Solar is hot, and with the US investing heavily, you’re in the right market if you want to build a lucrative career selling solar.
With one gigawatt is enough to power 750,00 homes, there is enormous scope to help clients slash energy bills and contribute to a clean environment.
So how can you attract customers hungry for cheaper fossil fuel alternatives? Easy. Use these proven solar marketing strategies.
Why is a Solar Marketing Strategy Important?
To become successful in solar sales, you must have a solar marketing strategy.
Create enticing content to convince people to buy your products. A well-thought-out game plan will enable you to target the right customers in the most efficient way.
The Top 10 Hottest Solar Marketing Strategies
- Know Your Product
- Be a Reliable Source of Information
- Identify What Makes Your Business Unique
- Cold Outreach
- Utilize Partnerships Within the Industry
- Ask For Referrals
- Sell to Everyone: Businesses and Consumers
- Offer Seasonal Incentives
- Follow Up with Leads
- Solve Problems (Show Value)
1: Know Your Product
Solar is a technical field, but don’t let that deter you.
Solar marketing strategies will only work when you know your product. Take the time to grow your solar knowledge base.
Wondering how you can learn more about solar? Here’s a list of ideas to help you get started
- online forums (to anticipate customer questions)
- product literature - articles like these on remote solar sales, catalogs, and brochures
- feedback from customers (finetune your approach)
- your own experiences using solar (get a customer’s perspective)
- competitor information (study their website, newsletters, social media, and reviews)
- visits to manufacturers (understand the process)
- sales training programs
2: Be a Reliable Source of Information
Once you become a reliable source of information, prospective customers will trust you to help them.
In addition, Salesforce reports “79% of customers prefer salespeople who act as advisors,” so utilize live sales demonstrations to guide customers to make the best choice for their situation.
Customers will remember you when you’re honest about the product’s shortcomings or if you feel that solar is not for them. Chances are, when potential clients move to a more suitable property, they will return to you.
Whether customers want to save money on electricity bills or use green energy, you can show value by explaining how solar can help.
Solar energy harnesses the sun’s power to convert it into green, sustainable, and cheaper energy to power homes. Also, after the payback period, customers can save thousands
3: Identify What Makes Your Business Unique
With consumers seeing thousands of brand messages daily on the 1.88 billion websites worldwide, it’s not easy for a brand to stand out.
So how can you position your business to make potential clients take notice?
One option is to turn product features into customer benefits to help potential customers see why they can’t live without solar.
Another option is to decide what your goals are.
Marketing genius Seth Godin recommends using a “simple positioning map” to identify your unique business and market. So marketing your business will be much easier than trying to appeal to a mass audience.
How? Grab a pen and paper, and draw two axes; a horizontal (X) and a vertical (Y).
Then, for the X-axis, choose your most important target: price, performance, speed, or sustainability. Choose another one for the Y-axis, and position your business in the high pluses for both axes. Plot your competitors along the grid.
Don’t stick with the popular ones; making a dent in those as a new business will be hard. Find the overlooked ones.
And think about the features you offer as the emotions they evoke.
You’ll find the quadrant that suits your business once you do this exercise diligently (you may have to draw several charts) and ask yourself tough questions.
4: Cold Outreach
Now that you’ve positioned your business, you’ll need to find customers. How?
Start with cold outreach to generate solar leads, i.e., contacting potential customers without a prior relationship.
You’ll have to introduce yourself to a stranger. Closing a sale can be tough without a good rapport to fall back on.
With 48% of B2B (business-to-business) salespeople afraid of making cold calls, you’re not alone.
So, is it worth it?
Yes! You can target a myriad of people compared to if you were to only contact warm (known) leads.
Cold outreach can include emailing, text messaging, calling, social media messaging, etc. All have different merits and results.
So which channel should you use? Can you sell solar online?
Todd Stearn, CEO of The Money Manual, says, “A LinkedIn message might work if it’s a large company’s sales manager. A residential lead might respond better to email. A younger customer might engage better on TikTok. Usually, a combination is best.”
Whichever tactics you choose, transform cold leads into warm ones with these pointers:
- Start with a solid online presence, including:
- Utilize keyword analysis to gain a competitive advantage with SEO for solar companies
- Master Solar Email Marketing
- Use a targeted approach and automate your process.
- Capture solar leads with Social Media
- Personalize each experience.
- Focus on building a relationship.
5: Utilize Partnerships Within the Industry
Depending on your role, you’ll need to partner with a supplier, an installer, and maybe even a marketing agency.
That might seem daunting. But here’s a thought. Samsung supplies screens to Apple. If these business rivals can work together, it must bring profound benefits.
So why not turn to collaborations as part of your solar marketing strategies?
Did you know that 57% of companies use partnerships to acquire new customers?
Also, 44% of businesses team up for new insights, ideas, and innovation. Or to:
- Save costs through joint negotiations with vendors
- Share advertising and media costs
- Co-sponsor webinars and other events
Also, businesses with strategic partnerships have reported other benefits:
- Higher margins thanks to reduced costs
- Shared resources
- Shared risk
- Improved sales and customer relations
- Brand boost
But a word of caution, partnerships can be tricky, and 43% have high failure rates.
Before diving in, here are some tips:
- Find a partner that works with your demographic but provides a different value
- Make sure you have shared values and purpose
- Research your partner’s positioning and customer reach before committing
- Compare company culture
- Create a solid and detailed partnership agreement
Once you’ve done your research, nothing should stand in the way of a successful partnership.
6: Ask for referrals
Did you know that 65% of all new business comes from referrals? That’s right!
Nearly two-thirds of customers rely on word of mouth. Recommendations from family and friends are among the most trusted advertising formats.
New customers gained by referrals are usually better customers than ones you gain through other channels thanks to:
- Better matching - people often become friends with like-minded people, and if they refer you, it will likely be a great match.
- Social enrichment - referred customers are more loyal to a brand because their burgeoning brand relationship is related to their friendship with the referrer.
Most solar companies offer vibrant green cash to people who can refer them to new customers. Referrals are often the best way to generate new sales.
Whenever you have made a sale, let your customer know about your referral program and how much they can earn extra by directing new customers to you.
This helps warm up your next calls since you can start by saying that Bob or Susan thought of them as someone who wouldn’t mind lowering their energy bill.
But don’t limit your referrals to prospects you have converted into customers.
You can also turn every refusal to a possible new sale by asking people who are not interested in solar to refer their friends or neighbors. They might not be interested in solar but they might be interested in hundreds of dollars for letting you know about someone who is interested in a PV system.
You can use the automatic post-session redirect feature in CrankWheel to help people refer new customers to you. When you end a screen sharing session, your prospect is automatically redirected to a page you choose. And that page can be a referral form or a form to leave you a review.
7: Sell to Everyone: Businesses and Consumers
For solar marketing strategies to be successful, you’ll need to know how to serve both. Let’s see how they differ.
- Decision makers - A Harvard study shows that more than 6 people are involved in the purchasing decision, so you “ll need to impress the sustainability manager, the finance team, and even the CEO.
- Longer buying cycle - The path to purchase is longer (between 3 and 18 months) because decision-makers need to see how solar can help them save, contribute to a cleaner environment, or gain a strategic advantage over competitors.
You’ll need ample cash flow to ride out those lean months.
- Optimize your content - Large companies need to trust your expertise and ability to deliver. Offer white papers and demonstrations.
- Reliability - In a large company, decision-makers must justify agreements, so trust is vital. Gain their confidence with consistent support.
In contrast, consider these when selling to smaller consumers.
- Fewer decision-makers - B2C (business-to-consumer) buyers typically buy products for themselves.
Convincing one or two people is easier than a whole sales team. But, with customers discussing their solar panels with neighbors and friends, it’s vital to build a good relationship so they can refer you to their social circle.
- Shorter buying cycle - You’ll need less time, but you’ll still need to impress customers with your expertise. With 96% of consumers saying they want to buy solar to save on utility bills, you must focus on this area.
- Engaging content - Create user-friendly content with less jargon. Think customer demos, success stories, engaging social media content, and glowing reviews.
- Trust - Solar is a significant expense. People won’t spend thousands if they don’t trust you. Build trust by thoroughly addressing your customer’s questions and concerns.
8: Offer Seasonal Incentives
Winter is slow for solar sales, as consumers associate solar with the summer or worry snow will obstruct the panels.
But solar works by converting light rather than heat, and panels are installed at an angle for snow to slide off.
So don’t allow winter to stand in the way of you selling solar power. Integrate seasonal sales into your solar marketing strategies.
- Set up a targeted winter social media campaign with incentives.
- Provide slightly higher discounts for referrals.
- Take advantage of people’s New Year’s resolutions. In 2022 24% of Americans wanted to live more economically, but with high inflation, expect this figure to rise next year.
- With tax season around the corner, remind potential customers of potential tax incentives.
- Energy bills can soar in the winter, so explain how people can reduce them.
- Winter is the ideal time to start planning the solar project to have the system up and going before the summertime.
Take full advantage of the winter months by planning for them in your solar marketing strategy.
9: Follow Up with Leads
A study by the Brevet Group revealed that, “80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups in order to close the deal” and “after four follow-ups 94% of salespeople have given up.”
Don’t let this be you.
You have a range of channels, from social media DM’s to phone calls and email.
Here are some tips to help you approach leads efficiently:
- Timing is everything. Avoid mailing on Saturday as only 17.3% of recipients check their mail on the weekend. Monday morning and Friday afternoon aren’t great times for follow-up emails as people are entering or exiting the work week. Also, the best time to hit the send button is between 9 am and 3 pm.
- Perfect your subject line. With 34% of consumers scanning the subject line of marketing emails, you should craft a compelling one. For follow-up, write subject lines like: ‘Steve, thanks for your time today, ‘Missed you, how’s Thursday?’ or ‘Here’s the quote we discussed…” Be personable.
Pro tip: insert ‘Re:’ in the subject line to boost open rates.
- Share content. Confirm your expert status by sharing white papers or case studies. Being a reliable source of information is vital to any solar marketing strategy.
- Have a clear call to action (CTA). Keep it simple, and tell the prospect what to do (i.e., link to the website, schedule a demo, etc.).
Above all, don’t give up. Persistence is key.
10: Solve Problems (Show Value)
Businesses create products to solve consumer problems.
IBM designed the smartphone to solve the problem of not being able to check email while away from your laptop.
When you work with customers, whether they’re the CEO of a large company needing more solar panels than you can deliver by Tuesday or with consumers like Harry and Suzy who worry solar panels might ruin the look of their roof- you’re in the business of solving problems.
Consider every problem as an opportunity for you to provide value for your customer.
With 82% of consumers recommending a company based only on excellent customer service, it follows that if a customer is happy with your problem-solving, they will tell their friends and family.
So how do you solve your customer’s problems effectively?
Try these six steps:
- Listen. Listen without interrupting and let the client express their feelings. Then, ask relevant questions to get to the bottom of their issue.
- Be empathetic. Show concern for your customer by putting yourself in their shoes.
- Apologize. A simple ‘Sorry, I will fix this for you will help the customer feel better.
- Solve the problem. Or tell the customer your next steps toward solving the issue if that’s not immediately possible.
- Thank your customer. Show gratitude for bringing the problem to your attention.
- Follow up. See if the solution worked and ask if there’s anything else you can do for them. If they are satisfied with your solution, ask for referrals.
You have incredible opportunities to make a good living in the booming solar industry for you and your family.
These solar marketing strategies will help you make the most of your career. By becoming an expert on your product, positioning your business, identifying your customers, and solving their unique problems, you are well on the way to becoming a solar success story.
Scott Lieberman is an online business expert. He teaches entrepreneurs how to make money online. Scott reviews business tools from the best web hosting services to best business credit cards. Scott has worked with multi-billion dollar corporations, as well as with small businesses to double their profits to millions of dollars.