A summer sales job was an attractive option for a poor college student looking to make some fast cash. Many of my friends and family had gone out to sell pest control, security systems or solar panels. Upon their return, they would brag about how much money they pulled in after three short months. Obviously I was jealous and wanted a piece of the action. So, I began to investigate more thoroughly to find the perfect summer job that would make me rich.
As I was doing my research, many people told me that solar sales were the most challenging but also the most rewarding. That concept was hard for me to grasp at the time. If people were so concerned about the environment and wanted to save money on their utilities, why was it such a hard sell?
THE RIGHT TARGET AUDIENCE
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income sits at about $59,000 per year. So, when solar panels can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000… it can be a challenge to sell. In fact, because this technology is so expensive, many salesmen are tempted to limit their target audience to the super wealthy.
Do you know the problem with that? If that demographic is already wealthy, would they really be concerned about saving money? Or increasing the value of their home? So, it can be tough to resonate with that particular audience (though it’s not impossible).
But another target audience you might want to consider in the near future: Millennials. I know millennials get a bad rap sometimes, but honestly we’re actually pretty responsible (and yes, I’m a millennial). According to the National Association of Homebuilders, 90% of all millennials say they eventually want to buy a house, but they’d prefer to skip the starter home altogether. Which means, they want to live in their homes for the long run.
The fact that they are purchasing homes well within their budget means they’ll have room for home improvements in the near future. It will be much easier to connect and sell to this target audience, as long as you follow the right steps.
START WITH WHY
Before you can successfully approach any target audience you’ve defined for your solar market, you need to understand why your product exists. Why should anyone care about solar panels? And why should they purchase your solar panels instead of your competition?
Simon Sinek famously formulated the concept of starting with why. According to him, most organizations start with what, then how, and usually forget to include the why entirely. For example, some solar companies may approach their customers like this:
What: We make the best solar panels
How: The technology is beautifully designed and will save you lots of money
Want to buy some?
But a better approach, according to Sinek, would be:
Why: We believe in making the world a better place for our children
How: We do that by researching effective ways to improve the environment
What: We just happen to make beautiful solar panels that will save you money
Want to buy some?
As you can tell from these two examples, the second approach connects with people on an emotional level. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe, instead of doing business with people who need what you have.
BENEFITS OF THE SOLAR MARKET
After you’ve made a personal and emotional connection, you can then begin to tackle the logical part of the brain. Your customers will trust you more at this point because they’ll feel like you can both stand on common ground.
As a contractor in the solar market, we’re sure you know the benefits of solar by heart, but here are a few that are most likely to resonate with your customers:
Renewable energy source
Reduces electricity bills
Increases the home value
Low maintenance costs
Provides energy independence
When you’re explaining these benefits, be sure to repeatedly and consistently weave in the why. Hinting at the why throughout your discussion will help you secure the sale.
BREAKING DOWN THE COST
Now for the challenging part. By this point, you’ve already appealed to your customer’s emotional and logical reasoning and they’re ready to hear the price. The average U.S. household system size is 6 kW, which would be a gross solar panel cost of over $18,000, according to EnergySage Solar Marketplace.
If you’re working with middle-class families or new millennial homebuyers, this probably won’t be a realistic option for them, even if they do believe in your product. However, providing affordable financing options could sway them to make the purchase. Helping your customers understand the long-term perspective can help them overcome their concerns of the initial short-term costs, which will help grow your business.
In the end, I opted for an internship instead of summer sales (which might make this article seem somewhat anticlimactic), but things are still evolving rapidly for the solar market. The total gross solar panel cost is 6.5% lower than it was a year ago, and as more people start to invest in solar, costs will continue to become more affordable. Your business is sure to grow and develop with time, and we’ll be here to support you all along the way.
ABOUT MEDALLION BANK
Medallion Bank provides affordable customer financing for window, siding and roof replacements, kitchen, bath and basement remodels, HVAC, and solar PV installations. We want to help your business grow with our programs, which emphasize:
Low monthly payments with customer-friendly loan terms
Friendly and personal customer service for contractors
The best modern technology and responsible lending
Contractors often sign up with us because of our compelling no-fee loans. But they stay with us because they know that, as a partner, we care about their business long-term.