By Joe Harris, founder of Grid Freedom*
Solar leads are a tool just like any other. If the wrong tool is used for the job, the job becomes difficult, frustrating, and unlikely to be done properly, if at all. We speak with solar installers day in and day out and the general consensus of small, medium, and large installers alike is just that — frustration when it comes to buying solar leads. It’s unfortunate because many installers that could and would have great success with the right leads are buying the wrong leads for their business initially, having a bad experience, and writing off the lead-buying process completely. Closing the door on what could be the biggest part of their businesses growth.
While lead quality is definitely an issue in the solar lead space (we’ll get to that next time), what’s just as important is a company’s ability to identify which leads are going to work for their sales process. Each company has different contact, follow-up, and sales processes. And just like these processes are different, the leads that will work in each process are different. If the leads don’t match the process, there’s guaranteed frustration and lost investment.
For example, let’s say company A is a small installer with 3 sales people. They love walking into a home that has had a previous on-site visit with company B (a very large installer with huge budgets and most definitely a call center) because company A’s main financing product looks really good when compared to company B’s. But they have to be invited for the visit first.
Company A is doing home shows, canvassing, and some advertising, but it wants to get into more homes, so it makes the phone call to a lead generation company. It is offered shared leads and told that leads delivered to the company will also go out to 3 other companies. Company A is okay with this because it feels like it can go up against anyone and win most business as long as it gets in front of the homeowner. Plus, it is pretty sure company B is using the same lead source, so it is even a bit excited. It makes an investment.
What it doesn’t know is that two of the other three installers (company B included) are getting their leads delivered to call centers. That same data that’s getting delivered by email or text to company A is also being posted in real time to the autodialer of two companies where it is being dialed within seconds. On top of that, another contractor similar in size to Company A gets the lead.
So, a lead goes out… The homeowner gets a call in what seems to be an instant after hitting the submit button on the internet form she or he (let’s go with “she”) just filled out. She has a conversation with Company B, which is the first to dial, and schedules an on-site visit. A few seconds after hanging up the phone with Company B, the phone rings again. It’s the other installer similar in size to company A (the lead just so happened to be delivered while he had his phone in his hand). The homeowner has another conversation and schedules another on-site visit. 5 minutes after hanging up the phone, it rings again. The caller ID shows company A but the homeowner has been on the phone for 30 minutes and doesn’t want to answer the phone again, so she doesn’t. 10 minutes later, the phone rings again. It’s the other large company whose dialer proceeds to dial the number 2 more times throughout the day. The homeowner is completely turned off by all the phone calls and never answers the phone from another installer.
Company A might have the best financing and the best shot at closing the deal, but the shared leads it is buying are putting the company up against two autodialers that are each going to call the lead within seconds, and most likely multiple times throughout the day. And don’t forget the other small contractor. Because of this, many of the leads Company A calls never even answer. Company A goes through this process for a month, loses the majority of its investment, and swears off buying leads for good.
This is just one scenario of very many but definitely a common one. And while this one ends badly for company A, they don’t all end badly. After all, Company B got in the door, right? Mainly because they are buying leads that fit their contact, follow-up, and sales processes. There are solar leads that will work for almost every installer and their processes. Once the proper fit is identified, leads can be an outstanding investment, cutting job acquisition costs, and raising a company’s bottom line significantly.
The number one way to ensure an installer gets the most out of their investment, is this: Do not buy blindly. Know what your contact, follow-up, and sales processes are. Once you know those things, have a conversation with several lead providers to determine the best fit. Unfortunately, all lead providers are NOT created equal. You’ll most likely be able to spot the not so good ones fairly quickly by comparing several conversations. It’s a given that all lead providers want to sell an installer leads. The question is, which ones really care about being a part of an installer’s growth?
About the Author: After years of suffering the frustration that goes along with lead buying himself, Joe Harris founded Grid Freedom, Inc., with the goal of providing the leads he was always looking for, in an industry doing good for the world.
*Full disclosure: CleanTechnica has a financial partnership with Grid Freedom. That said, we didn’t get anything for this article — just thought it was super interesting and valuable to readers.
Image: solar installer, via Shutterstock