Q2 2021 saw more new solar installations than any previous Q2 in U.S. history, with records being set in both the residential and utility-level sectors of the industry. Q2 also saw the U.S. break 3 million total solar installations, a number driven largely by residential customers. In short, the industry is booming. But with opportunity comes competition, and that, combined with the high cost of systems and lack of consumer knowledge, makes solar sales an extremely challenging job, despite the overall industry growth. Even experienced sales professionals can struggle in solar, and the learning curve is steep. But, there are certain things solar sales professionals can do to make life easier, and the following five tips represent simple but effective ways solar salespeople can improve their performance and start closing more deals.
Tip 1: Develop a Thick Skin
While awareness of the environmental and financial benefits of solar sales is growing, solar installations are still something most people don’t realize they want or need, and most of the prospects you contact – especially if you’re going door-to-door or cold calling – are likely to turn you down.
High rejection rates can wear on even seasoned salespeople, but they’re a key driver of turnover among less experienced ones. To ensure you not only make as many sales and as much money as possible, but also that you don’t emotionally burn out doing it, it’s important to steel yourself as much as possible for the inevitability of rejection and even rudeness and hostility. The best way to do that is through exposure, but you can give yourself a head start by educating yourself on the psychology of sales. Classic books like How to Win Friends and Influence People and Getting to Yes, along with more modern gems like To Sell is Human and Resilience will allow you to understand both what makes the people involved in sales interactions tick, and how to bounce back faster when they don’t go your way.
Tip 2: Understand Your Role in the Sales Process
Even the simplest residential solar installations are big purchases, and commercial installations are enormous capital outlays. As a result, the solar sales process is rarely quick, and it almost always involves a team working to usher a prospect through each step of the sales process, from early qualification to in-person meetings to the final close.
To maximize your success and the success of your whole team, it’s important to understand your role in the process and to tailor your approach to prospects accordingly. For instance, an unqualified lead is not actually ready to be sold to. As an inside-sales person working with fresh leads, your goal is only to qualify the lead and ideally move them towards a meeting with a more senior salesperson. That takes both a different approach and a different set of skills than delivering a detailed sales pitch in person, and if you approach a fresh lead the same way you’d approach a highly qualified one, you may end up losing them. Understanding exactly what your role entails and why it’s important to the overall process will allow you to maximize the number of successful outcomes you generate, even if those aren’t necessarily sales.
Tip 3: Work on Your Telephone Persona
While phone sales are fundamentally the same as in-person sales, the medium matters, and selling over the phone, where you’re not in the same room and can’t look the other person in the eye, requires a specialized set of skills that need to be actively honed, targeted, and trained.
For one thing, over the phone, people are less likely to give a salesperson time because it’s easier to reject someone – even aggressively – when you can’t see them. A person who would never slam the door in a salesperson’s face may slam the phone down on them without hesitation. A key skill inside salespeople need to learn is refining their introduction and value proposition to the point that they can hook a prospect in a matter of seconds, because that’s all the time they may have.
Tone is another factor that matters much more on the phone than it does in person. Non-verbal cues and body language are a huge part of how we communicate with each other, but on the phone, they don’t exist. As a result, an accidental slip in tone that might mean nothing when offset by a smile in person could be catastrophic on the phone. Solar sales professionals doing heavy phone work should make a point to consistently record themselves and analyze their performance to look for ways to improve tone and delivery.
Tip 4: Know the Details, and Know How to Simplify Them
Solar systems are complex pieces of technology, and there is a lot to know about how they pull energy from the sun, their efficiency, their wiring and installations, their maintenance, the economics of solar energy, and on and on. As a solar sales professional, the more you know about all of those topics, the better you’ll be at your job. But, there’s a caveat.
While you need to know your product and the industry inside and out, you have to be careful not to start offloading all that knowledge onto your prospects during the sales process. Consumers don’t care about the science behind photovoltaic technology. They don’t care about the macroeconomics of clean energy. They don’t care about the nitty-gritty details of installation. What they care about is how a solar installation will benefit them. The solar sales game is all about taking that enormous wealth of knowledge on a complex, high-tech product, and stripping it down and simplifying it for the consumer. You always need to be able to answer every question that comes your way no matter how complex, but the vast majority of your sales process should be presenting two things to your prospects in the simplest way possible: the actual numbers for how an installation will save them money, and, depending on the prospect’s values, the social and environmental benefits of the technology.
Tip 5: Embrace Sales Tech to Make Your Job Easier
Solar sales is hyper-competitive, and with more and more new entrants vying for a slice of the pie, leveraging technology to gain a competitive advantage is a must. Customer acquisition costs in both residential and commercial solar are extremely high, so any technology that offers you the ability to better manage your customer data, your leads, and your sales process stands to have a huge impact on your overall success. Unsurprisingly, customer resource management systems are becoming mission-critical tools across the industry.
A good solar sales CRM will provide you with advanced lead management tools that make capturing new leads easier and allow you to automatically track each interaction you have with your prospects, even going so far as to automatically update a lead’s status in the database as they move through the sales process. The result is that far fewer good leads slip through the cracks and customer acquisition costs come down. CRMDialer, the solar sales industry’s top customer resource management platform, also comes with advanced scheduling and calendar management tools, a built-in power dialer, and a private-label customer support portal, providing your solar sales company with a one-stop tool covering the entire customer lifecycle.
To find out more about how an advanced customer resource management platform can help your solar sales company work smarter and manage your prospect and customer relationships better, reach out to a member of the team or start your free trial of CRMDialer today.