The energy market is saturated with brokers — kind of like how the Los Angeles dating scene is saturated with aspiring actors. And like aspiring actors fighting to stand out in LA, energy brokers have to hustle to win the hearts of new suppliers in a sea of competition.
Like in any industry, players in the energy business rely on good relationships for maximum impact and professional success. The relationship between a broker and a supplier is symbiotic, and it’s one that requires attention to detail to ensure all parties involved are benefitting.
That said, as a broker, it can be hard to get your foot in the door with a new supplier. Maintaining a good relationship is crucial to a broker’s success; otherwise, they run the risk of being deprioritized, or worse, dumped altogether. There may be lots of guides to dating out there, but there aren’t too many broker/supplier relationship handbooks on the shelves. That’s why we interviewed over 30 different supplier representatives across the country to get some answers: what exactly makes a good broker, and what about them makes a supplier ready to swipe right?
Here were some of their insights:
Kilowatts are King
Above all, volume reigns supreme for energy suppliers. A standout broker is one who provides a consistent, high-volume flow of business to their supplier. There are few suppliers out there who will spend their time and energy on brokers who aren’t pulling their weight. So if you don’t like being left hanging for hours, be sure to maximize that deal flow!
Get to Know Your Date
Every supplier focuses on different ways to attract and retain customers. Some focus on incredible customer service or simple bill payment. Others have unique renewable energy offerings or options to support on-bill financing of energy efficiency projects. Learn a bit about your supplier before you decide to work with them and think about if what they provide would resonate with the customers you are looking to go after. And then get incredibly good at sharing that message to your customers. Know your suppliers better than they know themselves.
Establish Intent and Practice Consent
In the energy brokerage world, this means providing your supplier with the proper paperwork during an RFP to ensure they know you mean business. Make it clear from the beginning of a new deal how serious you are to get to the finish line by seeking a Letter of Exclusivity (LOE) from your customers. This ensures that the supplier knows you are the only person working with that business and won’t be blindsided by other suitors.
Act Like The Pro You Know You Are
You’ve probably heard this before, but a little professionalism can go a long way. As the liaison between the customer and the supplier, it’s up to the broker to represent both with accuracy, clarity, and candor.
Brokers should strive to provide accurate customer information up-front, including historical usage and/or HUD files, LOAs or LOEs, key business information like tax ID, and comprehensive details for pricing requests. They also need to truly understand their suppliers and their unique selling points. The brokers who are intimately familiar with their suppliers are more likely to gain the trust and respect of suppliers and customers alike.
Flexibility Is Key
The majority of suppliers will prefer to use their own software and systems over their brokers’. Typically, using a broker’s platform causes a supplier unnecessary headaches and more work, as well as greater room for error. To make this relationship work, a broker should always aim to make their supplier’s life as easy as possible by using the most efficient and effective possible methods.
Don’t Be A 👻
As in any relationship, energy brokers should be honest, transparent, and communicative with their suppliers. Offering clear, solutions-oriented feedback during and after a deal closes is imperative for doing better business in the long run.
To understand how they stack up in the energy market, a supplier will want to know how many other suppliers they competed with during the deal. It’s also key to let your supplier know if there were any considerations beyond price that made the customer pass on their offer, such as their history and reputation, contractual terms, or the quality of customer service and responsiveness.
Suppliers will also want to know if they were being compared apples to apples with other options on the market — in other words, that reasonable and similar comparisons were being made with other energy suppliers. Suppliers appreciate the opportunity to counter prior to closing the deal whenever possible and understanding how far off they were on price.
Finally, suppliers want to know why you went dark if the RFP went nowhere. Sometimes, your customer has too much on their plate and an energy deal isn’t the top priority. Sometimes, the person leading the deal on the customer side changes and you have to re-educate them on the deal recommendations. Whatever the reason, keep your suppliers aware of where the RFP stands.
Be sure to follow these tips to stay ahead in the energy brokerage market!