How Solar Leads Leader “Cost of Solar” Got Started, & Its Competitive Advantage (Exclusive)

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Cost of Solar LogoEditor’s Note: I won’t steal Joe’s thunder on this, but I have been working with Joe almost since the beginning of Cost of Solar and Grid Freedom so I want to chime in about a few things. First of all, Joe is an extremely hard-working, genuine guy. This guy’s trying to make a difference by providing a superior product. Thankfully, that’s also in the solar space. He’s also quite a bit of a perfectionist. I guarantee that anything he’s doing, he’s trying to do it not 99.99% well but 100% well. Again, thankfully, this is in filling a niche in the solar lead space that could really help millions of Americans. Third, I think it’s really freakin’ awesome that Cost of Solar connects people to small and medium local installers. Congrats to the big solar installers for succeeding and doing the good work they are doing, but solar is a distributed energy resource and I think it would really be swell if a much more distributed portion of the population benefited from the solar boom. Furthermore, competition is a good thing, and many of these small and medium solar installers actually end up offering a better deal than the big companies, so it’s also about providing the consumer with the best option. In the end, anyhow, this provides consumers the option to compare more offers — surely a good thing when you’re making a purchase worth tens of thousands of dollars. With my intro out of the way, on to this piece from Joe, explaining how he ended up starting and developing Cost of Solar & Grid Freedom.

By Joe Harris, Cost of Solar & Grid Freedom founder

I’ve worked in several industries throughout my career. I wouldn’t say I’ve done it all, but I’ve definitely done a lot of it when it comes to sales. I’ve started on the ground floor of larger companies, working my way up from sales to upper management, and been a business owner as well. Most of my time has been spent with mortgage, insurance, and niche financial organizations. I’ve definitely learned a great deal from my experiences and I do my best in applying the knowledge gained from those lessons, in order to maximize the next opportunity. Whether that opportunity be something I’ve stumbled upon, that’s been presented to me, or that’s been created by me.

Lead companies, and having to deal with lead companies, have been just as much of a constant in my professional life as the telephone. If I haven’t purchased or called leads from every lead company that operates in the spaces I’ve worked in, I’ve come pretty close. In almost all cases, the experience is just plain bad. Trying company after company, having to prepay large sums of money, extremely lopsided contracts and return policies, lead quality starting off okay but then falling off dramatically, etc. — trying leads every which way possible in hopes something will work. Shared leads, “exclusive” leads, semi “exclusive” leads, verified, double verified, triple verified, call verified, live transfers, etc… at the end of the day, having to settle for one or two companies to buy from that are essentially the lesser of all evils. The ROI just barely making sense in most cases. Enough to justify another purchase by a slim margin, but far from putting a smile on my face.

It was out of this frustration that Grid Freedom, Inc. was born. I knew that I wasn’t the only one buying leads that was running into these issues. I also knew (for the most part) how the companies I was buying from were generating their leads. Living in NJ, I had been spotting solar installations popping up with some regularity, so I began placing research calls to installers both locally and nationally. I very quickly discovered that these installers were having the same experiences and frustrations I had been having for years with leads. So I figured that if we could provide leads of the quality that we were always looking for, and do it in the solar industry (given the amount of growth that it looked to be poised for), that we would really be on to something great.

Our bread and butter is the small, medium, and large-ish companies out there. One reason we went this way is because it was what the big lead gen companies out there weren’t doing. Most companies out there are trying to sell all the leads they possibly can to as few companies as they possibly can. It makes sense, but definitely leaves a hole in who is being serviced and how. We decided to do our best to fill that hole. In many cases, the homeowner ends up being exposed to more options available to them this way as well. Some of your really big solar companies out there really push one model. The smaller installers are more likely to provide more visibility into other options.

Not only did we see a really great business opportunity, but this was a chance to really do something genuinely good. The opportunity to initiate a process that is actually going to benefit the world as a whole just makes you feel a bit different about getting up in the morning. It’s pretty exciting to know that what we are doing has a direct, positive, and quantifiable effect on things. The ability to profit from the growth of solar was really what drew me to it, but the ability to really make something good happen is why I love doing it.

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