You measured your environmental footprint. Improved your products or services. But without customer buy-in- your sustainability efforts won’t achieve the financial returns vital to business success.
To turn sustainable improvements into a business. You need to know exactly how your environmental benefits- benefit your customer.
And to do so, sustainability, marketing & sales need to go hand in hand. This requires two steps:
1. Define a customer sustainability offering that sweeps them of their feet.
2. Train and equip your company’s sales & marketing team to use sustainability as a tool for driving business.
1. How to define a clear customer sustainability offering
Before you start training your commercial team, you need to create a clear value proposition for your customer.
If possible- already involve the sales & marketing team. The sooner you do so, the less work in eventually selling the improvement. Do a recap, and write down:
1. What was the purpose of your improvements?
Was it based on customer demand? Investments? Legislation? Or purpose-driven reasons? The more customer research you already did pre-improvements, the better.
2. What is the added value of your improvements for your company? (Always good to keep those in mind)
3. What is the added value of your improvements for your customers?
What are the concrete benefits?
Create a clear value proposition
Try to align direct customer benefits (for your target segments) with environmental benefits.
- Show relevance: How does your sustainable product solve your customers’ problems (legislation, customer demand, etc.)/ or improve their situation (improve their own company footprint, create a more sustainable lifestyle, etc.).
- Quantify value: What are the specific benefits of your product?
- Differentiate yourself from competitors: Why should your ideal customer buy from you and not from your competition? (you offer a product with the lowest footprint, etc.). If you can connect sustainability to your brand. Do it.
This is where environmental footprints come in very handy. Showing environmental data backs up all your claims and justifies your relevance. It shows you #GotData. And aren’t greenwashing.
2. How to train and equip your sales & marketing team to use sustainability
It’s advised to have marketing & sales part of this project from the beginning (e.g. value proposition stage). As this process works best by sharing each other’s knowledge.
1. Create a clear project plan: Create a one-pager with the how, what & why your sustainable efforts and customer offering is relevant for everyone in your commercial team. Make a structured project plan. If available- include a deadline when you want to actively start implementing sustainability in your commercial efforts.
2. Kick-off session: Start with hosting a kick-off session. Communicate the importance of your sustainability improvements for both marketing & sales. Explain the relevance to the company. Here, it’s advised to share success stories or practical examples of similar cases in other companies.
3. Knowledge sessions: If they are not (fully) aware yet of your sustainability efforts. Set up some regular knowledge sessions. Always listen to feedback. Is everything already clear enough- or do we need more knowledge sessions?
- What have you been doing?
- Why have you done it?
- What are the results?
- What are the key terms everyone should know? (It helps to have a glossary with sustainability terms)
4. Marketing session: Brainstorm your key message. Provide marketing with environmental data where needed. Advise them to keep it clear and simple. Let marketing use their skills and talents to create the messaging around your customer offering. And which sales materials need to be made/adjusted.
5. Sales session: Brainstorm how to best use sustainability in sales. What are your unique selling points (USP’s) in sustainability? Share extra knowledge/environmental data where needed. Let sales create the best way to approach companies with the new sustainable customer offering. Make sure they align their approach with marketing afterwords.
6. Validation: Always test out if your customer offering and messaging are correct, well-received, or if it provides you with new key insights. Create a feedback session with marketing & sales after a determined period.