Energy and sustainability can be a touchy subject in the business world. For some, the idea of “going green” can make them “see red,” as they’re not just indifferent to the idea, but downright against it. For others, eco-friendly solutions are a welcome (and exciting) discussion. Knowing how to have the energy conversation starts with knowing your audience. Before you go into the pro-planet pitch with your prospects, take this quiz to determine what their mindset is, then refer to our quick guide on setting the right tone in your messaging.

  1. Where does your prospect work?
    1. A manufacturing or industrial company
    2. A healthcare, educational, government or nonprofit organization
    3. A retailer or commercial real estate company
  2. Which description best describes your prospect company?
    1. The company is current and visible — there’s often press on something new the company is doing or planning to do, either in the company’s industry or its surrounding community.
    2. The company seems to move slowly when it comes to making major changes (like using new technology, or expanding its size and service offering) — but it has evolved over the years.
    3. The company hasn’t made many dramatic changes (not publicly, anyway). It’s a strong business that has been around for a while. People know the name, but probably not much else about it.
  3. How would you describe the prospect company’s leadership?
    1. Leadership is most likely a team approach with executives and other influential employees making decisions, possibly including someone whose focus is on sustainability.
    2. Leadership is a bureaucratic approach — decisions need to be approved and evaluated at several points in a project.
    3. Leadership is most likely driven by a single person, or very small team.
  4. How would you describe the company’s growth plan?
    1. Willing to take risks — there are lots of goals, and the company quickly orients itself around each one.
    2. Slow and steady wins the race — there is a carefully mastered plan and the company stays focused on one step at a time.
    3. Cruising on autopilot — the company has been successful and will continue along on its current settings until something dramatic causes it to change.
  5. If you had to choose the most appropriate word to describe your prospect’s company, which would you choose?
    1. Innovative
    2. Careful
    3. Traditional

If you answered mostly A, your prospect might be an Early Adopter.

This group is open to green solutions. Though they are driven to find cost savings and want to see proof that the green solutions work — it’s not just about the return on investment. Early Adopters tend to think in terms of “return on involvement,” using their energy and sustainability initiatives to further promote their mission, vision and role as a community and industry leader.

If you answered mostly B, your prospect might be an Adopter.

Think of this group as being wrapped in yellow caution tape — it’s okay to approach them, but you’ll need to tread lightly. While they’re open to the idea of going more green, they require the rigor of a thorough investigation before making any hard and fast judgments. Be prepared to cite successful implementations and a proven track record with your solutions, as the Adopters need concrete evidence that the investment is worthwhile.

If you answered mostly C, your prospect might be a Laggard.

If you like making pitches to a brick wall, you’ll like talking to this group about energy and sustainability practices. Laggards run successful businesses, but typically don’t care about making green solutions part of their strategy (they may even be against it). It might be wise to bypass this prospect and reallocate your efforts to a company that’s more open to environmental stewardship and eco-friendly improvements.