With the need for renewable energy consistently at the top of the news cycle, it’s no surprise that the solar market has been growing rapidly. With record growth comes an increased interest in starting a solar business for potential newcomers to the industry and a greater need for existing companies to up their sales game to beat out the new guys.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to sell solar panels, whether you’re just getting started or you’re an established solar professional looking to stay up to date and continue to crush the competition.
How To Sell Solar Efficiently in Just 4 Steps
The solar industry is built heavily on trust and demands a high level of skill and knowledge to succeed. Above all of that comes a need for an efficient and educational sales process. Here are 4 steps to ensure that you’re selling solar as efficiently as possible with the best results.
Where to Start
Getting up and getting started is always the most challenging part. With what seems like an endless list of things you need to learn and tasks to complete to start making money, it could be tricky and seem overwhelming to get your foot in the door.
This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Following these 4 steps will get you up and making sales in no time.
1 – Become an expert and find your niche
Before ever making your first call or knocking on your first door, you’ll want to make sure you’re both qualified and ready to answer any questions that may come up in conversations with leads. Being an expert in your field is the number one way to build trust with potential clients and make sure they choose your solar business over anyone else.
Join social media groups with like-minded people and other solar professionals.
One of the best ways to learn is from others, and one of the best ways to meet others is through social media. Seek out Facebook and LinkedIn groups or forums where solar installers and salespeople meet to talk shop, plan meetups and discuss new technology available in the space.
You can also follow influencers and industry news publications all over social media to keep an eye on solar news and learn about what new policies and incentives are coming out in your area so that you’re never caught off guard.
Not only will you meet new potential business partners and friends, but you’ll also be able to learn at a constant pace passively every time you take out your phone in your downtime.
Get certified and keep your certifications up to date.
Like many other contractors, solar installers should be certified in installation best practices if they want to demonstrate their knowledge to their potential customers. While you can install solar without any technical certifications, it’s highly recommended that you take as many courses as possible when getting started and renew any that expire as quickly as possible.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), for example, offers certifications in everything from sales to PV system inspection and installation at prices ranging from $150 to $390.
These certifications are valid for 3 years from completion and can be renewed for a fee. You can also take construction safety courses through OSHA, get your electrical license from your state, and even supplement your knowledge with courses by other solar professionals and engineers online at teaching marketplaces like Udemy or Coursera.
Decide what kind of solar installer you want to be and what you want to sell.
Choosing your niche should be done before you even start to attempt to generate leads and get started selling. It might be challenging to stay up to date on everything happening in the industry at all times, but it’s much easier to pick a category and become an expert in it.
Do you want to install residential or commercial solar? Will you focus on solar leasing, PPA agreements, cash payments, etc.? Which kinds or brands of panels do you want to sell? Will you install ground-mounted or rooftop solar? Learn everything there is to know about your chosen niche so that you can be prepared to answer any questions that may come up and explain to homeowners why your solution is better than everyone else’s.
2 – Build your buyer personas and map out your buyer’s journey
The best way to sell solar efficiently is to know and understand your customer base. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer that helps salespeople and companies prepare sales materials that resonate with the people you’re looking to sell solar to. Start simple when you’re just starting out, and build and edit your personas based on your conversations with real people when you learn something new.
Once you have your persona(s) fleshed out, work on your buyer’s journey and start putting together material for each stage. A buyer’s journey has 3 stages:
- The Awareness Stage: This stage is where your buyer becomes aware that they have a problem (“my electricity bill is too high, how do I lower it?”).
- The Consideration Stage: Your potential customer begins to consider how to solve their problem (“solar panels seem like a good solution to my problem, how do they work, and how do I buy them?”).
- The Decision Stage – The buyer looks at potential solutions to their problem and decides how they are going to solve it (“I want to lease a rooftop solar PV system, who is the best solar installation company for my project?”)
Use the buyer’s journey to tailor your solar sales process for each stage your leads may find themselves at in the process. Remember, someone with little knowledge who is just thinking about solar panels should be treated and spoken to differently than someone who has heavily researched solar energy technologies and solar providers and is ready to make a decision as soon as possible.
3 – Put together a marketing and outreach plan
If you want good, high-quality leads, you need an effective solar marketing plan. Consider your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey to work on some digital content that will help potential buyers find your company and website so that they can fill out a web form and request a quote or more information from you. Here are a few things solar companies should consider putting together to market their businesses.
- Blog articles answer homeowners’ common questions about solar that lead to a quote request form. Find out which keywords people use to search for solar panel information or quotes and include them in your articles to help homeowners find your content and, therefore, your business.
- Organic social media posts of pictures of solar projects you’ve completed or your published blog articles.
- Boosted organic social media posts and social media ads to reach a larger audience based on specific criteria. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if an organic post is doing well on its own, it’s likely because it’s resonating with people. Give it a boost, so it reaches a bigger pool of people.
- Paid search engine ads on Google or Bing will ensure your company’s website appears at the top of your ideal client’s search results.
- Build a few automated emails to reach out to new leads, cold leads, and people who haven’t gotten back to you in a while to check in and rekindle their interest.
While this may seem like a lot to get started with, you don’t necessarily need to implement everything on this list at once or at all. Social media posts and blog articles can be scheduled, ads can be set to run for a specific period or indefinitely, and emails can be sent automatically for as long as you like, only requiring updates when you make significant changes.
4 – Build your sales deck and strategy
The final step to get started selling solar is to create a sales/pitch deck and plan that will help you sell effectively.
Build your pitch deck
Regardless of how you choose to sell (remote-only, door-to-door, or a mix of both), you should have a pitch deck ready to share via screen-share or on a phone/tablet in person. A sales deck aims to describe what your business does, outline your customer’s problem, and then provide a solution (hint: the solution is choosing your solar company).
Keep your pitch deck short, informative, and easy to understand. You’ll want to use this space to help educate the homeowner on solar power itself, the installation process, what they can expect from their solar system after installation, and what you offer in terms of maintenance and troubleshooting after the sale is complete and the system is up and running.
Above all, your sales pitch should answer the three most important questions any potential customer might have:
- Why should I go solar?
- Why should I choose your solar company for my project?
- Why do I need to go solar today?
Work on your sales strategy
Once you’ve completed all of the above, it’s finally time to get your sales strategy finalized and get out there and sell.
Speak to the homeowner to learn about their needs, create their design on the spot and then walk through their proposal right away, explaining everything from their cost/savings to why you selected the panels you chose, their location, the payment, and financing options you have available and more.
Selling solar this way not only allows you more of an opportunity to show off your expertise to the client, but it also gives you the chance to edit anything about the project on the fly based on the homeowner’s feedback. This will provide them with the most personalized and tailored sales experience possible. They will also appreciate the extra opportunities to ask questions and ensure they’re comfortable with their system with less back-and-forth and additional meetings.
Tips for Selling Door-to-Door
Solar sales have always had a door-to-door/in-person element, and we doubt this will ever change. After all, there’s something special about seeing the perfect roof, ringing a doorbell, and closing the deal, all in an afternoon. Door-to-door sales are effective but also very difficult. Here are some tips to help you sell more solar door-to-door.
Dress for success
Wear your expertise and charm on your sleeve, literally. If you look the part, people will be much more receptive to you and your pitch.
Dress professionally, but keep it casual – think a nice pair of slacks and a polo with your company’s logo on it to make it easier for the homeowner to identify you through their peephole and want to open the door for you. Choose an outfit that says, “I’m a knowledgeable professional, but I’m also friendly and approachable; let’s chat.”
Avoid being “pushy.”
Sure, you know why solar and your business are great, but avoid trying to convince others of this. You don’t want to come off as an overeager or pushy salesman. Instead of convincing people to go solar, work on getting to know them as individuals and then offer a custom solution built specifically to make their lives easier.
Forget how perfect the house you’re walking up to is for solar when you ring the doorbell. You’re not selling people solar panels, you’re selling them a solution to their problem, and the best way to figure out what their problem is to get to know them and build from there.
Know your stuff
As we mentioned earlier, education, certifications, and knowledge are everything when closing solar deals. Remember, there’s no way to put someone on hold when you’re standing on their front porch, so you better be ready to answer any question people may have on the spot.
The solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and with that comes lightning-fast improvements and technology changes. This means that you need to stay up to date for yourself and ensure you’re able to answer homeowner questions about new products and installation methods/techniques.
At the same time, if a homeowner is bringing up outdated or incorrect information, don’t be afraid to correct them and provide them with an update to let your expertise shine. The general public has many misconceptions about solar, and being aware of them and how to properly correct people will work wonders for your close rate.
Just like with cold calling, door-to-door salespeople can expect to be rejected. A lot. Door-to-door salespeople should be ready for homeowners to simply not answer the door, politely listen to their pitch but ultimately reject them, or worse, get loud or abusive.
Sometimes you’ll be able to pick up on the fact that the person you’re talking to isn’t interested. If you’re unsure, include questions in your pitch to gauge their interest level and allow them to say “no” so that your time and theirs aren’t wasted, and you can move on to the next house on the list.
Solar is expensive. If someone flat out tells you, they have no money right now and no interest in financing or a loan, listen and move on.
Tips for Selling Over the Phone
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted many businesses to a remote-focused sales process, and much of the lessons we learned are still valid and valuable today. Remote solar sales are here to stay as a helpful tool for getting in touch with more leads and selling more solar from anywhere. Here are some remote sales tips to make closing deals from your desk quick and easy.
Turn your phone pitch into a qualifying call.
Phones are great tools for getting in touch with people quickly, but nowadays, we have many different virtual tools that can upgrade your phone pitch into an entire multimedia experience.
Instead of simply pitching over the phone, give your leads a quick call, ask them a few qualifying questions, get to know their needs, and then send them a link to a Crankwheel session where they can see your screen while on the phone or book them in for a separate Zoom or Google Hangouts meeting.
One great aspect of these tools is that they’re both great for scheduling meetings in the future and quickly generating a link that can be sent by text or email in a matter of seconds. If the client is free right now, get them in a screen-share immediately, while if they only have a few minutes, you can schedule a meeting for another time but ensure they got your invite and accepted it while still on the call.
Take advantage of screen-sharing.
When your lead joins your screen-share session or meeting, you can present your entire pitch deck to them and design their system live. You can also include additional websites, videos, or photos to help you sell and present everything in one seamless experience that not only emulates the feeling of selling at the kitchen table but improves upon it.
Take the time to go over their proposal, use a digital whiteboard to do some quick math to determine their savings under various scenarios, and turn your webcam on to build some rapport with them and show off who you are.
Set a clear agenda for the call
Before launching straight into your sales pitch, explain precisely how your call will go so that the homeowner has a clear idea of how long everything will take and what you will cover throughout the meeting.
This will help them understand your process and get them thinking about some questions for you as the call progresses. They also won’t be left wondering how long the process will take and will be able to relax and give you the attention required to get them to buy.
Plan your calls at optimal times
Another aspect of learning about your customers and building buyer personas is knowing when they will most likely be available for a call. For example, residential solar customers will most likely give you their personal phone numbers and, therefore, might not be available to answer the phone during the day while they’re at work. On the other hand, commercial solar customers might prefer to chat during business hours only. Get to know your ideal clients and plan your day around their availabilities.
The solar industry is an exciting, fun, and often challenging business. When it comes to growing your solar business, having a good sales strategy is everything. From deciding how to get started with solar sales to learning how to sell door-to-door effectively and over the phone, there are many opportunities for growth, improvement, and optimization at every step of the process.
Looking to scope, sell and complete more solar projects than ever? Solargraf is the most user-friendly, robust, and fully integrated solution on the market. Book your free demo today to learn more about growing your business with Solargraf.