow you to quickly determine where your customer’s priorities lie so that you can focus on those specifics.

Evaluate Past Behaviors

It’s likely that most of the people you talk to have done little to change their energy plan in the past. This inaction is not just the enemy of your sale, but it also the enemy of business progress. You can use this fact to your advantage. Take this opportunity to evaluate the customer’s previous behaviors (usually indecision) and outline how those behaviors have had a negative impact on the company’s ability to reach their ultimate goals. Inaction can certainly seem like the easiest choice, hence its popularity. However, the truth is that inaction has its own costs in terms of overspending, unsustainability, and growth stagnation. Making a change -- attempting new behaviors -- is the only way to overcome these costs.

Simplify the Path to Action

Once you can successfully demonstrate the cost of inaction, you still have to make action happen, which is a challenge in itself. Because doing nothing is so appealing, in order to fully realize a business case for your customer, you must make the path to change as simple as possible. Start by providing data that supports the decision to take action and do so in different formats (written, visually, numerically). This supports different styles of learning and needs to stay relevant to a variety of stakeholders. Provide incontrovertible evidence that taking action will have positive effects on their business goals. The easier you make it for your customer to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the easier it will be for them to come to a decision.

Building a business case for an energy change is no small feat, but when you are able to stay focused and clearly lay out the ways in which movement on energy is a positive business choice, you can make even the most indecisive customers start building a plan.

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Topics: energy partners

Max Dworkin

Written by Max Dworkin


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