February 29th, 2012

3 Best Practices for Selling Residential Renewable Energy Projects


The following post is for professionals or companies that are selling solar PV, solar thermal or geothermal heat pump systems or air source heat pumps system to residential customers.

At HeatSpring, we’ve been keep tabs on what the most profitable companies tend to do really well. There are three areas that the most profitable and well run residential solar and geothermal companies do really well.

  1. Turn visitors into leads and know how qualified those leads are. The most profitable companies have an extremely clear process for turning phone calls and website visits into site visits and understanding the differences between an extremely hot lead, and a cooler lead. Their website is optimized to turn visitors into a site visit OR into a subscriber for their newsletter. Newsletter subscribers can likely become a site visit sometime in the future.
  2. 1 Site Visit for the Most Qualified Leads. Site visits are expensive and should be used sparingly. The most profitable companies only go to site visits for very hot and pre-qualified leads. On the site visit, the sales person makes sure to gather enough technical information for the engineer to create a proper design and also gathers customer information to tailor the sales proposal to their specific needs. Doing more then 1 site visit decreases margins and not tailoring the proposal to each customer will reduce conversions.
  3. Referral strategy creates the majority of leads. The most profitable companies generate the vast majority of their leads from word of mouth and referral. The referrals tend to come from past clients who speak with their neighbors and their installation partners.

I’ve created three tools, one for each technology to help with better site visit. If you to download them, here you are. This will redirect you to a HeatSpring post where you can then download the tool for free. Feel free to change it, add questions, reformat it and use it however you like in your business.

A site visit will be a small, cash strapped, companies greatest asset or greatest liability. It will be a companies greatest asset if they are collecting the proper information needed to address the specific clients needs and gathering the needed information to create a proper design the first time.

The site visit will be a great liability if enough, or the proper, information is NOT collected, meaning that multiple visits must be made – reducing profits – or if the sales proposal is generic and does not address the clients specific needs, leading to low conversion rates.

For each site visit checklist focused on three areas.

1 – Customer Sentiment. Every sales proposal should be tailor to the desires and concerns of each client. If you’re using generic sales proposals, you will convert less then if you tailor the message to the client. It is key to gather customer specific data about why they’re interested in renewable energy.

2 – Technical Information. Technical information about the site must be gathered in order to properly quote and design any type of system. If the proper information is not collected you’ll have to go back to the site many times, or you will prices job incorrectly.

3 – Financial Information. For each sales proposal there is certain financial information you’ll need to gather about the customer, their energy usage, and the design to create a sales proposal.

The majority of this article was re-printed, with permission, form HeatSpring Magazine

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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.