I recently heard a young man who’s been working with Powur for a few months compare it to being an Uber driver. And for him that was a good thing. He saw Uber as a way for ordinary guys to get some of the money made by big corporations.
But solar sales reps should consider whether being like an Uber driver is really so great for their future.
Consider this warning from author and marketing guru Seth Godin:
The reason that Uber drivers will always struggle
They don’t have a relationship with the customer. It turns out that finding a customer and knowing where he wants to go is almost as valuable as having a car and knowing how to drive it. Because Uber and other middlemen are earning permission to connect with their customers, the driver will always get the short end of the stick.
They can easily replace the driver, but the driver can’t easily replace Uber.
It’s clearly difficult to gain the trust and attention of customers. Which is precisely why it’s the best way to build an asset.
These days, there seem to be a lot of solar sales programs run like Uber. These programs allow people to get started quickly and easily, with little money down.
Powur, for example, charges about $500 to get started. Other companies will sign you up as an outside sales associate for free. They may even throw in a box of brochures, a baseball cap with the company logo, and a magnet for your car at no charge.
But is the chance to sell solar as a multilevel marketer or a 100% commission sales rep really such an attractive career opportunity? Well, if you add some marketing to your sales, it might be.
Who Gets the Real Money
You may be happy with your income as a remote solar sales rep, just as many Uber drivers no doubt feel that they earn good money.
But if you take Godin’s advice to heart, you’ll realize that the real value in the transaction comes not in the selling but in the marketing.
That is, the real money doesn’t go to the Uber driver. It goes to Uber. Because Uber spent a lot of money on marketing to build their brand. And that marketing helped build trust with people who need rides. The driver relies on Uber’s massive brand recognition to create all his demand for rides.
Likewise, the real money selling solar for some big company doesn’t go to the sales associate. It goes to the company. Why? Because the company has the name recognition.
And big solar companies didn’t just earn their name recognition by selling PV panels. They also did a lot of marketing. Just take Powur for example. Have you seen their website? It’s beautiful — and clearly expensive. They produce awesome videos too. Just check out the one below:
By contrast, I wonder how much the average Powur member markets himself under his own brand? Very little, would be my guess.
Doing marketing gives big companies name recognition, which builds trust among customers.
By contrast, the Uber driver doesn’t do any marketing. He just answers calls and gives rides. So he has no name recognition. That means he’ll always be 100% reliant on Uber to give him new business.
And what if, someday, the driver decides that he doesn’t like the way Uber is treating him for one thing or another?
Well, then, he’s got two choices. He can like it. Or he can lump it.
It’s the same with the average solar sales rep for a big company. If the company’s brand is famous but your own name is unknown, then guess who has all the leverage in the relationship?
Get More Leverage by Building Your Own Brand
Powur and other network marketing or remote-selling programs for solar may really offer good opportunities to build a business for solar sales reps. But only if you do them right.
If you sign up for Powur and just keep selling solar by knocking on doors and making cold calls, then you’re not building your own name. You’re not building trust among buyers. And you’re not building a system to generate your own sales leads.
You’re just selling, which brings in money today. But you’re not marketing, which builds trust with potential customers tomorrow.
In other words, you’re not really building a business for the future. You’re just selling solar this month. Will you still be selling solar next month? Who’s to say.
If you want to build a real solar business that’s built to last, then you need to get your own name out there and build your own brand, separate from Powur, SolarCity or any other big company.
Build Your Own Brand Online
It’s valuable to be known as an installer, dealer or solar sales rep for a big company with a respected brand. But unless you also become known for your own high quality and good service, then you have very little leverage in dealing with that big company.
To get more leverage, you need to build your own relationships with solar buyers by getting your own name out there. And the best way to get your own name out there is to have your own website. Then you can put up your own content, get traffic through SEO, cultivate solar buyers by email and generate solar leads online.
And, sorry — having a page on Facebook or Google+ or even a mini-page on the big solar company’s website isn’t enough. That’s called “digital sharecropping” and it still puts you in a weak position.
To really be your own boss, you need to build your own brand. And the best place to do that today is online. It’s just that simple.
So, do you really want to be an Uber driver? Or do you want to be a solar entrepreneur?
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group