How to increase solar sales with the help of automation?

By Sayali Pawar

Sales process for solar projects is quite different than selling most other products. It’s more of project or solution selling.

In addition to regular customer details, you end up gathering a lot of documentation, photos etc. from the customer.

You need to do basic engineering design for each project before creating the solar installation project proposal. Customer-specific documents and drawings are generated from this engineering design phase as well.

All the customer data collected, documents gathered, and photos taken add up to a large number of dots to be connected in the sales process.

connecting the scattered data in solar sales process

Table of content
1. A chaotic sales process will make your business suffer
2. Manual work steals time away from your customers
3. Increasing solar sales by automating lead generation and management
4. Automating parts of solar lead generation

4.1 Cold Email Automation
4.2 Drip Email Automation
4.3 Chatbots
4.4 Remarketing Ads
4.5 Social Media Automation Calendar
5 Automating parts of lead management
5.1 Solar site survey & customer data collection
5.2 Documentation
5.3 Proposal creation
5.4 Follow-ups

A chaotic sales process will make your business suffer

Your sales team gathers a lot of data, documents and photos from customers during the solar site survey and sales process. If these are not properly organized, they will make your solar sales process much more complex than it needs to be.

For example, many smaller solar installation teams use WhatsApp for sharing documents and photos collected from the customer/site. It’s easy for the sales people to use WhatsApp while doing the site survey.

But it is a huge headache for someone sitting in the office to go through all these WhatsApp messages and manually organize the photos and documents shared for each customer!

Finally all of these files need to be used for creating the solar installation proposal, along with the engineering documents and drawings. This proposal creation can be quick and easy, only if the required inputs are properly organized.

Manual work steals time away from your customers

Have you ever checked how your sales people spend their time?

If your sales people are spending a big chunk of their time in creating and submitting proposals, you need to rethink your solar sales process.

Any time that they spend on mundane documentation, proposal submission etc. is valuable time that could be otherwise be spent with customers.

In contrast, if you can automate the mundane parts like – site survey documentation, proposal creation etc. You will free up your sales people to reach out to more customers, build better relationships and do more sales.

    Increasing solar sales by automating lead generation and management

    Two most important parts of any sales process are –

    1. Generating new leads
    2. Managing and converting leads to paying customers

    You can increase the sales for your solar projects by automating parts of both these steps.

    In recent years, solar installation business has become very competitive. As a results, margins have been shrinking and businesses are under a lot of competitive pressure.

    In such a highly competitive markets, even slight sales process improvements with help of automation can result in a big competitive edge.

    Improvements from multiple such automations will finally add up to increase your solar project sales.

    Automating parts of solar lead generation

    Here are few marketing automations that you can use to boost the lead generation for your solar installation business.

    1. Cold Email Automation

    Create a email list of prospect customers in your target industry and area. Use a cold email automation software to send them an introductory email. This software will also help you to track who is opening and clicking on your emails.

    Filter the list of people who have shown interest in your first email by opening and clicking. Send them a second cold email and so on, until someone replies asking for a quotation. You can use these email templates specifically created for solar installation businesses, to draft your cold email sequence.

    Cold email is a very cost effective channel to get new leads and a good cold email software will help your to reach out to thousands of prospects in a matter of days.

    2. Drip Email Automation

    Going one step further, drip email automation creates and automated series of cold emails discussed earlier. Here, you can create a sequence of cold emails to be sent to prospect one after the other.

    You can use a mail merge tool to send highly personalized drip email sequences. Personalization can dramatically increase the overall engagement with your emails.

    But you don’t need to send all the emails to everyone on your list. That will amount to spamming and get your account blacklisted. Instead you want to use first few emails to gauge the interest of recipients and then send rest of the emails only to a few interested people from your mailing list.

    With drip email automation, a software will closely monitor opening and click rates for each of your emails, instead of you personally checking on it. Then it will send the subsequent emails as per thumb rules or workflows you have defined.

      3. Chatbots

      Today, there are a number of chatbots available on different online platforms – websites, Facebook and other messaging apps.

      You can use these chatbots to automate the initial interaction with a prospect. They can be very useful in screening the prospects coming to your website and qualifying them as leads.

      Use a chatbot to generate qualified leads. Then engage your sales people only with highly warm leads to use their time effectively and increase your solar sales.

      4 Remarketing Ads

      Have you ever noticed that after visiting the websites of some businesses, you start seeing ads from those businesses?

      That’s called remarketing or retargeting website visitors. Using the same remarketing methods, you can make your paid ads very productive and drastically increase the ROI on paid promotions.

      Remarketing ads are possible on major platforms like – Google Adwords, Facebook and LinkedIn, using Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel and LinkedIn Insight Tags.

      Remarketing ads can be used jointly with other campaigns. For example, use cold email campaigns to get your prospects to visit your website. Those who visit your site and spend some time there are obviously interested in your offering.

      using remarketing ads to increase solar sales

      Then you can show them Google ads with help of retargeting. This retargeted audience will be much more likely to buy from you as they have already shown interest in your business by visiting your website.

      5. Social Media Automation Calendar

      You can also add a bit of automation to your social media outreach by scheduling your posts on a social media calendar.

      Social media posts are most effective when you can post them at the correct time, when your audience is also online. Otherwise your posts can go mostly unnoticed.

      But the problem is you may not be online at the ideal posting times. You may be busy in meetings, travelling or working on something else.

      You can get around this problem by taking 1 hour on weekend and creating a schedule for social media posts for the next week. This software will help you to schedule your posts and also to notify your team by email when the post is live, so that they can like, comment and share.

      Automating parts of lead management

      When you get lead, that’s just the beginning of the sales process. The more important part of it is converting that lead to a paying customer. Let’s how we can automate some parts of it to increase your solar sales.

      solar sales automation in CRM to increase solar sales

      1. Solar site survey & customer data collection

      If the site survey data, documents and photos are not well organized, they can create a lot of unwanted complexity and problems in the subsequent sales process.

      Instead, we can use simple automation to organize the shared files, site measurements and site photos. For example, a Google form can be used for site surveys and responses from this Google form directly updated in your solar CRM software.

      solar site survey automation

      2. Documentation

      Even after the site survey, there is some documentation that is created internally. For example, your engineering team creates preliminary engineering design for the solar installation to be done. It will create engineering drawings and reports.

      Additionally, there may be some financing documentation if customer needs financing for the new solar project.

      All these documents created by different people. But they also need to be organized, as everything will finally go into the project proposal.

      Similar to site surveys, customized Google forms connected to documentation folders (Google Drive for example) can be used for this automation.

      3. Proposal creation

      When you have all the technical and commercial details, documents and data in place, you can create a proposal for a new solar project. But this is another step that can be automated using standard proposal templates connected to your solar CRM.

      Use the customer specific data from CRM to fill in the blanks in your standard proposal template. For example, look at how a proposal is automatically generated in Solar CRM.

      solar site proposal creation

      If your sales team is doing this manually now, start a free trial for Solar CRM and help them work more efficiently.

      Once the proposal is created you can send it to your customers within seconds, with the help of a standardized proposal email template, connected to your CRM – further increasing the scope of automation in your solar sales process.

      4. Follow-ups

      Follow ups done via email, WhatsApp or SMS can be automated to a good extent with different automation tool for each channel.

      But even when you need to manually follow up with someone, you can still automate the follow up reminders within your CRM.

      For example, in Solar CRM, you can set a schedule for next action to be done for each lead. Then you will be sent a detailed ‘TODO List’ email every day. You can follow this todo list as a checklist for all the sales work that is pending at your end.

      You can use any of the recommended automations as and when applicable for your solar installation business, to ultimately improve your lead management process and increase your sales.