How To Sell Solar Without Buying Leads
A number of solar contractors have told me that buying solar leads are a waste of time and money. One owner explained “you just get the bottom rung shopper looking for the cheapest price they can get” while several others reported that most for-pay lead gen sites are either way too customer oriented or just plain “trash.”
Content marketing can offer an effective alternative to this frustrating way of generating leads. It operates on the principle that when you look to sell solar you bring leads to you rather than chase them because buyers prefer it that way. The data support this:
- 81% of shoppers engage in online research before making a purchase
- 77% of business buyers insist on doing lengthy research before agreeing to interact with a salesperson
- 74% of B2B customers conduct more than half of their research online
Additionally, evidence shows that content marketing is more cost effective: the average cost per lead drops by 80% following five months of consistent content marketing. Given all this, I’ve rounded up some information about how solar contractors can effectively use engaging content to sell solar.
Evidence shows that content marketing is more cost effective: the average cost per lead drops by 80% following five months of consistent content marketing.
Low Cost, High Quality Lead Gen
Erik Curren of The Curren Group’s free ebook, Stop Buying Solar Leads and Start Making Your Own Better Ones, is a detailed, practical primer for the solar marketer looking to fully embrace the move from traditional solar marketing to inbound lead generation online to sell solar. Curren outlines six steps of the process: building buyer personas (ideal customer profiles), researching for keywords optimization (SEO), publishing highly readable and relevant blog posts, attracting traffic through social media and email, using calls-to-action effectively and capturing a visitor’s info through forms. What’s great about this ebook is that, like the Curren Group website and team, it takes the flood of information on digital marketing available on the Internet and funnels it through a solar specific paradigm. Very handy.
To access the ebook go to Curren Media’s Solar Marketing Resources page and download it at the bottom of the page. I would also recommend Curren’s excellent book, The Solar Sales Leap, for more detailed info on this whole process and more.
Key quote: “…now the only time a prospect wants to talk to your company at all is if he’s already expressed an interest in your solar offering and has already given your his permission for you to contact him about it… Consumers of all big purchases, including residential solar, now expect you to have their permission before you contact them. Without that permission, solar leads are nearly worthless.”
Spice Up Your B2B Content Marketing
In this blog post, The Best of B2B Marketing Content: 10 Examples by Meghan Keaney Anderson of HubSpot, B2B content marketing campaigns get some needed attention. During my research into marketing for the solar industry I haven’t found a whole lot about marketing specifically to the commercial side of things, though in a number of my conversations with solar installers they’ve mentioned the importance of those parts of their businesses. Anderson briefly analyzes why ten pretty varied marketing campaigns work well to educate, grow with, entertain and even surprise their business prospects. Each example includes the lowdown on what works well and what to take away. I particularly like that the post has several examples of using social media and off-site content to humanize a B2B product through storytelling and images, something that could bring commercial solar to life nicely.
So while this is not a solar specific post, it may give you some interesting ways to spice up your content marketing efforts around your business prospects.
Key quote: “…for every B2B product, there are even more B2B users out there looking for information, inspiration, and knowledge to provide them with solutions…Done right, B2B content marketing can certainly match — and sometimes, maybe even rival — the creativity and appeal of the best B2C ones.”
Content Marketing + Prospect Segmentation = More Conversions
In Solar Marketing in the Digital Age by Philip Hall for SolarPro Magazine, Hall discusses the merits of segmenting your prospect management and using value-added marketing content. He first walks through a brief description of how solar marketing has evolved along with the industry in general. Then he goes on to describe the process of taking your solar prospects and breaking them down into segments by suitability, level of interest (as shown through engaging with your value-added content) and other, more specific criteria. Hall includes a description of how CRMs and automation tools can help you use this segmentation of data to your advantage when reaching out to your market. He then talks about the ways to tap this specific knowledge to create content of real value to your prospects.
Key quote: “When value-added content is done well, creating and disseminating it results in customers who are better informed and therefore more discerning. If these better-informed buyers trust a brand, they are more likely to contact its sales representatives or visit its online store when they are ready to buy.”
A Master Class in How To Sell Solar Online
HubSpot is a brilliant example of how to manage your prospects’ interaction with your company in way that builds trust and authority while gently guiding them to your paid products.
First, the free content they provide on marketing your business online is rich, easy to read and intelligently organized. There are a whole slew of blog posts on topics like writing buyer personas, inspiring marketing campaigns, writing engaging copy and challenges facing salespeople in 2018. Second, there is a multi-page section entirely dedicated to free marketing templates, tools and ebooks on blogging, SEO, running email campaigns, building ebooks, tapping social media and more. And I haven’t even touched their free sales and marketing academy – but at a glance saw topics like Creating Sales Email Templates and Working Your Leads as well as a certification course dedicated to understanding and implementing inbound (content) marketing.
And finally, HubSpot is a brilliant example of how to manage your prospects’ interaction with your company in way that builds trust and authority while gently guiding them to your paid products. As I moved through the site, from first perusing the homepage or landing on a blog post from a Google search to downloading materials and reading emails, I experienced, at every turn, a seamless user experience. HubSpot was able to manage me, as a prospect, quite masterfully through the various stages of my learning process via popups, email campaigns and specifically tailored content.
Overall, I felt that every aspect of their site, from design and layout to content and images, showed how clearly they understood my concerns and goals and how skillfully they could use that knowledge to unobtrusively (but steadily) invite me to interact with their sales and customer service people. And, of course, given that HubSpot is in the business of automating marketing campaigns, their prospect management on their site serves as a perfect sampling of how their products work in real time.