I’m in the search for the best sales tool to sell solar pv, solar thermal and geothermal. I am building a renewable energy company, and I’m focused on building the most profitable company I can. We’re a small company, we haven’t raised venture capital so we’re driven by cash, and we like simple, elegant, and effective solutions. So, finding the prefect tool is very important to us. I’m inspired to create a pocket guide to selling renewable energy projects after finding a similar pocket for carpenters (see right). It’s simple, cheaper and super effective. It perfectly supplements the knowledge of a well trained carpenter.

First, let me discuss why finding the perfect sales tool is so important to me and also represents a larger business philosophy. Profitability is extremely important to me and the industry as a whole. Not only do we need to show that renewable energy is profitable but that’s it’s MORE profitable then other activities. By profitable, I mean our net, before tax, profit margin not absolute profit. In order to do this, we must minimize overhead so that we’re very nimble. Being nimble is just as important as being diversified. If jobs in a certain technology dry up, we don’t want the company to die. A sales tool, and the processes and principles it represents, will have a huge impact on our ability to be profitable.

In order to do this, we’re being extremely diligent with our marketing activities. We’re going to make sure we understand what factors lead a client to close faster, for more money, with the least amount of marketing dollars and time spent, and then find more of those types of clients. It sounds simple, it’s hard to implement. The long term goal is that each client leads to more business through word of mouth. They love us so much that they’ll tell all their friends. In order to facilitate this we’ll provide a couple “artifacts”, like a project DVD, to each client after the installation is complete. The DVD will make “sharing” of the project between neighbors easy. To get referrals you first need a few first jobs. We’ll get the ball rolling by creating a “homeowner” workshop. Learn how we create the workshop and presentation here. The workshop will be something that is extremely useful to the homeowner and also provide a personal connection to our company, so they trust and respect us, because they’re know us personally. Our marketing is based on being authentic, transparent, and useful. You heard it right, our marketing is based on two activities. That’s it, very simple.

Although we know how we want the system to look, it’ll take a lot of time and testing to get there.

On the operations side, we’re structuring the company so that it will naturally optimize itself around being profitability while being extremely efficient operationally (no overheard). We’re not interested in paying sales people based revenue commission because they may sell jobs that don’t make money. We will have teams of people work on projects together and be paid based on the profitability of that job because everyone who works on the job impacts it’s profitability. If this seems crazy, read “The Great Game of Business.” Jack Stack is the man.

The marketing activities and operation activities have a huge overlap in many places of the business, but the largest overlap come during the site visit and when the contract is signed. With marketing, we want the highest profit in the least amount of time. This means we’re interested in decreasing the number of leads that we deal with BUT increasing the closing ratio of each lead. It’s much more profitable to deal with 20 leads, where 10 close then 100 leads where 10 close. If you were only looking at the number of closed leads you’d think they were the same. However, dealing with 100 leads take a lot of time and this time is hard to track because its a “soft cost” for the business, but it’s there. Trust me.