“We face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies"
Sir David Attenborough
No one who reads this article will be unaware of the increasing focus and realisation that we need to change how we live, what we take from and how we damage the planet.
Thankfully many organisations are driving this agenda forward with hundreds of new start-ups solely focused on green products and services. However, the bigger win may be existing businesses with huge resources and reach, who have environmentally sustainable products as a part of their portfolios.
Whether it is a car manufacturer who sells petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric or cement companies with Value Added Products with lower CO2 footprints or IT companies with recycling facilities; many businesses have to shift their focus and strategy over the coming years and evolve fast.
The leaders of business should recognise that shift in focus, develop the strategy and lay the plans down to evolve. R&D develop the new products and services whilst marketing creates campaigns and collateral that looks incredible.
Then it is down to the sales team to get in front of clients and make change happen!
“The Danger is not in change…the danger lies in our ability to adapt to change”
Purpose led organisations that sit solely in the “green” space have their own sales challenges; the purpose of this article is to focus on those organisations who have mixed portfolios and have to manage that change…both internally and externally.
The change that creates words like:
“My customer doesn’t want to pay more for a green product vs what we currently sell them”
“We aren’t set up to deliver the new services, it might go wrong so I’ll not risk selling it to my customer”
“There is no difference in quality between new and old”
“I get paid more commission by selling what I’ve always sold”
“I’m under pressure to get sales now and sustainable products take too long to convince people”
“Too much has to change within my customer’s business for it to happen”
“I’ve asked my contact and they are not interested”
So, if you are a business leader, sales manager or sales person who has a strong desire to make the difference in your own world, then here are some ideas for you to take or adapt that could hit sales targets that the earth has set us.
A strong internal team
A leader with no followers is just a crazy guy shouting from the top of a hill! Who is the internal team that sits behind the success of your environmental focus? It will include sales, marketing and operations but also consider finance, HR, logistics and other functions.
Who will play a part in that entire customer journey from raising awareness, through the sale and into delivery and ongoing client development?
Create (or join) that team, communicate well and focus on the activities that are in your influence or control to change now vs being stuck talking about what you cannot change.
Investing with the right client opportunity
Not every client is ready or willing to change. They are challenged enough with the here and now operations, let alone paying an extra 10% for a new product or way of doing things. If that is genuinely the case then leave them to it.
Often it is not! It could be that your contact is not the right one to lead on this and you need to go elsewhere in that organisation. A tough call to make but that is where the internal team could help in getting in front of the right people and taking a team selling approach.
Businesses are groups of people with a common goal, however, personality counts and change can be hard for some so find the right people in the right business to make progress.
A strong client team
This is a blocker for many salespeople because potentially you have to coordinate or project manage your client’s internal team. Identify what their buying journey would be from purchase through to implementation. What are the blockages and who needs to be involved?
This may be new to your client so you may need to step up to the plate and be on the front foot with your approach. Or, you add support because their team is nailing it. Be prepared to do either to make change happen.
Two great books are the Challenger Customer and the Challenger Sale to help you do this.
What needs to happen?
This may be in your own business and it may be in your clients business. Working with the client to fully understand the blockers and then taking the necessary steps to work around or break through these challenges.
For example, if you want to change your fleet of 25 company cars to be all electric, how many charge points will you need at your Head Office? What will be the expense policy if people charge from home? What territory size do your salespeople need to have?
Solving these would include Sales, Finance, Operations, HR and Facilities to work together.
Sell the opportunity
Working with your client to answer the What’s In It For Me question for the relevant parties and building a comms plan which acknowledges the challenge of change but focuses on the big picture and “Why” for that client.
There needs to be a strong purpose behind organisational change for your client. You will have to work with your client to help them identify and push this consistently and through the right channels.
Accepting that resistance is part of change, plan for it and help create an environment of open dialogue to keep as much of reality in view, rather than hidden away from sight.
Celebrate the small stuff and the big stuff!
There will be many steps on this path for you, your internal team and your client’s team. Celebrate and publicise the wins, showcase the successes and help create a culture for you and your client that generates momentum.
Small changes make a big impact!
And finally, what is your own motivation and purpose in the role you play in all of this? People often say that people in the sales profession are only motivated by money, but that simply isn’t true.
We have known many salespeople unhappy in their roles whilst earning a tonne of money, leave to do something else.
How about being in the sales profession, making money helping people to buy products, services or solutions that make a difference to our planet?
Now, how cool is that!