Commercial Solar: Step-By-Step by Jim Jenal, founder of Run on Sun, a NABCEP solar installer based in Pasadena, California, is a terrific new sales resource for both commercial solar customers — and for commercial solar sales pros.
As its title implies, Step-by Step is meant to be a solar installation guide for potential commercial solar customers. In fact, it’s so clear and easy to read that it can also be used as a sales and information template for commercial solar PV sales pros who want to have all of the best practices and customer FAQs at their fingertips.
The book is structured partly as a fictional narrative from the perspective of a fictional California industrial company that wants to decrease its utility bills. The “story” and characters follow a facility manager as he decides to go solar and find a qualified installer for his company.
It would be a two-dimensional promotional pamphlet if Jenal stayed in the fictional world, but Jenal adds the third dimension by following each fictional section with objective non-fiction specific details about the sales and installation process being discussed.
From finding qualified installers to analyzing utility bills, incentives, financing, permitting, and what to look for in terms of PV equipment, Jenal clearly covers each aspect of commercial solar with 100% transparency. From the customer perspective, one of the most valuable sections is where Jenal discusses getting apples-to-apples installer quotes.
While a couple of late Step-by-Step’s case study chapters are self-promotional for Run on Sun, Jenal can be forgiven because of all the objective and non-promotional information he’s written prior to those chapters.
In fact, from a commercial marketing perspective, any solar installer outside of the Los Angeles area would benefit by giving Step-by-Step to potential commercial clients. It would be a tremendous trust-builder, providing the client with a thorough education about the commercial sales and installation process.
Commercial solar sales pros would also benefit from reading Step-by-Step, as it’s a great outline of all of the FAQs commercial clients might ask, complete with concise and accurate answers. In that sense, the fictional part of the book is a great rehearsal for sales presentations, especially for residential solar sales people transitioning into commercial sales.
In terms of my own transparency for this review, I do know Jenal and emailed him about whether he really wanted to publicize a virtual commercial solar sales bible to his competitors in Los Angeles. Jenal’s response was typical of his sincere solar advocacy.
He wrote back: “While I realize that it is possible that some competitors could learn something from this that they didn't already know and thus reduce my competitive advantage, nevertheless one of the main reasons I wrote the book was to help other solar companies out there. If this improves how some companies operate, and gives the commercial customer a "leave behind" that really gives them value, well,
that really was what I was trying to accomplish.”
I’d add that I wouldn’t be recommending Step-by Step if I didn’t genuinely feel that it was a terrific resource for solar customers—and sales professionals—throughout the U.S. It’s a great way… to UnThink Solar.
Next week, we’ll have another solar book review of Creating Climate Wealth by SunEdison founder Jigar Shah.
Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred's Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.
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