Solar panel purchasing is most definitely a considered purchase. You don’t wake up one day and decide to throw them on your roof because you want to save a couple of bucks on your electric bill. There are so many decisions to make even before you start considering the finer details of how to get solar. One of those decisions is which company to go with.
Bottom line, in this somewhat crowded marketplace, a prospective customer has the freedom to be choosy with the company he or she wants to work with. Giving out information freely and unobtrusively can help a prospective buyer be prepared for the long haul. Going solar, just like many things, is indeed a process.
The Almighty Website
More than likely, a person’s first interaction with a solar company will be through its website. It is vital for any type of company to have a decent website. It should be easy to navigate, user-friendly, knowledgeable, and easy to find contact info and trust marks.
The bottom line: prospective customers who are figuring out how to get solar have resources and passion. Put plainly, they have money and a desire to spend it for the good of the environment. When you combine that, you have a demographic that is educated and more than likely busy; too busy to deal with a confusing website that gives zero information.
5 things a solar company’s website should contain:
- A FREE Quote request form.
- A bit about the company. This is the “why.” When folks have a choice, they need to know why you’re doing what you do.
- A “Calculate My Solar Cost” widget and a “See Your Solar Savings” widget.
- Offerings such as a lease plan, a battery or purchase.
- Knowledgeable blog posts or news content in order to answer questions just by staying on the website.
These five things help prospectives get information from the very start of their journey in an expedited way. By doing so, it helps them feel comfortable and that they are in good hands with a trustworthy, reputable company. This is key. There is a lot of competition in the solar market and these are all attributes that can put a company on a prospective customer’s shortlist.
The “Request Free Info” (RFI) Form
This is an absolute must and is probably the main source of leads for a solar (or most kinds) of companies today in the digital age. Most folks do not have time to speak on the phone, so they rely on RFI forms to get the process started. Then, they can go about their day.
More than likely, a prospective customer is not ready to buy, nor are they ready to talk to a sales rep. They are just looking for information to have and will want to speak to someone…later. From the purchaser’s perspective, they feel like they have begun the process and can check that off the list. From the company’s perspective, they now have a hot lead and can begin reaching out.
This is why a buyer should only reach out if they are really ready to begin that conversation. Because, the phone calls will start.
The Phone Game
A prospective buyer should expect (and get) a phone call within five minutes of filling out and submitting that form. But, this can turn out to become quite a cat and mouse game. It is probably better to do the calling on the buyer’s terms. As someone who actually submitted some forms, I found myself dodging my phone at least six times a day. I wanted to get the process started, but wasn’t ready to talk to someone.
I found a company that had options on their RFI form that let me choose a time where they could call me. There was even a choice to get a brochure sent to me! Alleluja! That was a refreshing moment.
This was after I emailed a company that kept calling me to see if they could send me something I could look at. I was told, “we don’t send information out because the process is too confusing. It’s better to speak with a solar consultant.”
I was immediately turned off because:
- Although it may be advantageous for the company to send a salesperson out, it may not be timely for the buyer and
- They kind of told me a half-truth because I had already received a brochure from the first company and I found it really wasn’t that confusing.
At the end of the day, companies have just one goal: get out to the prospective buyer’s house to get closer to the sale. Because solar is such a considered purchase, I would suggest giving out even MORE information. It could help create a comfortable relationship between buyer and seller.
Partner, Don’t Push
Overall, there appears to be a big reluctance in the industry to communicate virtually. We understand that having a rep come out to a customer’s home gets them one step closer to a sale. As business people, we can understand that.
However, this business tactic of keeping things close to the chest and not allowing the customer to set the schedule can lead to distaste and intimidation. The ultimate goal is the sale and setting something up that will work for the homeowner. But, I propose this: give information out for free.
Look at it this way: solar companies have a unique advantage in that they truly understand how solar actually works. Most people–even those who are enthusiastic about how to get solar power–are inquiring with your company because they want to know more in order to make a better decision–either now or sometime in the future.
Once a solar company decides to truly partner with a potential buyer, they have a fighting chance to be viewed as trustworthy, knowledgeable experts. This could mean exposing your process more, offering links to blog posts and other information that the homeowner can review at their leisure, or sharing infographics, FAQs or existing customer reviews.
This can lead to better trust and understanding before a customer embarks on their investment. Who knows? Maybe the person on the other end of your site is a high school student doing research for a term paper. In the end, guess who is going to read that paper? At least a couple of adults who will remember your name.
Along with getting the sale, it’s important to get your name out there associated with positive feelings. Because, even though getting solar is a big financial decision, we still make decisions with our emotions. Ultimately, people want to work with someone they trust.