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IfPeople made it to the SJF Summit on the New Economy in Durham, NC this September and found it

to be a truly inspiring conference. It was a strong showcase of how diverse and robust the new economy is. There were really incredible solutions in every area of clean tech from energy and waste water treatment, to irrigation and air filtration.  Counter to many misconceptions about green solutions, these businesses were showing the energy and water savings from these solutions is so great that the payback is often less than a year! 

Stop Leaving Money on the Table!
Companies that are using traditional means of addressing this issues are literally leaving money on the table. If installing a green air filtration system costs you a $100,000 investment up front, with a 1 year payback, your future savings after that first year are $100,000 a year before calculating in inevitable rises in energy costs.

So why aren’t these solutions already the norm?
Systems change is always on our mind…and our work is about giving companies that are bringing breakthrough solutions with a solid business model the sales and marketing tools and processes to succeed. So we hate to see good opportunities for going green go to waste! Here’s some of the barriers we see to that:

1. Resistance to change
We are resistant to change even when the dollars and cents add up. Take, for instance, a new approach to maintaining good air quality. Air quality in most factories is maintained by constantly turning over the air inside a building. Forcing air from inside a building to outside requires a tremendous amount of  energy. Not only that, but the air brought into the building must be climate controlled which also uses up energy.  A company we met at the conference has a different approach. Instead of moving air in and out of the building, they focus on changing existing air into something breathable and environmentally friendly.  They attract indoor pollutants into a bio-digester, which breaks down the compounds into inert particles.  It’s a completely different approach that doesn’t just require a cost-benefit analysis, but calls for a paradigm shift. 

People are resistant to such shifts. If we are going to meet the challenges of climate change, peak oil and water and other challenges, we will need to be ready to embrace the new paradigms required to make these shifts a reality.

2.  Poor sales process
Even if there’s a great opportunity to save money with a product, if the sales force behind that product is not effective in selling, there won’t be product uptake. People make decisions for different reasons depending on their role in the company, their interests, and their priorities. It’s important to understand what is relevant to the various parties in a sales pipeline and to make sure your company can systematically engage decision makers until they make the sale. Having strong systems for automating your marketing processes can make a huge difference in how many prospects you convert to customers. Without these processes it is even more challenging for innovative companies to bring their constituents along and help the masses embrace the changes you are bringing to market.

3.  Poor Key Messages
Different decision makers have different concerns that must be met before they invest.  The person concerned with compliance wants to know that your air purification system is going to work, and meet all regulations and standards.  The CFO wants to know that your ROI numbers are real and reliable.  And the maintenance staff who took care of the old system wants to be secure that they are not being put out of a job. Make sure that the messaging is right at the right time based on where you are in the sales process and who you are working with!

Alright green product and service companies…we hope that’s helpful insight from our takeaways from the SJF Conference. Hopefully we’ll see you there next year! And in the meantime, contact us for help on marketing and sales for your green products!

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