With the clean energy deployment moving faster than ever, relatively new companies as well as new solar professionals are coming in droves to support the transition. 

With each new solar system on the grid, technicians and system owners must be able to monitor and control the solar assets. That’s where Wattch, a relatively new software as a service (SaaS) company comes in – providing unified monitoring, intelligence, and control for the grid of tomorrow.

HeatSpring sat down with Alex Heller, the Head of Business Development at Wattch, to gather perspective on what it’s like working for a software solution company in the clean energy space, what business developers actually do on the day-to-day, and advice for folks looking to bring transferable skills into climate jobs. 

Here’s an excerpt of the conversation with Alex’s advice for folks aspiring to head up a company’s business development department. To watch the full interview, enroll for free in HeatSpring’s Solar Career Pathways course.

Brit: What advice do you have, for someone who is wanting to climb the ladder in business development and at some point run a company’s business development department? 

Alex: I think the things I’m about to say are actually important regardless of whether you’re in this space or not – certainly they’re important always. 

The first is look to be an expert in the solutions or the things that you’re bringing to customers. They are looking to you for advice. They’re looking to you for guidance. They’re looking to you to help them understand the challenges that they’re facing and how they’re going to accommodate growth or scale their business or find ways of providing better service to their customers.

You have to know your stuff first in order to be that resource and that asset for them. So again, spend the time every day learning your craft – honing your craft. I think that’s really, really important. 

The second, and particularly in industries like solar, where there’s so much growth and there’s so much investment, I think it’s really about being trustworthy and being credible for people.

I think you want to always approach situations curious. You want to understand what the person you’re talking to experiences day-to-day, what they’re going through, what their challenges are, and be open to the idea that you may not have the right solution for them. 

You always need to conduct yourself with integrity, with candor, with transparency and be willing to say, “you know what? Based on everything I’ve heard, I’m just not really sure we may be the right thing that you’re looking for.” 

Many people try to make it happen at all costs and while that may be a questionable tactic short term, it certainly isn’t the long term thing for your career or for your company’s reputation. 

Then the last thing – and I kind of said this already – is just be curious. Lots of questions. Always try to understand – whether it’s your coworkers or your prospects or your clients – understand: what’s going on with them; what their experience is like; what are they looking for; what would make their life better. 

I think people that are naturally curious ask great questions, and they really get at the heart of things that impact people in a big way. 

So those would be some of the things that have served me well and I would suggest that anybody employs, if they’re looking to expand their career in this commercial sales, BD [business development], whatever you want to call it, space.