By Michael Bishop, OnGrid
Note that this article was originally published at Renewable Energy World on 9/25/14.
As featured in Solar Fred’s blog, OnGrid asked SPI 2014 attendees who sell solar to share their best tips for “selling more solar to happier customers”. We then asked 500 PV professionals to vote for the best of the best. We expected one of the many tips emphasizing integrity and straight talk to win. But surprisingly, the winning tip was about what happens after the customer is won.
“Customers remember the 3 days the installers are there more than they remember the sales process. Have great install teams = more referrals.” — Dana Smith, SolarCraft
We followed up with Dana after SPI. He said that while SolarCraft takes great pride in its sales team, customer feedback tends to focus on the install team. Dana notes, “Customers always talk of how their install team was on time, performed as promised, and left the job site cleaner than they found it”.
Install team emphasis makes great sense now that Dana mentions it. The most vulnerable moment for a customer is right after she signs the contract and commits to an optional construction project. She’s given up thousands of dollars or credit flexibility, and that friendly sales rep is off to the next customer. It’s a leap of faith that the install team will be professional, and the company will come through as promised. And the install team, still strangers, will be very present houseguests (even the nosiest uncles usually stay off roofs and out of attics). In Dana’s words, “Having an install team of 3 people on your property and on your roof for 3 days is something that has a direct effect on your property, lifestyle and privacy…customers remember that.”
So it must be hugely relieving to open the front door for a cheerful and polite install team, not a minute past the scheduled time. The solar customer chose to trust her sales rep, and he’s coming through. That’s when the nervous anticipation stops and the unbridled excitement begins. The excitement that gives the solar customer something wonderful to share with family, friends, and new friends (better conversation starters are hard to come by).
Solar Customer to Friend: I’ve been wanting solar for years, but it’s always been a little scary. I’m so glad I did it! It was easy, and the solar company I went with is awesome! I know you want solar too. Trust me, just go for it!
Referrals are a great low-cost driver of new business. And customers probably won’t be comfortable recommending to their friends and family if the install team falls short. Solar sales professionals who take responsibility for the customer’s entire experience will have the greatest success in the long run.
In Enphase’s survey of 3,000 solar customers, over a third of those surveyed chose their installer because of a friend or family recommendation (versus 18 percent from internet search and 15 percent from the installer reaching out to them). And over two thirds considered trust and high ratings a key factor when choosing their installer (versus 56 percent for system price and 38 percent for system quality). Credibility counts!
Originally published and featured at Renewable Energy World on 9/25/2014
Michael Bishop, 3/17/16