Selling solar is a complex process made infinitely easier with today’s software tools. A one-size-fits-all sales force automation, customer relationship management or lead generating solution may help organize customer and sales information, but solar-specific tools go many steps further.
Sales force automation (SFA) tools help sales teams automate the basic tasks of selling just about anything: inventory can be tracked, customer data managed and sales forecasts generated. Customer relationship management software is similar, but focuses more on contact lists, automated online marketing, scheduling appointments and follow ups Today’s lead generation can cull information from many online sources, and scores them as to how likely it is to turn that lead into a customer. Often lead generation software is integrated with or works in conjunction with SFA and CRM tools.
Selling solar is different than selling most other things. It is a product but it is also an energy source. It is a considerable investment and often (at least at this point in time) involves rebates and incentives.
Selling solar involves a design that meets local codes, must be situated for maximum efficiency, etc. Many of today’s solar software solutions help with some or all of these tasks.
System design should take into account roof sizing, measurement tools, and quoting tools. Some tools use Google Earth to take a photo of the roof and then draw in the solar panels. The software takes into account the best orientation for maximum energy generation, plus it will consider any obstructions such as shading from trees, chimneys, adjacent roofs, nearby structures and more.
Aurora Solar's shading analysis helps locate panels for maximum efficiency.
It will also provide a wiring diagram. It gives the sales person something to show the customer, which instill confidence in both the buyer and seller that the job will be executed as pictured.
The key to closing many solar sales is a complete and accurate proposal. After designing a system, a product list can be generated, installation time estimated, prices quoted with rebates included and more. Some installers choose to include data sheets on the solar panels and inverters so that the customer has all the information on the proposed project in one document. Some of today’s software solutions for solar sales allow the solar installer to customize the proposal with the company logo, which gives it a professional look and lets the sales professional take ownership of the project.
Software as a Service (Saas)
SaaS –enabled software offers unique benefits. SaaS stands for software as a service, which means that the software resides in the cloud and is accessed on demand. The sales professional licenses the software, with the advantage being that the software is continually updated.
Many software tools, such as ENACT (shown here) work in the cloud as shown so salespeople can access up-to-date information anywhere, anytime
This enables the sales person to always have the latest data on things like utility rates, a customer’s electrical use, local rebates and incentives. SaaS is not a new concept, as it dates back to the old mainframe computer days in the 1960s and 70s. But the way it’s implemented today in software for solar sales is new and it offers many benefits to both the sales professional and customer.
While a detailed proposal suits some customers, others want to know only the bottom line: What will it cost and how it can be financed. Many of today’s software tools let the salesperson show customers several financing options from cash to lease to power purchase agreement and more. Some of the software packages can access updated electric rate schedules so you can show customers what their savings will be over their current electric bill. And in regions with a myriad of tariffs, rebates or incentives, many of today’s software tools allow you to access the latest data for the customer’s specific country, state or town.
Solar Novus Today has put together a list of fourteen tools for solar sales, with the main functions of each briefly summarized. This list does not include every available option, but it gives you an idea of what’s currently available and the broad range in function. All of these products are intended to streamline your sales process.
Fourteen Tools for Solar Sales
Aurora Solar— Cloud-based platform that helps with PV engineering design, operations and custom acquisition.
Clean Power Finance Tools—Sales automation, system design, and online B2B financing marketplace
Enact--Cloud-based SaaS platform that integrates sales origination to proposal generation, financing and fulfillment
Energy Periscope—Sizes systems, compares energy rates and provides finance options
EnergySage—An online marketplace where pre-screened installers bid on customer’s installations.
Five9-- Cloud-based call center, contact manager
HelioScope--Site evaluation, system design
GreenLancer--Project manager, system design, quote generation
ModSolar—Lead management, automated design, proposal and contract generation, project finance information.
Ongrid --Excel-based sales automation, proposal generation, financing options
Ontility Pro—Proposal generation, sales automation
QuickSolar—Web-based system design, quote and proposal generator,
SolarNexus--Web-based CRM, quote and proposal generator, project management
Solar Site Design--Collaborative, cloud-based platform that connects solar project referrals to installers to drive down customer acquisition costs.