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How to Help Your Customers Regain Their Financial Footing


One way to sell in our current environment is telling customers how energy efficiency will help them regain their financial footing. More specifically, if you consider for a moment the three buckets of benefits, you’ll realize that all of those utility-cost-financial, non-utility-cost financial, and non-financial benefits can really help a business prevail despite the rough sailing they may have endured recently.

How to Help Your Customers Regain Their Financial Footing

Think about it when applying pressure to your prospect’s acupressure points. Should anyone be squandering money on unnecessarily large utility bills? Clearly not. If a lighting retrofit or HVAC retrofit could prevent that waste, you owe it to your prospects to open their eyes using terms they can understand. 

Most managers seek to wring waste out of their operations. Any dollars saved would flow right to the bottom line. And what if they’re worried about not being able to afford an upgrade? Remind them that there are plenty of low-cost financing options available in the marketplace these days. Lots of “free money” in the form of rebates and incentives in many territories as well.

Moreover, in situations where the simple payback period is less than a year, you could honestly state, “Realize that as much as you’re worried about having the money to do this retrofit, you’re actually going to pay for this retrofit this year whether you choose to do it or not. If you approve our proposal, you’ll pay for it, get the equipment installed, and begin enjoying a stream of savings that will last for 10 or more years given the projected life of the new equipment. If you don’t do it, you’ll pay for it anyway in the form of unnecessarily high utility and maintenance bills – remember, this project is a less-than-one-year-payback project. So, how would you feel if you had to confess to your board of directors that in the face of all of the other financial stress your company endured this year, you elected to ‘pay for’ a project without actually getting it installed?” That would be pretty embarrassing, right?” And by the way, let’s not forget all the non-utility-cost and non-financial benefits an upgrade might also provide your prospect this year – benefits that they would miss if they “paid for” the project by continuing to pay their unnecessarily high utility bills rather than investing in the upgrade.

Another tactic is using a personal anecdote. I remember reading a story about an aluminum windows and doors manufacturer that lowered their scrap rate by 25% in the wake of a lighting retrofit because their workers could finally see what they were doing! That was an unexpected benefit! Even better, the simple payback period had been estimated to be 4.2 years, but it was shortened to 39 days once they added the value of the avoided aluminum scrap to the denominator of the simple payback period calculation. If that isn’t an example of a compelling non-utility-cost financial benefit, then I don’t know what is. 

Here’s another example. Certain types of UV lighting and super-effective filtration are hot commodities these days for prospects who want to make their environments safer for their employees and customers. So is personal protective equipment (PPE). Case in point: grocers that offer their customers PPE like face masks, gloves and shopping cart wipes are doing much better than competitors who don’t. Imagine having a technology that could sanitize an entire space and how that assurance would put your customers’ minds at ease. In fact, doing things like this not only help you retain your customers, but also win market share, which would help you regain your financial footing more quickly. 

Lastly, never underestimate the power of what we call moving from digits to widgets. Recently, a student of mine shared a story. While attending one of my Boot Camps, he was looking for a place to have dinner on his way back to his hotel and he happened across a grilled cheese sandwich place. He said he was excited because there’s nothing he loves more than a great grilled cheese. The store owner notices my student’s Selling Energy Boot Camp badge still hanging around his neck and asks what he’s doing in town. He replies, “I’m attending a weeklong training on how to sell energy solutions -- like LED lighting, which is what I sell back on the East Coast.”

The owner replies, “I just had my lights changed last week!” When my student asked how he had come to that decision he said, “A guy came into my store a couple weeks ago, and he said that if I upgraded the lighting, the savings would be the same as selling more than 100 grilled cheese sandwiches a month.” My student had a laugh because earlier that same day he had learned how to use our very similar “digits-to-widgets” analogy with prospects. This really drove it home for him, and he couldn’t wait to share the story with me the following morning when he returned to class. 

The bottom line is there are many ways to translate energy savings into language that captures and retains the attention of your prospect. Realize that many of your prospects have suffered serious losses due to the pandemic-induced recession. Making a few upgrades or improvements could help them get back on track. It’s our responsibility to communicate both potential upgrades and the segment-specific benefits they may produce – and to be as compelling as possible when doing so.

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Posted by Mark Jewell