By Mike Dershowitz
I often find myself talking to existing customers or prospects and getting feedback from them about how they use (or would use) ModSolar in their sales process. As a product designer, one of the greatest joys in the profession is creating something, and then having your customers use it in a completely different way than you imagined when you designed the product. Based on 2.5 years of feedback from folks, there are certainly a lot more ways to use ModSolar in your sales process than you may realize. And since we find ourselves in the middle of this little, but growing, community, I figured it was a good idea to write down some of the things I’m hearing and see if they can provide value to you! Enjoy!
1. Build trust with your prospect by designing together
In a way, the idea of drawing on a map and laying out panels in ModSolar is really no different than what every kitchen and bath remodeling center has been doing for 10 years. I think the bottom line is that customers, especially in the home improvement space, want to see what their improvement will look like. Once they see it, they trust that what they see is exactly what they will get. These days, it feels like there’s really no getting around it.
So why get around it at all? Taking ModSolar to the home and laying out a system with the homeowner right on the spot is a great way to build that trust. From what we’ve heard, everyone knows what a picture of their house looks like from a satellite image, even if they’ve never seen it before. There are just too many features of their own house that the homeowner would recognize, even from a satellite image they’ve never seen before.
Work with the homeowner to lay out the panels, talk about the potential obstructions, the benefits, where the wires will run, etc., and ask leading questions about how they want things and get their input. All of this makes the homeowner feel like they’ve contributed to the process, instead of you just pushing information to them by presenting a proposal and trying to get them to understand what you’re saying. When they’re invested in the process, your ideas become their ideas, and as we all know, it’s much easier to sell something to someone when they think it’s their idea.
2. The right preparation will pay off in sales success
This one comes more from the general annals of sales training than just something specific to ModSolar. Remember that in sales, sometimes you have just one shot, not just because your prospect may only give you a limited amount of time, but if you’re doing in-person sales, you have only one opportunity to make a first impression. But you knew that already.
I’m sure by now most of you are looking up the property either in ModSolar or on a satellite image before you go to the house. But how far do you take it? Are you creating a proposal in ModSolar first, and then editing that same design (according to the principles of #1 above) in front of the prospect? Remember, your prospect’s time is valuable, so appearing prepared and then drawing them into the process can be a very effective conversation and can be seen as a consultative sale, instead of just a pushing sale.
What else can you be doing to be prepared in front of your prospect?
3. Yes, you really can close the sale on the phone—without a pre-installation visit
Whether or not you know how or have the talent within your company to do phone sales, here’s an interesting little factoid: At any one time, 17% of the sales going through the ModSolar Platform are completely over the phone. That’s right, a truck doesn’t roll until it’s time to do an installation or drop off materials. Look, we all know Sungevity has been doing this for a few years, with tools similar to ModSolar’s. But if you’ve never considered it, you really should.
Phone sales are not for every organization and not for every sales person. In my experience, which isn’t much (I was never a professional salesperson until I started ModSolar), sales people generally have to try many different types of sales to understand what type of sales person they are. For example, while I’ve done all types of sales here at ModSolar, I’m a relationship sales person, who excels at the consultative sell. I position myself as the authority in our niche, and folks seek out my opinion. I can always get a call back or a return email because people are curious to hear what I have to say.
Phone sales people are a different ilk. They’re laser focused, great at pounding through calls and getting past gatekeepers. They live the numbers game. Once they’ve got the decision maker, they can turn on a dime, and go with whatever method makes the most sense to them to close the sale. Patience is not their forte. So if you don’t have a phone sales team or have never done it yourself – search long and hard before you decide to do it. It can be brutal day after day, but in many cases, the gratification is instant.
Of course, it’s a heckuva lot easier to hire this talent if you don’t have it. If phone sales is something you want to do, know that you can incorporate ModSolar to do it. How? I designed the proposal generation process in ModSolar to be as streamlined as possible. When we survey our customers as to the top 3 reasons why they use ModSolar, “ease of use” is always in the top 3! (It feels great to achieve your goals, doesn’t it!) So, if the process was designed to be as easy to use as possible, why not just show it to your prospect? Answer: YOU CAN! Just use web-based screen-sharing. That’s right, no more complex technology than that, and in a lot of cases it’s free). Check out https://join.me/ for a good, dead-simple one.
The only key here is to know when to pause the screen so you don’t show the prospect some of the numbers, specifically the Incentives and Finance page, that you don’t want them to see. Other than that, the rest of the process is certified prospect safe (ok, I just made that term up, but you get the idea). By the way, we do have a “prospect-safe” mode of the Platform that we can turn on for you if you want to use it for phone sales. Reach out to Rosi and she can turn it on for you. So go forth, screen-share and prosper!
4. Knocking on doors does work—if you’ve done your homework
Vivint’s success, in going from being no one two years ago to the 2nd largest installer in the country now (and the only serious competitor to Solar City), has shown the industry that door-knocking can be a very effective sales technique for selling solar. As with phone sales, if you’ve never done it yourself, you might want to reconsider.
So how do you door-knock using ModSolar? The key is simply to refer to principle #2—be prepared. If you’re going to send door knockers out there, make sure you are prepared by creating proposals for the homes that you want to target ahead of time. Don’t go out in the field without a targeted list like this. Remember, when you run a proposal on an address, even if you have to estimate their energy usage, you will get a savings number. Once a given state is past the early-adopters stage, most sales in that state are financial sales and that savings number is critical for breaking the ice and getting the proverbial foot in the door.
Three other things to mention here. First, it’s always easier, as I know you know, to sell to a neighbor that’s staring at a home that installed solar. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be in front of someone’s face—it just has to be known to them (“Did you see the home on Crescent Way that had solar on the roof?”). So if you’re going to knock doors—use that fact, maybe with a cover letter (“Your neighbor on Crescent Way is saving X a month on their energy bills with their solar system”). Second, I believe in leaving materials at the door or in the mailbox, especially personalized materials like the Platform can provide. In general it’s worth the cost. Third and finally—it’s totally OK to combine the two efforts—leaving materials and follow up calls. It can only increase your conversion lift on the sale.
OK, there you have 4 effective sales techniques using the ModSolar Platform. Please feel free to email me with any success stories you have in using the Platform, and I’ll make sure to write a future blog post about it and distribute it to the rest of our customers so the community in general can benefit. Remember, the goal of ModSolar and the industry as a whole is to build more solar so we can move our society forward into a sustainable future!
Now get out there and sell some solar!