Solar PV installation industry has become very competitive in the recent years. To effectively compete and grow your solar business, you need to operate a very efficient sales process, always aiming to grow your solar sales funnel. Using a software to automate your solar proposals can drastically improve your sales process.
Automation helps to make your sales team more productive and efficient. If major parts of the solar sales process are automated, your sales people will have more time on their hand to engage with customers and to build better relationships with them.
Any repetitive and structured processes will be the first to be effectively automated.
Proposal submission is one such repetitive process and hence a good candidate for automation using a solar sales proposal software.
1. Solar sales process
1.1 What can be automated?
2. Key ingredients of solar proposal
2.1 Solar proposal format
2.2 Engineering design and estimate
2.3 Site survey data
2.4 Terms & conditions
2.5 Putting it all together
3. Important features of solar sales & proposal process
3.1 Site survey capabilities
3.2 Configurable forms
3.3 Document management
3.4 Easy collaboration and access control
3.5 Customized templates for proposals
3.6 Creating, managing and tracking proposals
4. Solar sales proposal software in Google Drive
Solar sales process
Typically, solar PV installation sales is considered as a ‘solution sales’ process. Here you present a complex and customized solution to the customer, rather than an off the shelf product.
Normally each PV solution needs to be customized as per customer’s requirements, conditions at the site, availability of grid connection, net metering policies etc. Therefore, a lot of data and documentation needs to be gathered in the solar sales process.
The final proposal is generated based on specific customer requirements, site survey data, documents (electricity bill etc.) given by the customer.
What can be automated?
So what are the parts of a typical solar sales process that can be automated?
Typically a sales process for solar installation projects goes like this –
- Lead generation and initial nurturing
- Customer visit and site survey
- Preliminary engineering design and cost estimate
- Create and send proposal
- Resolve objections and get the order
Steps 2-3-4 in this sales process mainly revolve around documentation and book-keeping work. These steps eat up a lot of your sales bandwidth in menial book keeping.
But the good news is that it’s a repetitive process that can be easily automated with a workflow software.
That automation will then free up a lot of time for your sales reps. It will enable them to build better relationships with the customers and get more orders.
Key ingredients of solar proposal
Before we can automate the solar sales proposal creation, let us first look at the process in detail.
Solar proposal format
The first thing we need is a standard template for solar proposal. That could be in a Word Document, Google Doc or HTML file template. A typical solar proposal should have following details –
- Company Profile
- Project / requirement details
- Technical proposal (solution details)
- Commercials and financing options
- Terms & conditions
- Contact details of the sales rep
Once we have the template, we will just need to plug in the technical, commercial and legal details to create the final proposal. Here’s a sample proposal template for your reference.
Engineering design and estimate
The technical details for our proposal should ideally come from engineering design report created as part of the sales process. This includes the power generation projections and also the preliminary bill of materials (BOM) which is very important for estimating the cost of new solar installation project.
But practically, preliminary engineering is not always done. For small scale projects you can fill in the technical details like the capacity, load etc. based on experience from similar previous projects.
Site survey data
Some of the details in the proposal and most of the data required for creating the engineering design actually comes from the solar site survey.
This is when your sales engineer or field engineer visits the customers site to get location coordinates, site measurements, photos and also to note down if there are any possible obstacles on the site. You would ideally want to mention all these details in your solar installation proposal.
Terms and conditions
The legal details of your solar PV installation offering are captured in the standard terms and conditions.
Typically these are very standard and you can have 2-3 different sets of standard terms and conditions, to be used for different types of projects.
Putting it all together
The last thing we need is an automation workflow to pull all of this data together and plug it into the proposal template.
We can use different forms for site survey, engineering design etc. built into your sales process. For example – create an online site survey form which can also be opened on the mobile devices. Make it mandatory for your sales engineers input all site survey details only through this form.
Similarly you can have forms for engineering design submission and even for the commercial details. Any inputs coming through a digital form are highly structured. So they can be easily plugged into our proposal template.
Important features of solar sales & proposal process
Any software for sales proposal automation should be connected to all different stages of the sales process – lead generation, site survey, engineering design and commercial details.
Site survey capabilities
It is very important that your solar CRM software or sales proposal software is well connected to a site survey app with a mobile friendly UI. So that details from site survey can be easily shared via mobile phones.
If you offer multiple solutions – for example, solar heater, pumps etc. along with solar PV solutions – your site survey form will change according to the product category.
Therefore, the CRM software should have configurable site survey forms that you can use for multiple product categories.
A lot of documentation and photos are gathered during the site surveys. They are used for creating the sales proposal. But even after the proposal submission, orders may not come right away.
Sometimes order gets delayed by months, when a customer does not readily have the budget available. In such cases, you’ll be speaking to the same customer a few months after doing the site survey. You will need all the documentation collected during site visit from a few months ago.
Any CRM or solar sales proposal app, must have document management capabilities to facilitate easy storage and retrieval of documents.
Easy collaboration and access control
Documents are measurements gathered during the sales process are used by multiple stakeholders to create a final proposal for the customer.
Therefore it is important that the software used for solar sales and proposal automation should enable easy collaboration between stakeholders.
Customized templates for proposals
When all the information required for proposal has been collected and documented, we will need a structure where this data will be inserted. This structure or skeleton is provided by a solar sales proposal template.
This template would provide the framework for proposed solution, commercial details, terms and conditions and the official format with your logo, company details etc.
Having a visually impressive proposal template is very important, because this proposal document can help you make a great impression on your customers.
Naturally, you would want to use a proposal automation software that enables you to easily create impressive looking proposal template. If you offer multiple products and services, you may even need to create multiple such templates.
Creating, managing and tracking proposals
Finally, your CRM or proposal software should create a proposal document using the technical, commercial and site survey data. The auto generated template should be editable before it is sent to the customer, just in case anything needs to be changed – for example, discounts etc.
Even after sending the first proposal, there would be some back and forth with the customer, specially with respect to the commercial details. In such cases, you’ll need to revise the proposal multiple times. It’s important that a solar sales proposal software tracks all these revisions, so you will have a record of your interaction with that customer.
Solar CRM software to automate proposals
We need the following elements to automate the solar sales proposal creation –
- Mobile friendly digital forms – for submitting site survey and engineering inputs
- Document template – for sales proposal, terms & conditions
- Email integration – for sharing the data, sending proposal etc.
- Structured data storage – to keep records of site surveys, engineering design, proposals etc.
We can find all these elements in Google Drive –
- Google forms – online mobile friendly form
- Google docs – for document templates
- Gmail – for email alerts and notification
- Google Drive and Spreadsheets – provide structured data storage
We can use all these Google Drive apps as building blocks to create our solar sales proposal automation.
In fact, solar CRM does exactly that to automate your sales process. It provides you a scalable yet flexible framework to digitize your sales process.
Additionally, you also get the ability to create a good looking solar proposal templates, using simple Google Documents. Use this feature to create a highly differentiated and impressive looking proposal template which is going to set your proposals ahead of the competition.
It serves you as a CRM solution that is well connected to other processes – site survey, engineering design, project execution etc. This CRM platform is connected to your email account. So that you can directly email your solar project proposal from the CRM. You can use these proposal email template ideas as a starting point to create your own proposal email template.
It is even available for a free trial, so you can check out how it works and how this software can help you to automate your solar sales proposals.