Your mission is to generate solar leads with different marketing initiatives. Or, maybe you’re trying to reach purchased leads to qualify them for solar panels and set up appointments for your solar sales team. Or, perhaps your solar call center is doing both. In any case, we don’t have to tell you – you know it ain’t easy.
Spikes in clean-energy demand, increased incentives for buyers, and a steady drop in hardware costs are all driving rapid growth in the solar industry. But for all of its growth potential, this flourishing market presents unique obstacles for outbound solar sales and lead generation teams.
Solar marketing and call center expert Heather Griffin has guest authored this article to give you a clearer understanding of the challenges and complexities facing solar marketers generating and qualifying solar leads. These challenges include:
- Solar Sales Challenge #1: Fierce competition over a narrow pool of eligible customers
- Solar Sales Challenge #2: A national marketplace with diverse and fast-changing regulations
- Solar Sales Challenge #3: The need to coordinate dialing strategies with on-the-ground sales teams’ schedules
Heather sheds light on how smart strategies with the right technology and tools will help you navigate these challenges and convert more solar sales to thrive in this booming but highly competitive sector.
Heather Griffin has extensive experience managing medium and large-sized solar call center operations, including multi-state call centers, virtual call centers, and offshore call centers. She has helped many transition to remote operations and works as a consultant to numerous call centers. She is an expert in optimizing the efficiency and productivity of leads, managers, and solar sales and lead generation agents.
Solar Sales Challenge #1: Limited Eligibility
Starting at the highest level, one of the reasons solar marketing and sales can be especially challenging is because the number of eligible leads and customers is fixed. It’s a relatively small circle, and it doesn’t get any bigger.
The reasoning behind this is easy enough to grasp. To be a solar customer, you have to thread the needle on several criteria: you need to be a homeowner, have good credit, and your home can’t have shade on your roof. Even your roof has to conform to certain standards—it can’t be flat, it can’t have dormers, and it has to be made of the right material, and so on.
So, to start with, solar sales and lead generation companies wind up with a particularly narrow pool of Americans who are even going to be eligible to purchase solar panels. But the special challenge of the solar market doesn’t end there.
Once you get through the eligibility criteria, you’ll find a prospective audience that isn’t just relatively small, but hotly contested.
It’s no secret that of these eligible homes, just 4% of them have solar. So you’re far from the only one reaching out to the other 96%. This is the “sun rush,” after all. Much of this sought-after audience has been the target of call after call, knock after knock – which is why speed to lead is such a critical capability and best practice. You want to be the first contact.
Many eligible prospects are often burned out on cold calls and traditional high-volume marketing tactics. When these exhausted leads pick up the phone, if you so much as say the word “solar,” you’ll be met with a dial tone. Take it from me, a lifelong Southern California resident. I’ve received thousands of solar calls over the years, and if I hear the word “solar,” even I’m automatically turned off.
Still, breaking through with that small base is just the first of the challenges you need to solve.
Solar Sales Challenge #2: A Diverse, Widespread Market
It’s not just the size of the niche market that presents challenges for solar sales; it’s also the variations that you will encounter within your audience. As you try to sell to this small audience state by state, you’ll encounter different dialects, personality types, and beliefs. For instance, If you’re making a call to New Jersey, you might not get away with a soft opening of “How’s your day going? How’s the weekend?” Instead, you might need to take a more blunt approach.
But you’ll need your outbound sales team to account for more differences than dialect and decorum. When you’re trying to sell solar across various market areas, your team also needs to care for ever-evolving circumstances on the ground as well as ever-changing rules and regulations impacting our industry.
In solar sales, it seems like there are different rules and different products for each day of the week. On top of that, there’s different financing information to consider, plus a different set of rules for each utility provider. Add to that the diverse, complex regulations in play—you have “no-rebuttal” states, “purchase-only” states, “two-party consent” states, and more—and you wind up with more than you can reasonably expect your contact center agents to remember to remain in compliance and make meaningful connections with your leads.
Real potential costs in regulation litigation
All these rules don’t just add up to a challenge—they come with a real cost. And there are people out there trying to catch you and your reps if you step out of line.
Take this example from just this past year: We were making calls in a state that requires you to give your full physical address, which is quite a lot to say at the beginning of a call when you’re trying to keep somebody on the line. Meanwhile, we got a tip from our lawyer. He told us there were literally ambulance chasers opting into forms, making sure callers said all of the right things, and ready to wage a lawsuit.
And that’s just one rule, in one state. Your team needs to account for all of them, across the solar market.
Solar Sales Challenge #3: Geography, Proximity, and Load Balancing
Beyond connecting with these potentially overburdened leads in a way that’s localized, compliant, and effective, you also have to avoid overburdening your sales force. That’s because, given the reality of selling solar panels, you can’t simply convert over the phone. There’s no way around it: you have to physically drive to that person’s house if you’re going to address that home’s specific needs and close a sale.
This importance of geography and in-person evaluations to the solar buyer’s journey leads to the challenge of load balancing your scheduling queue. That is, you only have so many salespeople who can drive to prospects’ homes. So, your data and calling strategy have to match to be balanced against that reality and your own company’s particular sales resources and locations.
Further, once your rep has driven to the prospect’s home for the scheduled appointment, they may encounter a no-show. However, your team can enhance their sit rates by using automation and multi-channel outreach technology.
How Smart Strategies and Technology Overcome Solar Sales Challenges and Convert More Leads
All told, you can expect to encounter these interrelated challenges in the solar industry:
- A small yet diverse audience who are fiercely competed over. You need to be able to kindly and respectfully reach prospects in a way that suits them.
- A diverse, widespread market with many different rules and regulations. Your agents need the capability of easily adapting to a varied audience.
- A critical need for in-person evaluations to close sales. Your sales force’s schedules need to be load balanced against your leads.
You’ll find the answer to each of these challenges is the right strategies and technology. To overcome the unique obstacles of the solar lead gen market – to identify and connect with that limited pool of eligible prospects, and in the fastest way possible – you ultimately need a software system that’s capable of doing a lot of legwork for you and your team.
Reach your leads with omnichannel solar sales
Of course, you need to reach eligible customers quickly with a solid speed-to-lead approach. But you also need to connect strategically with technology that supports omnichannel outreach. As opposed to the old way we used to dial the market, beating them up with call after call after call, solar sales requires that you maintain multiple meaningful touch points with your potential customers—and have a way to keep track of it all.
Say that one of your potential clients opts in through an online form. With the right technology and algorithm, you should be able to set up an automated system to call them immediately, send them a follow-up email that day, and then finally text them to see if they actually prefer texting. This way, we don’t just call them, but we try to reach them in a way that they’re comfortable being spoken to.
This kind of attentive follow-up will also go a long way toward improving your sales team’s sit rates, as you’ve already made multiple connections with the prospect.
Support your agents with Dynamic Scripting
You want to have a different pitch for different markets. As I’ve said, there’s too much variance in rules, regulations, and customer needs across the entire solar market to expect your agents to keep track of it all. That means your cold call scripts need to provide them with the right support.
Here, dynamic scripting capabilities have simply changed the world. With dynamic scripting, your agent can automatically be given a script that is different for each state: The questions are different, the pitch is different, and the hook is different. Plus, each script can equip your agents to navigate the minutiae associated with varying compliance rules.
And now, when you combine the latest QA technology with dynamic scripting, you can have an AI listen in on calls to discover which parts or your scripts are delivering the best performance. If a top rep is outperforming other agents, the AI can recognize patterns unique to their conversations and help you improve scripts for the rest of the team.
Efficiently managing solar leads with your dialer’s filtering capabilities
In solar, everyone wants the same leads—we’re all fighting over that limited supply, and we want to buy every single lead we can get. So I’d say, still, buy all the leads, but filter accordingly.
There are all these different ways in which I can manipulate my data within the dialer’s system by using filters. With solar, you HAVE to get really niche and really granular because you’re back to that small amount of people who are going to be eligible for your product.
So, if I only want to call one city, then I filter by the city name. If I only want to call people whose credit scores are over 680, I’d put that in. For anything that’s a dynamic field, I can filter my data and just dial that for a while to get the end result that I want.
Scheduling your sales team for success with strategic filter technology
So, you’ve reached your leads with an omnichannel approach, you’ve hooked them with the right script and a great pitch, but now you’ve got a problem: You’re way over-booked in one area and way under-booked in another. Turns out, once again, the solution is technology.
Long gone are the days of uploading a list of 100,000 leads and dialing straight through the list. With the right technology, you can set the filters you need—whether it’s zip code, state, or territory filters—to make sure that your agents are dialing the data that matches the availability of your sales personnel.
I still buy all the data, but I watch my load balance schedule. I know that zipcode filtering will help me sort out and match my dialing strategy to my scheduling on the fly. Using the right tech, you can keep your schedules booked evenly thanks to filtering.
So, if I’m dialing in Texas and see that Dallas is getting way overbooked while Houston is underbooked, all I have to do is turn on all of my data sources, put a Houston filter on, and now the hopper will only load with leads in that area. I call for 30 or 40 minutes, get the leads filled up in that area, then remove the filter and start dialing everyone again.
The best part of all this? These filtering capabilities help you make the most of the scarce pool of solar customers.
Crafting Solar Cold Calling Scripts that Convert
How do you write the best cold calling script for solar sales and lead gen teams? Catch my next post with tips and strategies on crafting the right script for the right prospect to generate more solar leads and ultimately, to sell more solar panels.
Setting up your solar sales and lead generation team for success starts with setting them up with the right solar dialing software. Find out how Convoso can help your solar call center increase contact rates and lead conversions. Schedule your demo today.Schedule a Demo