Although Australia’s demand for solar ebbs and flows with market conditions, the interest in Commercial solar continues to slowly but surely grow.

Not only are Australian businesses being hit by rising electricity costs, recent announcements highlight that gas cost rises are about to take over, with a 20% increase announced in New South Wales from July 2014. So it’s no wonder that smart business owners are increasingly looking for solar energy to form part of the solution.

I sit on both sides of this fence from time to time, helping solar companies improve their offers and also helping companies to assess what’s being proposed to them by solar companies. It makes for some pretty interesting findings.  I’m a bit like the big game fishing captain, helping to make sure the fish prosper and survive but also providing tips on bait and technique.

Finding real commercial solar customers is a huge challenge in itself, with around 50% of commercial stock under lease. For tenants this often means they simply find solar sales people irritating and irrelevant. For solar sales people, it simply means wasted time and money if they are talking to the wrong people.

But assuming our solar sales team does find the right person, then you need an offer that tells the story and in todays busy life the expectation is increasingly that it has to be done quickly, professionally and compellingly.

I have also seen a variety of offer documents. At the worst end of the spectrum, I have seen a few pages of utter rubbish presented as a sales offer that is factually incorrect, deceptive and completely lacking in detail.  At the other end, I’ve seen super snazzy, all singing all dancing iPad presentations that are designed to wow the unsuspecting with a myriad of reasons you “must sign now”.

As is typical of life, the best offers are somewhere in between, I believe. They have to sell, but they should be concise, factual, intelligent and clever. There is a great opportunity for your brand personality to shine through and plenty of techniques you can use depending on your personal preferences.

One example is the way SolarChoice Commercial construct their offers.

SolarChoice Commercial receives a significant number of commercial sales leads. Potential customers complete a simple on line form and can upload their basic details including energy bills, creating an automated head start to their process.

Projects are then assessed internally using satellite imagery to determine rooftop potential, which is getting more and more sophisticated as time goes by.  In selected cases, SolarChoice also creates video simulations to assist both installers and potential customers to visualise what the system will look like on their roof.

The SolarChoice Commercial team recently showed me a nice example of this on a seafood processing plant. Apart from providing the client with a simple tool to see what the completed system would look like, what was really clever was the way it also demonstrated their technical prowess and attention to detail. The simulation showed the different mounting techniques that would be used and the shadow paths that would result, proving they had done their homework.

For Solar Choice’s client from Solar Choice on Vimeo.

The client can log in to a dedicated portal to see energy generation and offset calculations, financial outcomes, a variety of energy price rise scenarios, indicative pricing and the simulation video. Once they are happy with the preliminaries, installers who are in the SolarChoice network are invited to offer binding prices, which the customer can assess in the portal. They can compare details of the offers including products, company profiles, and service offers – not just price – allowing them to make a more holistic selection.

Of course, there are many ways to catch a fish, but I have to hand it to the SolarChoice Commercial team. This is a great example of how to make an offer look great with a good level of technical proof points in a really efficient way.

Smart solar fishing.

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