In the Ask an Expert series, HeatSpring instructors and industry thought leaders answer a question on the minds of the HeatSpring community. We are joined by Keith Cronin, instructor of the Solar Business Masterclass, the Solar Executive MBA, and more. Keith answers the question – what are some of the top ways to bring new clients into your business? To check out Keith’s response, you can either watch the video or read the transcript below.

Brit: We’re here with Keith Cronin for an Ask an Expert session. Keith is the instructor for our Solar Business Masterclass. Today he’s going to answer the question – what are some of the top ways to bring new clients into your solar business? 

Keith: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think invariably, you know, today we live in a world that has lots of media outlets and lots of ways to reach people like kraken, you know, like tentacles on the end of an octopus. But invariably, I think the best way to reach people is  through word of mouth, through testimonials and through again, you know, the idea of Amazon, right, is the idea of having transparency in the marketplace.

And if you’ve done something really good for people and people are really happy, they’re going to probably refer you to somebody – maybe at work or a family member. We all know when people have bad experiences, people generally go and hide under the table, right? They don’t want to, kind of, face that.

But I think to me, that’s the number one way, through this idea of relationships and people. And people are overall about people, life and relationships. So to me, that’s the number one way.

The number two way – I think you need to be out in the marketplace too. Again because for what it’s worth, you know, it’s a very noisy world, right? So how do you strike through to people? And I think storytelling is really, really critical. 

And back to the Solar Business Masterclass, I go over a bunch of storytelling techniques and ideas and strategies to tell stories. It’s not about your company. It’s about your client. It’s about the client journey and overcoming certain things, right? And whatever their story of struggle is and how you’re able to kind of take them through this journey to where they are, which is the promised land, which is being happy that they’re saving X or Y amount of their electric bill. And we can go into these personal story things that we dive into. But people are going to relate to those stories because they’re going to see themselves. And again, the company doesn’t really matter, right? We need to always focus on the client and work backwards. 

And so to me, that second really important thing is the idea of story and getting there, and trying to say what are people’s real problems? What are their real pains? That might be again, a high utility bill, might be a family challenge. It might be, they really want to go green and they can’t afford to.

And there’s a litany of ways you can kind of create story around that and create community, which is really part three – is the idea of community. I think we’re seeing in the solar industry – in general – is that we’re seeing an expansion of this idea of community.

We’re seeing the idea of community solar, where people are living in a high-rise. You know, it’s a 30 story building. They really can’t get solar, but they can because they can put a carport. You know, over the carports they can put solar in the parking garages or out in the field. So I think the other aspect of community is getting out there.

And I remember in my early days of doing solar, when it really wasn’t out there. I would go out to the community. I would do, you know, presentations. I had the real fortunate opportunity to put a solar system on a library across my office. I had a really wealthy donor invest and donate the system. We did a lighting retrofit. I got the governor of Hawaii involved, Governor Linda Lingle at the time. I got the City and County of Honolulu involved at the time. And the newspapers involved. I would go out and teach classes at the school. I would invite kids. The school was actually right adjacent to two schools, so I invited kids out.

So it made it very community-based. And so by getting the word out through education, which is really what we’re doing right? When you think about how to get more clients. It’s really educating because that’s really all what people are doing. So they don’t know what they don’t know. 

So if you think about, again, these pillars, right? Of testimony where someone says, “you’re great and this is why.” We go over that in the course. And if you think about again, that bookending of this idea of community where people feel like, “hey, I know this person, they’re in my family, they’re in my community.” I think these are really critical things and people feel that I’m just like them and they’re just like me and they’re understanding my situation. 

This opposed to the idea of constant cold calling people through these dialers. I don’t know if that really works… or you see a lot of times on social media people saying leads. Yeah. People need to get leads. People want to build a relationship.

And again, maybe your business is going to grow slower this way, but I think it’s a better way to grow the business. And this is my point of view, where we’re talking again about this idea of having a profitable, slow business that’s more organic and more community-based. To me, this is one of the ways – if you’re just starting out – a way to grow and scale your business that’s more manageable. You’ll be able to hire people that are going to have the same values as you and be aligned with you. And they’re going to be loyal to you and they’re going to trust you. And that trust leaks into the community. And I think these are the simple things that people can do today to help grow their business. 

Brit: Very great advice, Keith. Thank you so much for sharing. Thanks.