How to Sell Solar to the Modern Buyer

Solar sales is the fastest growing industry, there’s no doubt about it. With 22 million homes installing solar panels in 2022 alone, the demand will only continue to grow and with that comes an opportunity for you to sell to the modern buyer.

As we know all too well, the internet has completely changed the way that people buy. What used to be a very product-centric sales process that was facilitated by a rep has shifted into a new, customer-centric buying process that is facilitated by the customer and their web browser. People simply have so many resources available that they feel as though they ought to be in complete control. The modern buyer and former generations spend much more time researching a product before they come to a purchasing decision. This is an especially difficult obstacle for the door-to-door rep, who is working within a very small window of opportunity, trying to close a potential client who is now used to buying almost completely on their own terms.

Customers set aside time, they do the research, and eventually come to a decision, all on their own. No wonder visits from door-to-door reps can feel like an intrusion by comparison. But a rep who is informed and considerate can work with clients in a way that feels comfortable to the customer (and their new buying process), whether they have already considered solar or not.

What is the Process of the Modern Buyer?

Before we talk about what that looks like, we first need to think more about the way that people buy things:

Stage 1: Pain Point Awareness Stage

The awareness stage is where you recognize a problem and assess it. Is the car worth getting repaired or is it time to get it replaced? Is it a priority? What will you miss out on if you don’t act now? For most people, transportation is a top priority, and let’s say in this example it makes more financial sense to buy a new car than repair the old one. The question then becomes ‘What are my preliminary options?’ This inevitably leads to a Google search, and the process is underway.

Stage 2: Software/Product Consideration Stage

Once you’re seriously researching a handful of viable options, you are now in the consideration stage. Which model best meets your needs? Is it better to buy new or used? Which is a more reliable product? Is it time to get a hybrid or electric car? What rebates are available? Especially with more significant purchases, you’d want to be completely sure that you’re going to make the best possible decision for your circumstances.

Stage 3: Final Decision Stage

After you’re confident you’ve done enough research, you’ll move into the decision stage. You’ve decided on a car, but you want to evaluate your options and make the best purchase possible. For our example, this looks like going for a test drive and evaluating purchasing options, such as whether or not you want to buy it from a private vendor or a dealership. In this stage, you’re essentially implementing the decision you’ve come to.

So, How Does the Modern Buyer Affect your Business?

It’s going to be difficult to conduct an accelerated buyer’s journey when the modern consumer is used to having time and resources to make a well-researched decision. In the modern world, the buyer wants to be the one coming to the company, not the other way around. But there are ways that your approach can acknowledge that and even use it to your benefit. You don’t have to guess what to do next to target your modern buyer, use these 4 steps in their journey:

#1 Finding Major Pain Points

4 Steps in the Buyer’s Journey

Remember, the first step in the buyer’s journey is recognizing a problem. Nobody is immune from the problems that lead most people to investing in solar in the first place, whether they’re rising energy costs, environmental concerns, or desires for self-sustainability. You’re selling a product with nearly universal appeal, so focus on those reasons. The more you can help a prospect recognize and resonate with the problems that your product solves, the more effective you’ll be.

It’s also important to address the benefits of investing in solar now. Remember, a big part of the awareness stage is deciding whether or not a problem is a priority or not. Solar acts a lot like a compounding investment—the longer you have it, the more power it has to save you money. Emphasize that an early investment is win-win for the client. Even if they don’t see themselves staying in a house long, solar will help them save money on energy bills in the short run and increase the value of the home should they choose to sell.

#2 Increased Outreach

Clients like to spend more time in the awareness and consideration stages, so find ways to make them aware of your company before you even knock on their door. You can do this through email lists, flyers, mail campaigns, web ads, or business cards. Imagine how much easier it would be to present a solution to clients who know you’re coming and have had an opportunity to consider your options and generate questions already. It completely reframes the nature of your conversation with them in an extremely positive way.

#3 Offering Advice/Becoming a Trusted Advisor

Being a trusted advisor also requires a stronger product and subject knowledge, as well as a willingness to disagree and correct prospects. This may feel like a counter-intuitive approach. You may have had some success taking more of a relationship-building approach—you’re a friend to clients, first and foremost. But stats show that those who challenge the preconceptions that clients have are much more successful salespeople than those that focus mainly on keeping everything amicable between themselves and the client.

You can see why the ability to disagree and redirect will be so important in the new buyer’s journey. If clients have done their research, there isn’t a lot of guarantee that they’ve found great information, especially information that represents your company the way that you’d like. Most reviews posted online about a company are negative. Most of the stuff they’ll read about solar is old, partially because the industry is moving so quickly that anything older than a year or two is going to be false. As a salesman, you’re harming yourself if you aren’t willing to challenge what your potential clients have read.

#4 Refining the Sales Process

As you know, the solar sales cycle is a long buyer’s journey. In our example, buying a car can reasonably be accomplished in one afternoon, once the decision has been made. With solar, chances are it’ll take at least a few weeks or months before install.

This leaves a lot of time for losing customers and making mistakes, so here’s what you should focus on doing:

  • Demonstrate professionalism throughout the process, but especially in the way you manage the deal. Digital forms and contracts, e-signing, and on-the-spot credit checks are all great ways to do this.

  • Eliminate errors as much as possible. Again, digital forms and contracts are a great way to ensure you’re collecting the right information and prevent any chance of it being lost.

  • Be unified in all your interactions with the customer. Nothing is more frustrating than having a rep say something that was said by another employee or project manager. If you’re all taking notes on a client on the same platform, this will eliminate a lot of embarrassment.

  • Be quick to resolve concerns and questions that may arise. It would be smart to develop a resource for those who have decided on a plan but are waiting for estimates or installation. This resource should resolve FAQs, build confidence in the company, and increase excitement for the product or service.

  • Install a product or provide a service that’s more immediate and compliments your solar offering—for example, some companies use thermostats or energy efficient light bulbs. By blending the main offering with a low cost, high value item, you provide immediate gratification to the new client and strengthen their relationship with the company.

How to Take Advantage of the Buyer's Journey

In order to take advantage of the new buyer’s journey, you’ll need to find a way to tell people about your service and get them interested in your offering early on. Everybody’s heard of solar. The problem is whether or not they’ve actually considered it a viable option for their situation. Some solar companies are getting their name and solution in people’s minds by either creating leads through digital marketing or buying lead lists full of people who have already done their research and expressed interest.

If you’re going to go the digital marketing route, the best way to spend your money is to create content that provides answers to questions and concerns they have. Customers want to know what you can do for them, not how great your company is.

If your client was going to conduct thorough research about your solution, what are some of the questions they would ask? If you can address concerns quickly (sometimes even before the client realizes they’re there) you can help them reach the end of their research quickly and help them feel comfortable about proceeding with your product/service.

Common questions a prospect might ask:

  • How much is this going to cost me per month?

  • How much money will this be saving me?

  • Are you sure this is the right solution for me?

  • How long has your company been working in solar?

  • Does your company have reviews I can look at?

They’re going to have questions and you should have the answers. You can ease that tension by being informative and considerate, and position yourself more as a trusted advisor to their buying process instead of a persuader.

Content Examples to Start the Conversation

Professionally created case studies. These should feature customer stories that directly address the concerns typically raised during the sales process.

Anything that sets your offering apart from the competition. Better Business Bureau ratings and other third party comparisons are perfect for this. It might also be worth compiling negative reviews directed at your competition. You should also be prepared to demonstrate any significant differences between your tech and your competitors, also ideally through third party sources.

Professionally created case studies. These should feature customer stories that directly address the concerns typically raised during the sales process.

Reputable, third-party material. Share entire articles or snippets that make your point quickly. Here’s some strong examples (all came from a few Google searches): an article from Boston University on cost efficiency, one from the US Green Building Council on the top solar benefits for homeowners, and a quick, digestible read from the folks at NerdWallet

A company Facebook group or forum. Anything where clients can see that your customers have a place to voice experiences and concerns and have them quickly resolved.

Pay Attention to Your Buyers

The main message here is that people change, especially solar buyers. If you’re not constantly paying attention to the needs and behaviors of your prospects, you’re going to find yourself outdated and inefficient. Even the principles outlined in this article will eventually become irrelevant and everyone will be moving on to new selling strategies.

But if you’re really paying attention, collecting data on customer behavior, and creatively finding ways to get their attention, you’ll manage to stay ahead of the game no matter what changes come along and dominate your corner of the market.

For more info on implementing these strategies and other best practice tips for your company, schedule a demo. We’re excited to show you what we can do for your company.

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