By Joanna Giętkowska, international business manager, EasySolar
Mobile apps are an important element of our daily lives, letting us easily access news, chat with friends, check weather forecast and more. They are also becoming more important in the working world. Businesses have discovered a good way to increase work performance is by using apps on the go. Apps can help sales staff demonstrate products, explain complicated issues and produce instantaneous sales quotes.
This mobile strategy is moving to the solar industry, as well, and software companies are experiencing strong demand for programs to improve solar project design and sales operations. Here are the benefits of mobile apps driving that demand:
Sales in the cloud
While the falling cost of solar hardware has been impressive, the customer acquisition cost remains a significant portion of soft costs in solar projects. Sales reps often struggle with shortage of time, efficiency problems and difficulties with team workflow when it comes to professional documents preparation.
Up to now, solar companies were depending on a combination of CAD, Excel and homegrown software to finish projects. Using them for solar projects in the initial stages, when numerous changes to layout and equipment are often necessary, was inefficient and extremely time-consuming, especially because there was no guarantee of conversion.
This problem could be solved easily with a dedicated, cloud-based software offering a whole package of tools. If it’s available also on mobile devices, it can substantially improve a company’s workflow and productivity, reducing its operation costs and becoming an integral element of PV design and sales.
From the solar rep perspective
During a typical site visit, sales reps interview the customer, take measurements, perform necessary calculations and take notes. After a long day of meetings, the data entry from paper notes to CRM platforms and other programs can be challenging. What’s more, if this data can be accessed only from the computer, it becomes useless when solar reps are back in the field.
Sales reps spend over 50% of their day on site visits, and they are more familiar with their mobile devices than complex software with archaic user interfaces. With these points in mind, it becomes clear that solar design and proposal generation should extend beyond the walls of an office. Companies who don’t recognize this will fail in the customer acquisition race.
Now, let us imagine a different way of working, where all tasks could be made with one simple tool: a well-tailored solar app synced with cloud-based software. A sales representative could create a module layout directly on a rooftop picture captured during a site visit. Modifications could be applied right away, presenting different layout scenarios and stimulating the customer’s engagement in the process. The use of a GPS function would make it possible to check solar radiation data for a particular location. The gyroscope and compass present in mobile devices would facilitate rooftop inclination and orientation measurements. At the end, all data will be saved in the cloud and all projects would become accessible both from mobile device and from a multifunctional online platform to be polished and managed afterwards.
The first company in the solar market that decided to take this great step forward is EasySolar, with its professional online platform for the office and a fully functional native mobile app being its extension for the field. The software turned out to be very useful for solar businesses who quickly decided to turn toward mobility and received brand new sales opportunities.
Opportunities and challenges
Mobile apps synchronized with an online platform can help organize and present project data in a clear and comprehensible way during and after a site visit. It can stimulate both customer engagement and team workflow. Because less time is spent with individual client data, more time is saved for prospecting new leads.
Furthermore, the new working model removes a bottleneck created around engineering teams, who were once needed for both solar designs and proposals. Now both aspects can be handled by sales reps. With numerous requests for proposals, several modifications in PV design or multiple scenarios of economic analysis, it is a substantial change.
There are also certain challenges when it comes to the use and development of mobile apps and cloud-based software. They require an internet connection and enthusiasm for mobile technology among solar employees. Nevertheless, with the mobile market evolving and maturing so quickly, internet access is present almost anywhere. It also encourages solar pros that are not mobile tech-savvy to discover new possibilities for their businesses.
Based on EasySolar’s research, the solar software market is experiencing a 20% increase in business every year. What’s more, the Google organic search for mobile solar software shows an increase of over 100% annually. Undoubtedly, this data demonstrates an incredible advance in the way solar pros work is about to happen. And that is promising news for the whole solar industry.