How to effectively sell energy efficiency projects – part II: focus on customer pain points
In my previous blog (HOW TO EFFECTIVELY SELL ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROJECTS – Part I: THE BAD AND RIGHT METRICS), I articulated that using the right metrics, IRR and NPV, was imperative to close a deal. In this second part, I will focus on choosing the right customer pain points. A project should never be sold purely on energy savings. In fact, more often than not, operational savings, increased comfort resulting in greater staff efficiency and customer satisfaction, reduced maintenance costs, increased life expectancy of equipment can be much more powerful customer pain points to focus on.
Put yourself in the shoes of the owner or manager of quick serve restaurants or retail stores, what would keep you awake at night? Do you really think “how much is my energy bill going to be next month” is really preventing him from getting some shut-eye? Probably not. In fact, in most cases he is probably thinking about:
- How can I increase customer traffic and sales?
- How can I ensure optimal employee productivity and prevent high employee turnover?
- How can I prevent downtime in my restaurants or stores?
With such pain points, we need to ensure we articulate why our energy efficiency solutions will help the building owner/manager address his top concerns. Let’s take the example of a solution which includes a wireless building automation system and more efficient HVAC equipment.
How can I increase customer traffic and sales?
Do you remember the last time you went to a restaurant and were either too cold or too hot because their HVAC system wasn’t optimal? Was that your last visit to this location? Did you stay for dessert or ask for the bill and left as quickly as possible? Maybe you tweeted about your bad experience or posted a negative comment on yelp also. Believe it or not, customer thermal comfort is crucial to many businesses. And a building automation solution and more efficient HVAC will ensure a more consistent temperature in your facilities promoting customer comfort.
In fact, it may be possible to evaluate the potential increase in sales by asking your customer how many hot or cold complaints his locations experienced. Ask your customer how this may have affected his business and provide an estimate of the potential increase in sales your solution would enable.
How can I ensure optimal employee productivity and prevent high employee turnover?
We all experienced sub-optimal thermal working conditions. It’s hard to concentrate and be productive when you are too hot or when you are so cold just typing on a keyboard with frosted hands is a challenge. It gets worse when you are supposed to be serving customers or running your store when instead you are trying to adjust your dated HVAC system or on hold with your HVAC provider to place a service repair call. These types of irritants will make you unproductive and may lead to high employee turnover. Again, a building automation solution and a more modern HVAC system will prevent such issues and provide optimal working conditions for your employees.
What would be the impact of more productive employees? Or reducing employee turnover? Again, ask your customer a few questions about the reality of their business and determine a rational estimate of the potential benefits.
How can I prevent downtime in my restaurants or stores?
Downtime is a business killer. Not just in retail but in every business. Every minute a business is closed to customers or that employees cannot work can be extremely costly to businesses. Unfortunately, too many buildings experience downtime because of HVAC breakdowns. And repairs can be quite lengthy. This is an easy metric to measure and one that will resonate: How much money did you lose last year because of HVAC breakdowns? How much money would you lose if it happened this year?
A modern building automation solution will keep track of the health of your HVAC system, ensure it is operating optimally and raise automatic alerts before an issue that needs fixing becomes a real problem. Furthermore, it will prevent premature wear-and-tear of your HVAC system resulting in increased life expectancy of the equipment.
Wireless – the enabler
I can already hear the question from the astute customer: “You just articulated how costly downtime can be for my business, but what about downtime required installing the building automation system and new HVAC system? Will I have to shut-down my business during the installation?” This has been one of the biggest sales obstacles faced by our industry. Building owners see the value in our solutions but cannot afford to close their businesses in order to install a building automation solution. Building controllers, sensors, thermostats, motion detectors and other peripherals need to be wired together (see TO WIRE OR NOT TO WIRE?) which often means opening up walls, passing wires, re-plastering, re-painting etc.
A lengthy process in many cases.
With the advent of wireless building automation solutions, installation can be much faster and done without causing downtime. Coupled with energy harvesting devices, downtime caused by failed batteries is also no longer a challenge.
Focus on the customer pain points
Energy efficiency projects are a lot more than a way to reduce your customers’ energy bills. It’s up to you to figure out what are your customers’ pain points and articulate how your system will address them. Every business is different, so do your research and ask lots of questions and you should be on the right path for a winning proposition.