By Daren Goldin, owner and founder, Goldin Solar
The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the lives of people around the world. To ensure the safety of our team, customers, and society as a whole, Goldin Solar is offering remote solar sales appointments. These are the principles we have learned so far. We look forward to hearing from others in the solar community with different strategies to share and feedback on how these strategies have worked for you.
Principle 1: Building trust is more important than ever
We all know that building trust with customers is the most important thing for success in sales and building the referral base. This remains true when conducting remote sales. However, our strategies must be strengthened because building trust is more challenging virtually than in person.
Building trust with customers starts long before sales appointments actually take place. Now is a great time to reach out to past customers for reviews, create online content, revitalize social media and build your virtual presence to build trust with leads before they ever speak with a salesperson.
Coronavirus is on everybody’s mind. It is imperative that you do not ignore this global crisis during interactions with leads. Bringing this topic to light for your leads by asking how they are doing, showing solidarity and sharing the measures your company is taking to address the crisis will build trust during this time.
When it comes time to have a remote sales appointment with a lead, you can use many of the same trust-building strategies you use in person. However, we suggest you lengthen your rapport-building step instead of jumping right into a presentation. You need to really make sure your lead understands they have a real person on the other end of the screen and aren’t just watching an infomercial.
Finally, it is very important to make sure your client is comfortable with the virtual tool they are using before the appointment begins. You don’t want any frustration they experience with their computer or software to be redirected toward you or your company.
Principle 2: Choose the right tools
When selling remotely, we need to ensure that our clients get all of the same important information that they would receive during an in-person appointment. Choosing the right virtual tools is essential to making this happen.
We suggest using a virtual tool that:
- Allows your client to see you
- Allows your client to see your screen (so they can see your slides, design software, etc)
- Allows you to see your client’s screen (so you can see their utility statements)
- Allows for chat and file sharing (to share resources, proposals, etc)
- Is user-friendly
- Can integrate with your other tools, most importantly your calendar and email (to easily send invitations, updates and follow-ups)
There are a huge number of such tools available. The most popular is probably Zoom. Here is a guide by PCMag.com on their favorites.
There will be a learning curve when using any new software. Test it amongst your team before rolling it out to clients so you can work out the kinks and anticipate the challenges clients might face when using it at home.
Principle 3: Learn from one another and your clients
Transitioning to remote sales will likely be difficult for your sales team. Inevitably, some will be more comfortable with it than others. We suggest working with your top salespeople to develop your remote sales process before rolling it out to your entire team.
Remote sales appointments actually have a key advantage over in-person sales in that it is easier for your salespeople to learn from one another by shadowing sales appointments. Give your salespeople time to connect with one another both inside and outside of sales appointments to strengthen consistency and strategies throughout your organization.
Additionally, it is OK for your clients to understand that this is a new process for you and your team. Being up-front about your new process will help build trust. Your clients are your top resource when it comes to learning more about how the virtual process is working and how to improve it. Their perspective on the sales process is the most important perspective of all and there is no one within your organization who can fully see the process from their perspective. Asking them their opinion shows that you value them and are interested in improving their experience.
Transitioning to selling solar remotely will have its challenges. However, when all is said and done, remote selling will strengthen your sales team by building new skills and giving them additional tools to use when the era of social distancing comes to a close. In fact, you may even want to consider including remote selling in your normal repertoire once the coronavirus crisis is over.
Granted, remotely selling solar won’t be for everyone and may never be as effective as in-person appointments, but it also comes with benefits. First, it will save your team time, since they won’t have to travel. It could expand your service area by allowing you to reach leads it is impractical to otherwise. And it demonstrates that your company is in touch with the times and willing to experiment and integrate new practices for the benefit of your customers.
Offering remote consultations sends the message to your clients that you value their health and safety and take the warning from scientists and doctors very seriously. When you are competing for a homeowner’s business against another company, your proposal to do a remote consultation while your competitor proposes an in-person consultation will immediately tell your customers which company is sensitive to what is happening in the world.
It is imperative that the global community use this crisis as an opportunity to come together and learn from one another. To that end, please don’t hesitate to reach out, either via the comments or via email, if you want to share your own strategies for selling remotely or discuss those outlined here.
Daren Goldin is the CEO of Florida solar installation company Goldin Solar. He can be reached at DGoldin@GoldinSolar.com or (305) 469-9790.