Step-by-step Guide To Building a Sales Funnel For Your Solar Business.
Written by @justusclark
If you have ever toyed around with the idea of using social media marketing to generate leads for your residential solar business, you’ve likely asked yourself “what audience should we target” or “how can we generate qualified leads?” Most qualified homeowners have gotten where they are in life because they’re consumer savvy. They know what products and services they need and educate themselves accordingly. When I sold solar Door-to-Door, it was nothing more than a numbers game. 2% of the doors I knocked would set a follow-up appointment, 30% of those appointments would make it to install. I never worried about who said yes or how many people said no because all I had to do was knock on doors until I found someone who was already a buyer.
Those low-hanging fruits are the bread and butter of a Door-to-Door Salesman, but to find them, you still have to talk to the other 98%. Many of them have never thought about purchasing anything associated with solar or renewable, and are just starting to explore it. Some of them think solar energy is a government conspiracy to spy on you and control your electricity. That’s a true story. We can break down your target audience into 3 sections, the easy yes group (2%) the still learning group (96%), and the solar is a conspiracy theory group (2%). To succeed, you need to keep in mind that the fair majority of people have NO IDEA what solar is, outside of the fact that it comes from the sun.
Your offerings should be visible for educated homeowners who are actively searching for solar power products and services, but you should also appeal to potential customers who are still not sure what they want. As I said, the residential solar industry is still in its infancy. As technology improves and people become more comfortable with the idea, it’s likely that the percentage of ready-to-buy, educated homeowners will increase down the line. As a solar business owner, or representative, that means now is the perfect time to start building a pipeline to last a lifetime.
It’s impossible to forecast what content will motivate a consumer to click through your funnel. For example, some people will care most about the environmental benefits, some may care more about the lower monthly expenses and tax incentives. Creating a variety of content to fit these personas and testing them against each other will show you in real-time, what percentage of your consumers engage with a particular type of content. The best way to determine what works for you is by jotting down your demographic personas and implementing separate ad creatives for each of them. A/B Test the creatives to see which one gets the best response, and use that content as a template for future content.
Sadly, many business owners don’t have the patience to “earn trust”. Why spend all that time when they could be selling units. Don’t get me wrong, when you’re steering the ship, you’ve only got so much time to give, which typically leads to focusing all your marketing efforts on the tried and true medium, with the easiest targets (i.e. only creating content for consumers who are about to purchase something.) As a result, these companies forget about the other 96% of people who will be buyers, when someone they know and trust has given them all the information they need to make a decision.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Do you see where I’m going here? Let me put it this way, one day, when everyone is ready to buy solar, only two or three companies will sell solar, and they’ll sell it so cheap they will encompass 90% of the total market value. Building a strong presence now is easy because nobody has. The problem is the median age for business owners in the US is 45. That means the majority of business owners were born the year Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen first released on vinyl to give you a better perspective. 22 years later in 1998, the highly anticipated Nokia 5110 hit the shelves at thousands of different internet service providers & telecommunication companies. Now we have AT&T, Verison, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cricket, Boost, & Metro PCS.
My apologies if I missed one but what I’m trying to say, is why worry about who is closing the most deals if the product you’re selling exists in a high-gross, low-saturation market? If your only goal is finding the quickest way to make a buck, your cup will runneth empty. Show your customers that you know your shit, who cares about what people think about you or your content, they don’t matter. What matters is the numbers, and the bigger those numbers, the more opportunities you have, the better your chance of success. The future of the solar industry will be earned by whoever has the most crowd appeal and overall reputability because they will be the only ones who have a large enough consumer base that they can afford to facilitate nationwide distribution chains and cut costs. Plain and simple.
I’m telling you this because A, I do Social Media Marketing for a living and I think there is INSANE potential in the solar industry. & B, 99% of today’s solar businesses will fail because they won’t take their sphere of influence seriously on social media. else will lose all their business within a matter of months. transparent businesses, that for lack of a better word, actually give a fuck about their consumers. the majority of business owners had already entered the workforce. This isn’t a stab at boomers, it’s the reality of the situation. Doom and gloom aside, if you’re reading this in 2021, you are still early to the race. I know I ranted, but everything I said was true, and you need to understand the sheer importance of the strategy I’m about to break down for you. It all begins by identifying the different stages of your customer’s journey. Let’s begin.
1. Hmm, that’s kinda cool.
At the top of your sales funnel are individuals who have just started researching solar panels. This group will account for the majority of your audience. These people might buy, someday, so, unfortunately, future success aside, you’re only going to sell to the fully informed people at the bottom of your funnel. Prospects at the top of your funnel don’t care about making a purchase. Your content has sparked their interest though and they want to learn more about solar and get answers to their questions. Lucky for you, most of these people will have no idea about the tax incentives.
Posting educational content on social media will help get your new prospects excited. You need to explain everything from the ground up, (think about it like talking to your grandma about what you do for a living, keep it simple) what solar energy is, why they need it, and how to receive an estimate and start the process. Since this audience is new to the space, start with some generic Google searches like, “what are solar panels” or “solar panels for home”. Copy the URL from the top 10 results and paste them here. That will link you to TagCrowd, a free word cloud generator that makes it easier to visualize the keywords you need to include in your copy when optimizing for search relevance. As the number of solar businesses competing for search relevance increases, so does the importance of your SEO Performance. You’ll find keywords related to the install process as well as content addressing the pain points of new prospects. For example, keywords like “energy-saving” or “lower utility bills.” should be common.
2. Considering It
This portion of your audience will be made up of prospects who are genuinely considering buying solar. They’re not completely bought in so they are actively searching for information to educate themselves and make an informed buying decision. The information they’re searching for is more niche, or specific, such as the types of solar panels available, and the hidden benefits of going solar. They will want to know things like the effect going solar will have on the cost of their homeowner’s insurance or their overall property value.
This is where a consumer’s decision-making starts creating competition. You can answer all the Faqs there are, but if Company A & Company B are selling the same product, but company B provides more value, then Company A misses out. This makes the quality & number of your Google reviews extremely important. During this stage, consumers will begin to research competing businesses. To give yourself the best opportunity, you need to be the first to answer all their questions. If you’re relevant enough in search, and your reputation is intact, consumers will begin to consider you as one of the best options available. Imitation is the best form of flattery because it’s 3rd party marketing, and is never as good as the original. Stick to your gut, trust your brand, and you can grow your influence far beyond social media platforms.
3. Okay, let’s do this.
Consumers at this section of the funnel are buyers with a high level of commitment. We call these Hot Leads. They understand the dialog, and they’re ready to make a decision. Typically these consumers will be more responsive to direct marketing approaches like phone calls or emails. Now’s the time to start dropping links to free demos, and home visits. If you want your prospects to make the right decision, time is of the essence. Chances are if they’re this deep in your sales funnel, they’re this deep in your competitions too. I can’t stress enough how big an impact your timeliness & follow-up have on the outcome of your deals.
You must not only describe the solutions but also illustrate them so your potential customers can visualize the benefit of your product. Become so familiar, engagement is like muscle memory. You should present specific options in a specific order, so your consumers can consider all aspects affected by the decision they’re about to make.
Now it’s time to put your closing shoes on.
The following contains a simplified version of the buyer’s journey from start to finish.
- Inform your consumers about the needs they didn’t know they needed.
- Analyze the concepts that will be interesting for your prospects based on their response.
- Develop a solid buyers persona to better detail the sales process.
- Provide educational content that answers demographic-specific questions.
- Calculate what your, now interested prospect hopes to achieve after deciding to proceed with the installation.
- Create a sense of urgency with more intimate content mediums like SMS, Email, or Direct Calling to initiate the process.
- Use the rapport your brand has built throughout your campaign to cut through the hassle of developing trust.
- This is why authenticity is so important when it comes to branding anything. Stick to the script, and you’ll start the conversation long before your reps ever even arrived.
Challenges of Solar Lead Generation
To create a campaign that meets, & hopefully exceeds expectations, you must memorize know how to respond to common rebuttals like the back of your hand. People are typically concerned about the following:
- Length of payment duration & upfront costs can destroy your deal if your customer feels like the information was withheld from them. Of course, there is a right time and place for everything, but communicating these factors towards the end of the second stage of the funnel is imperative.
- The time from signing documents to installation, as well as complicated installation, will influence a customers’ decision.
- Homeowners are typically a stable bread of people who are satisfied with their way of life. If they need to make a change, performance alone won’t be enough to convince them. You need to get your customers excited, by providing an offer they can’t refuse.
Reading all this is one thing. Putting it into action is another. You can generate leads through SMM or other digital marketing mediums, but only if you plan, and execute your plan with consistency. Solar companies all get the same leads so they all communicate with the same customers. The first company contacts a customer usually has a higher chance of succeeding. Calling and email are becoming increasingly less effective, but social media is like a sales pitch in escrow. Stay on top of your market data, pivot when needed, and you can generate new leads for the remainder foreseeable future.
Tips to Create a Solar Sales Funnel
What do you offer that no one else does?
I know that no one likes a showboat, but it’s different when it’s your brand. In your own life, you wouldn’t don’t want to do business with a generic nobody, you do business with your best available option. No matter how people engage with your brand’s persona, they should immediately notice the distinguishing features that set your operation apart from the crowd. If you’re the fastest to install, that needs to be your bio on every social media platform. If you work with people whom others won’t finance, that needs to be beaten into every piece of content you release. These days there is very little time between that first google search and 20 businesses fighting for your attention. That’s why you lead with what makes you different than everyone else.
Collaborate with influencers from your niche
It’s my philosophy that people tend to like their neighbor’s grass more than their own, so try to get content the promotes an achievable lifestyle that exists outside of your target audience’s daily norm. The most highly successful people I’ve met are workaholics. If they were your target audience, you’d want to find influencers that host podcasts about counteracting the unanticipated downfalls of success & affluence. If your target market is successful female business owners in their 50’s, you need to reach out to Gretchen Rubin, host of the “Happier” podcast, and see how much it would cost to throw a tag about your brand into her next episode. (P.S. I’ve never met Gretchen Rubin, nor do I know what podcast successful businesswomen in their 50’s listen to. I just threw that part in to help paint a better picture.
Ever wondered what it would be like to have Donald Trump Jr in your next ad?
Well, today is your lucky day. For $5000.00 you can hire him to be part of your next Facebook Ad Campaign on cameo.com! Just think about all the signatures you’d get with this face backing your brand.
PPC & Sponsored Search
Studies show that close to 60% of businesses applying solid SEO strategies also invest in PPC ads. Organic search is crucial for long-term success, but don’t be cheap. Paid ads still pay. When people “Google” something, they see sponsored ads related to their query listed at the top. That means in 10 years, all you’ll get are few seconds in the limelight before corporate SEO monsters drown you in optimization. Now’s the time to concentrate your marketing efforts & secure your space on the front page. Goes without saying that consumers rarely click on the second page.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is visiting your website for the first time. You’re not going to read through the entire thing, you’re not going to pay $20,000 on the spot,& chances are, you probably won’t remember you even clicked on the link unless that website presented you with an offer you just couldn’t pass up. Encourage them to engage with your brand by offering free resources in exchange for an email address. You don’t have to bombard their inbox with offer letters. Now that you have their contact information, they have entered your sales funnel. Your CTAs must immediately grab attention. I like to write CTA’s from the visitor’s first-person perspective. When using “call now” or “let’s chat”, you’re presenting the visitor with the choice of having the conversation. Instead, I try to use things like “GIVE ME A CALL” or “SIGN ME UP”. Naturally, your brain doesn’t question statements like that when you make them yourself so it softens consumer resistance.
Having CTA’s that provide immediate value to the majority of your consumers at the top of your funnel is guaranteed to be more effective than making them open the menu tab to find the subscribe page. No one cares about why you do things, just that you do them. Providing value at the beginning of all your relationships puts you on the path towards stability.
- You can generate highly targeted leads using social media marketing.
- The residential solar industry is still relatively new, so now is the time to focus on scaling your relevance.
- Tracking the success of your competition, and rebranding it is the fastest route to running effective social media marketing campaigns.
- Structuring your objectives from your consumer’s point of view will make you more relatable.
The solar business is on the rise, but it’s also quite competitive, so companies need to put a lot of effort into getting high-quality leads in their pipeline now! We recommend researching your target audience and planning a marketing funnel so you can provide the right marketing content at the right time.
If after reading this, you said to yourself “Wow, super insightful” or something similar, you should like & share this post with your network & Subscribe to my Modern Mondays Newsletter where I provide updates on the latest Social Media Marketing news & give out FREE TOOLS & RESOURCES just like this! 🚀
Input your business performance metrics to factor the ROI of your next Facebook Ad Campaign with our ROI Calculator
See the numbers, and the content that make Plexlab one of the most valuable marketing assets at your disposal.