If you’re a solar sales rep, you don’t need me to tell you that knocking on doors is a terrible way to make a living.
Unfortunately, your sales manager or the company owner may not know that yet. He may still think that door-to-door solar sales ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.
“Canvassing has the highest conversion rate of any sales tactic,” he may claim. Of course, that’s not true — just ask the veteran solar salesman who had to knock on 500 doors to make one sale. Whoever tells you that door knocking converts well must think that saying it will shut you up for a while.
Meantime, you’re looking for better ways to sell solar than spending ten hours a day walking out in the blazing July sun, annoying homeowners on every cul-de-sac west of the Rockies.
If that’s true, then you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find two paths to selling solar without going door to door. One way is quick, but less effective. The other way takes longer, but will give you better leads for years to come.
1. Quick Fixes for the Short Term
Sales consultant Ryan Stewman, who calls himself “The Hardcore Closer,” offers seven good ideas to get you started selling solar without the humiliation and wasted time of going door to door. Stewman obviously agrees with me that it doesn’t make sense to sell an advanced energy source like solar using an outdated sales tactic like door knocking. Instead, he’s all about phones:
We live in the “don’t bother me” era and people only talk to strangers through their phones. Look around next time you’re in line at a restaurant, outside the bathroom, or at the airport. No one is talking to each other. No one talks to strangers in line anymore (except for me) and when they do, they get weird looks. You gotta go where people talk, and that’s where I’m taking you.
But fortunately, Stewman is not telling you to cold call prospects. Instead, he wants you to get active on social media and by sharing content so that prospects can find you with their phones when they go online. Some of his ideas:
- Connect with real estate agents
- Get active in groups on both Facebook and LinkedIn
- Write an article on Medium
- Create and produce a sales video
These are good ideas. Read about each one and see more ideas in Stewman’s article.
But when Stewman calls these ideas “fast,” he’s wrong.
In fact, it takes time to make and distribute a video or find and talk to real estate agents. It’s quicker to join a group on Facebook and start talking to people there. But it will take a while to build enough trust with people you meet online to pitch them on solar without coming off as pushy and obnoxious.
And connecting with solar buyers on Facebook won’t help you much in the long run unless you have a credible presence online. If someone you met in a Facebook group wants to check you out through a Google search, make sure that there’s something for them to find online. And make sure it’s something good!
2. Longer Term Solution
While technology lets anybody write articles or create videos, creating content is not everybody’s cup of tea. Indeed, most sales reps I know don’t have much interest in writing an article on Medium or anywhere else, including their own blog.
But even if you are willing to invest the time to create content online, the bigger issue is, where you should do it to make it worthwhile?
The problem is that anything you do on somebody else’s service rather than your own website offers you only limited benefit.
It’s nice for a while to publish an article on Medium or start to build up a list of contacts on Facebook or LinkedIn. But if you drive traffic to those services, you’re not getting the search engine optimization — Facebook or LinkedIn is. And if those services change their format or start charging you more or (heaven forbid!) they go out of business at some point, then all the work you’ve put into them could be for nothing.
When you work somebody else’s land but don’t build any ownership for yourself, that’s called sharecropping.
And when you work somebody else’s online service but don’t build your own digital real estate, that’s called digital sharecropping.
The only way to get full benefit of your online marketing is to have your own real estate. That doesn’t mean a Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile.
It means your own website. With your own site, you can do stuff that really works to connect with solar buyers, such as:
- Attract homeowners who are already interested in solar
- Convert visitors to leads that are fresh and 100% exclusive to you
- Nurture those leads until they’re ready to buy with email campaigns
- Convert leads effectively with online forms
You can’t do any of this well — or even do it at all — through Facebook or LinkedIn. You need to have a website.
And to build lead-flow for the future, a website is absolutely necessary.
Your own website is the only place that you control 100%. Nobody can kick you off for violating their terms of service or start charging you a higher fee to use it. And your own website is the only place where you can build your own brand and start getting search-engine credit — which is key to getting the traffic and online leads that coming up on the first page of Google can bring.
How Homeowners Buy Solar Today
Just ask yourself: How do homeowners who want solar find an installer these days — by looking at a Yellow Pages ad?
No. They do a Google search. They look for “solar panels Los Angeles” or “home solar Long Island” or “solar installer Maricopa County AZ.”
And if you don’t come up on the first page? Then you might as well not exist.
“Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?” goes the old search-engine marketing joke. “On the second page of Google results.”
So, if you really want to sell solar without door knocking, your goal should be to get onto the first page of Google for home solar in your local area.
To have any hope of doing that, your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile won’t work. You need your own website. Then, it has to be optimized for web search (SEO). And it has to make you stand out in a highly competitive market from other solar sales reps.
If you need to build your own website, the easiest way is to use a small business website builder like Wix or Weebly. A little less easy, but more powerful, is to create your own site in WordPress.
But an individual sales rep will never have the time or the skills to make a website really effective. And a sales rep won’t have enough budget to hire a good SEO expert or blogger to do it for them well.
It’s best if your employer creates an effective website that builds your company’s brand and generates sales leads that they can send you. A solar company has more resources to do an effective website for all its salespeople than individual reps do for themselves.
The Top Mistake Solar Companies Make Online
Too many solar companies don’t put much love into their websites. They put up a website but don’t get any traffic now. So they don’t think they can ever get any traffic in the future, no matter what they do.
Saying that is like saying that I have a roof but I’m not generating any solar power, so why bother with putting up solar panels?
Nobody would ever be that dumb.
Don’t let your company get away with being that dumb either.
Door knocking is no strategy to sell solar in the 21st century, no matter how well it worked when your company’s founder was doing it back in the 1970s.
Encourage your company to get a better website — one that gets enough traffic to generate sales leads online. Then, ask them to share some of those leads with you. It’s a tried-and-true system that works.
If your company won’t do that but just wants to keep sending you out to knock on doors, then you should probably start looking for another job. There are lots of better solar companies that won’t make you knock on doors. Get a job with one of them.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group