Utilities Insiders: How to Sell the Idea of Nontraditional Products to Your C-Suite

You’re in a customer experience, marketing or business development capacity at a utility and are convinced that your organization should begin selling nontraditional products or services to customers. You’ve seen the research and understand that the tide is changing — but how do you create a convincing argument to get C-suite executives on board with the concept?

Utilities have historically been slow to change because their infrastructure and processes have been designed to maintain stability in everything they do. This has unfortunately created some significant barriers to progress. Because of this, creating a convincing argument for why your utility should begin selling nontraditional products and services to customers is even more crucial. With today’s challenging market and evolving customer needs, meaningful research that proves a legitimate demand for new products and services can help push your case forward.

Gaining support and approval from your C-suite executives and upper management means learning to speak their language to help them understand the value and benefits from their perspectives. Selling the idea to executives involves knowing your market through substantive research, understanding the facts and figures and presenting proof that your customers have a legitimate need for and desire to purchase products and services.

For C-suite executives, it’s all about the bottom line. Be prepared to use your research to frame a business case and show how it aligns with your utility’s higher-level business objectives. For example, in Mower’s 2018 study, 68% of responders said they would consider buying other products from their utility. How many customers is 68% of your base? If they each purchased two packs of LED light bulbs next year, how much estimated incremental revenue and margin could that bring?

It’s also important to understand the specific factors each executive values. CFOs want to hear about ROIs, break-even points and initial capital requirements; COOs are looking for workflows, efficiencies, logistics stability and supply chain; and CEOs are concerned about long-term sustainable growth, administrative control and stakeholder value. If you appropriately tailor your argument to your audience, you will not only increase the chances that a new program will be considered, but you will also show your individual strategic value to the organization.