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Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Posted by Sara Carbone on Apr 2, 2019 6:57:24 PM

For a capital-intensive technology like PV solar, trustworthy information is imperative. That means prospects often “turn to trusted information networks made up of family, friends, and neighbors…[to] benefit from and tap into the knowledge stock of existing users.” This means that referrals from past customers can be a particularly effective source of solar leads for contractors.

In a two-year study about customer acquisition in the solar industry, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that it is common that solar contractors give up too soon on referrals from past customers, as well as some of their leads—whereas more persistence could generate additional sales.

In this article, the seventh and final article in our 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we look at strategies for long-term follow up with potential solar leads and referral sources.

Outreach to old solar leads or past solar customers can generate solar sales in the long term.Periodic outreach to past customers can help maintain relationships that can generate future referrals. You may also want to occasionally follow up with solar leads that haven't closed, in case their circumstances have changed. Maintaining contact over the long term can help generate additional solar sales. 

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

About This Series and the Research by NREL

This Aurora Blog series examines seven common mistakes contractors make when selling solar identified by NREL, based on its 2014-2016 Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS). In this study, NREL researchers aimed to ascertain why certain prospects adopt solar while others don’t, to provide solar contractors with insights to help lower the cost of customer acquisition.

The study involved surveys of homeowners from four states who installed solar, considered solar, or did not consider solar to understand their decision-making process. Researchers also gathered input from approximately thirty contracting companies on their solar sales processes.

Every article in this 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series includes insights from an interview with one of the lead NREL researchers, plus information from the field and related research. In the first six articles of the series, we addressed rapid follow-up with solar leads, the need to avoid assumptions that prospects share your opinions about solar, not confusing customers with too many options, effectively addressing the competition, how to ask for referrals from customers, and keeping in touch with past customers.

Why It Pays to Persist

NREL stresses the importance of pursuing solar leads and referrals beyond when most solar contractors give up. Closing a sale with a prospect or securing a viable referral from a customer often requires persistence and strategy.

Not Giving Up On Leads Too Soon

NREL point out that most installers make the mistake of giving up on a lead within three months. Ben Sigrin, one of the NREL researchers, says that “sometimes installers have a touch point with a lead, and then if they get turned down they discard that lead or don't enter a reminder to follow up.”

He talks about the need to stay in touch with prospects over the long term. This is because a prospect’s situation can change. “What is right for them one year may not be right for them the next year. Maybe the household just had a new child so their electricity has gone up, or maybe they have a little more free cash flow than they did last year.” By periodically reaching out over the long term you are more likely to be top of mind when a prospect is ready to go solar.

Lifestyle changes can impact customers' interest in solar—one reason to keep in touch with old solar leads. People's needs can change over time; life events like a new child or a raise can make a solar purchase more relevant. Keeping in touch with old leads will help ensure your company is top-of-mind when they may be more ready to purchase. 

Sigrin also talks about staying organized and being selective with prospect outreach. This means managing your data so that you are tracking prospects’ changes and your touch points with them. As a result, you are better able to make decisions about how and when to reach out. As Sigrin says, “If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.”

Getting Referrals Later On Down The Line

Sigrin says that solar contractors tend to make a similar mistake when seeking referrals from customers. He notes that they often stop trying to get referrals after about six months. “There are a lot of opportunities to win a customer or referral after the initial three to six months… the earlier you give up, the more money you might be leaving on the table,” says Sigrin.

He suggests periodically asking for referrals over a long period of time: “we have heard of solar companies getting referrals from customers who had gone solar several years earlier.”

See how Aurora helps solar companies grow revenue, cut costs, and impress their  customers!

Strategic Outreach Over the Long Term

Additional sources confirm that persistent, strategic outreach for both leads and referrals can be beneficial. Matt Johnson, Residential Sales Manager at Namasté Solar, a leading employee-owned solar contracting cooperative based in Colorado, shared that his team has a systematic approach to staying in contact with prospects and existing customers over the long term.

Johnson explains, "we definitely have ongoing email drip campaigns.[1] We do email marketing to our existing customer base as well as new customers on a periodic basis. Typically, we'll do a quarterly email reminding folks about our referral program.” He adds that his team is careful to make sure they don’t inundate people by sending them emails every month.

It can be helpful to think of follow-up with solar leads and customers as having three elements: education that provides valuable information, repetition of the key messages you want to convey, and variety of channels such as direct mail, phone calls, emails, social media, and webinars.

Using a combination of phone calls and emails can be particularly effective. A follow-up email after a phone call can include relevant company materials, like a case study showing how solar can solve the challenge of high electricity bills or a blog article about what differentiates your company.

Finding a Balance When Following Up on Solar Leads

There are certain methods that can work particularly well for lead follow-up. Sales teams often focus on the hottest leads, which may mean the “warm” ones get neglected. Dan Kennedy, business coach and author of the book No B.S. Ruthless Management of People & Profits, states that this can be problematic.

“Instead of doing the tedious, follow-up grunt work, sales reps usually wait for a new batch of leads to come in. In the meantime, the warm leads from the last batch get cold, and they're soon forgotten.” It helps to strike a balance when deciding which kinds of leads to pursue over the long haul.

Of course, it also helps to know when to walk away so that you don’t waste resources on a dead end. Sometimes a solar system is clearly not a good fit for a prospect’s budget, or they are just not sold on the ROI after repeated conversations and review of educational materials.

Surprisingly, communicating that your outreach will cease can sometimes be what solicits a positive response. It may be that a prospect was busy but was interested and the communications you sent left a positive impression. Marketing company HubSpot writes that this can mean that the prospect was “relying on you, like every other salesperson, to keep trying to get in front of them.” HubSpot also points out that a final email is often the one that gets the highest response rate.

Periodic emails or newsletters can be an easy way to stay in touch with past customers as well as solar leads. Periodic emails or newsletters can be an easy way to stay in touch with past customers as well as solar leads. 

Timing and Creativity When Pursuing Referrals

Matt Johnson at Namasté Solar notes that their company has multiple points in their relationship with a customer where they reference the referral program. The referral program is mentioned during the proposal development process, at the time of the installation, and after the installation via follow-up email campaigns from their marketing department.

Johnson highlights post-installation as a key time for follow-up requests for referrals, as customers may not be ready to refer until then. He states, "most people tend to be much more willing to make referrals once they see results and are satisfied."

In an article based on the same 2014-2016 SEEDS study discussed in this series, NREL’s Ben Sigrin and several other researchers wrote that long-time customers tend to be the most valuable referral sources. They write that “it’s worth checking in with existing customers from time to time, especially the long-time ones who can attest to the long-term solar experience.”

They also suggest being creative about how you ask customers to refer, given that people are busy. Customers may be open to placing a small sign on their lawn, posting a testimonial on social media, or hosting a solar party. While these aren’t direct referrals, they can be a great way for you to reach their network. In fact, one study estimates that increased peer-to-peer interaction, such as talking with a neighbor who installed solar, can potentially “decrease individual decision times by over six months.”

House with solar panels. Interaction with neighbors or other peers with solar can help solar prospects decide.Get creative about how you ask solar customers to refer others; a sign on their lawn or a recommendation on solar media can be as smaller ask with big results. Studies show peer-to-peer interactions about solar can decrease decision making time for people considering a solar purchase. 

Additional Solutions for Outreach

There are a variety of additional strategies to consider when staying in touch with solar leads and referral sources. Johnson talks about how Namasté Solar distributes a quarterly email reminding people about their referral program. You can send out periodic newsletters to customers with tips on deciphering bill and understanding savings as well as invitations to customer events and other opportunities. Test the frequency of your outreach to find what works best for your company and customers.

Keep your prospect and customer database organized and use relevant tools, like a customer relationship management (CRM) software, to ensure systematic follow-up. Consider offering a robust referral program with incentives and encourage sharing via social media.

You might also consider designating someone to keep your solar leads warm when sales staff is not actively reaching out to them. Kennedy writes that “every business has a lead generation department (marketing) and a lead closing department (sales), but they’re lacking a lead warming department.”

No matter how you maintain contact with prospects and past customers, being in communication with them over the long term can be a valuable way to gain new customers.

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[1] If you're unfamiliar with the term, a drip campaign refers to a series of messages sent on a predetermined schedule—typically a drip campaign is sent by email though it can also include other methods of outreach. They can be a great way to share information about your company and keep in touch with prospects over a period of time.

 


About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers in to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: Solar Sales, NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Posted by Sara Carbone on Mar 26, 2019 4:25:26 PM

Given the nature of a PV solar system, a solar contractor’s past solar customers are one of their best marketing resources. This is because, for many people, solar is an unfamiliar technology and they have a fear of making the wrong decision about it. As a result, people “often turn to their friends and neighbors to find out if their experience was positive and whether the return in energy savings is worth all of the effort.”

It is not surprising then that word-of-mouth can be a significant source of solar leads. According to Nicole Litvak, Solar Analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (formerly GTM Research), in 2015 50% of all residential solar sales were derived from referrals. This makes it all the more important for solar companies to stay in touch with their customers after the PV system is installed, as this can ensure more referrals.

Since leads are such a valuable commodity for solar contractors, it is vital to avoid the mistake of losing contact with past customers, particularly ones who have had their system for a long time. In this article, Part 6 in our 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we examine reasons and strategies for staying in touch with your customers.

See how your solar contracting business can work smarter with Aurora.

About This Series and Related NREL Research

In this Aurora Blog series, we take a closer look at seven common mistakes contractors make when selling solar identified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). These observations are based on NREL’s Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) conducted from 2014-2016.

In the study, NREL sought to understand why certain prospects adopt solar while others don’t, to provide solar contractors with insights to help lower the cost of customer acquisition. The researchers surveyed homeowners from four states who installed solar, considered solar, or did not consider solar to understand their decision-making process. They also gathered input from approximately thirty solar contracting companies on their sales processes.

Each article in this 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series includes observations from an interview with one of the lead NREL researchers, plus insights from the field and related research. In the first five articles of the series, we examined the need for quick follow-up with solar leads, avoiding assumptions that prospects share your opinions about solar, not confusing customers with too many options, addressing the competition effectively, and ways to ask for referrals from customers.

The Importance of Staying in Touch

Ben Sigrin, one of the NREL researchers involved in the study emphasizes the usefulness of being in contact with past solar customers, especially early ones. He notes that “staying in touch with all previous customers—even if only occasionally—can provide you with a wealth of testimonials and the trust they confer on your business.”

NREL also points out that strong referrals and testimonials are particularly important for solar businesses. This is because a solar system is not something a customer can test out before buying. Sigrin states that the solar customer “faces an all-or-nothing proposition: either you bolt a solar array onto his house or he can't experience it all.”

As a result, more weight is given to referrals, especially ones from customers who have had a system for many years. These longtime solar system owners can credibly address concerns a prospective customer may have about reliability, maintenance, and ROI.

See how Aurora helps solar companies grow revenue, cut costs, and impress their  customers!

Stay Front of Mind To Ensure Referrals

Additional research supports the importance of referrals given the nature of solar as a product. Terence A. Shimp’s Integrated Marketing Communications discusses the extent to which “trialability,” or the ability to test drive a product, helps increase adoption of innovative technology.

Shimp asserts that products that can be tested prior to purchase are adopted more rapidly. He writes that “the trial experience serves to reduce the consumer’s risk of being dissatisfied with a product after having permanently committed to it through an outright purchase.” Unfortunately, this trial experience is not possible with solar.

However, Shimp goes on to state that another key element to easier adoption of innovative technology is observability, “the degree to which...other people can observe the positive effects of new-product usage.” When a product, and its benefits, are clearly visible to others, the consumer becomes a kind of billboard for the product.

While a person observing a solar system on their neighbor’s roof does not directly see the positive impacts on their neighbor’s electric bill, the system does function as a highly visible reminder of the benefits of solar. Ultimately, you want to be front of mind when that neighbor asks your customer about their PV system. One of the best ways to do this is to stay in touch with your customers.

Staying in touch with past customers over the long term gives you access to their success stories, a very strong form of solar marketing. Residential and commercial case studies humanize your brand and are a powerful way to engage prospects since “happy customers are often the best, and most authentic, spokespeople for your company.”

A well-presented residential success story helps prospects identify with homeowners who have already adopted solar, “allowing them to better visualize what their lives will look like once they make these changes.” This makes it easier for the customer to move further along in their buying process. Commercial case studies show firsthand the financial benefits and help demystify the solar education process.

The easiest way to gain access to these stories, whether presented as short blog posts, longer articles or brief testimonial blurbs, is by maintaining consistent contact with your customers over time.

Strategies To Maintain Long-Term Customer Relationships

There are a number of ways to stay top-of-mind with your customers. One effective method of staying in touch is by sharing valuable content, such as solar and renewable energy-related news, articles, and events. You can share these insights through social media, email, or direct mail like a quarterly newsletter. However you reach out, aim to strike a balance between enough outreach to be remembered without becoming annoying.

It can also be effective to personalize your communication with details about your customer that are outside the business relationship such as birthdays, promotions, family news, or milestones. Your sales teams may consider occasionally reaching out for personal contact via a phone call, something that may help ensure future leads.

A customer relationship management (CRM) tool, such as Salesforce or Zoho, can help your team organize their efforts and information about past clients to keep outreach consistent, particularly over the long term. You can also encourage customer sharing via social media and a referral incentive program. Offering additional services like operations and maintenance, monitoring, and upsell opportunities can extend the relationship and increase customer lifetime value.

No matter how you connect with past customers, staying in touch with them beyond the installation can be a significant boon for your solar business.

How do you stay in touch with past customers? Let us know in the comments below!  

Enjoyed this article? Subscribe to the Aurora Blog for our latest updates!


About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales, referrals

Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Posted by Sara Carbone on Mar 15, 2019 10:26:50 AM

Solar is a highly competitive industry and a chronic issue for contractors is the high cost of customer acquisition. While the average cost of customer acquisition is $2,000-4,000, solar companies typically pay about $500 per referral, making referrals an affordable source of high quality, exclusive solar leads. Additionally, according to Nielsen, 83% of surveyed consumers say recommendations from people they know are their most trusted source of information.

But it’s not always straightforward how to get referrals. You might ask customers to keep referrals in mind but your request is easily forgotten. The customer may not think about their PV system on a daily basis or know how to identify good candidates for solar in their network.

However, there are ways to increase the likelihood of referrals, many of which involve the way you follow up. In this article, Part 5 in our 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we address effective strategies for asking for referrals from customers.

The NREL Study and This Series

This Aurora Blog series looks at seven common mistakes contractors make when selling solar according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL’s observations are based on its 2014-2016 Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS).

The NREL study was conducted to understand why some prospective customers adopt solar while others don’t—in order to offer insights to help solar contractors lower their customer acquisition costs. NREL researchers surveyed homeowners from four states who installed solar, considered solar, or did not consider solar, and also gathered insights on sales processes from interviews with approximately thirty solar contracting companies.

In each article in this series, we offer insights from an interview with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as observations from the field and related research. In the first four parts of the 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we looked at following up quickly with solar leads, not assuming prospects share your opinions about solar, being careful to avoid confusing customers with too many options and how to address the competition effectively.

customer and salesman shaking handsLearning how to ask for referrals effectively can help you generate a pipeline of cost-effective new leads. 

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

Strategies for Success When Asking for Referrals

The NREL researchers state that many sales reps don’t actually ask for referrals, or ask ineffectively, such as by using timid phrasing or only asking in passing. It helps to be strategic about how you approach the process of asking for referrals to maximize success.

Find the Right Timing

In our interview with NREL researcher Ben Sigrin, he highlighted that understanding the optimum time to ask for referrals is important. He notes that NREL’s study asked questions like “do referrals tend to be generated immediately after the contract is signed, after the first month of interconnection, or years after interconnection? And how does the quality of the referral depend on that?”

Sigrin asserts that contractors should be sure to ask about referrals after the system is activated and beyond. He describes the customer’s perspective in this way: “If I'm referring someone before my system is connected, then I don't have any experience about whether the system is performing according to my expectations. But if I have had it for several years, then I am probably a more reliable source of information for my friends and family, because I can speak to how it's actually performed over the last few years.” Therefore, says Sigrin, consistent, long-term follow up is key, whether in the form of a periodic check-in, a “solar party” or other event with your customers, or physical reminders like a referral card or gift.

Pamela Cargill, former Principal of solar management consulting firm Chaolysti, concurs, noting that the best time may be after the installation is complete and the customer has received the first utility bill showing solar savings so “you’re likely to catch them on a high note.”

It also helps to think of the customer relationship as one that exists over the long term, beyond the installation. Matt Johnson, Residential Sales Manager at Namasté Solar, a leading employee-owned solar contracting cooperative based in Colorado, points out that having multiple touch points leading up to and after installation helps capitalize on the fact that “most people tend to be much more willing to make referrals once they see results and are satisfied.”

Engage the Customers That Want to Refer

Namasté Solar's Matt Johnson also notes that, to increase the likelihood of referrals, it is important to identify customers who are most likely to refer and focus your efforts on them. He reports that Namasté Solar’s market research has revealed that although some people “are never going to refer anybody just because they don't make referrals for anything,” an estimated 20% of customers will refer more than one person. He calls these people “solar advocates.” 

happy solar customers that might be willing to referSome solar customers—who Matt Johnson, Residential Sales Manager at Namasté Solar refers to as "solar advocates"—are likely to refer a disproportionate number of customers. It may make sense to focus additional efforts on making sure these strong proponents are empowered to refer. 

Johnson describes how Namasté Solar takes note of these customers’ willingness to refer. “We try to mark those individuals in our system when our sales staff or project managers feel like they're a solar advocate. We then direct more of our marketing efforts towards those people, reaching out to them more proactively to try and help them generate even more referrals.” He adds that providing a cash incentive for referral is effective as well.

NREL’s 2014-2016 SEEDS research also looked at the willingness of solar customers to refer others. Writing in GTM, several of the study's authors including Sigrin, report that in their survey of 1,662 solar adopters 80% reported making referrals (the median amount being three). While they acknowledge that the customers in their survey may have been “early adopters”—who could be more likely to refer—it’s clear that effectively asking for referrals could result in a lot of new business opportunities for your company.

Other research has also found that many businesses fail to take advantage of consumers’ willingness to refer. A Texas Tech study found that 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer others, but only 29% actually do, partly because they were never asked to do so. Don’t assume that good service alone will result in a referral without asking or let discomfort get in way of the ask. The inbound marketing experts at HubSpot suggest a substantial percentage of your customers are willing to have a conversation about referrals, “but not unless you bring it up. Not all of them will give you referrals on the spot, but some will do so over time.”

See how Aurora helps solar companies grow revenue, cut costs, and impress their  customers!

Six Solutions to Maximize Solar Referrals

In addition to asking for referrals at the right time and trying to identify the customers that are likely to be your biggest advocates, there are a number of different strategies to consider that may make it easier to get referrals. Here are a few tactics you may want to consider as you work to increase the number of clients you get through referrals.

1. Experiment with Other Phrasing

Consider other language aside from the word ‘referral.’ This could mean asking questions like, “Is there anyone else I might be able to help?”, “Do you know anyone else who would want to learn about solar?”, or “Who do you know that’s concerned about their electric bill?”

2. Provide a Template

If your client is interested in referring but not sure where to start, they may appreciate pointers on what to say or how to approach the topic. You could suggest that they share their experience on their social media platforms with photos or feedback about the install process or their bill savings (or provide them with nice photos or sample language if you want).

3. Make Your Content Easy to Share

Making your content, like blog posts and case studies, sharable is a great way to tap into your customer’s networks and maybe spark some conversations about their experience. Add a 'Share This With a Friend' link to the educational and marketing information that you provide to customers.

4. Create Incentivized Customer Loyalty or Referral Programs

As Johnson notes, referral programs with incentives can be helpful. To support this, you could consider creating your own referral app to offer customers or using an existing one like GetTheReferral. Some companies include solar system monitoring and review capabilities as well with these apps.

5. Deliver Top-Notch Service

Another strategy is to simply deliver an excellent customer experience because when this happens, customers are much more likely to provide a referral. Meet or exceed a customer’s expectations during all stages of the installation, including before and after.

Pam Cargill states that “making customers feel comfortable involves spending a lot of time educating and communicating with them…[ensure] the expectations you set during the sales process are true, realistic and carried through during project delivery.” Ultimately, she asserts, it is a satisfying customer experience and not the sales process that will be “more likely to lead to them referring.”

6. Keep in Touch

Finally, as discussed above, make sure to stay in touch over time. Carefully manage the timing of your follow up throughout the sales process and after the install. Cargill suggests finding where you can automate certain aspects of the communication process during sales to help you track how often the follow up occurs. Additionally, look to set reminders in the calendar or CRM to ensure that your team will periodically check in with customers. 


As NREL’s Sigrin puts it, “installers should look to keep high levels of customer satisfaction and find ways to solicit referrals from customers” including finding“ways to reconnect and remind their customers without unnecessarily annoying them." This, he says, is good business practice.

Given how referrals can provide a very cost-effective source of solar leads in an industry with high customer acquisition costs, having powerful strategies for making your customers a good source of referrals can be vital to your company’s success.

Have you found other approaches to getting more referrals? Let us know in the comments below!

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About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: Solar Sales, NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Posted by Sara Carbone on Mar 8, 2019 12:48:50 PM

These days the American solar industry is highly competitive. GTM points to “intense competition” as one cause of rising customer acquisition costs since installers "spend more money to win a bid." Addressing the competition is a necessary part of most solar sales conversations.

However, talking about the sales competition in your conversations with prospects takes careful thought. This is particularly true given the sensitivity of the subject and the fact that prospective customers may not yet be sold on solar itself, let alone who will install it. GTM reports, “solar companies are far more likely to lose considerers to uncertainty and doubt than to other competitors.”

Avoiding mistakes in your conversations with prospects, particularly with regard to how you discuss your sales competition, is important given the challenges of customer acquisition. In this article, Part 4 in our 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we look at how to effectively address the competition in your solar sales conversations.

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

The NREL Study and This Series

In this Aurora Blog series, we examine seven common mistakes contractors make when selling solar. These mistakes were identified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) based on its 2014-2016 Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study.

NREL’s 2014-2016 SEEDS study was conducted to ascertain why particular prospects adopt solar while others don’t, to provide solar contractors with insights to lower customer acquisition costs. It surveyed homeowners from four states who installed solar, considered solar, or did not consider solar, to understand factors that affected their decision making. It also included input from approximately thirty solar contracting companies.

In each article in this series, we share observations from an interview with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as insights from the field and related research. In the first three parts of the 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we focused on the importance of quick follow-up with solar leads, not assuming prospects share your opinions about solar, and not confusing customers with too many options.

Choosing the Right Time to Bring Up the Sales Competition

NREL researcher Ben Sigrin discusses the perils of criticizing the competition before the customer is completely sold on the idea of going solar. The researchers acknowledge the need to “sell against the competition” but state that “doing so when solar prospects are not fully engaged with solar will hurt not just your competitor, but you, too.”

He suggests that understanding the stages of a prospective customer’s decision-making process can help contractors address competition effectively. He describes the idea that awareness and interest come before the evaluation process, when customers weigh options like which contractors to go with.

Ushering a customer beyond the awareness stage means avoiding scare tactics. As Sigrin acknowledges, “no doubt, it's tempting to try to get to the customers first by spiking the other guys' offer with some good, old-fashioned F.U.D.—fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” But he emphasizes that using such tactics in your sales strategy is more likely to scare prospects away from going solar altogether.

Understanding The Customer’s Decision Making Process

Research has shown the value of knowing the customer decision making stages. The fundamental idea is that a consumer moves through various stages on their journey to making a purchase in a sales conversation. A funnel is a helpful metaphor for understanding how this process occurs. That’s because as consumers move through the stages, the number of viable customers decreases. The select ones that reach the bottom of the funnel have progressed to the point where they are ready to make a purchase.

The stages as they relate to solar are: awareness (about solar and what it can provide), interest (enthusiasm about the idea of going solar and/or feeling it is feasible for them), decision (assessing various vendors), and action (committing to buying a system). A final stage would be advocacy (acting as an ambassador for solar adoption).

In your solar sales conversations, try to get a sense of where your prospect might be. This can help you and the members of your sales team address their needs and avoid any missteps. This is particularly useful given that prospects are likely coming to the conversation from different points.

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A Sales Strategy That Focuses on the Relationship

Studies reveal that it might be worthwhile to consider not bringing up competitors at all or avoiding being too negative. You may want to think about keeping the criticism brief and carefully consider how you want your team to approach the sales competition when they do discuss it.

Your team may want to focus more on establishing a positive relationship than disparaging competitors. “Your prospect doesn’t want to know why someone is bad; they want to know why you’re the person they should work with. By focusing your sales strategy on how you can help prospects achieve their goals, you’ll earn their trust and show them why nobody can compete with you,” according to LinkedIn.

Linda Richardson, founder of the sales training firm Richardson and author of numerous books on sales, describes two important aspects of selling against the competition. One is knowing how your offering differs from that of the competition so that a customer might find your product or service more attractive. The other is guiding the conversation with a prospect so that the superiority of your offering becomes clear.

Richardson recommends that you avoid bad-mouthing a competitor because it can give the impression of pettiness, making your competitor look good in comparison. Instead, consider asking questions about your customer’s needs that get the prospect thinking about differences in how you and competitors would meet those needs. For instance, are they looking for a personal touch from a local company that you can deliver better than some larger competitors?

Writing in Forbes, author and sales expert Ian Altman agrees that focusing on what the customer needs is more effective than bashing the sales competition. He emphasizes that you want customers “to select you because they feel you best understand their situation and they see you as most likely to deliver the best value”—not because they felt there were no other good options.

Solutions for Success

As a salesperson, learning how to understand where the customer is in the decision-making process is a good first step in finding the right time to address competition in the conversation. This might mean asking certain questions, or identifying signs that they have moved beyond the early stages and are ready for more detailed information about making the purchase. These signs could include asking questions about pricing and terms or what solar is capable of in some scenario related to their specific situation.

Whatever you choose to do, be cautious about disparaging the competition and focus on positively highlighting the unique value your company adds. This can go a long way towards avoiding missed sales opportunities.

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About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: Solar Sales, NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choices

Posted by Sara Carbone on Feb 27, 2019 10:29:03 AM

Have you ever done an Amazon search and ended up so overwhelmed by the number of choices that you just gave up or decided to shelve the search until later? Ever landed on a homepage of a website with so many options you didn’t know where to click? That same phenomenon can apply in solar.

Contrary to what you might expect, too many choices can actually be harmful when selling solar. While offering a large number of solar choices might sound like service to a prospective customer, in reality too many options can make decision making difficult and lead to fewer solar sales.

Solar leads are a valuable and often expensive commodity, so it is important to be aware of mistakes—like overwhelming prospects with too many choices—that can interfere with closing the sale. In this article, Part 3 of our 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we examine why giving a customer too many options in a solar sales conversation can be problematic.

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

About This Series and Related NREL Research

In this series, we look at seven common mistakes contractors make when selling solar identified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in a study conducted from 2014 to 2016. This Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study was conducted to learn more about why certain customers adopt solar while others don’t, in order to help solar contractors lower customer acquisition costs.

The study surveyed homeowners in four states and worked with approximately thirty solar contracting companies. It also included the application of mathematical modeling and testing.

It was conducted by NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and behavioral scientists and psychologists at a variety of universities, with funding from the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the US Department of Energy.

In our series on the seven common solar sales mistakes identified from this research, we explore each one in more depth based a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, related research, and real-world perspectives from solar contractors. In the first two parts, we discussed the importance of quick solar lead follow-up and avoiding assumptions that solar leads share your opinion about solar.

The Right Number of Options

In almost every solar sales conversation, understanding the perspective of your solar lead is essential. According to NREL’s findings, a key component of that is finding the approach that offers them enough options without inundating them.

Ben Sigrin, one of the lead researchers on the study, asserts that "people tend to assume that more actions are better, but—and I'm sure many people can relate to this—sometimes having more options is confusing and can be overwhelming.” He points out that for a wavering prospect, feeling the pressure to make a whole lot of decisions can push them to default to inaction or to stick with what they know—getting their electricity from the utility.

Sigrin does emphasize that prospects often want solar choices, just not in excessive amounts. He says, “sometimes I think it is in the salesperson's best interest to define a few options that show different ends of the spectrum and not overwhelm the customer with choice."

It’s wise to tailor the options you offer to the particular solar lead, since customers who are less knowledgeable about solar tend to want more direction, while more sophisticated customers may appreciate a wider range of options.

Offering fewer options in a solar sales conversation can let customers focus on the choices that matter
Offering a smaller number of options, such as solar design configurations, based on your solar expertise, can help the solar customer avoid being overwhelmed by choice. 

Tyson Peschke, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Blue Raven Solar, agrees with the idea that it is important to avoid overwhelming prospects with too many choices. Blue Raven Solar is a leading solar installation company operating in ten states. He says his sales team keeps it simple to engage customers and establish trust.

“You don't want to explain to customers how 10 different panels work so they think they have to choose the one that best fits them,” Peschke explains. “You want to let them know that ‘panels are basically the same, except for, say, these two things. And we've chosen these two panels because we feel like they represent the best value’.”

He says that this kind of approach sets prospects up to trust you—the contractor—because you are helping to reduce the number of decisions they need to make so they can focus on the ones that really matter.

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The Hazard of Choice Overload

Other studies support the idea that too many options in sales conversations can impede the process. One phenomenon identified by psychologists is choice overload. This is the idea that when a prospect does not have a very specific sense of what they want or a clear way to categorize choices, they tend to feel discomfort over the number of products to choose from.

Choice overload can derail a sales conversation. Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, asserts that choice overload can lead to anxiety, dissatisfaction, bad decisions, and decision paralysis. These negative emotions can distract from the decision itself, impairing decision-making abilities and causing someone to postpone or avoid making a decision. Schwartz writes, “Even if you've made a good decision, when your choice isn't perfect, knowing there were alternatives out there makes it easy to imagine you could have made a better choice.”

A study about limited choice vs. extensive choice demonstrated this when customers in a store were asked to sample jams. The study found that only 3% of those who sampled 24 flavors made a purchase, while 30% of those who sampled 6 flavors made a purchase. The authors of the study state that too many options can lead people to choose not to choose even when it goes against their self interest.

Too many choices can undermine solar sales by giving the customer choice overload.Too many choices can overwhelm a customer and make them less likely to make a choice at all.  

Using Choice Effectively in Your Solar Sales Conversations

There are a number of ways you can work with sales staff to present solar choices without overwhelming prospects. Emphasizing simplicity and clarity is one; as Peschke puts it, look at how to offer “fewer options, more clear choices. Three is better than ten options.” Work with them to make choosing easier for prospects by keeping decisions real, immediate and concrete, and focused around a specific, positive outcome.

Additionally, help your team remember to tailor their approach to the customer's level of understanding. As Ty Simpson, Regional Sales Manager of Bland Solar, says, “solar is not sales, it’s education. You’re teaching something unorthodox... Getting people to that a-ha moment.” However you help prospects find that a-ha moment, understanding how to effectively present options in the conversations is a key factor in facilitating their solar sales decision.

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  About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: Solar Sales, NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Posted by Sara Carbone on Feb 13, 2019 3:05:58 PM

The cost of customer acquisition in the solar industry is high and continues to rise. In 2018 the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that customer acquisition costs had been steadily increasing over the previous four quarters, and two years earlier, GTM put the average cost of customer acquisition at $0.52 per watt.

This, in addition to increasing competition and market saturation, means that solar contracting companies want to use their most effective strategies when trying to win prospective customers (leads). In an effort to help contractors avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize solar sales, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a study to comprehend why certain customers adopt solar while others don’t.

This series examines seven common solar sales mistakes NREL identified through its study, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, additional related research, and real-world insights from solar contractors. In Part 1 of our 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales series, we explored the importance of quick solar lead follow-up. In this second article, we explore problems associated with assuming prospective customers share your opinion about solar.

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

About NREL’s Study

Funded by the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the US Department of Energy, NREL’s 2014-2016 Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study was conducted by NREL researchers, members of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and a number of academics in behavioral science and psychology. The team surveyed homeowners in four states, collaborated with approximately thirty solar contracting companies, and applied mathematical modeling and testing to their results.

The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers in an effort to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs.

The Importance of Avoiding Assumptions

NREL’s study found that understanding the customer's perspective is essential in a solar sales conversation. Doing this helps you refrain from making assumptions about the solar lead’s level of interest and makes you better able to address their needs. 

Customers sometimes have concerns or misconceptions about solar. These may be feelings related to system aesthetics, installation and maintenance expense, or ROI. Ben Sigrin, one of the lead researchers on the study, explains that there is a lot of variation in how homeowners perceive solar, and that many have particular misconceptions about solar’s economics and backup capabilities. He says that consumers may have “a lack of understanding of how the economics of solar work: how much it costs, how much will be saved on their bill, what the payback period will be.”

Additionally, Sigrin states that “some consumers assume that solar will always provide backup power during a grid outage, and that's not always true. They should be made aware of whether it is or isn't.” Ultimately, it is important to ensure that your enthusiasm about solar doesn't lead you to overlook these kinds of potential misconceptions or assume the customer shares your excitement about solar’s benefits.

Assuming a lead shares your opinions about solar or failing to address misconceptions can result in lost solar sales.Assuming your prospective customer shares your opinions about solar, or failing to understand misconceptions they may have, can lead to missed solar sales opportunities.

Patrick Perry, Director of Sales at Momentum Solar—one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the nation, with an impressive 4,617% revenue growth over the last 3 years—agreed that it is important to be mindful of a customer’s misconceptions. Perry points out that consumers sometimes have misconceptions about solar partly because “internet research can provide some useful information, but also could provide inaccurate information as well."

Perry explains that for his team, “providing clarity and perspective is our goal. Our approach is an educational one.” As a starting point, his team seeks to carefully “determine what the customer knows about solar, what their needs are, and where they got their information—whether it be from a friend or family or their own internet research.” By understanding this, Perry explains, they are then able to provide clarity to help the customer comprehend solar’s benefits.

Listening to Understand

Other experts in solar and sales emphasize the need to appreciate the customer’s perspective in sales conversations. Jim Jenal is the founder and CEO of Pasadena, California-based solar installation company and regularly writes about commercial solar and customer service. He talks about the importance of understanding where your solar lead is coming from: “knowing the concerns, wishes, and assumptions of the [prospect] allows you to anticipate their needs so you can offer them the best experience and clearest understanding of how solar can improve their bottom line.”

Ivan Misner, Founder of Business Network International, explains that a lot of selling has to do with finding what the customer wants. Misner states, “buyers are multifaceted, and when they shop, they weigh the many pros and cons of a potential purchase... Learning and adapting to the issues and whims of the buyer while moving the sale forward to a conclusion is a complex and intricate task – and it’s the responsibility of the sales professional to ensure it happens.”

An integral part of adapting your approach so as to guide the solar lead through this process is listening carefully to understand what factors the customer might be weighing regarding solar.

Active listening during the solar sales conversation can help you understand and address concerns of your solar leadsActively listening to prospective customers’ concerns and ideas about solar can help you more effectively address what’s important to them—and have a greater likelihood of closing the sale.

Listening is a key aspect of being able to effectively adapt in your solar sales conversation. Active listening is the art of asking thoughtful questions for true understanding and “making sure that you concentrate, respond, and remember what was heard.” Not only do you learn a customer's perspective, you build trust by validating what they feel.


It is possible to help your sales team avoid the pitfalls of making assumptions in solar sales conversations. Training in how to anticipate and identify customer concerns or mistaken ideas about solar can help them address issues as they come up. Understanding the basic principles of active listening to build trust may also be beneficial, as might an approach that emphasizes clarity and education, like that of Momentum Solar. Whatever path you choose, avoiding jumping to conclusions in your solar sales conversations can go a long way towards success.

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About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers in to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: Solar Sales, NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Posted by Sara Carbone on Feb 7, 2019 4:38:19 PM

Customer acquisition is one of the biggest challenges for solar companies and one of their most significant costs. Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables reported residential customer acquisition costs of $3,668 per customer in 2016 and projected 2017 costs of $3,898 per customer.

This means that when you connect with a prospective customer it’s critical to avoid mistakes that could cost you the sale. Findings from a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study of factors that influence homeowners to install solar offer insights into some of the most common mistakes contractors make during a sale.

“For residential-scale solar, the costs of customer acquisition remain high in this industry. There are many different figures on the exact cost and these change over time, but certainly on the order of thousands of dollars per successful client is spent developing the pipeline of leads,” says Ben Sigrin, one of the NREL researchers who led the study.

“Our goal in this project was to understand better the decision making of potential customers that are considering adopting solar for their home, in order to be able to help solar developers and other industry stakeholders identify pathways to reducing customer acquisition costs.”

This series, 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales, we will explore in more depth each of several solar sales mistakes identified NREL, based on a discussion with one of the lead NREL researchers, reviews of related studies, and real-world perspectives from solar contractors. Today’s article, Part 1, explores why not following up with leads fast enough can be problematic.  

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free  consultation.

About the Study

This research, NREL’s 2014-2016 Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study, was funded by the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the US Department of Energy. The work was conducted by a team comprised of individuals from NREL, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and several renowned academics in the behavioral science and psychology fields.

The team conducted surveys of homeowners in California, Arizona, New Jersey, and New York. The survey group included homeowners who had adopted solar, homeowners who had considered solar but decided not to purchase, and some who had never considered solar.

NREL collaborated with approximately thirty solar contracting companies who offered firsthand perspectives on their solar sales processes and helped the researchers connect with prospective solar customers surveyed in the study. Other aspects of the study included mathematical modeling and testing to understand spatial behavioral drivers of adoption and examine the impact of policy and neighborhood changes.

The Need For Quick Turnaround with Leads

One of the key insights offered by the study’s findings is the importance of following up with a lead as quickly as possible. Interest in solar is often triggered by an event like an exorbitant electric bill, advertisement, or referral from a friend, and the further removed the person is from the event when you reach out, the less likely they are to go solar. Sigrin states that “through the data, we did find that installers that are able to have a quick turnaround tended to have more successful outcomes.”

Tyson Peschke is Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Blue Raven Solar, one of the fastest growing solar companies in the nation and a top-10 solar company in the U.S. Though not familiar with NREL’s data on this topic, Peschke intuitively agreed that contacting a prospect right away while solar is front of mind can help improve the likelihood of success.

He observes that “If I know it's the right moment to talk to that person because they just put their information in, they're much more likely, in theory, to answer my call than if I wait 10 minutes. If it's on a customer's mind, it's the right moment; if not, it's very easy for them to decide they’ll talk to you some other time. So for me, it absolutely rings true that if you can get them within 10 seconds, they haven't moved on. If you wait too long, it is very likely they’ve moved on to a different train of thought and then you’ll have to re-engage their interest.”

Interest in solar is often triggered by an event, like a bill. Quick follow up can at that time can increase solar sales.Interest in solar is often triggered by an event, like a utility high bill. Responding quickly can capitalize on that interest and help you close more solar sales.

The Problem with Waiting Too Long

Other research supports the idea that slow follow up with leads can be a pain point for solar sales. A 2015 study of solar selling methods demonstrated that solar companies are not always quick to respond to an inquiry. The researchers filled in online inquiry forms for solar contractors during business hours and tracked responses for 22 days. Only 46% of their inquiries received at least one phone call and one email from sellers, and almost 40% of inquiries did not receive a response for several weeks or at all.

Other studies have found that the quality of a lead does indeed degrade over time, as seen in a 2007 Lead Response Management study. The study found that the odds of making successful contact with a lead were 100 times greater when contact is attempted within 5 minutes of the lead submitting their information, compared to 30 minutes. It also found that the odds of a lead entering the sales process were 21 times greater for that same time frame.

Another study that examined 3.5 million leads found that a call attempted within a minute of receiving a lead increased conversion rates by 391%; comparatively, the study found only a 17% improvement in conversion rates when leads were contacted within 5-24 hours.

Solar Sales CallPrioritizing quick follow up with prospective solar customers is a key element of and effective solar sales process. 

Finding Solutions

There are a number of possible solutions to the issue of quick lead follow-up, and it’s wise to put some thought into what creative options would help your company reach out to prospective customers as efficiently as possible.

Solutions could include a chatbot that gives website visitors quick answers to their questions and the satisfaction of an instant response or an automated email response for web inquiries. An effective CRM system that allows you to precisely track interactions with prospective customers is also essential—both to assess how well your company is performing in regard to response times and to make sure that no leads fall through the cracks.

However you approach your lead follow-up strategy, finding ways to be as responsive as possible to prospective customers can help you maximize your chances of a fruitful outcome.

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About This Series: 7 NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

Between 2014 and 2016 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Study (SEEDS) study. The study sought to better understand the decision making process of potential residential solar customers in to help solar industry professionals identify ways to reduce customer acquisition costs. Following completion of the study, NREL highlighted seven common solar sales mistakes identified in their research.

In this seven-part series, we delve into each of these seven mistakes in more depth, based on a conversation with one of the lead NREL researchers, as well as on-the-ground perspectives from solar contractors and exploration of related research.

Part 1. Boost Your Solar Sales Success With Faster Lead Follow Up

Part 2. Avoid Lost Solar Sales by Understanding Leads’ Perspectives

Part 3. Engage Solar Leads with the Right Use of Choice

Part 4. How to Effectively Address the Competition in Your Solar Sales

Part 5. Stop Missing Out on Solar Customer Referrals

Part 6. Why and How to Keep In Touch with Past Solar Customers

Part 7. Don’t Give Up Too Soon on Solar Leads or Referrals

Topics: Solar Sales, NREL-Backed Ways to Close More Solar Sales

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