Does Your Solar Company Have an Appointment Setting Problem?

July 16, 2016

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If your company is like most companies in the solar industry, you require more leads than you can generate internally.  In your time of need, you end up turning to one, or more, of the dozens of solar lead generation companies out there.  After purchasing leads for a couple of weeks, you don’t see the results you were hoping for and decide to cancel the agreement.  Very likely, at this point, you have come to the conclusion that the leads you purchased were low quality junk and that the company you purchased them from sold you snake oil…and in many situations, this could be the case.  There are certainly some questionable lead generation companies out there, and you need to do your due diligence before spending your limited marketing budget on their leads, but have you considered that the “quality” problem may lie within the appointment setting stage of your sales cycle?

 

If you search for solar appointment setting positions on job search websites, the average job posting describes an entry level position with little or no experience necessary, and a pay scale in the $12-$14/hr range, with small bonuses.  While I have been fortunate to work with, or partner with, some of the industry’s top appointment setters, it has been my experience that the majority of appointment setters in the solar industry are simply not qualified to generate exceptional results.  Solar installers focus heavily on the costs to generate or purchase leads, as well as their appointment to close rates, but there has not been enough focus on how effective their internal teams are at turning leads into appointments.  More often than not, if leads aren’t resulting in appointments, the quality of the leads are blamed, rather than the quality of their appointment setting resources.

 

Solar Marketing Experts has witnessed this first hand.  We launched a few months ago as a customer acquisition digital marketing agency, developing personalized marketing campaigns on behalf of our clients. Through the beta stage of our company, we generated thousands of leads across the country that we called on internally, in order to gather data on quality.  We were armed with accurate data points on the average contact rates and lead to appointment rates that our campaigns were generating.  With my extensive background in the solar lead generation industry, I knew that these leads were of a better quality than what was being generated and delivered by most traditional lead generation companies. As clients signed on, we expected their performance with our leads to match the results of our beta testing, which would happily exceed their expectations…for about 2/3rds of our clients, this did not happen.

 

Over a period of weeks, and after speaking with our more successful clients, we began to hypothesize that the reason that some of our clients were not hitting the expected results was because their appointment setters were not able to achieve the results that we were able to achieve during our beta testing.  Needing to learn more, we set up a couple of pilot programs with our clients to determine if our hypothesis was true.  The results were eye opening.  In every single case, we were able to achieve higher lead to appointment rates internally.  There were three likely reasons for this:  1) our client’s appointment setters were not qualified to achieve exceptional results, 2) Cori Kennedy, my business partner, has spoken with over 5,000 consumers about going solar and is one of the solar industry’s leading appointment setting experts and, 3) since we generated 100% of the leads, we had a very strong understanding of what the consumer’s expectations are, allowing us to more easily convert the leads into appointments.

 

All of this came as a relief and as a wake up call for our company.  The relief was that our leads were still of the same good quality as they were during our beta testing.  The wake up call was that we knew we could no longer deliver leads to our clients and expect the same results.  In order to provide the most value and ensure that our client’s achieved success, we were going to have to set appointments on their behalf, using the leads we generated. With our new appointment setting service, we are positioned to offer a powerful new sales channel for our clients.  No longer do they have to worry about how many leads turn into appointments.  They can now focus entirely on turning appointments into sales.

 

This can also serve as a wake up call for the entire solar industry. We are all collectively focused on lowering customer acquisition costs, but that doesn’t mean we should hire critical positions at the lowest cost possible, and appointment setting IS a critical position. For example, if you generate/purchase 500 leads per month, the difference between a 10% lead to appointment rate and a 25% lead to appointment rate is 75 additional appointments!  Assuming that your appointment to close rate is 20%, that equates to 15 additional sales per month and $375,000 in additional monthly revenue, if you consider an average system size of $25,000.  These are not small numbers.
It is our recommendation that you hire experienced top performers for your appointment setting positions, and compensate them in a way that encourages them to set more appointments for your company.  You will install more systems, your sales will increase, and your customer acquisition costs will decrease. Your company may just grow faster than you are prepared for, but that’s a problem we would all like to have.


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