Can COVID-19 reshape your solar business for the better?

It’s uncertain how Australia’s response to will unfold over the coming months. 

People fear uncertainty  – solar customers and business owners alike.

A lot of people are cutting back their spending. And yes this is impacting the economy. 

But here’s the kicker: Solar Power isn’t immune to COVID-19, but Australian solar is recession proof (as recession proof as it gets).

So, if you’re a smart solar business owner, here’s some ideas that can help you to: 

  1. keep the doors open
  2. protect your downside
  3. invest to grasp hold of the upside
  4. position you to accelerate out the other side. 

Warwick’s note: These are some of the best ideas I’ve seen. Why am I giving these away for free?  Here’s why:

SunWiz’s mission is to grow of the solar industry by improving the operations of solar businesses.

We are still focused on our mission.
(and let us know how we can assist you with your mission)

Some solar companies are doing better than ever

I know that some companies have seen leads dry up. I was speaking with a solar business owner who relied upon door-knocking to generate leads. Clearly that model wasn’t viable anymore.  He thought that everyone was doing it tough, just like him.

When I told him that some solar companies are actually doing better than ever, he was shocked.  

When  I shared just one of the following tips with him, he said “hold on, I’m not closing the doors just yet”.

My conversations with solar business owners reveal that some are really badly affected, while others are doing just fine. If you want to be in the latter category, read on.

The full article continues on our website.

1. Keep the doors open

You’re going to kick yourself if you haven’t been keeping your communication channels open with your past customers.

It’s times like these you need a great relationship with your customers.

The brands that have excellent customer relationships are going to get the most out of this tip.

But even if you haven’t communicated with your past customers in years, it’s not too late.

Call your existing customers now, with a system upgrade offer

Right now your customers are at home, consuming more electricity than ever before.

They’ve got more time on their hands.

They know you did an awesome job (hopefully).

Now is time to call them. Ask them how they are. Ask them whether they like their solar system.

And then ask them if now is the right time to upgrade their solar system. Now may be the perfect time to add a battery. Or an extra few kW.

Before you get off the phone, remind them of your referral offer. I’m sure they’d love some extra money in their pockets right now.

Call the prospects that didn’t proceed, and ask if they want solar now. 

You may be like some of SunWiz’s clients and achieve a 70% conversion rate on your leads. Whatever your conversion rate, you’ve seen your fair share of prospects that didn’t proceed with you. Maybe they bought from a competitor. Perhaps they never proceeded.

Think about it, you’ve started relationships with perhaps many hundreds of potential customers who decided not to proceed with solar at that time.

Now is the time they should buy solar. Think about it. They’re home more. They’re consuming more electricity. Their electricity bill is big and getting bigger. They’re sitting at home bored. 

You’ve got their contact details, so you give them a call. You’ve spoken with them before, so you’re already ahead. You don’t need to visit their house as you’ve already designed and quoted.

They’re probably a bit worried about the economy. You offer a financed solar system that will put extra money in their pocket each month. 

I’d say its worth a call. 

Today’s Webinar

COVID19 is an unprecedented challenge for the solar & clean tech industries. We have all pulled together to help connect and support you during this tough time.

Strategies include:
+ Get support for your business from the Experts
+ How to manage your supply chain
+ What strategies can we use to remain positive & buoyant
+ How to market & sell during tough times
+ How the emerging market trends may impact you
+ We’ll provide you with the latest industry updates & forecasting

Actions:

  • Call your existing customers with an upgrade option. Ask if they know anyone who owns their own home and could benefit from reduced electricity spend each month.
  • Call prospects that didn’t proceed
  • Attend today’s webinar

2. Protect your downside

It makes sense to trim costs during an economic downturn. I’ve found plenty of wastage in some of my IT subscriptions (I was paying for five zendesk seats, but only using three, for example). But to be honest, IT subscriptions aren’t my major cost centres.

But be smart where you trim them. Don’t wind back anything that helps you sell. Now more than ever you need to invest in sales and marketing, and in tools that help you sell. 

Embrace tools that help your sales team sell over the phone. 

First and foremost, invest in at least one digital videocall platform where you can share screens. People will be feeling isolated, and your salespeople may be ‘welcome faces’. It’s easier to build trust when you can see someone’s face, and you can also respond to your customers’ visual cues. Your customer may not be tech-savvy, so be prepared to switch to facetime, whatsapp calling, skype, or whatever they have available.

TIP:  Zoom has the best quality audio even over slow connections, and legible audio is more important that high-definition video.  

Next, use tools that help you sell remotely. The founder of OpenSolar built the platform used by Sungevity to revolutionise remote selling in the USA, to the point that Sungevity became one of the biggest solar retailers in America. OpenSolar’s webinar next week will show you how the platform is ideal for remote sales. SunWiz can help you rapidly go from set-up to mastery on this impressive platform.

The efficiencies you gain in remote selling are likely to save your business money and increase sales during COVID-19. What’s more, OpenSolar is free, which is priceless right now!

Actions:

3. Invest to grasp hold of the upside

COVID-19 presents a potential upside. I mean there’s an abundance of downside that’s not to be discounted. But there’s also opportunities.

Solar puts extra cash in your pocket every week

Firstly, now is a smart time to buy solar. Think about it. People are home more. They’re consuming more electricity. Their electricity bill is big and getting bigger.

They’re probably a bit worried about the economy. They’re sitting at home bored, and probably planting seedlings to become more self-sufficient.

You offer a financed solar system that will put extra money in their pocket each month. Make them less reliant upon the grid. Perhaps some energy storage would make them feel more reassured.

Shift your communications to selling financed systems.

Especially for commercial customers

The government’s stimulus included the tax benefit of an instant write-off of purchases up to $150k. As EnergyEase explains in this vodcast, financing a solar power system for $0 down means you’re typically cashflow positive to begin with (i.e. electricity bill savings exceed repayments), even before you get your tax refund. To me, it’s the best plant and equipment to invest in. There’s even some urgency to act before 30th June.

The challenge is which commercial customers to approach. Your past prospects are a start (as with residential), and you could hit up your residential database for commercial referrals.  SunWiz can help you target commercial customers most likely to proceed with a purchase. We can also massively improve your referral program.  Contact us for more information.

Automate Customer Service

Remote offices make it challenging to deliver five-star customer service. Your workers are distributed, your culture stretched thin, your phone system straining, and things fall through the cracks.

The best solar companies have automated customer follow-up pre-sale, post-sale, and post-installation. This nurtures customers and improves ratings and reviews, which helps with future leads and sales. 

Want it implemented for you? Save the time and the hassle of creating automated customer journeys. Contact us for more information.

Actions:

  • Shift your communications to selling financed systems
  • Sell commercial solar:
    • to past commercial prospects
    • get referrals from your residential customer base
    • target companies most likely to buy
  • Implement automated customer journeys pre-sale, post-sale, and post-install.

Reach out to discuss how we can help.

4. Position for Post-COVID Acceleration

One day this will all be over. Some of today’s leading companies were born out of the GFC. What you do now will shape your business trajectory for years.

The winners in three years time will be those best positioned to accelerate. They’re the companies that use COVID to hone their business value. Here’s some ways you can do that.

Sales training

Upskill your sales workforce. They’re the staff you’re most dependent upon, so you want them operating at peak effectiveness. They’ll need to adapt their approach to remote selling. 

Your entire team can get trained by a Solar Sales Guru (Dean Mannix) in the comfort of their domestic isolation chamber. Check out his “Better Solar Sales” program now.

Software training

The switch to remote sales will likely prove a profitable move for many companies. The efficiency gains and savings are potentially massive. 

Selling remotely requires a big shift to your business. It requires best-practice software. It also requires your staff be highly proficient, efficient, and effective.

If you approach software like most do, you’ll sign up, explore, have a poke around, and avoid anything that confuses you. Each of your staff will do the same, only they’ll be trained by you so they’ll have even more holes in their knowledgs.

Years later you’ll still be operating your software (operating your business) with massive blind-spots. By not mastering your tools, you’re simply leaving money on the table. 

Now is a smart time to train your staff in your tools. Maximise the value you get out of your software. 

Improve your customer proposal

Its harder to lead someone through your proposal remotely than in person. Your salesperson can no longer detect your customer’s cues that ‘more explanation is needed here’. Your customer’s spouse will miss out on all that explanation, and will have likely forgotten what you said by the time they’ve gotten their third quote.

If your proposal isn’t self-explanatory, then you’re simply selling yourself short. 

A good proposal needs to sell your company, and sell how your proposed solution is a smart financial decision, plus meets your customer’s individual needs. It needs to tap into the psyche of the customer and be persuasive at that level.

Most customer proposals (and we’ve seen hundreds) fall far short of that.

Its become critically important that your customer proposal converts every single customer. 

SunWiz has spent five years helping solar businesses implement proposals that are psychologically effective, persuasive, and which stand apart from the crowd. Contact us to discuss how we can increase your conversion rate with a standout proposal.

Fix your website

Is your website is showing pictures of solar panels, rather than pictures of people happily tearing up their electricity bills? If so, then you’ve designed it for solar nerds, not customers. 

What are you offering your customer in return for parting with their private contact details? If you’re not giving them access to something valuable, then you’ve committed the #1 error of online customer etiquette (which is rooted in psychology). 

Your prospective customers are leaving your shop without saying hi. You can’t afford that, most of all now.

Contact us to discuss how we can transform your web conversion rate.

Actions:

  • Upskill your sales staff with Dean Mannix’s Better Solar Sales program
  • Get trained in the software platform built for remote sales: OpenSolar
  • Get an expert to improve your customer proposal
  • Get an expert to increase your website conversion rate