Selling commercial solar power isn’t like selling business computers. Every business needs computers, but not every business is planning to install solar power. Therefore, the key to generating commercial solar leads is to understand how the solar market is structured, and to target your market carefully.
Who is Using Solar Today?
A 2018 report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) identified the Top 10 Rankings for businesses using solar power.
7. Kaiser Permanente
10. Fifth Third Bank
These leading corporations have increased their investment in solar significantly. For example, in 2009, Walmart was the leader, and companies like Apple and Amazon weren’t anywhere in the rankings. In 2014, Walmart was still leading the pack, but Prologis, Apple, and Target had joined in. In their 2018 report, SEIA shows Apple in the lead with four times the solar usage of Walmart in 2014.
These companies represent the innovators and early adopters of solar energy. They use this alternative energy source to help them reach their corporate goals for the environment. They also use solar because it can save them money. But, there is still a solar chasm that marketers must address.
What is the Solar Chasm?
Many consumers and businesses have installed solar power. But, solar power hasn’t reached the everyday conversation of consumers and businesses in general. It’s important to recognize that the technology is still new to many people.
The chasm refers to the jump that solar marketing people must make from the Innovators and Early Adopters to the Majority of potential customers. Using targeted niche marketing strategies is the way to leap over that chasm.
How to Find Commercial Solar Leads
You’ll need to do some research and then create targeted marketing strategies for the types of commercial buyers in your service area.
Start Generating Commercial Solar Leads by Defining Your Targets
You need to start by identifying the demographics of businesses that are most likely to buy solar from you. One excellent way to do that is to survey your existing customers. Ask them to explain why they considered solar.
They may have reasons related to their geographic location, the cost of electric service in their area, the rate of electric service increases, the unreliability of their electric service, an environmental goal, or reducing operating expenses. Operating expense reduction may be a key factor for companies that have multiple locations such as Target, Walmart, and Kaiser Permanente.
Another approach is to refine your list of demographic indicators and use service companies that can help you create a database of companies that meet those criteria such as ProspectNow and their commercial real estate databases. This is different from purchasing leads, which can be an expensive way to get contact information from people who everyone is trying to reach. Developing your own prospect list will help you find prospects who meet your criteria, not the criteria of a lead generator.
Create Value Propositions for Specific Industries
Solar energy can offer significant value to a number of industries. But each industry will typically have different reasons for using solar. Some might focus on the cost reduction they can achieve with solar, and some might have a secondary focus on their corporate responsibility for going green.
Establish a Robust Referral Program
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or you have a strong customer base, referrals are a common approach for finding leads in the solar industry. Getting referrals from existing customers is the best way to acquire warm leads. But, don’t underestimate the power of using feedback from existing clients to get indirect referrals. A number of activities that will help you establish an effective referral program.
· Always ask customers for referrals to other businesses in their niche who could receive the same type of positive results
· Ask customers for reviews, not only of your service, but feedback on the results they’ve experienced moving to solar
· Offer incentives for both referrals and reviews
· Write case studies that illustrate the problems your customers needed to solve and how you helped them solve the problems with solar power
· Publish reviews and case studies on your website and social media platforms
· Include case studies in prospect newsletters
Focus on Education
Due to the Solar Chasm, your challenge is not only to find targeted prospects, but also to educate them about the benefits of going solar.
If you wanted to generate leads for a product that your prospects were already planning to purchase, an ad on LinkedIn that highlights your company’s expertise might be all you’d need to attract targeted prospects. With solar, you have a two-pronged challenge. First, you need to educate them about solar power and then you can sell them on why they should work with you.
Create a content marketing plan that is effective at educating readers about how solar power works, its benefits, how to tell if you could benefit from solar power, the process for procuring solar power and other topics with an educational focus.
Target Early Adopters
There are still many early adopters for you to target. Use the internet to attract those prospects. Complete keyword research to identify the keywords people who are interested in exploring solar power use to get information. Optimize your website to rank in the search engines for key terms.
You can also advertise on the internet to direct people who are already interested to the information on your website that is specific to those farther down in your sales funnel. When creating educational material, make sure you have content for people at all different stages of considering solar.
While there are challenges when you want to generate commercial solar leads, the market outlook is bright. Studies are showing projections for significant increases in solar power usage. Industries such as government, schools, and retail are prime targets for moving to solar power.
Keep in mind that part of solar power’s value proposition is that government support is available to help businesses with loans and incentives for going solar. Today, all indications are that going solar is a good move for almost any business. Use a free trial at ProspectNow to find out how demographics can help you sell solar power.