Every utility looks for ways to increase revenues and selling products beyond traditional power generation is one option. Some of you are selling the Wild Blue high-speed Internet service and if you aren’t, you probably are considering it. Wild Blue can be a great tool for growing revenues.
This poses a challenge, however. Wild Blue may be your first venture into selling a nontraditional product. What if you have competition in your area for high-speed Internet connections? How do you compete?
The answer is promotion, knowledge and training. Following are ideas on how to make that happen.
On-hold messaging. I regularly call utilities and am put on hold. Often, I sit in silence. Fill that void with a recorded message promoting your high-speed Internet service. Describe the benefits to the customer.
Voice mail. Customers leave messages for your company and your employees every day. Add a brief, upbeat promotion at the end of the voice message letting customers know about your new service.
Celebrate! Hang a large product-promotion banner on the outside of the building. Decorate the lobby with balloons and brightly colored signs. Be sure all customer service representatives wear colorful promotion buttons. Have a Wild Blue connection set up in the lobby so customers can give it a test drive.
Marketing on wheels. Your company vehicles travel around your community every day. Turn them into moving billboards that promote Wild Blue. Make it eye catching and easy to read at a distance
Target marketing. Identify areas in your community that do not have access to high-speed Internet. Determine where the local phone company does not have equipment to provide that service. People in those areas are hungry for a fast connection, so send direct mail marketing pieces that are targeted to them.
Web site. Your company Web site is the most inexpensive place to promote high-speed Internet. Put a promotion banner on your home page with a link to another page that answers the most commonly asked questions your customers would have about the service.
Is your marketing working? Do the newspaper and TV ads, radio spots and bill stuffers make the phone ring? Each time a customer calls about a product, the CSR should ask how the customer heard about it. Track customer responses to know which marketing approach is generating the best results. What are the demographics for each inquiring customer? Does one marketing tool draw more qualified customers than another?
Product knowledge. Your employees are selling a new technology that they may not understand. That doesn’t allow them to sell it with confidence. Install Wild Blue at your CSRs’ homes so they can learn about the product and experience its benefits first hand. Give to it to them at cost, for free or as a 90-day trial. When your employees understand how great this product is, they will become passionate sales people.
Field installation. Customers will have questions about installation. Employees who sell the service should go in the field with technicians so they can see what an installation involves.
Outside the plant. As you market Wild Blue, your people in the field are bound to encounter customers who are interested in the service. Your marketing department must make sure these employees are knowledgeable about the product and have written information to provide to customers.
The phone is ringing, now what? Your utility has invested in marketing Wild Blue to get the phone ringing, but are your CSRs ready? CSRs play a critical role in assisting customers with the buying decision. Training will give them the skills they need to effectively sell the service. Here are aspects of training to think about:
Do CSRs know how to build rapport with the customer? Have they qualified the customer to know the customer’s knowledge about the product and to determine the appropriate information to provide? Do they ask the right questions to understand the customer’s needs and then explain the benefits of high-speed Internet? Can they effectively deal with an objection by a customer who says “your competition is selling it for less”? Once the customer is sold on the benefits, do CSRs ask for the business?
Coaching. Selling is a learned skill that requires practice and coaching. Supervisors need to become coaches to make sure their staff has the skills to be confident in selling the product.
Recognition and incentives. For many utilities, selling Wild Blue may be their CSRs’ first experience with promoting a product. This can be a difficult situation. Create a recognition and incentive program to reward CSRs for their efforts.
Wild Blue can be an excellent way to generate revenue for your utility. But you must have a clear plan for how to capture the interest of your customers, sell the benefits and land the business.
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skill training for utility companies.