How can you help your solar sales teams close more leads? Here are 9 areas that fast-growing solar sales teams have optimized while managing the entire team in one project management hub.
By Scoop Solar Team
Having a strong solar sales process is imperative for fast-growing solar installers and service providers. The process of acquiring leads, collecting customer and system information, tracking progress, and being able to update customers must be seamless to keep busy solar sales teams on track.
A strong and fully connected solar sales IT solution makes all the difference downstream to flawlessly fulfilling solar contracts. By integrating their sales tool with operations software, solar teams can automate sales contracts immediately into actionable workflows. This provides solar companies with the systems they need to grow capacity and deploy sales teams more effectively.
Solar Teams Are Struggling with Existing CRM and Sales Tools
Despite its name, a customer relationship management system (CRM) primarily enables companies to store prospect and lead information in order to outreach and nurture them to convert to customers. Once a prospect converts to a customer by signing the contract, a CRM is no longer the best tool to manage the fulfilment of the solar contract.
Although CRMs are well-suited to sales and marketing activities such as segmenting leads, prospecting, outreaching, and sending periodic updates to existing customers, teams can realize huge productivity and customer satisfaction gains by connecting their CRM to a new category of software for Solar Project Management and fulfilment.
As solar teams take on more installation projects and service, solar project management software combined with the right CRM helps speed up installations, boost quality of service, increase referrals, and generate more sales.
9 Challenges and Solutions When Using CRMs For Solar Project Management
Many fast-growing solar installers and service providers are feeling the limits of their disconnected solar sales tools. What used to work for handling projects is now becoming manual, time-consuming, and nearly impossible to scale for growth.
While solar deployments are growing rapidly, many solar companies lack the infrastructure and systems required to build a scalable solar sales solution.
As a solar software provider for installation and service companies, we provide solutions for the 9 most common challenges we see when solar sales teams use sales tools for project management:
- Customer data from sales tools and CRMs need to be manually transferred to project management tools.
Time is wasted on transferring information from sales tools and CRMs to other systems – often spreadsheets. For example, your project coordinators spend hours transferring customer information from system to system.
Manual repeat data entry is not only time-consuming and highly prone to errors, but it also reduces solar companies’ capacity to focus on growth.
Solution: Implement mandatory global data fields that automatically transfer data between systems using an integrated solar sales and project management system. Solar sales teams can quickly access information and process change orders which allows them to improve the conversion of solar leads.
- Customer and project data are hard to find as it’s stored in multiple software tools.
While sales tools and CRMs allow teams to collect an abundant amount of data, this often results in long forms and scrolls to find the right information. Worst of all, most of what they find may not be relevant to their specific job function.
Solution: Getting a pulse check on solar installations and service is faster when tools are connected. Enable your team to keep perfect records of your customer data, installation schedule, and outstanding tasks by syncing customer data with your solar operations tool at all times.
- Your field crews are not following best practices or completing required fields.
CRMs are not designed for mobile field use and often don’t have the capability to ensure mandatory completion of site survey checklists, installation checklists, QA/QC checklists, collection of required pictures, daily reporting documentation, JSA/JHA, and time and parts tracking.
Solution: Provide your sales team with their own Sales Opportunity Intake App with the required fields. Furthermore, implement standardized checklists, on-the-job training guides, and conditional rules to ensure specific manufacturer, AHJ permitting, and other required fields are always in place before closing out tasks.
- Your tools lack the personalized workflow automation required for different processes.
Your sales, design, permitting, installation, and service teams all require notifications to start the next phase of the project with their own responsibilities and processes. These functions are very complex or impossible to configure in CRMs due to their design focus on sales and not execution.
Solution: To ensure projects run smoothly, your IT solution needs to provide the ability to add automated workflows to remind sales, design, permitting, installation, and service personnel when it’s their turn to undertake a task.
- Your field teams use tools that lack mobile and offline capabilities for capturing data.
Your solar sales teams often spend time recording customers’ information via email, text, chat apps, and paper. All of this information must then be re-linked and input into their CRM once they are back in the office. To add to this, when an Internet connection is unavailable on-site, the task gets even more complicated.
Solution: Equip your office and field crews with project management software that has a native mobile app with offline capabilities. Your team will immediately save time from going back to the office to upload the data and files required for each task.
- Uploading photos and documents are difficult and challenging to organize.
Whether it’s the site survey or job closeout, solar installation projects involve many pictures and documents. When managing complex manufacturer requirements and different types of solar projects, CRMs don’t provide solar companies with the ability to automatically upload and sync pictures and documents from the field into the corresponding folders or form fields in the office.
Solution: Keep documents with pictures, markups, and videos integrated with projects to eliminate the need for searching through confusing shared folders and multiple tools. This will improve communication between your teams and allow them to easily find photos, videos, and files as they are attached to work orders.
- Your customer satisfaction is plummeting as updates are forgotten.
Sales contract kick-offs, design approvals, permit updates, and closeout documents are amongst the few things that require updates to customers. When these processes are not automated with a proper solar project management tool, customers don’t get updated when installation or service reaches a new milestone. The result is an erosion of customer satisfaction.
Solution: Automate milestone updates with reports and emails to customers to keep them in the loop. This will reduce your number of inbound calls and help you maintain trust with clients during the installation and service process.
The best part? Project admins don’t have to spend time compiling the report and crafting the emails. It’s all automated.
- Your sales teams have their own established systems and processes that are difficult to change.
Your solar sales teams often use their own tools and systems resulting in disconnected teams because everyone has a ‘favorite tool’. Project milestones become hard to track and changing these established processes is challenging as busy sales teams lack time.
Solution: By linking your existing CRM with a solar operations tool like Scoop Solar, your sales team won’t have to re-establish processes that work while enabling access across both databases efficiently. While sales tools are not perfect for field crews, they enable the sales team to do their job effectively.
- Your payments are delayed because invoices are not issued on time.
Your company won’t get paid on time when invoices are forgotten due to missed reminders and alerts to the customer. When your payments tools are disconnected from the project management tool, sales teams won’t have the visibility they require to keep customers in the loop.
Solution: Integrate finance into your project management system which allows your team to automate reminders for invoices to ensure payments are always on time.
The bottom line is that while CRMs are geared towards making sales happen, they are not designed to carry new contracts to flawless execution. When CRMs are used outside of their intended purpose, efficiency, capacity for growth, and customer experience all suffer.
How CRMs Can Be Effectively Used In Solar Operations
Although CRMs alone are not meant for executing installations and service operations or connecting field and office teams, they are still valuable tools for growing your solar businesses. The objective is to use CRMs for what they were intended as follows:
- Engaging the sales team with an established sales pipeline and process.
- Segmenting customer lists for targeted marketing campaigns or updates to specific customer groups with relevant promotional offers.
- Automating marketing campaigns based on specific rules and engagement from leads.
- Custom email templates for personalized email marketing campaigns.
Solar Companies Integrate CRM and Sales Tools with Project Management Software
Fast-growing solar teams are increasingly integrating their CRMs with project management software for solar installers to get the best of both worlds. This solution allows solar companies to scale by connecting sales and marketing workflows via a central solar project management tool.
Solar installers and service teams are able to streamline sales and every process of installations and service. They can build custom workflows and automation that are tailored to specific products and services.
The integration of solar sales and project management allows teams to save on per-user CRM fees while allowing sales teams to keep established processes in their CRM. Teams can increase efficiency in the field and office given that CRMs are not built for mobile or offline use.
According to Erin McGaunn, Director of Operations at Lumina Solar, “the CRM that we use only has so many capabilities. You can’t make notes or send out emails to certain people. You have to do a lot of manual things through the CRM. Whereas in Scoop, everything’s integrated. It’s one touch and you’re done”.
Scoop Solar Provides Solar Companies with a Solution to Significantly Grow Capacity
Solar teams use Scoop Solar to manage the entire solar project from start to finish – from sales, design, permitting, installation, job closeout, PTO, and beyond to service. The solar software integrates with established sales processes and CRMs.
Customer information can be stored in a CRM or directly in the Scoop Sales Opportunity App. When the data is needed for a site survey or installation, Scoop Solar can pull that information into the task involved. Once the installation is complete, an automated report gets triggered to update the customer.
Scoop Solar has saved companies 30-40 hours per installation and 5-6 hours per service ticket with software designed for solar work processes. See how an integrated solar sales and project management technology stack can grow your business.
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