Advanced software tools help enable new sales techniques that were not available in the past. In this series, we will describe the most common sales techniques and show how software tools can help you use them yourself.
Customers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big businesses, others are empty nesters. Some are power-hungry, others are energy efficient. Some are scrappy, others are brand-conscious. Some are tech-loving, others just want stuff that works. So rather than offering a standardized system design, personalize the proposal based on the customer’s unique needs.
Method 3: The personalized sale
This process starts with a bit of research before the visit: Get to understand the customer, the facilities and their priorities. This research could be based on estimating the property’s energy bills, reading press coverage about the company and their strategy and analyzing the age and architecture of the building. You might pre-screen the customer with a call or questionnaire in advance of the meeting to learn about the prospect’s needs, priorities and decision-makers. And finally, you might even assess the equipment they have elsewhere on the property to get a better sense for their price sensitivity, brand consciousness and technology appetite.
Then, as you develop the project proposal, tailor the pitch to your audience. Some examples of customizations include:
Building architecture and age: Propose a solar array that complements the architecture of the building. If a modern building, then a sleek carport array could reinforce the modern theme. If the building is older, then the solar array could be more subdued, perhaps not visible from the street. Plus, with older buildings, you may have to adjust the racking design and density in order to accommodate the limitations of the rooftop.
Building size and electricity demand: Show how the system is sized correctly to save them the maximum money without over-producing. You could also show how an integration of solar with storage could enable the customer to reduce their demand charges and possibly change their tariff rate structure to save even more money!
Project location: Many design decisions, such as the racking or inverter choice, will depend on the project location. The sun angles and wind load will affect the module orientation; the temperature of the system will affect the module and inverter choice.
Interest in system performance: If the customer is genuinely interested in understanding (and maximizing) the performance of their array, you may want to propose a system that will give them module-level visibility to their system, such as microinverters or DC optimizers.
Community and learning engagement: For many customers, a solar array is more than a power plant; it is a statement about their beliefs and an opportunity to engage their community – if so, offer a kiosk display in the lobby with real-time monitoring.
With the personalized selling technique, you may only have a single system design to propose, but you will spend much of the time with the customer explaining how the design is specific to their unique needs.
Advantages and disadvantages
This technique sets up an amicable relationship between you and the client, as you demonstrate the interest and willingness to listen to their needs. In a dynamic and competitive process, this can give you the inside track on the entire sales process.
This technique also helps you avoid spending time on things that don’t matter to the customer. By researching and screening the customer up front, you can make sure your sales efforts are well aligned with the products and designs that will interest your customer.
The downside is that this approach requires more thoughtfulness and can mean more time per sale. It is not appropriate for early-stage or unqualified leads. Instead, this technique is best with only qualified leads and customers that you have a good chance to close.
But in those situations, this technique can be an incredibly powerful tool for establishing the high ground and closing the sale!
Paul Grana is the co-founder and head of sales & marketing for Folsom Labs.
Read more Solar Boot-up articles from Folsom Labs here.