The time-honored go-to catchphrases of just about any sales manager must churn audible eye-rolls from the mass of sales team associates lampooned with their banality. “Think outside the box.” “Always be closing.” “Don’t take no for an answer.” For those tasked with selling (be it cars, homes, electronics, or yes… even energy) these tropes fall on deaf ears. But clichés (like jokes) are often not born into the world without some shred of the truth buried beneath the spin. As an energy broker, you are at your core… a salesman. As such, the tropes of your trade must feel like old hat, but there’s gold to mine if you’re willing to keep your eyes forward and start digging.
“Think outside the box” was originally meant to task professionals to get out of their comfort zone. To reimagine the problems of their customers, and apply their service or product in an unexpected way to break down the barrier to entry. “Always be closing” is more than a fun speech in Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s a call to arms to remember that every detail in a pitch should lead to the sale. “Don’t take no for an answer” may feel like being told to just suck it up, but in actuality it’s a mentality to force a salesman to exhaust all available options before acquiescing to a lost lead.
And there is no greater trope to rethink than that of the cold call.
A ‘NO’ TODAY COULD BE ‘YES’ TOMORROW
By the time you hang up the phone, there’s really only two answers to be had; yes or no. If you accept this fate before you dial, you’ll find that the worst they can really say is no. Your job then, is to get the yes. A cold call could snap to a no at the end of your very first question. If that’s the case? So be it! But a no only means no right now. In energy brokerage… the barrier to entry continues to break apart at the seams. Your would-be customers who say no today — even if it’s because they signed a deal with someone yesterday — doesn’t mean they won’t be a yes when the timing is better, your pitch sharper, or the rate and incentives you introduce to them isn’t more valuable. So, you might have to take no for an answer today. So be it. You know though it won’t be true forever.
THINK: LESS A PITCH, MORE DIRECT MARKET RESEARCH
Cold calling an unsuspecting customer-to-be as an energy broker begins most likely at the biggest hurdle in the industry: education of the end-user. Unless you’re working in a saturated market, it’s safe and fair to assume your customer isn’t savvy to the deregulation of their power needs. Sure they might have heard on the news, or seen a bit on social media about “lowering their electric or gas bill”, but it’s likely they didn’t immediately deep dive into subject to find out how they could shave a few dollars a month off their bill. Or worse, considered the notion of cheaper energy evoking the feeling of lesser quality.
When you conduct cold calls, you’re actually performing astoundingly important direct market research. As the industry deregulates and power becomes competitive… knowing who knows what can help you and your team better plan it’s messaging. For those areas where information is sparse, you can count on your cold call as being perhaps the first real opportunity to educate customers. And when you present yourself as an expert first… you not only lower the barrier to entry, you empower the end-user to evangelize your message afterwards. This means the right cold call could lead to a full funnel with the right marketing pieces in hand.
NO DATA? NO DECISION
As you work your way through a cold-call list, track the disposition of the callers. Analyze the data. Is price the main issue that’s getting traction, or is there more under the surface? Are you, as an energy broker, aiming first to educate or be the low cost leader for your customers? And who is responding more to your pitches? Men or women? What time of day are your calls most productive?
All of the answers to those questions above — and dozens more I could ask you — will provide you with a roadmap to success. Scrutiny over the data you collect can revolutionize how you do business. Whether you’re a one-person firm or part of a large enterprise… data is the driving force to every good decision you’ll make. How you market, the information you share, to the deals you build and present aren’t islands unto themselves. They are interconnected, and the path to a closed sale is paved entirely on the useful information gleaned from each and every cold call.
COLD DOESN'T NEED TO START AT FREEZING
These days, no one is looking for a solicitor to pitch unannounced; and the pitch of savings is often met with hefty skepticism. Think of an average customer and their journey to energy independence. The first hurdle you’ll meet will always be that of a cynic. Before you came along… it’s likely your customer called “the” electric or gas company, activated an account, and whatever the bill was… it was. And any frustrations they might have had, fell on deaf ears. It’s not like they could go somewhere else! But of course you know different. The key is though… do they?!
Regardless of the size of your company, you will be hard-pressed to introduce the idea that energy is no longer a monopoly. Think back (if you’re old enough) to the days of the deregulation of phone systems. When your local “Bell” could be easily replaced with a home phone from the cable company or other startup concerns. Think ahead to the sprouting of cellular service; where at one point… 5 carriers fought one another to gain market share. At the root of those industries? Information.
Simply put, consider how, where, and when your company markets your service. Information is king, and education your sword. If the cold calls you make happen to be to those in an area you’ve placed decent social media or CTC ad campaigns in, you might not be cold calling an icy lead. More-over, you might be grabbing those folks that have started to see how the times are changing. Now all you have to do is marry the educational message with your actual service and contract!
LASTLY… DON'T FORGET THE BASICS
Sales is an art form — encapsulating an emotional response backed by overcoming barriers of your customer with logic and reason. You’re not selling a service… you’re convincing someone so well, they rationalize the decision for themselves. At the end of the day, you’re selling energy. Most likely? It’s a necessity in their daily life. And you’re doing so in such a manner you’re saving them money (otherwise, why would they change service?). With that in mind, don’t lose site of the very basics of cold-calling (paraphrasing points from Jeffery Gitomer):
1. Be prepared. Have an answer for every question. And when you don’t? Write it down and be ready to answer it well the next time.
2. Don’t apologize or offer excuses. You’re trying to save someone money, and that’s a worthy endeavor.
3. Find the balance between a script, and your own voice. Remember to capture the data (responses) to your turns of phrase. Those things that garner more positive responses should float to the top of your pitch every time.
4. Believe in your service, and believe in yourself.
5. If you get a “no”, so be it. If you’ve captured the lead’s contact information… pass them to marketing in hopes you can warm the lead at a later date through information-drops.
6. Practice your pitch. Ask yourself would I buy this? And put yourself into the shoes of those who you speak to. What problems are you potentially solving for them? How can you lead them to these revelations such that they can make the connections and accept a contract?
7. Commit to the grind. You may drop your hook into fresh water for days — or yes, even weeks — before getting a bite on the line. You may have some hooked that get off your line right when you think you’ve get them in the boat. Committing to holding the rod no-matter-what will ultimately land sales consistently.
BrokerX is a software solution for energy brokers that eliminates manual tasks through automation, providing more time to sell and grow their businesses. To learn more about our energy broker software, call 312-725-0028, email Matt@brokerxapp.com or click above to schedule a demo.