Quality salespeople can make or break your solar installation company. Why? Because they are the face of your business. They make up the first interaction with your company for most customers, and they are the go-to contact throughout the entire sales process.
First impressions last. For most customers, the first conversation they have with your salesperson is the impression they will have of your company. There’s no need to worry, though, because we’ve put this guide together to make sure your sales team is prepared to meet this challenge!
But first, how does training fit into this process? Are the best salespeople born or made? How can you be sure your team is up to your expectations?
How to Become a Solar Sales Representative
Solar sales jobs are often relatively easy to get into. With record industry growth, most solar companies are always looking for new employees to help with an ever-increasing workload brought on by lower material costs and new incentives and tax credits.
Start by researching solar companies in your area and reach out to them to find out if they’re looking for new salespeople and what level of industry knowledge they require right out of the gate. Do some research on the solar industry and the technology while applying for jobs, but you can expect most companies to teach you the specifics of their offerings and sales processes after getting hired.
Is Solar Sales a Good Job?
If you get along well with people and are responsible, organized, and charismatic, you can expect to do quite well in solar sales roles. Any sales job is usually commission-based, so the sky is the limit when it comes to how much money you can make in a day if the company you choose to work for gives you the right tools needed to succeed.
Solar sales can also be quite rewarding if you care about renewable energy and the environment, as your primary role is to get more people on board with solar PV through education, directly helping to “greenify” your state and help it reach its climate and renewable energy goals.
Why is Training so Important?
Solar PV salespeople need to know a lot. This includes the technical details of the installation project, the details of the financing options your company offers, and the logistics of the entire sales-installation process. They also need to present this in a clear and easy way for the client to understand.
When homeowners are just dipping their toes in the proverbial solar PV waters, they will need a lot of education. Your team should be prepared to answer anything from simple questions like, “how do solar panels work?” to more complicated ones like, “can you explain the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels? Which one is best for my solar project and why?”.
This is important: it doesn’t matter how well trained or effective your installation team is if the salesperson can’t do their job. If the customer misunderstands a detail, or your rep can’t answer an important question clearly, the contract may be lost.
Solar panel systems aren’t cheap, and homeowners often shop for both the best deal and the most reputable solar company in their area to handle their solar project. If your front-line employees can’t make a connection and build trust with the potential client in the first few minutes, you might lose the deal altogether, with no way of getting it back.
That second one is especially important in solar. Nearly every potential buyer will have preconceived notions of what solar is and what it can do for them. Your salesperson needs to be able to recognize these and navigate them in a way that doesn’t confuse or offend the customer.
Now that we know why it is so important, how can you make sure your salespeople will be able to handle the job? How will you know when they are ready to represent your company?
The Three Things You Should Do When Training Salespeople
Train Them on The Product
Back to basics. You need to make sure your salespeople understand what they are selling. This is especially important with new employees, but you should give them the time and resources to learn about all your product and service offerings whenever you bring someone into your company. They should know every product you sell, every service you provide, and the pricing before starting on the job.
Check with your distributors to see if they provide documentation that may help with this process. Often distributors have training materials or will be willing to conduct product knowledge sessions for your sales team. This is a great way to ensure everyone knows their stuff, whether they’re new hires or current employees.
Solar salespeople might not require all the electrical, construction, and solar PV certifications your installers need, but that doesn’t mean that they should be getting away with doing their job with little to no knowledge about the ins and outs of solar panels.
Another way to train salespeople could be by sending them out to an active job site to observe their installer colleagues install a system. This will give them a better idea of the installation process to be more prepared to answer homeowner questions about what is to come after they sign a contract and agree to an installation.
It’s always a good idea to do some quick quizzing to make sure they retain the information. Just ask them a few questions about technical details or pricing to ensure they’re not missing any important info.
How do you train your salespeople? Let us know in the comments!
Show Them Around The Tools
Every employee has a set of tools required to get the job done. For installation, it’s your torque wrenches, pliers, cable cutters, etc. For sales, it’s a good quote template, a drawing tool, and the right knowledge.
If you use a solar sales accelerator like Solargraf for your drawing, quotes, and project management like our installers do, then the best thing you can do is train them on how best to use it. Solargraf has a library of short, simple training videos to get your new hires started in 15 minutes and longer in-depth one-on-one training sessions and group webinars available whenever you need a refresher or more specific information.
If you don’t use a software designed for the solar industry, you can see whether your platform has training videos. If so, work with your salespeople to ensure they know how to use it to sell solar PV systems.
Ask them to go through a sale from start to finish with you to check whether they remember the process. This hands-on approach will allow you to jump in to make corrections, offer suggestions, and give them tips in real-time. You can also use this time to ask them a few of the most common homeowner questions or go through some popular objections to really test their skills and knowledge in a safe, risk-free environment.
Have Them Shadow an Experienced Salesperson
Finally, before letting your new salespeople out on the road to start making sales, a good final step in the training process is to have them shadow one of your more seasoned reps.
Shadowing is the best way to have new salespeople learn the ropes. They will see how to pitch the system, handle questions, and move through the entire process. Not only that, but they will learn it from one of your established employees, so you will get a consistent image and process across your sales force. When it comes to building your brand reputation, this is a step in the right direction.
Shadowing has never been easier with the solar industry taking advantage of all the new remote solar sales processes built in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Have them listen in on sales calls or watch screen-share presentations of sales decks and the solar design process right from their desks.
If remote-first sales aren’t your company’s cup of tea, send them out on the road to accompany more experienced salespeople when they door-knock or have kitchen table meetings with potential clients. This will make them an active participant in the sale while still having the element of safety of working with someone with a higher skill level than them around to make sure they’re doing a good job and who can jump in when necessary.
At the end of the day, every salesperson represents your company. Every conversation they have with clients, every email, phone call, or proposal makes an impression on the client. Training your salespeople well is the best way to make sure they will be able to represent your company well and make more sales.