Providing advice and expertise to the Energy Sector is core to No2ndPrize. See how we can help you…
The Energy sector is in a bad place right now – no arguing that. We all know how cyclical it is and that this is one of the longest, and deepest, downcycles we have had for a long time. Procurement departments seem to be in the driving seat and are determined to reduce everything to price, price, price.
It is therefore reasonable to look around this site and think “well, that’s all right, but it won’t work here”.
I get that. After so many years in sales and account management, I have all the battle scars anyone would need. But, even in these times, there is a real opportunity: in a “static” market, customers are often conservative – no-one got fired for doing the same as last year. When things get a bit rough, then the “big lever” club rolls into town and squeezes suppliers – without changing process or approach. Sure, that will lead to a few percent cut in costs. Where we are now, though, is forcing even the most conservative customer to recognize that the approach has to change – and change permanently, and radically. The supplier base should recognize this for the opportunity it is: to push new approaches, new innovations, new techniques. And that won’t happen if all you are planning to do is react when the tender to arrives. You have to be proactive. You have to engage, and to do that you have to align yourself with your customer’s challenges, and become their trusted advisor. There’s nothing at all about a serious downturn like this that stops that happening. Quite the reverse. And that won’t happen if you are hiding in the office behind your laptop.
Having set up No2ndPrize deliberately to address the B2B market generally, I have nevertheless ended up doing quite a few projects in the energy space. It’s tough, for sure, but things are now at the stage where “business as usual, but squeeze prices” simply won’t get the operators to where they need to be. I have seen that creates opportunities for those people who can think through their offerings and re-design them or re-position them to be the innovation that will change the process and create the possibility for big savings.
That demands a new sort of creativity. But it also opens up new opportunities with customers who are usually more on the conservative end. So, the proactive approach applies just as much – if not more so – than “usual”. If you are going to change the way your customer works, then you can’t afford to sit and wait for a tender to arrive. Your new offering will be displacing someone – and they will fight back. So, it is harder but it isn’t impossible.
The primary rule applies – what matters is what will improve the customer’s overall cost-effectiveness. It is up to each potential supplier to be able to quantify how their alternative approaches can help the customer cut their overall finding costs, or lifting costs, or whatever it is they are planning. If you are thinking of charging a multiple of someone else’s rates in this market with a similar product or service, then I can’t help you except to tell you not to expect to have any success. But that doesn’t mean there is no place for differentiation – provide it leads to an overall cost benefit to the customer. Identifying – and quantifying – this is your job, not your customers’.
A note for people who know me from Schlumberger days
Anyone who knows me from Schlumberger days will recognize that what I have developed is much simpler than the standard Slb approach. I thoroughly enjoyed being an evangelist for the Schlumberger approach to sales – I was happy to teach it and happy to practice it. However, for many (probably, most) other companies, who simply cannot afford either the employee time or training budget to learn that way, I knew I had to develop something that was effective, but efficient: structured to help adoption quickly – such as sales that could be taught in a day or two – but would also be something that could be used for a lifetime. My approach to developing everything I do was to distil decades of experience – mine and others’ – into some structure that would help people develop their own process, their own way, but be there to give them a sounding board.
For example, I had long recognized that CRM was being treated (by sales people) as an obligation and not a help, and I decided that a completely different approach was required. Quite a bit of time spent (probably, wasted) with some CRM packages suggested that it is really hard to get them to do what I felt was needed; to help sales people decide what matters, and how much effort to commit to a particular opportunity. That led to me creating the Proactive Sales Coach (PSC). I wanted to practice what I preach and make the PSC as cost-effective as possible, and I set myself a target of keeping it at the point when it would easily be paid for on a first sale. I hope people will find it useful.
Strategic Support, Consultancy and Advice in the Energy Sector
Since setting up No2ndPrize Limited, I have spent a good proportion of my time advising and consulting for businesses who are nothing to do with energy. I love this (and it has already made me realize that the methods I am proposing work across many industries). However, I have also been involved in quite a few Energy related projects and consultancy engagements. I am very happy to do this – I am not trying to avoid the Energy Sector, simply branch out – and I am happy to keep doing it. So, feel free to drop me a line on robin@No2ndPrize.co.uk and I shall be delighted to help.
My only constraint is that I have some confidentiality agreements and some non-competes in place, which of course I shall be very strict about honouring. That may in certain circumstances mean that I am not able to engage on a particular project because of a real or potential risk of conflict of interest. I am sure that everyone out there will understand, but I wanted to ensure it was very clear.
Founder and Director,