Winning the Game of Solar

Improving sales conversion and & managing your compliance load efficiently

Our speakers Glen and Laurie are the founders of SolarPlus. Glen specialises in solar, plus he’s a battery storage Training Guru. Laurie is a captain of Innovation and leads the operations of SolarPlus.

In this webinar and article we will cover:

  • How to avoid losing sales to competitors who deliver quotes faster
  • How to stop losing track of the status of each and every job
  • How to automate your compliance documentation

SolarPlus helps customers be effective in their businesses. We’re strong on evolving a product based on the requests of our users and we’ve now got 10 years of experience and requests from users for fantastic features. We focus on Australia and New Zealand but we do have a few international accounts because the whole platform is actually designed as a global solution.

Day to day, we talk with installers who are looking for a better solution for their business, whether that’s for quoting, workflows, accuracy or whatever it may be. We typically spend a day showing people through the SolarPlus platform, understanding their business and hopefully showing them how SolarPlus can be a great solution for them.

We have electricians and accredited solar installers on the SolarPlus team who have worked in the industry for over 10 years, installing hundreds of residential, off-grid and commercial systems. Our accredited solar installers help with the technical aspect of SolarPlus product development and also training new users in how to use the product.

The History of SolarPlus

When we first started selling solar, we had loads of datasheets, laptops, spreadsheets and phone calls to suppliers to confirm pricing. We eventually said we have got to do something better than this and surely not everyone is dealing with all of this compliance paperwork and the nightmare of tracking quotes and installs. That kicked off the SolarPlus journey. It has been fantastic.

With the smart energy council as a founding partner for over nine years ago now, the aim at that time was to develop a best practice solid design tool to help installers but also to automate the system manual which was a big job for people. There’s still a lot of people that struggle with that in the industry.

SolarPlus’ New Features

We’ve come a long way and have got some cool new features. We’re on SolarPlus V4 now. We just launched it and it is a remarkable platform. We have upgraded the system constantly over the years but this was really a big shift to a modern mapping tool with a lot of choices and a much easier design process.

We integrated the string configuration and design with the mapping tool and it also introduces some nice customer-facing changes. We’re moving away from the old big PDF to hand to a customer to read through, to a more interactive online presentation where they can look at choices (layout choices) and make decisions about a quote, what it’s going to include, whether they have finance and accept online pay deposit. It is all automated through that process.

What is SolarPlus all about?

What we’re about as a company is helping more people switch on to clean energy. The way we do it is through our platform and by supporting everyone who’s using it. We’re really about extending the team of all of our clients and being part of their team. 

What are we talking about today?

Challenges facing installers, retailers and other solar professionals.

Insights on managing in today’s marketplace & regulatory environment.

Our solutions. How we can help!

Installers, retailers and professionals are facing some unique challenges in the industry. People have seen in the last month a bit of a switch on the sales front and on the lead front with maybe a little bit of that stimulus tap being switched off and people adjusting to not having quite so much cash flow.

Who uses SolarPlus?

SolarPlus is used by a huge range of companies from very small to very large. We do have some companies with big teams including salespeople, designers and installers who use it on the job, managers using it for metrics and reporting. We have trainers as well. It covers systems from residential battery upgrades and small to large commercial.

The biggest headaches in solar

Let’s look at a few points about the headaches the industry faces today:

  1. Loss of control

Tracking right through the customer journey, keeping on top of all of those leads, follow-ups to quotes and the installation process, managing all that compliance documentation. It can be a lot of work.

2. Lack of data management

If you’ve got data in a lot of different places you might have 10 programs as part of your business. That’s fine if they’re integrated and talking to each other, but if not, that can cause all sorts of problems.

3. Wrong person on the wrong tool

Sometimes the wrong person is on the wrong tool. It takes certain skills to do quoting quickly and sometimes the installer is better off doing what they’re really best at which is guiding and supervising installs.

4. Lack of process – SOP

Something that every growing business faces as they start to scale up is lack of process. Something that every large company needs is standard operating procedures, consistency in their business by setting up processes once, making it repeatable and that’s important in terms of scaling up.

Avoiding the most common sales errors

1. Not following up fast enough

One of the most common sales issues is not following up fast enough. 

There are some amazing figures like over 200% conversion increase if a contact is made within minutes. Now that might be hard to do but you can see the impact and benefit to the bottom line is remarkable.

Even if it’s just within a day, there can be a 17% increase in conversions and having complete system packages ready to go. Having that process set up means you can get quotes out in a minute.

Online acceptance also helps with conversion and as mentioned, we’re moving away from the PDF document that is not as enticing in today’s world where people are used to dealing with things quickly online. 

2. Assuming solar understanding & motivation

It is important when dealing with customers to understand what their motivation is. If you are saying, so what have you picked up so far about solar? You’ll probably learn whether they’ve already had some quotes and what they’ve picked up through that so you can educate them. You can help to solve things for them and understand their priorities. Are they energy conscious, are they a green consumer or are they really looking at their bottom line and the cost of energy?

You can have custom proposals all set up ready to go and some of these system packages, pre-build system packages, and customisable proposals are some of the things that are really great about a software platform like SolarPlus.

Our proposals are out of the box and can be branded very quickly just with some quick updates in order to get people up and running but they’re 100% customisable so every business can make them quite unique and branded to their business, and able to tell the story the way you want to tell a story which is important.

3. Not maintaining contact for long enough

A study came out in 2013 saying the average time to commit from the first time they’ve thought about solar is 9 months. That is a long time that they could be sitting there in a sales pipeline and it is important to be able to manage that communication. You can use email templates to keep reaching out to those good prospects.

When you’re involved in a project introducing the package to potential subscribers, the key point that you bring up is there are different ways of going to market. Get a good understanding of the way the customer is operating. We have owner-operators, we’ve got your mum and dad operators, we’ve got marketing companies, we have lead generators and everything in between. Understand the business model that they are running under to provide the best solution. SolarPlus has been developed (particularly version four) over the last few with tools that have been designed for every scenario and of course part of our job of understanding the customer’s needs is to add suggestions to the development pipeline. Whenever there’s a suggestion, those suggestions go back for consideration to be included in the next release.

Design

Pre-build packages for fast quotes

Pre-build packages for fast quotes

The integration of the design of the solar system within the map tool is now in SolarPlus and it really is great for having system packages ready to roll. A customer comes in – maybe from SolarQuotes or a lead form on your website – and automated processes can add them to your contacts list, Then select a package and generate a quote as soon as you’ve done the panel layout.

Custom proposals to tell a story

Custom proposals allow you to tell your story to a potential customer. Also for larger commercial jobs that focus on particular things, whether it’s demand reduction savings from a battery system that’s doing peak lopping, there’s lots and lots of options for customising the proposal and one of the things that you want to keep in mind is trying to address the customer objections before they object.

Tips to improve conversions

1. Address customer objections

Some people still think that solar is ugly and it’s going to spoil their roof. You can get a nice map tool, get a panel layout image to address that, get that in front of your customer early on in the piece to address it. 

2. Solar is expensive – doing nothing is expensive!

Solar is expensive and is a big upfront cost but you can mention and show with a proposal that doing nothing can be more expensive and going solar or even solar and storage can be worthwhile particularly if you can offer a finance system. They’re more readily available now than ever before.

3. Lack of confidence in the unknown

We’ve got to understand that for some people, they really don’t have much understanding of how solar works so there’s that education part in developing the relationship.

If you’ve got the sort of modelling that we provide in SolarPlus, you can see in the reports you’re helping the customer to overcome the issue with their lack of knowledge by putting more trust in you as their advisor.

4. Offer choice

It is also good to offer choice, show them the yield with solar or with solar and storage. SolarPlus reports will automatically show the solar yield as a comparison and show cash versus finance scenarios for example.

Energy simulation confidence

Energy simulation confidence

When you get into the modelling in SolarPlus you can drill down to actual day-to-day variation and we pull in solar radiation data from Medianorm which is a global weather service. It provides 10 square kilometre radiation data across the world so it’s very localised and with that, we can very accurately model battery state of charge.

With the dotted line you can drill down and see what’s happening from day to day in winter where there might be a few days of low sunshine or limited solar availability, particularly important if you’re looking at off-grid systems.

Financial simulation confidence

Financial simulation confidence

When you’re showing the financial advantages of the system you can see in the grey parts of this graph what it’s going to cost them going forward versus with solar, and with solar and storage so you can show that extra benefit with storage and quantify it.

Financial simulation confidence

If you’re offering a finance system, it’s great to be able to show customers a cash flow positive scenario. You can do that with a chart like the above, a stacked cash flow chart and you can see there’s an allowance for reinvestment in future years. You’re not over-promising, you can talk about a 25-year return on investment but still show them that there might be some reinvestment required later in the piece and be realistic about things. They’ll appreciate that you are looking after their best interests.

Many great installers are not salespeople

1. Are you time poor?

In our early day-to-day activities, we were really getting a good understanding of the challenges that installers have. Salespeople are not installers so SolarPlus provides a solution from whichever direction you’re looking at. The install or the sale, it’s part of a process within SolarPlus.

Time is always a challenge in a market that’s booming the way solar is at the moment. The more efficient that you can be in your admin, quoting and sales processes, the more time you’re going to have to actually do the good stuff which is putting systems on properties and getting the cash in.

2. Keeping everything together

Keep everything together in one platform and as we touched on earlier, we’ve got a lot of options for mapping and imaging in SolarPlus. You can import to-scale images from building plans. Even if there’s just a lot number in the middle of nowhere you can set up the reference for the location with an imported image – even if it’s just a design plan. We also have things like MetroMap which has been around for some time. MetroMap images have been okay for many years but now they’ve really ramped it up. They’ve purchased a couple of businesses with existing high-resolution imaging all around Australia. MetroMap is a very cost-effective mapping option which is why a lot of SolarPlus customers are thrilled that it can be used in our platform.

We always have stuck with being compliant through the documentation process. Your CEC compliance for your retailer application, your documentation from SolarPlus can be used as a part of that application. We go right through your proposal and also through your on-site checks, through to the handover manual. That can all be customised as can all of your proposals. When sending out your proposals, it’s all done from within SolarPlus. It goes into a customer log. You can search for all of that information. It really is a single place of reference.

3. Keeping an eye on the bottom line

Another item is the job margin. Within the SolarPlus pricing page where you build your system, either you can build it from scratch or it can be built from a pre-existing package. There’s always a margin per job if you run your pricing within SolarPlus. Then you can have your margin per job if you’re a sales company and everything goes out at 599, whatever it might be, you don’t have to have pricing in SolarPlus. You can use a price override and that will still create the proposals as it would be on another page.

Customer dashboards

We’ve done some exciting work on this part of the system in the last six months. It is a customisable dashboard so whether it’s more applicable to a salesperson, an admin person, you can customise that page where you go in and have a to-do list we link out to your calendar.

Sales reporting and management get visibility of the stats for the business which is obviously useful for forecasting and financial planning of the business. There is also a very new dashboard we’ve just released on the bottom right of the image, the in-store manager. This gives you all of your current jobs in a single view. It is sortable in any way you like and of course, you can add custom activities in there. It’s built for your business and you can invite anyone you want. It is a really comprehensive dashboard, something that we’ve put a lot of thought into and it’s been very well received by customers.

Tips on increasing profits

1. Automate Everything

SolarPlus is what it is. It can be a one-stop-shop for automating the whole process of providing a solar solution. We do integrate out to other platforms so if you’re using HubSpot or simPRO or ServiceM8 or any other software, we do have the capability to link out to different ones.

Automate Everything

We have payment solutions, Xero, a full API. With API it basically automates that process of reporting back to that payment software. Leads can come straight in from a web form or from SolarQuotes and then we’ve got all of our scheduling tools. Anything you can’t link to you can link through Zapier.

How SolarPlus Improves Customer Sales & Process Management

Pitching. Clear proposals to present the case for savings, independence, environmental benefits.

Tracking. Manage quote variations, email opens, follow-up and sales pipeline.

Closing. Maximise conversions with compelling cash flow metrics, easy online approval.

Empowering solar professionals

We also give you training when you start out with SolarPlus. So often people will decide that they’re swamped with admin and they’ve got a pile of leads that they just need to get quotes out to. We start you out with the training by giving you access to a bunch of different tutorials that show you how to do things in SolarPlus and you can look at them in your own time. We also do one-on-one sessions which are tailored to your needs.

We can work on those to clear your backlog, get you started with the basics to get quotes out quickly. Once you’re sorted with that and things are a bit more under control or if you’ve got a good rainy day when you’re in the office and you have the time to set up all of the other back end stuff, get your inventory really well sorted out get your customisations down and really start to look at some of the more detailed aspects of the software eg. how to customise the consumption load profiles, how to upload metering data so that you can get really good modelling done.

SolarPlus does cater for New Zealand as well. We have quite a few customers in New Zealand and in other countries as well!

SolarPlus Continues to Grow and Improve

We had a dream nine years ago that somehow solar could be easier to sell. Industries started to get more sophisticated, went online, and people started putting up web pages. Shopping via a web page was clunky. You’d have to manually process all the orders and call people back and get their credit card details, but now we have things like Shopify.

SolarPlus is a fully automated package so you don’t have to be an expert in everything. You can focus on what you’re good at and let the software do the rest – a complete package that does all the hard stuff for you.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact SolarPlus. We’d be happy to give you a demo and answer your questions about how SolarPlus can transform your sales processes.

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