Troubled by the ongoing crisis, the energy sector is heating up now more than ever. Elektrum (part of Latvenergo group) is one of the biggest energy providers on the Lithuanian market and also one of the leading solar panel traders in the Baltics. Last year, they introduced the first green energy generation project in Lithuania – another little step towards a greener future. Dealing with both B2B and B2C clients, we interviewed their Head of B2B Arturas Zatulinas on the synergy between marketing and sales at Elektrum.
Arturas will also join us on November 29th for our sales panel discussion in Vilnius.
You are working with both B2B and B2C clients. How much do they overlap?
We only had B2B clients when we first started four years ago. Our office consisted of 20 people and just one marketing manager. It was very sales driven. Now, with the liberalisation of the energy market in Lithuania that allows people to choose their energy supplier and the influx of green energy - the marketing department has grown to 15 people. The amount of products we offer has grown exponentially.
How important is branding in energy? Electricity is an utility that the consumers can’t do without.
It used to be less important, but in the light of the crisis, strong branding and good reputation are irreplaceable. For the B2B client, we have to prove that we are able to fulfil our obligations. A single stain on your reputation can make it impossible for you to work in this environment. Recently, another local energy supplier who had previously taken nearly 180,000 B2C clients announced that they are unable to fulfil their obligations for the fixed price. I think it’s almost impossible for them to build a sustainable energy brand in the future. So crisis communication and marketing should always be ready to step in.
Join us on November 29th if you'd like to learn more about the cooperation between marketing and sales.
But when it comes to actual performance (campaigns and offers), how does the cooperation between marketing and sales handle that? What’s the role of marketing?
If we’re talking about B2B mass segment, then the first example that comes to mind is the big discussion we had around GDPR some years ago. It was discussed more in B2C, but it actually also concerns B2B. Sales people are not allowed to contact anyone without their approval. We need to work closely with marketing to generate new leads that would comply with the legal framework.
Going back to new products, solar parks are discussed a lot lately and it tends to be rather technical. Marketing needs to humanise the technical part in order for sales to connect with the customer on a generally understandable level. It’s teamwork.
Well teamwork between sales and marketing seems to be one of the hardest aspects for many companies. The departments are separated and they tend to blame each other when certain goals aren’t met. How do you manage to keep a tight cooperation between the two at Elektrum?
Both departments need to have common goals from the top management. Even better if there’s a common strategy. This helps to avoid the narrow view that each of them might have and reinforce the cooperation.
An example of what one should not do. If there is a new product launch and the concept is developed by marketing without consulting sales, then it’s very likely that no proper cooperation will come out of this. Instead, the new concept should be developed together with feedback from sales regarding how it is better for them to sell this product in the future. This way both will feel responsible for it.
There is an never-ending discussion on what department is more important in driving business growth. Marketing is considered strategical, sales as tactical. Who’s more important in your company?
Overall, when it comes to the energy sector, marketing is more important in B2C client acquisition, sales in B2B client acquisition, which includes planning the long-term strategy and tactics.