In my view
Bloom, Susan. the ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTOR, Feb. 12, pgs 18-19
Q: In what specific ways are you driving a more energy solutions focus in you business? What do you hope to accomplish in the coming one to three years and beyond?
Schafer: We're currently integrating the use of LED technologies into our business and also training new co-workers on the value of ROI-type selling, which was new for our company. In the coming years, our goal is to remain in front of our competition in the energy solutions arena and to introduce renewable energy solutions as our state government becomes friendlier to it.
Q: How has customer response been to your energy solutions focus? Have you experienced pitfalls or challenges in pursuing this strategy? If so, how have you addressed them?
Schafer: Customer response to our energy solutions focus has been so positive that one major challenge we faced when we entered the market and decided to pursue this strategy was management of our workload. With all of the utility and tax incentives available to our customers, we were overloaded with walk-through requests. We've addressed this situation by adding additional resources and putting new systems and processes in place to help us more effectively manage our workload.
Q: Have your firm's marketing or sales practices changed in any way to support your energy solutions emphasis?
Schafer:Our company's marketing and sales strategies did change a bit to support our Green Energy Solutions Division. We've extended out marketing reach to let our marketplace know that we offer these types of services. On the sales side, we see the Green Energy Solutions Division as and extension of our sales force. This allows our sales team to develop areas of new business and cross-sell different products to their existing customers - all incremental business - by using the knowledge and expertise of the members on the Green Energy Solutions team. One major change was the move to a more solutions-based selling approach, which involved ROI and payback calculations, as well as a shift toward calling on CEOs and CFOs instead of engineers and facility managers.
Q: Can you offer any tips for other distributors on driving an energy solutions business, weathering difficult economic conditions, or driving growth in 2012?
Schafer: A few tips on driving an energy solutions business would be to develop a few key individuals who are going to specialize in just this area. The lighting industry is changing at an astonishing rate, and it seems like there's a new product to learn about every day. Also, it lhelps to be able to provide a cost-savings analysis to your customer that highlights the project's payback and ROI; this analysis presents the CEO and CFO with all the financial and energy savings information they need to help them quickly see the potential benefits of the project.