As the competitive intensity of the utilities sector rises, Eedo Lifshitz, AVP of Business Development and Utilities’ Solutions at cVidya, explains how the right sales performance management solution can help an energy supplier win market share, while cutting costs.
In many markets, ongoing deregulation of the energy distribution sector has ushered in a new era of increasingly intense competition. Householders and businesses can now typically choose between multiple retailers selling energy that is delivered by the same underlying distribution network.
On the face of it, energy distribution could become a highly commoditized market, where retail margins are destined to be wafer-thin. But there are ways in which utility retailers can differentiate themselves. They can tailor their tariffs to particular groups of customers, potentially offering rates that vary by time of day, and they can take a far more proactive and systematic approach to sales and customer care.
As competition intensifies, energy retailers are increasingly seeing the need for a sophisticated, knowledgeable and motivated sales force both inside and outside the company. In this respect, the utilities sector is echoing trends in the telecoms sector in which a similar wave of deregulation prompted intense competition and a much stronger focus on sales performance management (SPM).
Information and motivation
Through our long experience in the telecoms sector, we have learned that, to be really effective, customer-facing staff and dealers need both timely information and sufficient motivation. An advanced SPM solution can meet both these needs, enhancing the performance of both sales and customer service operations.
On the sales front, the right SPM solution can dramatically improve the performance of both an internal sales force and external dealers, boosting market share, revenues and profitability. Equipped with the right software tools, sales directors and managers can set appropriate goals and incentives for their internal teams and external dealers, while monitoring their performance in near real time. A sophisticated SPM solution will enable a utility retailer to set commissions at a level which strikes the optimum balance between motivating sales staff and keeping the costs of sales under control.
Deployed on-site or as a cloud service, a well-designed SPM solution will enable a retailer to manage its entire sales force and different types of dealer through a single centralized competence center. The solution should enable the utility to set business rules, adapt incentives to sales strategy and manage large volumes of commission payments. A sophisticated SPM solution will also enable the utility to configure business processes for payments and disputes.
At the same time, an SPM solution should give individuals in the sales force a sense of control, enabling managers, individual sales executives and channel partners to easily monitor their own performance and adjust their approach accordingly. Individual sales staff and dealers should be able to use an SPM solution to access timely information on specific promotional campaigns, targets and incentives from any device with a web browser. Individual members of the sales force should be able to track their commission on a daily basis and analyze how they can optimize their performance within the utility company’s incentive framework.
As well as reducing time-to-market for promotional campaigns and making the sales process more efficient, a powerful SPM tool will increase the likelihood that dealers will continue to sell the utility’s services, rather than those of a competitor.