At a Glance:
Whether you are a seasoned energy broker sales professional or new to the industry, having new prospects to call on is critical to your success. Sales is a funnel and the more prospects you put into your pipeline, the greater chance you have of making a sale. Here are some proven ways to generate an effective prospect list.
In this article, you will learn:
Generating an effective prospect list is a critical step to become an effective energy broker. Selling deregulated energy to commercial customers is not always easy. And, finding the right prospects is the hardest part of the job. In this article, our team of energy professionals breakdown the most effective prospecting tools and methods to help you succeed. In fact, many of these methods are being used by our top sales partners who are earning more than six figures selling energy.
Energy Broker Sales Prospecting Methods.
In the energy sales industry, and in any sales job for that matter, there are several different prospecting methods that can be used to generate sales. Before you start to compile your customer prospect list, it is best to decide on the type of prospecting method(s) you will use. Certain customer types lend themselves better to specific prospecting methods. Here are some of the top energy broker sales prospecting approaches:
In-person prospecting is often thought of as the toughest form of sales. You need to put yourself in your car or on foot and physically visit new potential customers at their place of business. In-person sales, however, have many benefits. Let’s discuss the pro’s and con’s of in-person prospecting below:
- Differentiate yourself from the competition who is not willing to go in-person
- Easier to build rapport in-person compared to over the phone
- Best used for small and medium size businesses where you can speak with a decision-maker
- Not the most effective use of your time as you are limited to the number of prospects you can see in one day
- Difficult to overcome psychological challenges and fear of walking into a stranger’s business
- Not great for large corporations who require appointments to be made with decision-makers
Phone prospecting, when mastered, can be a very effective way of getting in front of many new prospects in a short period of time. The phone, however, has been overused by telemarketing companies and one must find ways to stand out and not get placed in the “spam call” category. Here are the pro’s and con’s of phone prospecting:
- Speak to many new prospects in a short period of time when compared to in-person prospecting
- No geographical limits to your target markets
- Best used for small and medium size businesses where you can speak with a decision-maker. The phone is also very effective for setting up appointments with larger companies or following up on prior communication.
- Hard to differentiate yourself from telemarketers, spam callers, and energy scammers.
- Difficult to stay focused and make 100+ phone calls per day
- Not great for areas that have been bombarded in the past by energy telemarketers
Email prospecting can be very effective if you can perfect the art of getting your prospect’s attention, and getting your email to the right person. Email has grown significantly in the last two decades and can be a great tool for growing your energy broker business. Here are the pro’s and con’s of email prospecting:
- Contact many new prospects in a short period of time when compared to in-person prospecting
- No geographical limits to your target markets
- Best used for setting up appointments with larger companies or following up on prior communication.
- Hard to differentiate yourself in a cold email
- Mass emails can get stuck in spam folders
- Not great for small businesses where decision-maker emails are hard to find
Last but not least, are traditional mailers. Although this prospecting method has seemed to be retired, it can be a great way of differentiating yourself in a digital world. Things like post cards and junk mail might find their way to your prospect’s wastebasket; however, if you can mail something that stands out and grabs attention, you might have a good chance of peaking your prospect’s interest. Mailers such as folders and packets, although more expensive, are a great way to do this. A phone call or email follow up is also a nice way to combine several prospecting methods to be more effective.
Picking a Niche.
Now that you’ve decided on the energy sales prospecting methods and tools you will use, the next step is to decide on a niche market to target. As stated in our latest article, Making a Game Plan For Your Energy Broker Business, choosing a niche industry or business segment to target is a great way to remain focused on your goals, eliminate distractions, and achieve your plan. In addition, deciding on a niche market is a great way to brand yourself as the energy expert in that space. Here are some of the common niche markets that our energy sales partners focus on, broken down by business size:
- 24 hour diners
- grocery stores
- gas stations
- nursing homes
- retirement communities
- apartment complexes
- car dealerships
- printing presses
- plastics production
- cold storage facilities
- water treatment plants
- sewer plants
- national chains
- distribution plants
- packaging plants
- hospitals and healthcare
- public transportation systems
- bitcoin mining operations
Making a List of Targets.
Now that you’ve chosen your prospecting methods and your target niche market, it’s time to make a list of prospects. In order to do this effectively, you must first decide how many prospects you would like to initially target. A good rule of thumb is to start with a list that you believe you can work for several months. Track your progress and results, and then make adjustments when making your next list.
Remember, becoming a successful energy broker is more than just selling energy contracts and kWh with retail energy suppliers. It is about building new relationships with customers, managing energy sales lead data, explaining energy contract language to prospects, and bringing value to your customers. But, it all starts first with a good prospect.
Here are some proven methods to creating an ideal energy broker prospecting list:
Use the ECL
If you are working under a licensed broker, or have a license yourself, several states will grant you access to the Eligible Customer List (ECL). This list displays all commercial and residential customers, who have not opted-out, in a particular utility. The list displays lots of data on each customer, such as:
- annual energy usage (kWh or CCF)
- rate classes and codes
- account name
- service address information
- default supply or third part supply verification
- and more…
The ECL is a great place to start since you can sort the list by customer type, annual usage, and even find out if customers are still with the local utility on default supply. As your broker for help in using the ECL to develop a prospect list.
By using the ECL, you can develop an effective energy sales lead list to work from. In fact, the right ECL tool will allow you to sort the energy sales lead data by zip code or annual kWh, so that you can focus on an effective sales plan. If you are targeting high-usage customers, then you can tailor your energy broker marketing material to that type of customer. And vice versa for smaller accounts.
Lead Gen Companies
There are many companies that sell data on businesses that can be used to compile a prospect list. Companies such as D&B and Data Axle are great resources to purchase business data. You can filter the data by market segment, business size, annual revenue and more. D&B’s Hoover’s product even has an option to filter by annual utility cost and you can determine if the prospect rents or owns their building.
Another way of compiling a list of prospects is good ol’ Google. This might take more time than the other methods, but it allows you to hone in on actual companies you would like to target. We suggest making an Excel or Google Sheet (like this one here: energy broker prospect list) to better organize your data.
If you are a seasoned energy salesperson and have a book of existing customers, the best place to start is with them. There is no better prospect than a warm referral, so asking your existing customer for 3-5 referrals each is a tried and true method for closing sales. If you have 50 existing customers and each customer offers you 3 referrals, you grew a list of 150 warm prospects overnight.
In-Person Energy Broker Leads
If you decide that you would like to prospect in person, then you can build your prospect list as you make in-person visits. Simply pick an area that you would like to target (try to pick a 10-mile radius to start) and spend every day in your territory. If restaurants are your niche market, go visit every restaurant in your territory until you know every owner’s name, how much energy they use, who they use for supply, and even obtain copies of their bill. Do not leave your territory until you have turned over every rock. As you go, take detailed notes on each prospect, and slowly develop your list. You will see over time how these prospects begin to turn into new customers.
Managing Your Energy Prospect List
Now that you have a list of energy leads, it’s important to understand how to effectively view and sort the lead data. After all, hundreds of line items on a spreadsheet mean nothing if your cold prospecting sales efforts are disorganized. Here are a few tips to keep organized with your prospects when you are selling in deregulated energy states:
Know How To Filter Your List
As we stated above, there are different prospecting methods and energy sales techniques you can use to approach new customers. And, each of these methods lends itself well to different customer types. For example, it might be nearly impossible to prospect a university using a cold prospecting, in-person approach. What would you do? Walk up to the main information desk and give your pitch. This type of account lends itself better to an email or phone call approach. A pizzeria, on the other hand, might be a great prospect for an in-person sales call. Filtering your list into different prospect types so you can be effective with your sales approach is a great practice.
Qualify Your Energy Sales Leads
Lead qualification is another important aspect of the sales process. It is important that you get your message to the right types of prospects. Some energy brokers waste hundreds of hours prospecting accounts that do not qualify as a potential customer. For example, it is important to know whether your prospect actually pays an energy bill. In some commercial buildings, the landlord pays the utility bills and sub-meters his tenants. It would be a great waste of your time to spend all month getting in front of a prospect just to learn that he does not pay his own bill.
Make a list of criteria that qualifies a prospect to be worth your time: annual energy usage, responsible for paying the bill, is in a certain utility rate class, has a certain load factor rating, is located in a specific utility territory. All of these things might be important to you when developing an effective prospecting plan. Get together with your energy broker to strategize on the key data points that make a good prospect.
A Great Broker Can Help You Become A Great Prospector
If you are struggling with your energy prospecting efforts, it’s important to have someone to turn to. If you are aligned with a broker that has a reputation for success, their training program could be beneficial enough to put you on the path to success. At Diversegy, we support our sales partners in their prospecting efforts by sharing critical information and strategies that are proven to work in the marketplace. Want to learn more about how our sales team is experiencing so much success? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What are the Key Benefits of Diversegy’s Sales Partner Program?
Diversegy’s full-serve sales platform offers agents, teams, brokers, and customers many benefits. Our program is a commitment and investment into the future of the competitive retail energy industry. Here are some of the key benefits of our platform: