Despite the tumultuousness of the so-called “solar coaster,” the solar industry’s growth trajectory is incredibly promising. Over the last seven years, solar's share of U.S. electrical generation grew from a paltry 0.1 percent to 2 percent. Of course, that still leaves a huge potential market for solar contracting companies.
Despite the room for growth, being a solar salesperson comes with a number of challenges. Many customers have little knowledge of solar energy, and the size of the investment may make them hesitate. So, when you are selling solar installations, you need to embrace both traditional and contemporary methods in order to produce the sales numbers you need. In today’s article, we explore a variety of sales approaches that solar companies have found to be successful.
As every sales person knows, selling is much easier when you have solid leads--so it’s helpful to think creatively about partnerships that can help you identify leads. Real estate agents, for instance, can provide you with an ongoing stream of qualified customers. Many people buy a home with the intention of remodeling it. They are excellent candidates for a solar installation. Other potential buyers might love a home but be concerned about taking on years of high utility bills. You can easily step in and offer them a customized plan to add solar to the sales deal. In this way, everyone benefits: you, the buyer, and the real estate agent.
If your town or city has a concierge utility company, you can partner with them as well. These specialized groups are hired by homeowners to take care of switching all of their utility services to their new home. They can easily recommend you as their expert solar representative, giving you an excellent opportunity to sell the home buyers a solar installation. These are especially powerful and productive leads.
Some successful salespeople swear by the door-to-door method for selling solar installations, despite its reputation as a way to sell vacuum cleaners. Experts say this approach works if salespeople are highly trained and use the right pitch to customers. Going door to door means limiting your efforts to the local area, which has proven to be an effective approach in solar sales. Remember, your door-to-door efforts have to be professional and on-point. Your company's reputation depends upon it.
The Power of Technology
A solar installation is a significant investment, so you will need strong person-to-person interaction. You are more likely to connect to customers through the power of the internet and social media.
While email is almost certainly something you use on a daily basis in your sales work, it can be utilized in a variety of additional ways to drive more sales, particularly through well-crafted automated emails. This can enable your company to offer instantaneous responses to any inquiry on your company website.
Customers do not like to wait, and are all the more conditioned to expect instant attention since many companies offer 24/7 online help. If your company doesn't offer that service, you can still send out automated emails that promise a response from a salesperson in 24 hours or less. The instant feedback will help hold the customer's interest until you do reach out, but you must be careful to always respond in the stated time frame.
You can also keep in touch with and nurture "old" leads via automated emails. With a drip campaign, you can automate a series of periodic emails to maintain contact and give the recipients more chances to say yes. Their circumstances may have changed since you last spoke. Old leads may come through if you do not give up.
Of course, as with other sales approaches discussed here, your drip campaign must be developed with care and address the contact’s needs. Otherwise, you risk them being seen as spam, which will only hurt your reputation.
LinkedIn, Facebook, et al.
Social media can be effective in getting potential leads. The average person has approximately five social media accounts and spends 1 hour and 40 minutes on them every day. If you want to get someone's attention, social media is the way to do it. Plus, friends and family of clients can be a rich sales pool.
Solar design software programs, like Aurora, that enable you to create stunning 3D visualizations of the client's home with solar panels installed can be very valuable in showcasing the quality designs and installations you offer. Customers need to see that solar can be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. An image can do much toward finalizing a sale.
Of course, an efficient system for tracking your communications with prospective customers is also key to successful sales. Solar installations are not bought on a whim. Many consumers take time to make the leap, so keeping detailed records is essential to your success. If your solar design and sales software integrates with your CRM tools—letting you more easily access the latest version of their solar design—it becomes even easier to ensure your operating with the most up-to-date information.
Ask your buyers if you can shoot a video of their solar installation. Go to happy customers and get their testimonials on video as well. Consumers expect to literally see results. Sharing a well-done video testimonial in the process of your communications with prospective customers can help build confidence in your services. Plus, you can get great mileage out of videos, which can be posted on your website, social media accounts, and YouTube.
In sales, the basics stay the same. You need to be knowledgeable, personable, and offer a product that has real value for your customers. Solar installations do require an added level of finesse. You are asking people to invest in a new-to-them technology that they may not yet fully understand. To close the sale, you'll need to incorporate both new technology and traditional methods. Give all of these methods a chance and find out which combination works best for you.