It’s time to face the reality: rooftop solar’s explosive growth is beginning to level off, and the business strategies that worked during the years of an incredible jump in demand may no longer be effective today.
As public solar companies report slipping growth rates and a number of large-scale rooftop providers file for bankruptcy, it is clear that the solar market has approached a new stage in its lifecycle. Keep in mind that this is not all bad news.
As the industry matures, more consumers will embrace solar as a mainstream product. However, solar companies that do not adapt to a more calculated and efficient business approach will likely get left behind. In other words, “what got you here won’t get you there,” as the expression goes!
Solar companies are seeing a reflection of that in how well their sales do. Tactics that have traditionally been successful at sustaining sales growth seem to miss the mark, as companies complain of an increasing rate of cancellation from sales quotes.
Although a number of investors have stated that the rate of cancellation is not as important as whether the company hits their deployment targets, this remains a key metric that solar sales managers should be concerned about.
As the solar industry shifts into a more mature growth phase, the target audience for residential solar contractors is also evolving. No longer are there masses of environmentally-friendly, tech-oriented homeowners ready to embrace solar with open arms, as many of them have already jumped on board. With the early adopters tapped out, solar sales and marketing teams need to recognize that they are no longer selling to the same groups of people.
For many large solar companies, it is evident that their sales strategies have not changed even though they are now targeting homeowners who are potentially more cost sensitive and uncertain about the benefits of rooftop solar. Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau noted that 2017’s number of customer complaints about high-pressure solar sales tactics have already increased by 29% nationally compared to the whole of 2016.
With factors in mind such as heavy stress on salespeople to hit the same quotas originally set for high growth, and the absence of better tools that match the market’s current crossing of the chasm (see Geoffrey Moore’s book of the same name), it’s no wonder that some reps have resorted to tactics that tend to leave a bad taste in homeowners’ mouths.
In small and medium-sized solar contractors, solar sales or business development managers have the flexibility to take action in order to ensure they do not become one of the companies that consumers complain about. This starts with building and maintaining the company’s credibility, reliability and connection with the customers through actions like:
Take a look at mobile field data collection and collaboration tools like Scoop that help you reinforce good practices and establish reliability in the sales rep’s communications with the potential customer.
For example, a sales rep could use a field solution to submit details and pictures to the office while still at the site visit so that engineers can review and quickly reply with their adjustments to the estimate. This ensures that the homeowner won’t be surprised by a difference between estimates and the eventual contract. It also boosts credibility as the potential customer will appreciate the process as it will be clear that there is more than one person on the team making sure that everything is done right.
With increasing competition in the solar space, contractors cannot afford to lose the touch of good customer service when convincing the more analytical and cost-conscious mainstream customers to sign up. It’s more important than ever to ensure that your sales reps exude professionalism, credibility and customer-oriented focus in their work – not only to lower your rate of cancellation, but to save you wasted resources, keep your team motivated and build a better brand for your solar company.
Scoop® Solar is a unique solution that incorporates mobile and cloud technology to create an intuitive field-to-office experience for your team. By connecting your data and existing software with easy-to-build, easy-to-use WorkApps™, your team can access, input and sync data from a mobile phone or desktop, wherever they are. Work smarter and lower your overhead with features such as standardized mobile-optimized forms, fully integrated pictures and videos, one-click reporting, built-in API integrations and more. Learn more about our solution for solar sales here.