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Selling Solar to the Modern Buyer

Posted by Sean Huckstep | August 21, 2020

6 key practices for selling solar to modern buyers:

Solar sales software is the key to adapting to a fast-changing industry. The internet has completely changed the way that people buy. What used to be a very product-centric sales process that was facilitated by a rep has shifted into a new, customer-centric buying process that is facilitated by the customer and their web browser. People simply have so many resources available that they feel as though they ought to be in complete control. 

The main point of difference between the modern buyer and former generations is that the modern buyer spends much more time researching a product before they come to a purchasing decision. This is an especially difficult obstacle for the door-to-door rep, who is working within a very small window of opportunity, trying to close a potential client who is now used to buying almost completely on their own terms. Customers set aside the time, they do the research, and eventually come to a decision, all on their own. But a rep who is informed and considerate can work with clients in a way that feels comfortable to the customer.

#1 Know the Stages of a Buyer’s Purchase

Before we talk about what that looks like, we first need to think more about the way that people buy things. First, a problem arises that starts the stages a modern buyer goes through when considering a purchase:

  • Awareness Stage: The awareness stage is where you recognize a problem and assess it. Is the car worth getting repaired or is it time to get it replaced? Is it a priority? What will you miss out on if you don’t act now? 
  • Consideration Stage: Which model best meets your needs? Is it better to buy new or used? Which is a more reliable product? Is it time to get a hybrid or electric car? 
  • Decision Stage: You’ve decided on a car, but you want to evaluate your options and make the best purchase possible. In this stage, you’re essentially implementing your decision.

Nowadays there is so much information available to buyers that they feel they can learn everything they need to without having to rely on a rep and without having to experience a lot of pressure. This means it’s going to be difficult to conduct an accelerated buyer’s journey when the modern consumer is used to having time and resources to make a well-researched decision. But there are still ways that your approach can acknowledge that and even use it to your benefit.

#2 Manage Your Area Intelligently

When you understand the way that the modern buyer operates, you can adapt your approach to better meet their needs. This starts with the way you manage an area and make customers aware of you. Clients like to spend more time in the awareness and consideration stages, so find ways to make them aware of your company before you even knock on their door. You can do this through email lists, flyers, mail campaigns, web ads, or business cards. Imagine how much easier it would be to present a solution to clients who know you’re coming and have had an opportunity to consider your option and generate questions already.

#3 Control the Information

In order to take advantage of the new buyer’s journey, you’ll need to find a way to tell people about your service and get them interested in your offering early on. Everybody’s heard of solar. The problem is whether or not they’ve actually considered it a viable option for their situation. Some solar companies are getting their name and solution in people’s minds by either creating leads through digital marketing or buying lead lists full of people who have already done their research and expressed interest.

So ask yourself, if your client was going to conduct thorough research about your solution, what are some of the questions they would ask? If you can address concerns quickly you can help them reach the end of their research quickly and help them feel comfortable about proceeding with your product/service.

#4 Focus on the Problem

Remember, the first step in the buyer’s journey is recognizing a problem. Nobody is immune from the problems that lead most people to investing in solar in the first place, whether they’re rising energy costs, environmental concerns, or desires for self-sustainability. You’re selling a product with nearly universal appeal, so focus on those reasons. The more you can help a prospect recognize and resonate with the problems that your product solves, the more effective you’ll be.

It’s also important to address the benefits of investing in solar now. Remember, a big part of the awareness stage is deciding whether or not a problem is a priority or not. Solar acts a lot like a compounding investment—the longer you have it, the more power it has to save you money. Even if they don’t see themselves staying in a house long, solar will help them save money on energy bills in the short run and increase the value of the home should they choose to sell.

#5 Become a Trusted Advisor

Being a trusted advisor also requires a stronger product and subject knowledge, as well as a willingness to disagree and correct prospects. This may feel like a counter-intuitive approach. You may have had some success taking more of a relationship-building approach– you’re a friend to clients, first and foremost. But stats show that those who challenge the preconceptions that clients have are much more successful salespeople than those that focus mainly on keeping everything amicable between themselves and the client. You can see why the ability to disagree and redirect will be so important in the new buyer’s journey. If clients have done their research, there isn’t a lot of guarantee that they’ve found great information, especially information that represents your company the way that you’d like. 

#6 Refine the Process

As you know, the solar sales cycle is a long buyer’s journey. In our example, buying a car can reasonably be accomplished in one afternoon, once the decision has been made. With solar, chances are it’ll take at least a few weeks or months before install.

This leaves a lot of time for losing customers and making mistakes, so here’s what you should focus on doing:

  • Demonstrate professionalism throughout the process, but especially in the way you manage the deal. Digital forms and contracts, e-signing, and on-the-spot credit checks are all great ways to do this.
  • Eliminate errors as much as possible. Again, digital forms and contracts are a great way to ensure you’re collecting the right information and prevent any chance of it being lost.
  • Be unified in all your interactions with the customer. Nothing is more frustrating than having a rep say something that contradicts something that was said by another employee or project manager. If you’re all taking notes on a client in the same platform, this will eliminate a lot of embarrassment.
  • Be quick to resolve concerns and questions that may arise. It would be smart to develop a resource for those who have decided on a plan but are waiting for estimates or installation. This resource should resolve FAQs, build confidence in the company, and increase excitement for the product/service.

Last Takeaway

The main message here is that people change, especially buyers. If you’re not constantly paying attention to the needs and behaviors of your prospects, you’re going to find yourself outdated and inefficient. Even the principles outlined in this article will eventually become irrelevant and everyone will be moving on to new selling strategies. But if you’re really paying attention, collecting data on customer behavior, and creatively finding ways to get their attention, you’ll manage to stay ahead of the game no matter what changes come along and dominate your corner of the market. For more info on implementing these strategies and other best practice tips for your company, schedule a demo. We’re excited to show you what we can do for your company.

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