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Not even a year has passed since we stopped selling electricity to end customers in Germany. Instead of concentrating on households and commercial customers, the team suddenly had to focus on large industrial customers and the operators of renewable power plants, and were thus required to learn a whole new set of skills. The decision to withdraw from the retail business came as a surprise to Patrick Notzon, Head of Business Development & Sales Optimisation Germany. He and his team had invested a great deal of time and passion in building up the business. Patrick specially moved his residence from Munich to Berlin. Business was going well and meeting expectations. Today, Patrick understands the decision; Alpiq is not a service provider for mass customers and does not have the necessary processes. He quickly realigned the business to focus on direct marketing and industrial customers, drawing on his experience and expertise to transform the existing team. Patrick quickly found his feet in the new role: “I was looking forward to working more closely with my colleagues in Switzerland again. I was very keen to rebuild the team and hence create added value for our business.” He had already had several opportunities at Alpiq to gain experience in how to lead and motivate newly established teams. The time frame to refocus on B2B customers was short. Within just a few weeks, Patrick developed the new organisation and a strategy, which he coordinated between the teams.
How did he manage to fully adapt himself to a new customer segment? “First of all, by viewing change as an opportunity,” Patrick replies. His team accomplished the realignment because they embraced change, explored its opportunities and never gave up. “To be honest, the realignment was not entirely as straightforward as it may sound,” David Treuherz interjects. One advantage was certainly the way in which the existing team functioned. “That made things a lot easier,” says the Products & Sales Optimisation Manager. Initially, the team had to develop many points of contact, both internally and with the customers. “For me, being thrown into the deep end of direct marketing was a thrilling experience,” says David, referring to the challenging start-up phase. Transforming the organisation took a great deal of energy and dedication. “And sometimes, it required a balancing act,” Patrick adds.
Head of Business Development & Sales
For Patrick, flexibility and the right mindset are crucial. The market constantly confronts energy companies with new challenges. If you are not flexible, you end up in stagnation. “We motivate each other and enjoy constantly tackling new tasks,” Patrick summarises. But success in a team does not come automatically. “Nowadays it’s not easy to find people with the right approach and a high level of flexibility,” says Patrick, pointing to his teammate Jan Scharf. Before he even joined Alpiq, they had to tell Jan that his new job had changed by 180 degrees. He applied for the position as a retail operations manager and now works as a business developer. “Jan was flexible, had the right mindset and is now one of our top performers,” Patrick says, reflecting on the example of a successful turnaround.
For more information about Alpiq in Germany, please visit www.alpiq.de (German)
In calm waters, a boat can easily be steered onto a different course. If a team is focused on end customers and is heading in a fixed direction, the boat cannot simply be turned through 180 degrees. What does it take to set a new course and orient a team towards a new objective, such as B2B customers?
Set a good example and motivate the team.
Listen to the worries and concerns of the employees – and actually devote time to personal conversations.
Be confident and signal from the outset that the challenge will be tackled in a team effort.
Chart a clear path to the goal and involve the team members. Make it clear that the developments will take time.
Pay attention to the composition of the team. A balanced mix of experienced staff and people with fresh and unconventional ideas is the key to success.
Encourage the team spirit by organising games, aperitifs and sports activities.
Accept the new objective and seize the change as an opportunity.
Be as flexible as possible, be inquisitive about the new target area and gain new expertise (training courses, further education).
Openly address any issues with your team leader.
Strengthen relationships within the team, support each other.