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Check out our new website available in early January. We look forward to connecting with you again then.
Check out our new website available in early January. We look forward to connecting with you again then.
As the brilliant scientist, Albert Einstein once reflected: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions”
This advice is one that innovative suppliers of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability solutions, who wish to maximise their success in their key markets should consider.
To help you in thinking about this we offer three questions to help you to make sure you have the right channels and business partnerships in place to make the most of your strategic market opportunities.
Establishing effective business partnerships can often appear to be simple in theory, yet turn out to be more difficult to execute in practice. Similarly most organisations are not starting with a clean sheet of paper, when it comes to this aspect of the business.
We know that without care, focus and clarity that current experiences of indirect sales channels may not be smooth. Problems can occur for a variety of reasons, most of them not being the original intent of either party to the business partnership. These can include issues between partners that result from
The good news is that any and all of these partnership challenges can be addressed provided there is common ground between the parties.
It is a time to reflect and ask yourself some key questions:
Before considering if you have the right partner portfolio there needs to be a get clear management review and consensus on:
After determining your objectives for your partner programme its then easier to review the effectiveness of your existing partner’s portfolio for:
Having answers to these two questions will of themselves likely result in some potential ideas for changes in the direction of your strategy. This assessment might yield some welcome and sober realisations of the need for action to renovate your partner ecosystem and to invest more in area, where there are gaps or in partnerships that are no longer appropriate. Whatever happens it will result in a clear view of the gap between the status of your current partner ecosystem and to where your business needs it to be so that you can achieve the stated goals for the programme.
Before taking action to re-energise, recruit or remove partners from your portfolio, the final of the three questions addresses a review your current efforts to be a good partner to others. For example you may wish to consider if your partner development and support processes are best in class.
This review might consider:
– A review of the value that you’re offering delivers to your partners.
In answering these questions, the complexity and the size of the challenges before you will become more apparent. The good news is that once you have begun to develop an honest appraisal of where your channel and partner challenges reside, you will be in a much better place to take effective action.
Refining a partner strategy can be challenging due to historic experiences and commitments to specific partnerships, perhaps involving personal relationships between members of your company and those of your partners. Occasionally these perspectives prevent an objective appraisal of progress in developing plans for revitalising channel ecosystems.
In these circumstances, it’s worth considering using an independent third party to facilitate the review of partnership strategy. An external facilitator has no commitment to the current strategy or partners. As a result their perspective is objective and can deliver great value in identifying deficiencies in the existing partner ecosystem.
Third parties with proven partnering management expertise can play a useful role in converting self-interest to shared interest, identifying quick wins, and, above all, build and maintain trust between you and your partners as your channel strategy is renewed. If this objectivity is combined with a clear understanding of the dynamics and players in your key markets, then you can quickly revitalise your partner portfolio to maximise your ‘share.
This blog contains a valuable offer for Sales and Marketing people that will connect you with a new growing opportunity in your clients as well as save you valuable time. This offer might just:
And if it does none of these things, it will only take a minute of your time – worth a gamble?
You may not have noticed, but every day there’s more and more evidence of an important new trend. It shows up in news stories like these:
You probably haven’t noticed these stories because you don’t see what they have got to do with you?
Driven by three things:
the tide of interest in Sustainability within businesses has reached an important tipping point.
In fact the momentum behind the move towards more sustainable business models is accelerating. It may be seem like business as usual, but if you are looking in the right places you will see the fundamental shifts that are taking place.
Your challenge is that to make the most this opportunity you need to learn more about it and make sense of it in terms of what this means for the way you market and /or sell your products and services.
What’s more you probably have an overloaded inbox, your mobile’s full of voicemail. So, where the hell are you going to find the hours to sifting out the information you need to be aware of from all of the other “noise” and learn about the Sustainability opportunity.
You don’t need to miss out on the opportunity that is Sustainability even if you are short of time.
We will do the hard part of bringing the most important sustainability stories to you once a week in a short easily digestible format, so that you can make the most of your time without missing out on this vital agenda to your clients. Just one email with distilled relevant content to sales and marketing people – no strings attached. What’s more we will do it for free!
If you decide not to, that’s OK too. When the time is right for you, feel free to tune back in.,
Until then, good luck and good selling
For most business to business (B2B) sales and marketing leaders the end of the first calendar quarter is a time for reflection. For some it marks the end of their first quarter of their sales year, where the glorious successes of the previous year have now been long forgotten. Those past glories have now been replaced by either new celebrations arising from continuing market success or perhaps, more likely, frustration at the size of the target that has been allocated based on that historic sales performance.
For others, especially those in the UK, April is just the start of the new financial year and another 12 months of bigger sales targets. With only 196 selling days left, this time of year is usually accompanied by sales and marketing leaders planning where and how to achieve their remaining quota or sales target? For some facing this situation the answers will be clear, but for others they may be less obvious this blog is designed to provide new food for thought.
Previous sales experience in the B2B market tell us that when seeking new opportunities a good starting point is to consider the way the world of business is changing. Going back to these first principles can reveal insights that have been there “in plain sight” all along, but which have been overlooked due to the pressures of closing existing pipeline or from following tried and tested sales tactics.
Now those tactics may be not yielding sufficient return due to changes in the market conditions and so now is the time to revisit some of these ideas that have been on the back burner. These are opportunities that you may have been almost subconsciously aware of, but that have not really had the attention from you or your sales team to convert them into real, qualified sales pipeline.
One of these opportunity areas is large and getting bigger every year. It is gaining significant interest in the boardrooms and C-Suites across the UK and elsewhere. Its importance is being catalysed by big national and global challenges, which are creating new risks to the sustainable profitability of businesses and that as a consequence are requiring a response from the boards of all companies irrespective of size.
These Sustainability “megachallenges” are being created by major trends:
Business leaders recognise these threat and are responding by fundamentally rethinking their corporate strategies or developing new programmes to mitigate these risks to their sustainable profitability.
The evidence of this trend is growing day by day. In March, 2014 a survey sponsored by the British Standards Institute (BSI) of 150 UK businesses with turnover >£ 350m noted found that
· The top three reasons for investing in Sustainability was identified by these firms as being
o Cost savings,
o Reputational benefits
o Alignment with the company’s goals.
Of these, the alignment with company goals was the most important, which indicates the essential relevance of Sustainability to a growing band of companies, where to be more Sustainable is a clear publicly stated business objective.
This trend has also been evidenced in several other surveys of business leaders in the last 6 months. For example in late 2013 a survey by with Accenture of 1000 global CEOs stated that
Sustainability is not just a large company issue. In December 2013 a UK survey of over 1000 SMEs (turnover < £25m) by Lloyds TSB discovered that
In his cover article this month’s Harvard Business Review (an issue devoted to Practical Sustainability) Andrew Winston a leading sustainable business thinker noted in: “An extreme world calls for extreme change”.
The surveys above show that business leaders increasingly recognise the need for action and are not waiting to be forced by Government or legislation, they are responding out of self-interest and to make their business’s more resilient. The business case for this investment is not being made just on short term cost savings, although such low hanging fruit are still being harvested, it is springing from a recognition of the longer term benefits that accrue from responding to customers, appealing to new employee entering the workforce and in inspiring greater trust from key stakeholders.
Sales and marketing leaders will also recognise that where there is change, there is opportunity. Whilst not all of your clients and prospects are contemplating “extreme change”, many of them are beginning to realise that they need to have a clear strategy to become more sustainable and responsible.
The importance of these strategies are often supported by both internal and external goals. For those businesses that can offer Product or Service solutions to these challenges and that can help their clients or prospects achieve these Sustainability goals, there are new big opportunities.
Traditional methods of assessing business cases such as net present value (NPV) analyses do not consider the value of the longer-term and indirect benefits of investment decisions on environmental and societal risks. Consequently early adopters of Sustainability such as 3M, IKEA, and Intel, simply lower the hurdle rate in assessing sustainability driven projects. Others allocate a portion of the capital expense budget to sustainability investments in the same way that technology innovators allocate expense to Research and Development projects each year. For example Johnson & Johnson specifies $40 million annually for use in to energy and greenhouse-gas-reduction projects.
So if, as we set out at the start of this blog, you are a sales or marketing leader looking for a long term growth opportunity that can help make your sales targets in 2014 and that will also give you an edge on your competition for many years to come, the time for action is now.
Sustainability and the business resilience it enables is a strategically vital issue to your clients in a time of significant and enduring change that cannot be controlled, but which demands a response. New “compelling events” for investment are growing by the day.
Our advice is that if your clients care, then as a B2B sales or marketing leader, so should you. But don’t take our word for it. Just simply take a look at your Top 20 client’s latest Sustainability reports, you may find that the answer to your 2014 quota conundrum is right there – hiding in plain sight.
If you need help to get started or need help to accelerate your attack on the Sustainability solutions market, then our company Cambium can help through our specialised Sustainability sales and marketing support services. You can find out more about the assistance that is available here.
There is a a clear and recent change in publicly stated opinions on Climate Change. These statements come from a wide range of sources and are directing or calling for major action.
This change is highly significant for B2B vendors of cleantech, IT or sustainability solutions.
As an organisation who monitor a wide range of communications in and around sustainability, Cambium has become increasingly aware of change in publicly stated sentiment around climate change. This communication comes from a wide range of high profile sources. It includes, gobal orgaisations, national leaders and governments, influential opinion formers as well as multi-national commercial organisations.
The evidence for this change is summarised in this 2-minute slideshare presentation.
The change has significant implications for the way that B2B vendors of cleantech, IT or sustainability solutions market and sell their products and services.
How will your business respond to this important shift in public sentiment? Let us know your views here or to discuss the issues raised in this presentation, please contact us at email@example.com or visit our website
There is a lot of activity around Energy Efficiency and Corporate Sustainability and the markets for Sustainability solutions are set for significant growth here in the UK, within the European Union and globally.
12 Examples of Sustainability Markets you should consider engagement with at with now.
More details on these markets for Cleantech and IT suppliers are provided in this presentation
Stay ahead of the pack in the Sustainability Solutions markets: Get free weekly news snapshots on the key stories with commentary from the Cambium team (see sidebar on right).
This blog explains why Sustainability is a vital issue for your corporate clients, it examines the evidence for action and then presents you with a clear choice for what you as a sales or marketing professional can do about it.
Many sales and marketing people may have historically regarded public commitments by their clients and prospects of their intention to become more sustainable or responsible with skepticism and as evidence of “lip service” rather than an indication of real strategic intent to invest and take action.
In today’s ultra-competitive markets with 24 x 7 x 365 scrutiny from social media, such beliefs are misplaced. Companies are taking their sustainability goals very seriously backed by significant investments in programmes, products and external services to ensure that these goals are achieved.
The clues are out there:
The growing importance and investment in Sustainability is becoming more and more visible as organisations invest and take action. Companies that have already begun to invest are now publicly sharing the returns that they achieving on their investments to demonstrate this progress to their key external stakeholders. Examples of this public progress can be seen in many industry sectors. They are motivated to take action, because sustainable business is more profitable business.
Just recently the London Stock Exchange announced its partnership with other leading global stock Exchanges to ensure that best practices in Sustainability and transparency are adopted by its member firms. This development has been prompted by the growing preference from institutional investors to invest in sustainable businesses.
This announcement follows hot on the heels of the partnership between 11 asset managers and owners from the Investment Leaders Group (ILG), a coalition brought together to define responsibility, and make “a moral, financial and economic case” for it.
The materiality of sustainability and valuing environmental, social and governance factors by mainstream investors are increasingly becoming key leverage points and are driving companies to act. Earlier this year a survey of 1000 CEOs of global organisations by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) recorded that Sustainability will be important the future success of their business. For these executives sustainability is about:
As more companies take action, so the pressure on sustainability laggards is set to increase. It is only a matter of time before your most important clients or prospects start to take action.
This trend poses a very important question to sales and marketing professionals.
How ready are you to respond to these new needs and requirements of your clients in the rest of this decade?
As more and more businesses take action to achieve these goals, then B2B sales and marketing leaders face a choice in how they respond to the growing trend towards adoption of sustainable business principles. They can either be reactive or they can be proactive.
For sales people a reactive approach has the advantage of meaning no short term action needs to be taken to understand more about sustainability, until they are asked to do so by a client. This is attractive as it saves precious time and means effort can be expended in other areas in the short-term. Ultimately action will only be required once a client’s procurement team requests information about a supplier’s sustainability credentials either in a tender document or as part of a strategic supplier review.
The downside to this approach is that these requests have to be responded to in a short space of time only offering limited time for the production of an effective response. If this happens late in a sales cycle then all of the time and effort invested in getting short listed can be undone. What’s worse it potentially hands the initiative to any competitor that has been proactive in promoting their sustainability credentials or has taken more note of the client’s sustainability goals.
If the request is as part of a more strategic review of a suppliers credentials or of their ability to add value to the client in the medium term, it can be too late to re-brand your company and yourself as being interested in this agenda.
Given the short term quarterly pressures that sales and marketing people are under this approach is understandable. However, it’s an agenda that can no longer be ignored without risk. These risks are set to grow by the day as this agenda will not go away due to the major global pressures that are driving it and the growth in interest amongst organisations and companies beginning to take action.
An alternative to finding yourself between a sustainable rock and a hard place is to be more proactive in responding to this market change. Whilst this means investing time and effort now, the return on investment can be much greater and last for longer than perhaps perceived by many sales and marketing personnel.
The starting point is to find out what your clients or prospect’s sustainability goals are focused upon. The good news is that they are publicly available with details of their priority programmes. A detailed analysis will however reveal more about the areas of real challenge to the business and help the proactive sales person to form a point of view of how his company can help. The other benefit is that given the high priority attached to achievement of these goals, ownership of their achievement resides with senior executives offering a great chance to extend and expand relationships and to reposition your company in new more powerful ways.
Because Sustainability is a relatively new field, it’s an area where personal investment in understanding its principles can enable sellers to be more credible and add more value to their clients. As noted above the importance of Sustainability is set to grow even more over time as companies seek to respond to important the new global economic, environmental and societal pressures. Sales and marketing people who makes this personal investment early can participate in this new market opportunity earlier and grab a sustainable competitive advantage over their competition.
What ever your choice we suggest that its important to track this opportunity. Cambium is making this task easier for you by offering a weekly Sustainability news snapshot service (see right sidebar). It’s free and it might just help you save valuable sales effort and judge when the time is right for you to start your own personal journey to take advantage of the sustainable business trend.
If you want to discuss it with us further, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
If you work for a provider of cleantech, IT or Sustainability Solutions supplier, you should recognise that a changing climate of opinion, offers new growth opportunities for your business. This blog summarises these public shifts in sentiment and the important implications they bring for you and your business.
Many cleantech, energy efficiency and IT providers have, with good reason, relied almost entirely on the financial benefits business case to make the sale. This is despite the positive environmental benefits delivered by their products and services. This blog highlights recent evidence that mainstream opinion on climate change, has itself changed. This shift in sentiment requires cleantech and energy efficiency innovators to re-assess the effectiveness of their value propositions and to consider the implications of this new reality for their sales and marketing teams.
In January 2014 a United Nations body (IPCC) of over 850 of the world’s top climate scientists published their 5th Report (1), which provided a clear and up to date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, human influence on the climate system is clear, and limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
The detailed reports from these scientists highlights the risk to everyone of a changing climate, in great detail. This new work has been reviewed and digested by policy makers globally and the last quarter has seen a clear shift in public response to this detailed research.
Recent public statements from governments, major businesses, professions and religious groups provide significant markers of a revitalised consensus on the real need to for action. It’s now clear that the reality of climate change has achieved mainstream acceptance. This shift in opinion promises to put “wind in the sails” of Sustainability solutions businesses, especially those that offer clean energy, energy efficiency or carbon abatement innovations. Before assessing the implications for your business, it’s worth reviewing some of the wide range of evidence for the new consensus.
So what’s changed since the start of the year?
The following links summarise this important shift.
One of the biggest changes has seen President Obama seek to make action on climate change one of the major goals of his second term. Action has been taken by the US Environmental Protection agency to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants as a first step. Despite stiff political opposition in the US, these plans mark a major change in US climate policy.
China’s leaders also recognise the increasing need for action with He Jiankun, (Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change), seeking a cap on emissions in the 13th five-year plan spanning 2016-2020
In India, the newly elected government of Narendra Modi has made a major push on renewable energy and recognised that climate change is a reality by establishing a new $18.5m national climate adaptation fund to help Indian farmers cope with worsening climate impacts.
Whatever your view of their personal opinions, or indeed the institutions that they represent, there are now a growing number of voices from influential and informed public figures on the subject of climate change and the need for action. The diversity of these opinion influencers is wide, but their new consistency of viewpoint is significant. Examples include:
In addition to these opinion leaders, it is clear that professions, ranging from soldiers to engineers and from the clergy to doctors, are publicly highlighting the need to consider the serious risks posed by an actual change in climate:
The need to change energy consumption strategy, to mitigate the impact of the greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels on changing our climate, has historically been the ‘elephant in the room’. Many suppliers have ignored this aspect of their value propositions due to the strong range of opinions they aroused which could stall a sales campaign.
Using mitigation of climate impact as a catalyst has historically been seen by some cleantech innovators as being potentially dangerous to their business interest. The changing climate has been perceived to be too emotive and controversial to use as part of a hard-nosed business case.
Not any more.
The evidence cited above, and much more like it, demonstrates that highlighting the environmental benefits of products and services is now no longer a “wacky green eco idea”. The need to combat climate change is now the mainstream view and is only going in one direction of demanding more action by enterprises. Highlighting these positives about an investment that reduces emissions is not only OK, it’s seen as being desirable by your clients and prospects.
The gathering interest in climate change by businesses and the business resilience risks it poses are beginning to catalyse a host of secondary effects including:
There are growing risks to corporate reputations and brands of ignoring or being agnostic to the climate threat. It is important to recognise that these reputational risks will apply to both buyers and sellers like you.
Sales and marketing leaders in energy efficiency and cleantech businesses, including IT, must recognise that:
In further blogs, we will examine these implications for sales and marketing leaders in more detail and suggest some key strategies that should be deployed to maximise the resulting new opportunities.
Stay ahead of the pack in the Sustainability Solutions markets: Get free weekly news snapshots on the key stories with commentary from the Cambium team (see sidebar on right)
If you want to discuss the issues raised in this blog in more detail, please visit our website or email us at email@example.com
(1) – A Summary of the UN IPCC Report can be found here.
This blog focuses on the importance of ICT in enabling more intelligent and optimised solutions to our sustainability challenges. It marks the start of a series of blogs, where we will be discussing ICT’s critical role in enabling a transition to a more sustainable world. ICT skills and expertise are vital to the efficacy of many sustainability solutions. This trend to integrate ICT and growing intelligence will require better collaborations between ICT businesses and sustainability solution vendors. It will also demand a migration of ICT expertise into Sustainability based businesses.
The good news is that this transition is already underway. Recently I was very fortunate to be invited by the Chartered Institute of IT – BCS Green IT Specialist Group to be a panel member on their special debate on the subject:
I can confess to being slightly apprehensive to discuss such a topic in front of such a highly qualified and expert body. This is especially true as the BCS Green IT Specialist Group is growing rapidly and comprises over 1,400 members. Thankfully not all of these people were in attendance and my initial apprehension was quickly dispelled by the great hospitality and tolerance shown by the attendees.
The debate was wide and varied and touched on a variety of topics including posing the questions as to:
Despite the concerns raised at the growing number of devices and their ever growing need for data, bandwidth and computational power, the conclusion of the debate in the view of this panellist, saw a positive swing in favour of ICT not costing the earth after the debate.
Whilst the energy efficiency and environmental impact of ICT is an important issue of growing importance, especially with the advent of the Cloud, a wider role for ICT in enabling sustainability will also be essential. In particular ICT has a vital role to play in enabling optimal use of resources by a rapidly growing global population. Given the size of these challenges a focus on datacentre energy consumption alone runs the risk of missing the bigger ICT opportunity. Let me illustrate my point.
In the time it takes for you to read this blog over 1,000 new human beings will have arrived on Planet Earth. That equates to two Airbus A380s (the world’s largest commercial airliner) worth. All of these passengers will bring with them a lifetime’s demand for resources such as food, energy and water and an aspiration to have the same quality of life as you or I. The UN has estimated that by 2030 our population growth rate is such that we will need 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more drinking water. Current consumption models indicates that Western European economies are consuming resources at a rate that is three times those available.
It is our contention that ICT’s role will be essential in meeting the massive optimisation of resource use implied by these numbers. ICT will be essential to enable smarter resource use decisions to be made in real-time by both businesses and individuals. This growth in ICT for Sustainability is essential if we are to accomplish this transition, but is particularly vital for a transition to low carbon global economy.
In the short term a good opportunity to consider the application of ICT to enable more sustainable use of resources will be offered by the recently introduced Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) that affects 9,000 UK companies. This recent blog explains how ICT can play a leading role to ensure ESOS compliance, but also to use this legislative catalyst as a stepping stone towards the use of more ICT to enable energy efficiency in the short term and sustainability in the medium term.
In summary ICT won’t cost us the Earth on the contrary in our view ICT is an essential tool that will enable humanity to evolve successfully through this transition. The more that ICT professionals can metaphorically get out of the datacentre and into the business to explain this potential for technology to enable more sustainable business practices the better for all of us. This is why the growth in the BCS Green IT Specialist Group is very encouraging.
More information on the BCS Green IT Specialist Group can be found here.
In subsequent blogs, we will build on this idea of the increasing importance of ICT to enable sustainability solutions by providing a useful framework to consider the deployment of about these new emerging ICT opportunities for sustainability.
To ensure you receive an update, when this and our other blogs are available, please sign up to our weekly newsletter.
If you wish to discuss any of the ideas raised here, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
There is growing empirical evidence that sustainable business practices are not only desirable, but indeed necessary for sustained profitability in both the short and long term.
Adoption of sustainable business practices offers the opportunity to reduce costs, meet rising stakeholder expectations and to also generate new business opportunities. These business benefits are being demonstrated by a rapidly growing list of individual company case studies amongst leading early adopters of sustainability across all industry sectors.
This empirical real world experience is now being confirmed by concrete financial evidence. A 2013 study by Harvard Business School professors Robert Eccles and George Serafeim in conjunction with London Business School’s Ioannis Ioannou has recently verified sustainability’s profit potential.
This research examined the financial performance of companies that had voluntarily adopted corporate-level sustainability policies against companies that hadn’t. This involved a long 16 year study that compared the performance of “high-sustainability” versus “low-sustainability” companies from 1993 to 2009. This study found that high-sustainability companies significantly outperformed their counterparts.
This means that anyone that had invested $1 in a portfolio of high-sustainability companies in 1993, that investment would have grown to $22.60 by 2010. That same $1 invested in a low-sustainability portfolio would have delivered only $15.40.
Consequently, it’s no surprise that Investors are now taking an interest in the adoption of sustainability principles by the management of companies within their portfolios.
The resulting elevated demands for transparency into material risks required by proactive investors is having a particularly large impact on public companies. The recommendations of the Kay Report commissioned by the UK Government after the 2008 financial crisis catalysed a growing demand for greater transparency into management action to mitigate long-term risk to the sustainable profitability of the business.
Resulting changes to the Companies Act in October of 2013* now require UK Listed companies to provide details in their annual reports of all information relevant to the sustainable profitability of their business model. Such information is deemed to be “material”, if its omission from or misrepresentation in the annual report might reasonably be expected to inﬂuence the economic decisions shareholders might make on the basis of the annual report as a whole.
* Obtain a free report on the market opportunities created by this legislation here
As a result there is a growing expectation on behalf of investors and other key stakeholders, such as customers, employees and politicians that all public companies assess and address the sustainability issues that are “material” to their existence over time.
Although every company varies in their interpretation of what counts as “material”, vital clues are readily found in their Sustainability or Corporate Responsibility reports and other publicly available sources. Do you need help to discover and interpret this valuable sales intelligence?
In reading this material remember the 7 key questions that suppliers need to answer about their client’s sustainability goals
To keep track of the new business opportunities arising as organisations seek to become more sustainable you can sign up for our weekly news snapshots (see sidebar) or follow us on Twitter – @cambiumllp
The leaders of key business functions, such as IT, Facilities, HR that provide valuable supporting services to the rest of the business face many challenges. Doing more with less, recruiting and retaining key talent, while continuing to deliver value and innovation to the rest of the business.
Demonstrating this added value and obtaining the internal recognition they and their teams deserve is a constant battle. In this blog we provide some fresh ideas on how these leaders can use the widespread ssue of Sustainability to grow their influence and combat any risk of being marginalised by the business.
Sustainability is vital issue of great interest to the C-Suite catalysed by major global environmental and societal challenges that affect all businesses. Evidence for this trend is widespread. Consequently most organisation’s have important objectives and policies, set by the leadership of the business, which determine the company’s response.
In our last blog (Where is your Business on its Sustainability Journey?), we discussed how lack of engagement with the Sustainability agenda can create a risk that key business functions can be marginalised. To meet this challenge every function must review its approach to Sustainability in order to ensure its on-going relevance to the wider business and senior management (C-suite). This risk is depicted in the graphic below.
Given the many short-term pressures facing all functions, Sustainability can often become relegated in importance, compared to the ‘day job’ of delivering business as usual services. For this reason those functions that can step up and demonstrate not only the commitment to Sustainability goals, but also to use them as a driver of sustainable innovation can refresh their perceptions and as a result grow their influence within the business. The potential benefits of this strategy are illustrated by the graphic below.
Let’s consider progress up the Y-Axis first towards becoming more ‘Sustainability Aligned’.
Clearly a sound understanding of organisational goals and how they relate to the sustainability agenda is essential. For some this might require investment in sustainability education and if possible done in a way that not only deals is highly relevant to the business (as apposed to generic – “we need to save the planet” stuff) but also acts as a catalyst for employee engagement.
Developing this more aligned view of sustainability as it applies to your function also offers the chance to also establish a clear and shared view of sustainability Innovation priorities. From this starting point the function is in a strong position to develop function specific business goals.
However working in relative isolation is only likely to get leaders so far. The complexity and extent of the sustainability challenges typically require well-developed cross-functional collaboration. Key to this engagement and collaboration is getting the buy in and support of other core business functions.
It is an opportunity for your function to be a prime mover in engaging and mobilising people cross-functionally to generate ideas and actions for innovation with sustainability goals as the driving force.
Internal collaboration creates an opportunity for ensuring de-duplication of effort and the sharing of best practices, as well as a better appreciation of the importance of Sustainability across the wider business.
The benefits of collaboration are not just restricted to internal engagement.
To deliver sustainable innovation requires progress along the x- Axis to bring in new innovation to functional working practices. Even with well-developed cross-functional collaboration it is unlikely that all the solutions can be found or generated from within so there is a need to look outside. This of course is not without its challenges raising questons such as:
Better alignment with internal sustainability goals will have already begun to identity priority areas for innovation. This prioritisation now also helps establish the scope of where to look for external support. This search may well start with the existing supplier relationships, who themselves may also have to look beyond their established products and services to address your innovation requirements.
Identification of innovative sustainability solutions requires investment on both sides and not all suppliers will be ‘up for’ this level of collaboration. They may want your business, but the level of investment, the perceived risk and the timescale for financial return may just not fit with their business model. This does not make them bad suppliers it just means that they do not want to engage in this way.
A way of working will require shared goals a greater deal of openness and trust on all sides. This can be a difficult journey but can be made easier with use of well-planned and delivered collaboration processes.
So if all of the ideas above sounds sensible, it begs the question as to how and where to start. We are not suggesting that this path is easy, because it not and requires, patience, tenacity and an open collaborative mind-set.
Of course having a trusted guide can help accelerate progress along the journey by helping you to avoid pitfalls. For example by providing deep Sustainability expertise and being able to support the rapid development of new collaborations along the way.
If you are interested in leveraging Sustainability to transform the internal and external perceptions of your team, we would be delighted to discuss your situation and the options available to accelerate your progress.
This blog builds our previous blog – ‘3 Key Questions to ensure the right partner strategy is in place. It sets out and addresses the needs of sales and marketing leaders of energy efficiency solution companies to make the most of access to senior levels in the customer organisation.
Why selling to the C-suite is important
As ESOS requires proposals for energy reduction to be reviewed at senior level – one of headlines from the previous blog is the ‘ESOS is now underway and with the impact of vacations we estimate that for suppliers there are only 150 effective selling days remaining before the deadline (5th December 2015) for the first of these board reviews’.
Also any supplier thinking that they can rely on selling at more junior levels is likely to miss out. In our recent survey of the UK energy Efficiency Supply Chain (get your free copy here), we asked suppliers about who they sold to and how that was likely to change over the next 2 years.
The survey results showed a major shift towards selling to the senior members of the C-suite. If your business does not explore engaging at this more senior level you risk being out-sold by those competitors who do make this transition.
Who do you sell to? – Percentage Shift over next 2 years
So given that ESOS has created a new way of getting our offerings heard by the C-suite and that the trend in the energy efficiency supply chain is to sell higher there is a need for our offerings to have more C-suite appeal.
If we look at business through the eyes of our prospective customers and in particular the eyes of the C-Suite management they are unlikely to deal with point technologies like metering, more efficient air conditioning or a buildings management reporting tool. However they are interested in collectively what these technologies can do to deliver value for their business. Therefore for suppliers with point technologies, effective partnering with others becomes even more essential to get your differentiation understood at board level.
Making the most of the C-suite opportunity
If all this means pitching as part of a collective, then how do we make the most of it. One area where this collective approach can fall down is maintaining the customer perspective. In putting an effective partnership together a lot of work is required to ensure all the pieces fit together. What is our proposition?, Who does the selling? Which markets / customers do we go after? What is the best delivery mechanism, How will my technology fit with your technology?, How do we get paid? In all of this activity it is all too easy to loose sight of how the senior decision makers will respond to our pitch.
In my dealings with senior executives and in particular with the CFO, a common theme is how quickly and easily, people pitching their solution, step into the technical detail and about how elegant the design is. From the C-suite perspective, their question is ‘what will it do for my business? Their time is always short, so to answer this question in terms that are meaningful to them is vital. This means that you need to know their business and speak their language. Is this knowledge available within the partnership? Are you making the most of this? Do you need to look elsewhere?
Now and again they (the C-suite) say some suppliers make a pitch that speaks their language and clearly addresses customer-relevant business challenges. They have prepared well. However, having made a good initial pitch, they are then faced with questions about the reliability of their solution. The suppliers now see this as an opportunity to elaborate on the technical detail, the clever design and how all the bits fit together. It is not! As good and clever as the design is, these type of facts are unlikely to convince the C-suite. At this stage the main information that the C-suite wants to know is: Where have you done this before? Did it deliver what it promised? They are making major decisions about how their company spends its money and they are looking to minimise risks.
A good example of this was at the ‘The Big Innovation Pitch’ at this month’s Ecobuild. Hosted by Marks & Spencer, this excellent session saw a number of innovators present their innovations to a panel of senior executives. All the presenters did a great job of describing their offering in terms of the benefits to the buyer. They clearly prepared well. So far so good, however when faced with the ‘reliability’ question session the technical details came flooding out. What the panelists did not hear was, how rigorous was the testing, where have you done this before and did it deliver what you promised.
In terms of helping the C-suite minimise the risks – how well does your partnership present itself as an integrated and united front? Are you clear on your strengths? Are you prepared to address the challenging questions about areas that your customer might see, but you have not?
In the early stage of business relationship there is an understandable tendency to be guarded about what we share. We are more likely to share our successes than our failures. This leads both sides to overstate their competences, and leave undiscovered (at least for now) any weaknesses that may put any deals at risk.
To de-risk the situation all parties in the partnership need to work quickly to develop the degree of trust that allows these areas to emerge before they damage the deal. Here the Johari Window model – often used for developing self-awareness and teamwork can be effective. Drop me a note if you would like more details of how this could work to help you improve the sales productivity of your partnerships.
Given the tight timescale for this opportunity, the free ESOS Supplier survey report referenced above may help identify where the best partnering opportunities lie for your organisation.
Finally, if you are looking for something more specific and need help to review or accelerate your partnering strategy, Cambium can help – find out more.
In a recent blog we referenced the 2015 BiFM Sustainability survey that highlighted a ‘Sustainability Crunch’ and pointed to the need for higher levels of organisational leadership on sustainability. As important as this to the FM profession, Cambium research has also identified that these challenges also exist (and in some cases are more acute) for the business leaders responsible for other roles such as IT, Procurement and Energy Management.
This blog looks at these leadership challenges in more detail and sets out 4 key steps to address the sustainability leadership gap and to make these functional roles a more essential part of the organisations they ‘support’.
The 2015 BiFM Sustainability survey taken by around 300 organisations in the FM sector showed three major areas where leadership issues were contributing to the ‘Sustainability Crunch’.
Given the core issues at the heart of the ‘Sustainability Crunch’ (rising pressures and falling effectiveness) the graphs above point to clear calls to action for leadership.
These calls to actions need to be seen in the context of an environment that appears to marginalise many functional ‘support’ roles. In a previous blog Business Leaders: Paying “lip service” to Sustainability increases your risk of being marginalised we set out the evidence for the declining influence for roles such as FM and others. Here we introduced a framework to help make the case for the strategic steps needed to mitigate the risks of marginalisation created by poor sustainability leadership..
Part of this strategy (moving up the y-axis) was about creating alignment with the strategic goals of the business and in particular aligning with the sustainability related goals. In the Sustainability report published by BIFM they cited a number of recommendations for FM leaders – 4 of which fit well with this strategy and have applicability beyond FM. I have listed these 4 recommendations below and look to build on them with what I hope some practical advice on how to get things moving.
Many organisations and especially those who are run in a ‘top down’ fashion tend to have corporate sustainability goals that are forged in the board room and have high level goals like ‘reduce our carbon footprint by X% over Y years, or less tangible targets like ‘improve community engagement’. All laudable stuff but very often overlooked in terms of the day-to-day, month-to-month activities that contribute to these overall goals. How well do your activities and priorities align with these goals? Are you and your teams recognised for your contribution?
For similar reasons covered in point 2, understanding how people perceive sustainability is key to know how they will respond to initiatives and what steps (training, education, incentives etc.) would be helpful in ensuring the best possible response. For a whole variety of reasons (which we will cover in a future blog), there is a wide range of attitudes and responses to sustainability. The extent of this range (particularly the skeptical end) is not always obvious as developments, such as climate change science becomes more accepted, people are less likely openly voice their disapproval. We also tend to engage more with ‘those team members that get it’. To get a truer picture – a short well-designed internal survey will be a very positive step.
Sustainability is growing in importance for all your stakeholders. Whether it is your customers, investors or Government, they have all become more aware and continue to want more information on your sustainability performance. In many instances, perhaps other than legislation mandating company compliance like CRC or ESOS, people working in your organisation can may not be aware of these external stakeholder pressures. Making / keeping them aware of these pressures helps maintain priorities and a greater sense of purpose around sustainability activities and programmes throughout the organisation.
Lets face it, no one really likes their performance to be measured and the introduction of additional KPIs will be met with some resistance. So perhaps there is some re-evaluation of metircs to be done. Are all your existing KPIs really necessary or the best way to drive performance? Often legacy KPIs have outgrown their usefulness. Do you really need them? Can they be swapped for better, forward-looking sustainability related KPIs? Also as a leader you will have seen individuals and teams become disillusioned as there good ideas for sustainability improvements have not taken forward. Very often this is because of a lack of a business case and the data to back it up. The trade here is – let’s have more KPIs so we can make a better case for more investment.
We can also give you an initial snapshot of where you sit in relation to the Sustainability Innovator framework. Click here for a short (5 minute) questionnaire. It’s free and the feedback includes commentary and suggested next steps.
In the meantime you might want to check out the following useful links.
We specialise in helping organisations realise the full business benefit of Sustainability. Our focus is on accelerating the implementation of sustainable business strategies through accelerating innovation and enabling better collaborations. Our support services extend to the following aspects of the Sustainability agenda that are relevant to
Sustainability Leaders Within Organisations, who we support through:
Suppliers of Solutions that enable achievement of sustainability goals including:
The leaders of business functions risk marginalisation and reduced influence unless they engage with the Sustainability agenda. This is a key message from a recent survey of suppliers to UK businesses. The research focus was on the use of energy, one of the major resources to be managed as part of any organisation’s Sustainability strategy.
Today more than ever C-Suite and executive management see sustainability as an essential business strategy that delivers not only traditional shareholder value, but also addresses a wide range of business needs, including:
For more details, take a look at some of our recent blogs showing the positive impact of a sustainability focus on Company profitability by Harvard Business School and a summary of 7 case studies demonstrating a solid return on investment for UK based companies.
This blog is the first in a series that highlight and provide commentary on the implications of Sustainability upon functional leaders in areas from IT, Engineering, Procurement to FM. In addition to highlighting the risks of ignoring this agenda, subsequent blogs will provide ideas on how business functions can leverage Sustainability to transform perceptions and demonstrate their value to the business
In late 2014, Cambium conducted a survey of suppliers in the energy efficiency supply chain in relation to the recently introduced ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) legislation. This survey was completed by over 75 product and services companies ranging in size from SME to multi-nationals.
A free report with details of the research methodology and findings can be downloaded from here.
The survey asked suppliers which roles that they currently engage with as part of their sales process and how that engagement was likely to change over the next two years. The results clearly show a growing engagement with senior C-suite roles at the expense of their traditional points of contact.
At a surface level this shift could be taken as the part of generic sales best practice to ‘sell high’ and get to the senior decision makers. However there are a number of underlying factors that make a strong case that this is a more fundamental change and worthy of more attention.
At the heart of this fundamental change is that for many organisations, energy is not only one of the main variable costs to be managed, but is increasingly a key pillar of their sustainability strategy.
As energy management and the associated carbon footprint are a major component of many organisation’s sustainability metrics, the shift by suppliers to engage at board level could lead to the marginalisation of the in-house role with little or no input into strategic decision making processes.
In graphical terms, we can map the functional role in terms of it’s alignment with the organisation’s sustainability goals against the way they contribute to the business. This contribution can be characterised as an implementer of functional best practice or alternatively a function that looks engage with new ways of working and innovation. From this we can see that here are a number of factors driving marginalisation of the functional role.
Does this look familiar?
Could you contribute more if you were more involved?
In the next few blogs we will look at the challenges in growing the functional presence and influence in response to these factors. In the meantime you might want to check out the following useful links.
If you want to discuss the issues raised n this blog, please get in touch with us via email@example.com