You are a believer in the concept of selling nontraditional products and services to your utility customers and may have even helped to sell the idea internally to your top stakeholders. But now how do you make it happen when the concept is still seen as mostly foreign? Even with C-suite executives on board, there is organizational inertia working against change. That inertia often thrives on fear based on perceived risk. Taking an idea from concept to reality can be a risk that is outside of a utility’s comfort zone. If you’re on the “now make it happen” team, proposing a well-constructed plan that involves thinking big, starting small and scaling smartly can help to set your program and organization up for success.
Much of this step has been done. Thinking big involves taking a step back and assessing the big picture. This means looking at the various ways selling nontraditional products and services to customers will impact your organization overall. You’ve identified the general need for new revenue streams with high potentials for growth and have gained support and approval from your C-suite executives and upper management. Keep these critical factors documented and connected to the remainder of the plan.
Starting small is one of the most important steps that will lay the groundwork for achieving your organization’s end goal without introducing too many products and services too quickly. The purpose of this phase is to remove risk-based fear connected to the business case by using research and insights to understand your customers’ specific needs.
Propose a first phase that relies on your research and is manageable from resources and investment perspectives to battle the fear of those unknowns. For example, Mower’s 2018 national study showed that 42% of people want electrical and HVAC contractor services provided by their utility and 23% want them to sell post lamps. But what is right for your customers? Proposing to conduct specific research in your market with your actual customers can take away the uncertainty surrounding what to sell.
Once you’ve completed research, propose a pause. Review the results, key learnings and insights to date. This forces objectivity. Next, do the math to determine what is required to start up. Mapping out the resources required to start and evaluating the benefit of in-house versus out-of-house capabilities can help your organization to focus in on products or services that maximize value to customers and minimize organizational costs. If the math works, assess which partners strategically align with your goals and then build it. Set a small enough scope to be focused on the biggest potential for shorter-term success. You want early, measurable wins. This further decreases fear by building confidence in the program model.
Scaling smartly doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, add products and services down the value/demand list that correlate with your research. Consistently evaluate the performance of the new products and services sold along with their accompanying communications pieces, channels and marketing tactics. Scaling smartly means evaluating and optimizing your product or service mix and the way in which you deliver it to customers. This ensures that your organization can maximize long-term value to your customers while also growing revenue.