Solar is arguably the biggest industry in the sales world. Buying renewable energy solutions, like solar panels, has become a regular practice in the U.S.
Today, roughly 2 million residential, commercial and utility-scale solar installations produce enough electricity each year to power more than 12 million American homes. By 2024, 2.5 percent of all U.S. homes will have a solar installation.
While the solar sales industry has experienced significant growth and success, there are some common challenges and problems that professionals in the field often face with their current solar panel proposals process.
Talking to solar teams everyday, we know and understand the problems they’re up against and we created a new solution to announce later in this blog. Our new solar tool not only fixes these 8 common problems solar teams face, but it’ll make your team so much more efficient and motivated to close more deals.
Here are just a few examples of problems we see daily when talking to our solar clients:
- Lack of awareness and understanding
- High upfront costs for customers
- Shifting government policies and incentives
- Complex financing options
- Regulatory and permitting processes
- Competition and market saturation
- Solar panel system design and customization
- Manually creating proposals
#1 Lack of awareness and understanding
Many potential customers have limited knowledge about solar energy and its benefits. Educating customers and dispelling myths or misconceptions can be a significant challenge for solar salespeople.
Most customers don’t understand that there’s an: initial investment, system cost for number of panels/build, solar lender differences, and regional cost model differences. Although, where the true lack of understanding comes from is that they let all of these factors outweigh their Return on Investment (ROI) that is the true benefit to purchasing solar panels.
#2 High upfront costs for customers
Solar panels aren’t cheap. The upfront cost of installing a solar system can be a barrier for some customers. Despite long-term cost savings, the initial investment can deter potential buyers who may not have access to financing options or perceive the payback period as too long.
It’s not like customers are overreacting either. Solar panels cost a lot of money upfront. Keep in mind when you’re selling a system that the customer is hearing there’s a cost for:
- Solar panel system cost: Higher-quality and more efficient panels generally come with a higher price tag.
- Installation labor and equipment: Hiring professional installers or contractors to handle the physical installation, wiring, and connection of the solar panels to the electrical system is expensive but necessary. Mounting hardware, racking, and other components necessary for proper installation may also contribute to the overall upfront costs.
- Electrical system upgrades: Depending on the existing electrical infrastructure, customers may need to make upgrades or modifications to their electrical system to accommodate the solar panel installation.
- Inverter and other system components: Inverters are responsible for this conversion. The cost of inverters or other necessary system components, such as monitoring systems or battery storage, will contribute to the upfront costs.
- Permitting and inspection fees: Obtaining the necessary permits and undergoing inspections from local authorities are essential parts of the solar panel installation process. These processes often involve fees that customers must cover.
- Engineering and design costs: For larger or more complex solar installations, customers and companies alike have design fees and even redesign fees.
It’s worth noting that while the upfront costs for solar panel installations can be significant, customers may be eligible for various incentives and financing options that can help offset or spread out these costs. These can include federal and local tax credits, grants, rebates, renewable energy certificates (RECs), and solar financing programs that offer loans or leases with manageable payment plans.
#3 Shifting government policies and incentives
Government policies and incentives related to solar energy can change over time. Keeping up with these changes and effectively communicating the available incentives to customers can be demanding.
If you don’t know what’s been happening in California with NEM 3.0 because of their legislation, unpredictable changes like that can dramatically affect your solar company in the long run.
#4 Complex financing options
Solar financing can be complex, with various options available such as cash purchases, solar loans, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and leasing arrangements. Navigating these options and explaining them clearly to customers can be challenging especially if you don’t understand them yourself.
With so many options available, financing is always going to be a complex component of solar proposals.
#5 Competition and market saturation
The solar industry is becoming increasingly competitive, with numerous companies trying every tactic to get customers’ attention, it’s no longer acceptable to hope you find your best customers. Standing out from competitors and differentiating one’s offerings can be a significant challenge.
To make sure your team doesn’t get washed away in the sea of other solar companies, you need to have a competitive edge. Solar is an incredibly saturated market but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to become a frontrunner.
#6 Regulatory and permitting processes
The regulatory and permitting processes for solar installations can vary across regions and municipalities. The paperwork and bureaucracy involved in obtaining necessary approvals can slow down the sales process and add complexity.
While the permit process for solar proposals is intended to ensure safety, compliance, and quality of installations, it can sometimes pose challenges and delays. There are some very common problems that can arise during the permit process for solar proposals:
- Lack of standardization
- Complex and time-consuming process
- Inconsistent review timelines
- Permitting fees
- Stringent requirements
- Lack of expertise
- Inadequate communication
#7 Solar panel system design and customization
Each customer’s solar needs and property characteristics may differ. Designing customized systems and proposals to present them that maximize energy production and meet customer requirements can be complex and time-consuming.
Salespeople aren’t designers and they shouldn’t have to be. Plus, chances are your customers are getting proposals from multiple companies before actually making a decision. If they don’t go with your proposal for whatever reason: maybe a bad design, cost, or timeline, that’s a lot of time wasted by sales reps.
Solar is a major purchase, and one that is often accompanied by significant complexity. With that in mind, most solar shoppers in the US compare two to five solar quotes before making a decision.
#8 Manually creating proposals
Manually creating solar proposals is something a lot of solar companies are currently doing. It involves the process of designing and presenting a customized solar energy system to potential clients. It typically includes a detailed analysis of the client’s energy needs, site assessment, system design, financial projections, and a persuasive presentation of the benefits of solar power. This can be a lengthy and repetitive process as you try to fine-tune your proposal.
Manually creating solar proposals usually looks something like this:
- Gather information and assess the site: Start by collecting relevant information from the client, such as their electricity usage patterns, historical utility bills, location, available roof space or land area, and any specific requirements or preferences they may have.
- Determine energy needs: Analyze the client’s historical electricity consumption to estimate their future energy requirements.
- Design the solar system: Based on the site assessment and energy needs analysis, design a solar energy system that best suits the client’s requirements.
- Financial analysis: Calculate the financial aspects of the solar proposal. Estimate the system’s energy production, cost savings, and return on investment (ROI). Consider factors like available incentives, tax credits, net metering policies, and financing options.
- Create and customize the proposal document: Compile all the information gathered into a professional and comprehensive proposal document.
These are all steps that reps and managers are having to do manually, taking time out of their already busy schedule.
‘Proposals’: Our Solution to Fixing Common Solar Sales Problems
With current solar proposals you have to manually build, resubmit any small design or system change, and research your generating proposal which results in a lot of time spent standing around waiting and additional manual work.
That’s why we decided to create our own solution called: Proposals.
Now you can confidently create, change, and present a totally customized solar proposal to your customers right at their door. We’ve cut out the administrative roadblocks, taken on the heavy manual lifting with other software solutions you love like Aurora Solar, GoodLeap, Mosaic, EagleView, and others to design something that is exactly what we know outside sales teams need.
This feature is getting released in June, so if you want to be one of the first ones to know about it, just give us your info and you’ll be on the short list of people that get notified as soon as it’s available to current and future customers!
While challenges like these will always exist in solar sales, you can utilize tools like this from someone who has been where you are right now. By addressing these issues proactively with smart tech, solar professionals can enhance customer experiences and contribute to the continued adoption of solar energy.
Are you a Solar Team With Any of These Problems?
If you own, manage, or are a part of a solar team that runs into a lot of issues like this, don’t worry. These problems are so common and more sales teams struggle with them than you realize. But if this describes you and you’re looking for a solution to these problems, we have it.
All you need to do is put your info down to be on the shortlist of the official Proposals announcement, or get on a call with us and we can get your team running more effectively.