Archive for the ‘LCA’ category

Installation, Use and Maintenance – the Long-Tail of Green Sales

June 2nd, 2010

Part 8 of 16 Things for a Green Sales Edge.

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Long tail of green sales costs...

You’ve heard about long-tail sales, it’s when the right side of the sales bell curve extends out indefinately as buyers can buy things forever off the web and retailers don’t need to discontinue products. Think about itunes and how songs that have long run their course are still being purchased. In many cases the cumulative affect of that long-tail surpasses the sales generated inside a typical bell curve sales cycle.

The cost of owning a product has a long-tail as well. With green products, which tend to cost more initially, installation, use and maintenance becomes the long, green-tail of total cost. Seasoned reps know how to step around this one, but for the newbies in the audience, lets break it down.

1. Money. What’s this gizmo going to cost up front.

2. Money. What’s this gizmo going to cost over its lifetime? When it comes to working with a new, green product line:

  • Installation: Who in the company needs to be trained to use the right tools, the right adhesives, or  set up a room with the proper ventilation, etc.
  • Use: What happens when things wear out? Is it like a light bulb with higher up front costs, but a longer life? After that life is over, will you take the product back? If not, how do they dispose of it and at what cost.?
  • Maintenance: Who will come in contact with the product? What’s it’s VOC level (volatile organic chemicals? Do you have to use additional special materials to keep it looking its best? What are the safety risks if workers are over exposed?

Add up the bigger package and pretty soon you can demonstrate where you outshine the other contenders. As a sales leader you should have a checklist or FAQ of the above ready to go and part of your second call proposal.

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If you have an LCA conducted on the product, make that available as well as the Material Safety Data Sheet. Companies, consumers and investors are all looking to avoid risk. The more you can prove that your product’s risk is low along with long-term costs the closer you are to closing the sale.

Testing, Standards and Certifications

February 21st, 2010

Part 6 of 16 Things for a Green Sales Edge.


You’ve conducted a Life Cycle Assessment and now you want to legitimize your findings further by hanging them on a benchmark standard.  Which ones do you pay attention to, the ones that are getting the most press because their marketing campaign budget is a winner or the ones that are credible for their science and their multi-stakeholder formation, i.e. the ones with global legs?

If you’re smart, you’ll dump any standard that doesn’t REQUIRE an ISO LCA or LCIS (Life Cycle Impact Statement) or has an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration). You’ll also dump any that don’t REQUIRE a third party auditor who can de-certify non-compliant products after the original certification. Anyone can look good for the first year, it’s being consistent over many years and around the globe that will create public trust in the standard label.

In Standard-land there are “single attribute standards” such as Energy Star (low energy consumption) and single industry standards such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council – forest management) and then there are multi-industry and attribute standards such as SMaRT or SCS.

Some argue that multi-attribute and industrial standards are too broad, that they can’t really focus in on the issues pertaining to a single sector such as food or textiles. Or the other side of that argument is poor buyer who has to figure out which standard out of 300 or so is worth considering. How does the SMaRT Platinum rated office chair compare to BIFMA’s rating compared to C2C’s rating?

For the above reason the Sustainability Consortium is trying to sort it out letting science tell the tale as to which standard is the most comprehensive and best for the world to follow.

Meanwhile, the cost of waiting for the top dog standard to emerge distracts from your market position. What do you say when your buyer asks you why you aren’t certified to XYZ Standard that she just read about in the NY Times?

Your sales force will have that answer without flinching if:

1. Educate them on what Sustainable Standards are and are not, m ake them fluent in “attributes” and how standards are created and know the difference between a Type I and Type II certification.

2. Determine which standards are the top contenders in your sector and do your own cross-comparison using the List found on Green Building Pages, Green Format or the ASTM E2129-05. Do three comparison’s at a minimum. If you have the due diligence done to show your buyer, they won’t have to do it and you just took a big step forward.

3. Using your Life Cycle Assessment information, show how you stack up if you were benchmarked on any of the standards. Don’t fudge, address ALL the questions. This isn’t about advertising your best assets, it’s about being transparent in your all practices throughout your supply chain.

Lastly – don’t overwhelm your buyer with your new-found knowledge. If you give them a checklist spread sheet (just like what you see on the back of a software package) it will help them make a decision in under 30 seconds. If you ask them to read pages of collateral you will send down a rabbit hole of confusion vs. closer to closing.

What’s Your Life Cycle Assessment for Sales?

January 29th, 2010

Part 4 of 16 Things for a Green Sales Edge.

  • Can you send your client to the public posting of your product’s Life Cycle Assessment?
  • Do you know which LCA you used as the base format?
  • Do you know which LCA facts to use when talking to different sell team members – in the most transparent way?

LCA’s are the backbone of everything you claim in your collateral or apply in a standard’s certification. LCAs are somewhat like accounting of money except your accounting for your environmental and social impacts.  In LCA land what facts you gather and how you weigh the facts later is determined by which LCA you use. And just like accounting for money, a good “CPA” of LCAs will be needed to get you through the extensive list of questions. LCA specialists are ready to help you.

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The ISO LCA is garnering global endorsements to become THE matrix to use, but conduct a due diligence of latest softwares and solutions before you venture in. This is important to know as different LCA structures provide different results. Don’t be blindsided by a question that deserves a two word answer that can distract you from closing.

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What the high C’s team wants to know:

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For CEOs / Cover their assets proof. Your LCA provides proof for the facts seen on the collateral that nothing will come back to bite the CEO’s company. For example, your paint has no VOCs that could bother their clients or was made by children in Brazil.

For CMOs / Mission matches. Find the facts that line up the most with the company’s mission and use them to anchor your conversations. If they strive to save energy, show how your processes save energy at your manufacturing facilities and (if applicable) will save them energy in using or disposing of the product.

For CSO (Sustainability Officers) / Be fluent in Eco-language. You wouldn’t leave your tech person behind if you were presenting software, don’t leave your SO behind even if they are so-so. At least you have one and that’s a step ahead of others.

For CFOs / Save money and reduce risk. LCA’s generally flag where you an cut back and save money by doing things differently or avoiding long-term risk. Talk to the CFO about how this product will also help them avoid long-term risk and liability and therefore lower insurance rates or clean up issues.

We’ve gone from green to sustainable to “prove it” in just a few years. Now the final question is “whose proof are you going to use”? Today, while you’re waiting for a dominate standard to take the lead, get your LCA done and be ready to answer all questions your prospect team will have. (free LCA software here)

16 Things for a Green Sales Edge

January 10th, 2010

GREEN is the new GR$$N

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A few weeks back, Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies posted the question, “What is your prediction for sales in the coming year”? Since Jill’s popular site gathers the best in sales leadership, I was very interested in learning what top gurus would say. They offered many valuable ideas, but I was surprised that no one mentioned GREEN VALUEsustainable attributes or Life Cycle Assessments in their predictions. Where was the need to know how to speak green to big companies, campuses or municipalities?

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In the next 16 posts I’ll provide what we look for at the Los Angeles Community College District (where I consult) and how you can add green value to your sales process. First let’s get everyone up to speed on where the green market is now and why it’s critical to be seen as a ’10′ at the beginning of this eco-market decade.

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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.

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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”?

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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.

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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).

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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.

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2. Academics are leading the way and setting students on a new course

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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NEXT: Finding Green Marketing Safety in OSHA