At a Glance:
In order to establish yourself as a successful energy broker, one must be able to differentiate himself in the competitive retail energy markets. In this article, we detail 5 key tips to propel your energy broker business.
In this article, you will learn:
1. Sharpen Your Sales Skills.
First things first, energy brokers must have superior sales skills in order to be successful. In fact, besides understanding the energy markets and being able to offer expert advice, sales is the number one skill you must possess.
Many think being a good salesperson is about persuading and convincing; however, in reality a good salesperson is great at identifying and solving problems for customers. Here are a few tips on sharpening your sales skills this year:
Think About The Interests Of Others
All great salespeople possess the skill of empathy. It is critical to be able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes in order to understand their perspective and needs. Many energy brokers make the mistake of thinking their products or solutions are enough to make a deal happen. On the contrary, each customer is unique and his or her needs must be understood and met in order to win their business.
Be A Good Listener
Great salespeople are great listeners. It is imperative to pay close attention to what your prospects are saying. Many times, they will tell you exactly what they are looking for and provide you with all the information you need to meet their needs and close the deal!
Track Your Activity
It’s amazing how busy we think we are! Many energy brokers and salespeople fall into the trap of confusing busy work with productivity. It is utterly important to track prospecting calls or meetings each day, number of quotes, and signed deals. Without holding yourself accountable to the numbers, you will get lost in the busy work and get nothing done!
Frank Bettger, an insurance salesman who generated millions of dollars worth of income in the 1940’s, wrote a book titled How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling. This book is a wonderful resource for learning the fundamental skills of sales. If you do not like to read, here is an audio version of the book below:
2. Get Good At Generating Customer Referrals.
The best way to get new business as an energy broker is through customer referrals. Cold prospecting is hard, and if you do it right, you can eventually ween yourself off of cold calling and simply work customer referrals.
In fact, once you begin to close new customer contracts, save customers money, and meet their needs, many will be happy to refer you to others. Here are a few tricks on generating more customer referrals as an energy broker:
Get The Referral By…
- Be Specific: Asking for a specific amount of referrals from your customer (e.g 3 referrals), makes it simple for your customer. Many times leaving it open-ended gets you nowhere. But, when you ask for a finite number of referrals, you customer may be more inclined to think of a few.
- Ask By Name: If you are selling energy to a specific industry (e.g. restaurants), asking you customer if they know who owns ______ Restaurant is a great trick. Have a list of businesses you want to get into and ask your customers if they know the owners.
Learn more about prospecting for energy customers in this article.
3. Understand The Macro Energy Markets.
Product knowledge supersedes confidence. It is imperative to have a deep understanding of what you are selling in order to be successful. In the energy broker space, having knowledge of the wholesale and retail electricity and natural gas markets is key.
Now, you do not need to become as knowledgable as a commodities trader; however, you must understand the macro factors that affect the price of energy. This is important because in order to be a great energy broker, you must be able to lend sound advice to your customers.
Here Are Some Things To Know:
- Supply: There are certain aspects of the market that affect energy supply: production numbers, storage figures, import/export balances, etc. You must keep your hand on the pulse of the market by continually knowing the overall balance of energy supply.
- Demand: On the other side of the coin is demand. Things such as weather, exports, economic growth are factors that affect energy demand. Knowing where demand is related to supply can help you determine the overall direction of the market.
Learn more about the fundamental factors that drive the energy markets by reading this article.
4. Know Your Suppliers.
As an energy broker, you are arranging for the supply of energy between retail energy suppliers and customers. So, in order to offer the best deals to your customers at all times, you must know your suppliers.
All suppliers are not created equal, so it is important to understand the key differences between suppliers.
Here Are Some Things To Keep In Mind:
- Size: One key aspect is to know the size of each energy supplier. Smaller suppliers, although licensed and credible, can be risky for bigger customers. And bigger suppliers might not be a great fit to offer the lowest rates to small businesses.
- Market Strength: Some suppliers have very aggressive pricing in certain markets and are not competitive at all in others. And sometimes, the lowest supplier in a certain market will change on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Knowing what suppliers are competitive where is critical to finding the best prices.
- Contract Language: It is also important to understand the key differences between supplier contract language. Are there auto-renewal clauses? Will the supplier pass-through additional charges mid-contract? Does the supplier offer a standard bandwidth clause? Knowing these key elements will make you a better advisor.
Learn more about energy bandwidth clauses here.
5. Stay Organized.
Last but not least is organization. There are many data points to track as an energy broker, so it is vital that you stay on top of your information.
First, you must have some sort of record keeping system to track the specifics of all customer contracts. Record things such as Utility Account(s), Supplier, Start Date, End Date, and Price. You will also want to store electronic (or physical) copies of your signed customer contracts somewhere so that you can reference them in the future if need be. While there are energy CRM systems in the market, such as Enerex or Edge On Demand, Diversegy has its own proprietary system to help our energy brokers stay organized.
You must also do an excellent job of tracking your commission payments from suppliers, or your master broker. Mistakes happen and if you do not have some sort of system to benchmark against, you could get underpaid or not paid at all for your energy customer contracts.
Diversegy’s proprietary commission tracking and payment system, ELIAS, allows our broker partners to rest assured knowing that their payments are accurate each month. In fact, they can log in to view all of their customers’ contracts and payments for each customer.