“EESL Is Now Targeting To Bring Entrepreneurs Who Can Sell Energy-Saving Solutions To Corporates”


Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has been on the forefront of procuring and delivering energy efficient appliances and electronics in India. Not only have the programms it runs helped save energy, the same have also presented tons of business opportunities for individuals and institutions in the country. EESL recently announced the Success Fee Model where it is looking to empanel corporate sales agencies, direct sales agencies, dealers and retailers, and other demand aggregators including ESCOs for institutional (B2B) sales.

Rajat Sud, MD, EESL, in a conversation with Electronics For You’s Mukul Yudhveer Singh, shed light on the screening process of channel partners and the support EESL offers to them. He is of view that a committed channel partner can easily earn three to four million rupees from institutional sales. Here are some excerpts from the interaction.

Q. What does EESL look for in channel partners? Who all is this programme open for?

A. Let me start by telling you about the UJALA programme that EESL has been conducting successfully in the country. We distributed LED bulbs under this from offices of discoms, post offices, and various other places. In the process we found that the real success was in bringing the local entrepreneurs to the table—local entrepreneurs who could run the sales for EESL. Now that was a programme which was more of a business to customer (B2C) thing.

This channel programme, however, is targeted more towards institutions and organisations. We have managed a good success rate in the programme where we were targeting to replace old bulbs with LEDs in Indian households. EESL is now targeting to bring entrepreneurs who can sell energy-saving solutions to corporates. We have tried to keep the thought process very simple. We have a clear plan for on-boarding more and more eligible and qualified channel partners for better outreach.

My view is anybody who wants to be a part of the energy efficiency movement can be a part of this movement, and it is very easy to be a part of this movement. All we seek is a good credible standing, and the ability to be able to sell. We have opened this programme for individuals, for proprietorship firms, and for all other kinds of legal entities. All one needs to apply for this programme is a legal establishment. EESL seeks to register people that have a valid GST and PAN number.

We also seek an empanelment guarantee from the bank for one lakh (100,000) rupees. Our team is of the view that this amount can be earned by a channel partner within the first few months itself.

Q. How is this programme different from the B2C ones EESL organised earlier?

A. This new programme does not allocate territories to any of the channel partners. We observed that assigning territories promotes kind of a rent seeking behaviour. We found that when we give territories, some work can be passed on to others by the channel partners in exchange of some rent. While planning this new programme we were sure about not wanting that kind of behaviour in this one.

The process in this new programme is innovative as we are giving leads to people who have the ability to go to a corporate house and have a discussion around the energy saving solutions EESL offers, entice interest, and close the lead.

The team at EESL also trains channel partners about how to convert a lead into a sale, and how they can earn referrals from the same lead. The whole cycle, for the channel partner and EESL, begins with some basic qualification of the customer opportunity. This customer opportunity is the lead or the territory that is assigned to a channel partner. EESL partners with its channel partners in closing the sale. Any quotations, billing, or support that a channel partner needs, we will support the same as much as possible.

And as we train our channel partners, we hope that they will become custodians of our customers, and make sure that their energy efficiency needs are met in time. It is a very simple programme where we have started with basic energy efficiency programmes like bulbs, tubelights, super-efficient, ACs, and motors. As we go forward and open inputs from our partners, we may open more programmes in future.

Q. Where can one apply for the programme?

A. We run these programmes on a regular basis by opening the empanelments. At this moment of time, we have about 200 applicants. We are currently onboarding them and enrolling them in one batch. As the programme is outcome oriented, we have to handhold every batch to enable them to earn from the programme. There is enough in the programme for an individual or an institution to earn primary income. Earning 30 to 40 lakh (3 to 4 million) rupees is not difficult for a partner who has access to 20 to 30 customers in a city.

We plan to keep opening this programme again and again, keep taking and training batches. EESL plans to open entries for new applicants every quarter. This is because we have to make efforts to make channel partners effective in terms of product knowledge and how to close a sale. EESL trains its channel partners on a lot of things including how to give energy efficient calculation reports for various products. It normally requires three months for a channel partner to go through all the training and become effective. We are looking to add 1,000 such channel partners this financial year.

What happens when someone becomes a partner of EESL? What’s the overall process?

A. EESL starts by verifying the application. We also do a little reputation check of the applicants. This check includes any previous fraud or criminal activities verification. The next phase is signing of an empanelment agreement with EESL and submitting the empanelment bank guarantee (EBG). The idea is that a channel partner can start submitting leads as soon as they sign the agreement and deposit the EBG. There’s a month’s time given to submit EBG.

We usually start conducting the first session of training even before the EBGs are deposited. This training usually includes introduction to EESL, the programme, how the lead management works, and what are the different kinds of products they would be selling. After that it is a hand holding process where our team will get involved and help them in closing the sales. Once a sale is closed, the channel partner who closed the lead becomes entitled to the account. Then we expect that channel partner to submit and work on more leads from the same account for a year. However, we do not restrain others from submitting leads, and that’s the innovation in this programme. If too many leads are coming from other channel partners, then it is a signal that this partner has lost touch with a particular account.

Q. Is there a review of accounts as well?

A. Yes, there is a review of accounts and it normally happens once every year. During review we see how many leads came through an account. If a channel partner is losing touch with the account and a lot of leads from the same account are coming through other channel partners, it is a signal that the account needs a revival.

The process in terms of closing a sale is also rigorous in terms of the time it should be closed in. Three-month time is usually more than enough to close a sale, and that is the time usually allocated to a channel partner. We are likely to pass on the lead to alternate channel partners if the sale is not closed during this timeframe of three months.

So, it is a programme that does not define territories or create entitlements. The limited number of entitlements that are created are created for a limited time, and action has to happen within that time period. We realise that some products need a renewable cycle of one to two months and that is why we give three months to channel partners before passing on the leads.

Q. How do channel partners avoid conflict of interest?

A. We have avoided conflicts by giving three months of time to a channel partner for working on a particular lead. Within these three months, the team at EESL partners with the channel partner to see that the lead matures from interest stage to the sale stage. We are there with the channel partners from the stage of solicitation to proposal and till the sale closes. Most institutions that partner with us understand that these are some brilliant things that we do to enable efficiency in them.

EESL also plans to invite all the channel partners for a once every month webinar, which will be an interactive session. This session can be used by the channel partners to come out with suggestions, and we will look into how we can support them via those suggestions. This is also a part of the regular training conducted by EESL for its channel partners.

Q. Can you give a broad structure of the training provided to channel partners?

A. There are two components of the training. One is familiarisation with the products that the channel partners will be dealing in. We are also open to what our vendors tell us in the form of face-to-face communications. These usually entail demand for some other things and other programmes run by EESL.

We have also developed a kit that can help the channel partners convert a lead into a sale. This kit is given to the channel partners at a reasonable cost. The kit, for example, allows the channel partners to unleash a rooftop programme. EESL is also thinking of enabling such kits for programmes that go beyond the rooftop programme.

The channel partners are also trained on how they can process their case. The specifics about the products and the programmes are also a part of the training. The channel partners are trained on selling a bulb, selling a specialised AC, and anything else that EESL deals in.

Q. What happens if more than one channel partners submit the same lead?

A. Let’s suppose that three channel partners report the same lead. In this case the lead would be deployed to the person who submitted the lead first. We have no basis to tell here who could be the strongest of these three channel partners. Similarly, a sales cycle is basically of three months. It is the time duration that we have established as good enough for somebody to close a sale.

These three months are also subject to movement, meaning that the customer shows interest. If the customer says that he is not willing to work with the channel partner because of some past issue or something else, then that to us is a pointer. We also check with the consumer how a lead is moving or not moving forward.

As a rule, the lead normally passes to alternate channel partners, unless a customer says that he is willing to work with the partner the lead had been already been assigned to. We make sure to give all the room to the channel partners to establish a dialogue with potential customers and also to develop and nurture relations with them. All the leads have to be generated by the channel partners.

Q. Is there a cap on how many leads can a channel partner work on at a time?

A. No there is no cap on the number of leads a channel partner can work on at a time. However, there has to be progress on each lead that is submitted by the channel partner. We do not know how many people are out there and we want to help all the channel partners create business for themselves and for EESL.

The proof of the pudding comes from the potential client itself as we meet and talk with the client along with the channel partner who had initially submitted the lead. Moreover, we do not pay for the leads submitted, we pay for the sales done.

Q. What’s in it for individuals to join as channel partners?

A. We are giving the channel partners an opportunity to make a living without them having to invest anything. There is also a social good that the channel partner is creating in the process. Every bit of energy that a channel partner saves goes a long way in helping save our environment.

It is also creating a value chain for entrepreneurs who want to enter and immediately start doing business. The pandemic has already pulled a lot of strings on the current employment levels in the country. This opportunity can actually be like a pseudo employment. The channel partners get to be the decision makers for their own business.

Additionally, we are sure that the training we provide and assistance we give during sales will help in the professional lives of entrepreneurs.

Q. As it is majorly about sales, is any sales experience needed to apply?

A. We are inviting people who do not have any prior experience of selling. In fact, people who are not from the electronics industry are also welcome to apply for the programme. We, the EESL team, are there to help them with the training and the overall sales process.
I must add here that selling energy efficient products is very very easy, as these are sold on the payback that the investor enables for himself. As the products come from EESL, reliability is assured, a point that most of the B2B customers like to get addressed before making any investment.

You do not need prior electronics or selling experience. EESL will inculcate that. You do not need any energy efficiency products experience, We, at EESL, will teach you that!


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