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Four Things I Learned from Talking with Trade Allies

I recently had the privilege of hosting an AESP webinar (Trade Allies: Partnership or Vendor), where I interviewed Brian Earl, Vice President of Sales, Connexiones, and Mark Breuker, Managing Director, Burton Energy Group, to discuss utility and trade ally partnerships from the perspective of the trade ally. During the conversation, we explored not only partnerships, but value in the trade ally offer, growth based on utility energy efficiency programs, and the future landscape of energy efficiency programs.

I came away with the following four thoughts from this great conversation:

  1. Trade allies like it when utilities fund pilots and want more of them. Why? It allows them to develop new technological offerings for their customers knowing that the utilities are see potential in the market. It provides them with a new reason to make a sales call to their existing customers and new customers. They see real opportunity in these pilots; however, they do feel that sometimes there needs to be more due diligence in exploring the market potential of a technology when taking the decision to pilot it.
  2. Participating in utility energy efficiency programs has allowed them to grow their businesses and hire more employees. They know it and they have the numbers to back it up. Like any good business operator, they know their numbers and what it means to take on new employees. So they can fully appreciate the impact that participating (or not) in a utility EE program can have on their business.
  3. Trade allies want the utilities to share their program plans and road maps several years in advance. Why? So they can better plan their own business strategies and better understand where to invest and hire. They feel that they have to react to the annual program objectives and offerings and that to better prepare and support the utility, they need to have insight as to where a program is going. They want to be proactive in driving their business and your program.
  4. As a trade ally, if you want to survive and thrive you need to offer solutions to the end customers – not just services. Trade allies are recognizing that they must expand their offerings to full service – consulting, project management, installation, and follow up services- if they are going to be truly competitive. It is no longer enough to simply spec and install if you want to secure the sale and retain the customer. And they are taking steps to become full-service providers, as well as expanding the technologies and services they do offer.

Fundamentally, I came away with insight that the trade allies want the utility programs to grow and hit their targets. That they want to be a part of that AND make their businesses grow. And the more you provide them, the more you throw at them, the more they will step up to help the utilities to succeed.

Karen Germain is a Business Direction Principal with Program Development and Implementation (PDI), DNV GL Energy Services USA Inc. She leads the Outreach strategy for PDI’s energy efficiency program implementation teams. Ms. Germain was previously the Head of External Relations with The Carbon Trust (U.K.) where she oversaw relationships with more than 3,000 market influencers including trade associations, professional institutes, and the trade unions. She has held various positions in consulting in both the UK and North America. She holds an MBA in International Strategy and Management and a BS in Organizational Behavior. Further reading from Karen can be found at trade ally success, excel at outreach , and you can listen to Karen’ recent webinar on analytics .

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