Developing an effective solar sales strategy can be challenging: when you're facing tough competitors in a crowded market, dealing with varying customer needs and values, and finding creative ways to offer value, it's easy to overlook the basics. Don't let common sales mistakes get in the way of you closing sales and growing your business - here are the top five to avoid.
1. Not tailoring your pitch to fit your customer's needs
When you're looking to close more sales, it might feel tempting to create a standardized pitch, proposal, and product offering to streamline the solar sales process. While some degree of standardization can be beneficial in terms of creating a business that runs smoothly, when it comes to your customer, it's important to be open to their unique perspective when starting the conversation. Don't assume that all customers will be sold on price, or that everyone in your community is most interested in saving the environment instead of saving money on their electric bills - pay close attention to how your customer describes their needs, and make sure you ask the right questions to find out what motivates them (which will in turn give you the knowledge you need to convert them into a sale).
2. Pushing the customer to make a decision before they're ready.
As someone who spends all day in the solar industry, going solar might seem like a no-brainer to you--it's a smart decision that pays off for most customers, with the added benefit of helping the planet. But it's important to put yourself in your customer's shoes and remember that for most people, going solar is a significant financial decision that must be weighed carefully. Give them plenty of options to choose from, while explaining clearly how each one could fit their needs. Let them have some space to think things over once you've delivered your proposal: oftentimes people need a day or two to consider their options before making the decision. And be sure to have plenty of resources on hand to be able to answer any questions that might arise: you want to be seen as a trusted advisor with the customer's best interest at heart, not just a salesperson trying to close the deal as quickly as possible.
3. Selling on price - not value
When selling in a competitive market, it's tempting to try and make your business more appealing to customers by offering the lowest prices. While you certainly will get some business that way, it's ultimately an unsustainable strategy that will make potential customers wonder about the quality of your service and product line. Offering reliable products that have a higher price point but offer greater value in the form of increased production, durability, and customer support will help you be a solar business that stands the test of time. Being competitively priced is, of course, important, but don't let price be the battleground--studies have actually shown that 70% of solar customers do not go with the lowest quote offered. Instead, investing in other, more sustainable forms of differentiation will pay off for you in the long-term.
4. Forgetting to ask for a referral
Once you've closed the sale and completed the installation, your next step should always be to ask the customer for a referral. Even if you don't have a formalized, incentivized referral program in place, simply asking satisfied customers if they would mind serving as a reference down the line is an excellent way to generate future business. In fact, word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most cost-effective ways to get more leads, as shown by the fact that an astounding 80% of people surveyed in a recent NREL study saying that they referred their installer to an average of three other people.
5. Overlooking the small stuff
It's important to remember even the smallest details to ensure that your customers have a great experience, and that your reputation as a business remains stellar. Making sure that your staff knows their subject matter, can speak to your product offerings, and answer questions is key. Follow-through is essential--you should be following up on all promised communication in a timely, but not pushy, manner. Don't speak negatively about your competition, or about forms of solar you don't offer--you should be knowledgeable about your comparitive advantages over them, but present these in a positive light. Be organized, both throughout the proposal propose and during the actual install. And don't lose touch with your customer post-install: follow up a few weeks later to make sure that they're satisfied and that their system is working as expected.