In my recent In 2010, I Predict Salespeople Will ... post, 24 sales experts shared their #1 prediction for the upcoming year. But only one sent me a "I can't believe no one has mentioned this yet" email and that was Mary Clare Hunt.
Her focus? Green value, sustainable attributes and life cycle assessments. She's running a 16-part series on getting a Green Sales Edge in her Ecolutionary Selling blog right now that you might to check out.
WHY SHOULD YOU PAY ATTENTION TO GREEN?
According to Mary, we're at the beginning of an eco-market decade and it's critical to be seen as a "10". Here is her rationale:
1. It’s already past the tipping point.
In the Business to Consumer world, Wal Mart is asking their vendors to be fluent in GREEN. Because Wal Mart cares, the Sustainability Consortium came about to help develop a global program to benchmark Sustainable Standards based on science, not a great marketing program.
In the Business to Business world, the USGBC has been on top of the green game for years via their LEED certification process for creating green buildings. LEED provides the framework for tallying credits that can be substantiated; for example putting a bike rack in front of your building will earn you credit for encouraging lower carbon footprints in transportation. What it doesn’t do is ask, “What’s the carbon footprint of that bike rack while it was being manufactured across its entire manufacturing supply chain”?
The Los Angeles Community College District, is asking its vendors to provide green value statements with their product bids even though the LACCD is required by the state of California to buy via the lowest cost. It’s an awkward position to be in as the LACCD wants to walk the talk, but it is hindered by state requirements. These green value statements are a first-step-bridge to “green talking points” that the LACCD can quote from later should a product be selected. In other words… it’s a competitive edge.
As for cost…. today, providing a green product does add dollars, but those dollars are now getting in line with the traditional options. At the same time, bid requirements are raising the green bar for what is acceptable and what isn’t; for example, the LACCD has a list of banned chemicals. (we’ll talk about it in an upcoming post).
In a couple of years, I predict that only products that can meet sustainable standards will be part of the bid process regardless of the institution. The winning standard will be made under consensus, be LCA based, and require third party audits. At some point everyone will have to walk the talk all the way down to the products they use. It isn’t enough that buildings may be energy neutral, water efficient and toxin free if the manufacturing processes to provide the products used, aren’t.
2. Academics are leading the way and setting students on a new course.
The LACCD is comprised of 10 campuses serving over 225,000 students. It is deploying over $6 billion in bond money to make all 10 campuses as sustainable as possible. That’s a lot of influence and getting a Master Agreement Contract would make a nice commission check for anyone. In Wal Mart terms, it’s a gorilla of B2B market influence. Getting your products embedded with green market leaders like the LACCD may lock in your green market position for this entire decade. That’s worth knowing how to speak green.
3. Companies, municipalities and governments are under extreme pressure to bring down energy, water cost while lowering employees exposure to toxins, they need decision-making help.
There are over 300 sustainable standards all vying to be THE pro-active benchmark that everyone follows. At the moment, with no clear market winner, no one knows which standard to certify to that will provide the most market clout.
What you can do is start the LCA process which will substantiate the claims you make on a later standard and back up any sales and collateral material. Meanwhile read up on what the ASTM E2129 standard requires. You can also go to Green Building Pages and see how many questions you can answer of the 160 asked. GBP covers the ASTM 2120E questions. Don’t be put off if your product isn’t a “building” product. The questions pertain to both the B2C and B2B worlds.
Clearly the next 10 years will be revolutionary times. The next 16 posts will help position your sales staff to the group leading the Ecolution.
Mary Clare Hunt speaks to business and consumer groups offering insights to both sides of the buyer/seller equation. As a creative sales and marketing executive for over 28 years, she specializes in making intangible concepts clear. In today’s market that means establishing programs that speak to the intersection of social media with sustainable practices.
Her topics include: “Rewiring Your Sales Force” , “How to speak Authentic Green,” “Creating a Blog/Bomb Proof Message” and “Purses, Peers, Posts and the Power to Move Markets.”
Currently Mary consults for the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) where she works to streamline supply chain communications and capture case studies of the LACCD’s success in creating, teaching and training green jobs for a green economy.