Solar customer acquisition costs are around $3,000 for the average residential installation, according to Greentech Media. Many installers are exploring new ways of reaching their customers in cheaper ways than traditional TV and magazine ads, through online marketing or phone sales.
But one company has found that face-to-face interactions are a vital component of their sales strategy. Sunworks (Nasdaq: SUNW) has been in the Roseville area for over 30 years, and they have identified some of the biggest barriers to going solar: most homeowners have misconceptions about how unaffordable or difficult installing solar is and have never seen solar panels up close.
I talked to Jose Alvarez, the Director of the Sunworks Solar Design Center, a brick-and-mortar solution to solar installation barriers. Since Sunworks launched their Solar Design Center in April, they have had 17% month-over-month growth in revenue. He gave me a walkthrough of the center and advice on how a local solar center can boost sales.
Showcase Your Projects
Galleries of projects establish a company’s credibility. Prove to your customers that you can deliver with case studies and documented financial results. In the showcase section of the center, customers can see the different residential and commercial designs that the Sunworks has completed.
Walk Them Through How Easy It Is
Customers could be concerned with the process being too lengthy or complicated. “We give them a big outline of the steps to getting the panels on their roofs,” Jose said.
At the Solar Design Center, a graphic display accompanied by a demonstration from a salesperson, can educate customers about how easy solar could be.
Let them touch the panels
“Not everybody is comfortable with such a big purchase.” Jose finds that homeowner still have a lot of misconceptions about the aesthetics of the panels and how exactly they will be installed.
“We let them feel and touch the panels.” Solar modules and inverters are on display in the showroom. Customers can actually see what their panels will look like.
“We show them that we’re not gonna tear their roof up.”
Customize Designs on the Spot
The virtual area is where the designs come to life. Sales representatives can create solar designs for customers in under ten minutes using Aurora's solar design platform.
“They give us an address and their utility bill, and we do the design for them on the spot,” said Jose. Customers are impressed by the salesperson’s ability to instantly model their load profiles and estimate how much of their home’s load would be offset by solar. Visuals are also compelling parts of a sale.
“We just pop their home up in 3D view so we can show them what it’s gonna look like aesthetically.”
Salespeople can run a performance simulation to show a customer’s electricity bill savings and other financial results. They can also model the customer's potential savings based on different financing options from lending partners. “We can generate a proposal for them right then and there,” Jose said.
Skip the Home Visit
“Customers generally don’t want our site surveyors in their homes during the day.” Installing solar can be an intrusive process. Sunworks salespeople noticed that some of their customers are concerned about security issues. Using Aurora at the Solar Design Center for remote site assessment takes care of that.
“We don’t have to do a second visit,” said Jose. On average, the entire process takes around 40 minutes.
“We usually close the deals right then and there.”
The flagship branch of the Solar Design Center in Rocklin, CA is the first state-of-the-art solar design and sales center. “We’re not planning on stopping with one. We want to put one in each region that we’re in.” Sunworks plans to add more centers around their service areas in northern California.