Tuesday, September 3, 2013

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Sales Courage and the Tin Man

ESCOs (energy services companies) find themselves answering RFP and Qs where they tend to bring 10% to a successful deal. At least this is what a gentlemen from a small Northeast Region ESCO shared with me over lunch about 6 months ago.  As a sales consultant, I began to get the “willies”.  The salesman in me couldn’t imagine 90% of my work being wasted.  We entered into a short term agreement and I analyzed their RFP procedures.

In 30% of the cases, the firm was asked to respond to an RFP where they knew little about the firm requesting, but felt compelled to answer, because “well, we’d have no chance at the business if we didn’t”.  The firm hasn’t shown any “wins” in this category.

In a full 50% of the cases, the firm knew “something” the company and had “some” detail on the players involved in the RFP and “some” detailed information on what was really required to reduce energy consumption within the facility.  In other words, they had a sales call record.

In the remaining 20%, the ESCO was intimately involved with the company and had been working with them diligently.  In half of those cases, they had met with the CEO and CFO of the requesting company to discuss financing options and timing.  In effect, the “deal” should have been already closed.  Why was an RFP even released?

Of course, there are obvious data points here and the analysis took little time and is intuitive to say the least.  The most obvious is that the 10% close ration becomes 50% when you look at the RFP and Q’s they answered when they were intimately involved with their prospect.  The more interesting questions demand answers and a sales manager that can “engineer” higher sales numbers.  Here are a few questions that we will get the answers to and solutions over the next few months:

How do we increase the close ratio from 50% to closer to 100% with the RFPs where the firm is already working?  What can be done right before they answer the request and during the evaluation?  Is the firm answering and just waiting?

With the 90% of RFP’s they answer with no success:  Can that effort be spent doing something more productive?  Does the firm have the courage to alter their procedure?

In general, what does the sales model look like?  Is it a tiered approach?  Is there someone in the firm that can speak with CFO’s of prospects and determine true viability of continuing the sales process?  A bit of tiered sales perhaps?  Spread the responsibility. A glaring initial analysis of their “sales forecasting” is the lead biz dev or salesperson on the account having little knowledge of how a prospect will pay, yet consistently has an optimistic view on the percentage that the prospect will turn into a customer.  

Remember, the prospect’s job is to get the firm to do free services to increase their own knowledge base.  How much “free” consulting is the frm doing?  Why?  Do they have the courage to stop “free” consulting?  If not stop, do have the courage to make oral contracts to increase the close ration on accounts where they feel the need to“free” consult?  Trust me, if the prospect won’t provide at least an open oral “map” to the sale, the firm is far from a sale.  Free consulting is not free for the firm doing it; in fact it is ridiculously expensive and actually increases the margins they need to earn when they do get a project.

I mentioned the word “courage” in this piece twice, prior.  Increasing sales takes courage.  Too many firms and sales types are reluctant to ask themselves the hard questions towards increasing sales. They “present” and hope and keep presenting and keep hoping. Most of their sales activity is like the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man.  Remember the scenes where the Tin Man would boldly jump in front of Dorothy to protect her, only to shrink away in fear when confronted.  Is your firm allowing the prospect to run the sales process?  Contrary to popular practice,  your firm should be running the sales process, not your prospect.  

This takes courage.

Bob Fiori is a sales consultant who rolls up his sleeves and guides organizations to increased sales and efficiency.  He has increased sales for direct sales forces as well as led companies to increase their sales with value added resellers.  His experience ranges from advertising sales, web sales, data, electronics and has even shown political

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Learn To Use Green Energy Compass

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Here's a helpful presentation from Rich Andrulis from Performance Systems Design telling how students can conduct a home audit using Green Energy Compass, an online audit tool for residential customers.  Click the image below to view the slide presentation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Small Business Energy Efficiency Video

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Check out the video made by Cabrini College students Nikki Dugan and Kayleen Smith, showing how small businesses can save energy by using more efficient lighting.  The video also includes an interview with Heather Cowley, from the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Students Hunt Down Phantom Load On Campus

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Students from several area colleges have been hunting down 'phantom load' on their campuses.  Phantom Load refers to energy that is being used when equipment is plugged in but not being used.  PowerMinders students have been called to help identify places to save energy on campus.  "Campus libraries are increasingly becoming technology centers," reports PowerMinders faculty advisor Dr. Eric Malm.  "Libraries are packed with computers, printers and other devices.  They're also closed for many hours a week, making them big sources of phantom load."

The student search for phantom load is being translated into savings through the use of a new 'smart plug' technology called BERT.  "Several campuses throughout the state-- Penn State, Philadelphia University, Cabrini-- for example, are showing how universities can save energy.  The technology, created in Pennsylvania, allows plugs to be controlled remotely using an existing WiFi network," reports Bob Fiori.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bring Recyclemania To Your School!

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Recyclemania.org is a great way to boost awareness of recycling on your campus.  Through the program colleges report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. With each week’s reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more.

Students at Duquesne, Slippary Rock, Mercyhurst and several other schools in Pennsylvania have already entered the competition.  Sign your school up at http://www.recyclemania.org/

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Jersey Energy Efficiency

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PowerMinders students participated in a New Jersey Energy Effieiency Program, under the supervision of Quincey Xavier of Green Market Solutions. Students worked as Field Representatives in the Mount Holly, Pemberton, Camden and Gloucester City areas, canvasing neighborhoods and scheduling free energy audits to qualifying customers. Students were paid for each appointment scheduled (yeah book money!) and gained valuable resume experience.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Students Attend Sustainable Energy Conference

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Students, faculty and professionals from across the state came to Lehigh University to attend this year's Sustainable Energy Conference. Conference participants spent two and a half days in special 'boot camps', learning about Energy Efficiency, Solar and Wind technologies.

Students representing dozens of colleges attended. PowerMinders helped several students secure scholarships allowing them to attend the entire week's events for FREE!

Speakers included PUC Chairman James Cawley (shown left), Dan Griffiths, and Governor Ed Rendell.

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