Creating Value Beyond Price within a Commodity-Based Business

Business Challenge

While a utility’s physical footprint creates substantial brand recognition, it limits long-term growth. The utility makes money through the rate-of-return regulation on the capital deployed to support infrastructure expansion. While the utility remains a monopoly, their competition takes the shape of alternate energy options, such as electricity, solar, fuel cells and other distributed generation technologies that can be deployed faster and at a potentially lower cost.

The retail business faced a different challenge, one in which competition created a price-driven sale. Within a commodity-based market, how does one differentiate their offering if they are not always the cheapest option? Historically, the client has successfully grown without a strong focus on building and deploying key sales operations and effectiveness components; however, with aggressive growth goals and a competitive landscape, new sales leadership recognized the need to focus on foundational elements needed to scale the business.

Operational discipline in sales

Symmetrics Group Approach

Symmetrics Group reviewed the organization’s current sales practices and evaluated the organization’s readiness and commitment to change. Partnering with Client Leadership, we agreed on five Standard Operating Procedures to provide immediate lift for both the Utility and Retail Sales Teams:

  • Opportunity Planning
  • Sales Call Planning
  • Win/Loss Review
  • One-with-One Meetings
  • Team Meetings

Symmetrics Group designed and facilitated a 1-day Coaching Session to help set expectations from the top down and familiarize leaders with a new cadence for managing the business. Each leader also received hands-on training for how to leverage over 10 customized tools supporting the new cadence.

Two subsequent Seller Workshops provided an engaging and interactive course aimed at preparing both Utility and Retail sellers. The sessions armed each sales team with the necessary tools to have the right conversations with the right people at the right time. While the agenda focused on the five new Standard Operating Procedures, the content ran the gamut from appropriate questioning strategies to personal and professional development.


Each session delivered on the major goals of opportunity creation and planning, pre-meeting preparation, cross-functional collaboration, communication, accountability, teamwork, and a standard go-forward cadence. By deploying a consistent approach to managing the business of sales, sales leaders are better equipped to effectively coach, model, and reinforce sales best practices. Additionally, sales professionals will consistently engage in key interactions with their leaders and customers that will improve selling skills and key sales metrics – pipeline, opportunity size, win rate, and cycle time. Over the next 12+ months, the client seeks to measure and report back on the efficacy of the sessions.


Our client is both a regulated natural gas utility and a dynamic participant in all un-regulated competitive energy markets. Utility operations include the construction of natural gas pipeline infrastructure in order to deliver natural gas safely, reliably, and cost effectively to approximately 1.1M residential and C&I customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The organization’s Retail arm provides customized energy solutions to close to 150,000 residential and C&I customers.


Joni Santos  Across numerous clients and industries, Joni Santos has designed processes, tools, and training/coaching programs that create real discipline and change in sales organizations. Joni brings together a strategic view and strong detail and execution orientation to clients that benefited this particular project.

Joni Santos
The Multigenerational Sales Team

More effectively leverage talent across generations who think, sell, and buy in vastly different ways and overcome generational obstacles to drive improvements in both individual and organizational performance.

Multigenerational Sales Team book cover