At what price would you buy solar from this guy?
You probably wouldn’t. And that’s one reason why building trust and conveying quality can trump price, even in a highly price competitive residential solar market — and that’s not just me saying that.
I just did a very informative webinar with Judy Ash, Enphase’s Senior Director of Global Marketing about this “quality vs price” topic. Among the information we presented was a survey that Enphase recently did with around 2000 of its residential customers who purchased solar with cash or a loan (no lease responders).
When these solar homeowners were asked, “Why did you select the installer you chose? (check all that apply,)” a huge 69% said that they chose their residential installer because they were the most trusted or highest rated installer, while just 56% of responders selected price. So price is certainly important, but trust and ratings are a much more common factor.
And if you think that people are shopping around and getting multiple quotes, think again. A third of solar owners got a single quote, and another 28 percent received two. So, one or two installers built enough trust to close the deal in 62 percent of the 2,093 people responding.
And where did people find installers? Not too surprising here. It’s mostly from a family or friend, internet search, or a trade show.
Pretty clear that strengthening the trust of prospects and customers leads to solar sales and referrals, and reviews and other information found on the web are also important for acquiring and converting residential solar sales.
That was the topic for my part of the Enphase webinar: How can solar marketers convey trust to customers before and after the sale? Here are some of my key take-away strategies, but watch the webinar for a more details on these five suggestions:
1) Communicate your experience. If you’re an old solar industry veteran, show that everywhere. Make it prominent on your web page and in your brochures. Your years of experience says to the consumers that you’re not going to mess up your roof. Experience can also be expressed in the number of installations you’ve done. Experience can also be expressed by your solar certifications, such as NABCEP, as well as community ties, such as local school installations, the Chamber of Commerce, and of course, genuine local testimonials from your area.
2) Build trust through solar education. Here’s where I bug you all to use a blog and social media to transparently educate customers. I’ve made this point many times before, so hopefully you’re getting convinced how important it is. Bottom line here: When you blog useful solar information, you become a solar authority. People go to your website, see all of this useful solar info, and they think, “Gee, these solar installers know what they’re talking about.” Before they even meet a salesperson, you’ve won their trust. Wow. Magic!...but not really. It just takes the time to do it.
3) Build trust through your solar company’s “appearance.” You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but people do, so you’d better make your appearance look great. What do I mean by appearance? First, since people search the web for installers, have a great looking solar website. Even if you’ve been in business for 10 years, don’t let your website look old and clunky. Make it look clean with a modern, readable font, colors, navigation, and professional photos and videos. Your trucks, uniforms, and sales staff should likewise look clean and professional. If you’re doing both sales and installs, dress appropriately for each type of interaction. And even though there’s nothing visual about a voice, the staff answering your phones should sound friendly, knowledgeable, and professional too.
4) Build trust through people. People relate to people, not companies. They don’t talk to a logo. So, especially if you’re a small installer with a small staff, put bios with photos of all of your staff on your website, especially your sales staff. That shows customers that you’re human and it also briefly shows them all of the local jobs that go into building a quality solar company. Make these bios brief, but personal. What else do they do besides solar? It’s okay to get personal, since the more prospects know about you and your staff, the less they’ll feel like strangers are trying to sell them something.
5) Build trust with “Je ne sais quoi.” Even if every installer did all that I said above and more, there’s still something different about you. I’m not your mother, but even I know that your solar company is special. It has a personality, perhaps a very local personality, and you can show that personality in a unique and authentic way. I can’t tell you what that is, but it’s probably something very obvious to people who know your company or your owner. Name that unique quality and then express it with all of your marketing and service. That’s when you’ll stand out from the national competition, as well as your fellow local installers.
As I mentioned earlier, there are more tips and resources in the one-hour recorded webinar, so view that, think about how you express trust, and as always…UnThink Solar.
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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