We often receive requests from our clients asking us to make proposal templates for them. While our proposal tool does have all the information you need from a project, it’s up to each company to tailor their proposals to convey their company’s message and meet the needs and concerns of their specific customers.
To help out those companies who are still confused about what exactly they should feature in a proposal, I talked to Ian Lochore, the Director of Residential Sales at Baker Electric Solar, for some advice on composing solar proposals.
Baker is one of the country’s most respected solar installation firms, and was recently ranked in the Top 50 largest residential solar installer by Solar Power World. Ian has almost 10 years of solar industry sales experience under his belt, so he was the perfect person to give me steps to mastering the ‘Why Solar’ pitch.
Avoid ‘Green Preaching’ to your customer
“People understand the social benefit of solar, and typically don’t like to be preached to,” Ian says.
When customers are shopping for a solar system, they don’t need to be lectured on climate change or air pollution from coal plants. Your solar proposal should not be an Al Gore documentary. Instead, focus on making a solid case for energy bill savings.
Highlight instantaneous and long-term savings
“It is more important to focus on the economics: What difference is it going to make to them and their family from a budgeting perspective?” Ian says proposals should stick to the financials. Show your customers compelling numbers that will convince them to make the purchase. “It’s similar to buying a new car.”
Explain the benefits of installing solar on their homes over the entire lifetime of the system. Customers will want to see both the short-term and long-term effects.
“What difference will this make to the client today or in the next year?”
That is an important question to ask. “You should demonstrate the cash flows and utility bill savings over 5, 10, 15, 20 years in your proposal.”
Offer multiple design and financing options
“From there, it’s about making sure that the customer understands what’s right for them.” Ian says.
The customer is always right. With today’s technology, creating solar designs and generating solar proposals is faster and easier than ever before. There is no reason a customer should not be able to see various panel configurations on their roofs. Salespeople should be prepared to show multiple solar design options and quickly adjust solar proposals to their needs.
Every solar proposal should include a side-by-side comparison of available financing options. The customer should understand what the differences are, whether it’s a lease that’s allowing them to save more money upfront, or a cash purchase where the system is an investment with greater long-term savings.
"A complete solar proposal gives the customer access to all the financial information out there."
But don’t force your customer into a decision
Cash, lease, or loan? Your client has options, but the choice is not always simple. You should guide your customer through the financing comparisons and find out what the best solution for them is. “What’s their cashflow situation? Do they want to use their money for a college fund?"
"Different strokes for different folks.”
Successful solar salespeople work with the client to find out what’s best for them. At the end of the day, the client should be able to freely choose between all the solar design and financing options that you have pitched to them. That is the secret to customer satisfaction.
Demonstrate your company’s longevity and reliability
Reassure your customer that you will be there to support them.
“Who’s going to be there in 7 years if there’s an issue?”
Guarantees, warranties, and service packages should be included in every proposal.
Going back to the car analogy: “What’s the service plan? Sure I want a car that will get me to places in style. But I also want to know, if there’s an issue with the car, is there roadside warrantee? What’s the history of issues with that make or model?” Building customer trust is important, especially because solar is a long-term investment.
Guarantee that if fifteen years down the line, their solar system has difficulties, your company will be around to answer their phone calls. “It’s not just price, but the value of their purchase as well.”
Beyond the solar proposal
One way of building trust is to engage in the local community. Baker Solar is engaged with local charities, such as the San Diego Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity in the Orange Country area. Partnerships will help establish the presence of a solar installer in a neighborhood.
Word of mouth is the oldest and most powerful marketing and sales tactic. Ian can attest to that: “60-70% of our business comes from referrals.”
Maintaining your company’s integrity and branding is an underlying ingredient of any solar proposal. It could make or break the purchase decision for your customers
For more information about how to use the Aurora proposal tool, check out this video.