Utilities and municipalities are incredibly difficult customers to engage. They are inundated with hundreds of companies doing generic reach outs and typically don’t appreciate receiving unsolicited and untargeted emails from a vendor.
Citylitics has seen hundreds of business development teams in infrastructure industries succeed using early intelligence to craft a tailored message that resonates with utilities. The 5 best practices that dramatically increase qualified leads include:
- Tailoring content to the utility or municipality
- Speaking to their pain point(s)
- Sharing your value add
- Referencing past success
- Closing with a clear call-to-action
Here’s an example outreach email leveraging Citylitics’ intelligence that follows these 5 best practices.
From the Citylitics Report:
Let’s explore the email example and 5 best practices in more detail:
1. Tailor Your Content
Operators and Public Works Directors will be able to tell if you’ve tailored your message or not.
Increase your chances of receiving a positive response by:
- Introducing yourself so that they know who you are and why you’re contacting them.
- Adding details on how you discovered them.
- Communicating the benefit in reading your email or speaking on the phone.
Remember to tailor the subject line as well: 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line and nothing else. In the example above, we referenced both the County and their pain point: “Thoughts about the County of Emmet’s PFAS Remediation Needs”. Starting with “thoughts on/about” or “ideas on/about” the pain point help position your organization as a partner from the start.
2. Identify and Focus on their Pain Point(s)
Prospects may not always be familiar with your type of technology or solution – or even the technology and solutions that exist – period. Without context that the prospect can identify with, you’re unlike to engage their attention.
Reference a pain point from your Citylitics report:
- Inflow & infiltration issues
- Recurring main breaks
In the example above, we referenced the pre-investigative plan the County of Emmet submitted to the State’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE). This concrete piece of intelligence allows us to set the context of our email before diving into ways in which we can help the County solve their issue.
3. Communicate your Value Add
How are you uniquely qualified to assist with the issue the utility or municipality is facing?
In the email above, we could have expanded on our value-add by referencing our ‘large, versatile mobile fleets’, but it felt more like bragging than solution finding. Ask yourself: is the value-add tied directly to the pain point you’ve identified at the start? (for ex., in the example above, they’re at the start of a long, daunting process). If not, save that information for your conversation, or as part of information you’ll provide at a later date, such as a brochure.
Confirm they’re the right contact for that issue:
- This increases the chances of moving forward by having them direct you to the appropriate utility or municipal contact.
- It also gives you the opportunity to remove them off your list, saving you time and getting you closer to the prospect.
Placing this after the value-add, as we’ve done above, increases your chances of being directed internally by highlighting the benefit to their organization.
4. Reference a Success Story or Statistic
Success stories are invaluable social credibility that prove past achievements & ROI. In fact, 84% of decision-makers start their purchase with a referral.
Don’t give away too much:
- Leave your reader curious and interested in learning more and allow yourself to elaborate on success stories when you meet.
- Limit success stories and stats to two sentences at most to leave your reader curious and interested in learning more.
- Allow yourself to elaborate on success stories when you meet.
When deciding on which success story to include, pick one that best aligns to the prospect. Readers are more likely to identify with organizations like theirs or with similar pain points – and the more they identify with your story, the more likely they will see opportunities for themselves as well. In our example above, we chose a success story of a similar sized county who also had PFAS issues. The fact that XYZ County is slightly larger than Emmet County supports the idea that if we can successfully carry out testing and PFAS remediation in that size of County, we should have no difficulty in supporting Emmet County with their PFAS issues.
5. Close off with a Clear Call-to-Action
- Ask for 10 minutes of their time in an email. Remember: it’s much easier to say no to a 30 minute meeting than a quick 10 minute introduction. While we used 10 minutes in our example email above, you could also try referencing “5-10 minutes of their time” as well.
- Propose specific dates (at least 2 options) and different times (including the time zone) to keep the momentum going without much back and forth.
With the right intelligence, business development professionals can reach out to utilities and municipalities in a tailored, engaging way to improve their chances of beginning long-term relationships. As referenced above, these 5 best practices have been proven to generate results.
For insights from other industry leaders on reaching out to utilities and educating prospects, check out Citylitics’ Client Spotlight with Mark Halleman from Inframark.