HeatSpring instructor Tim Montague is a solar developer who has originated and developed over 50 MW of solar projects. Despite all those megawatts, sometimes he hears objections from his clients. Join Tim as he walks through some of these commonly expressed challenges from C&I customers in the video or the transcript below.

The top three objections aren’t necessarily objections – first and foremost – so I call them challenges. One is we are busy. Time and money are very scarce resources for large facility owners or facility owners of any flavor. And with the economy cooking the way it is, they’re short staffed, their supply chain is messed up. They’re busy delivering widgets or whatever it is that they do in the real world. And while energy is a significant expense, energy is perhaps the second biggest spend that they make after salaries, but it’s not their primary business. So they have many distractions. And that is a major objection – we don’t have time for this.

There’s no easy solution to that, right? Because I can’t transform their world and give them time and money that they don’t have. So that’s the number one objection. We’re too busy. 

The number two objection is we don’t understand this, and so we’re just not going to invest in understanding it and de-risking it, per se.

As a solar professional, one of your top priorities has to be becoming a good educator. You have to educate your customer because, let’s face it, solar is still fairly new, even in more mature markets like the southwest or the west. You know, California is the most mature market, and luckily in those mature markets you do see solar pretty much everywhere. It’s in the landscape, and so it makes you go, oh, well this is a thing

Unfortunately, in most of the other markets, it’s barely visible. And so people don’t know what it is. It sounds like magic to make electricity from photons, right? You put these black panels out there and they make electricity. How does that work? They don’t understand it. And so that’s a challenge. Now, that’s one that you can overcome by education and persistence and drip marketing. 

The number three objection is that our facility is really not capable. And that’s a legitimate objection because if they have an old roof that’s not near the end of life, but too old to put solar on them, that’s a major stumbling block. I like to say that is the bane of my existence as a commercial salesman. It is a difficult problem to solve. 

Getting a new roof or an augmented roof is a solution. It’s just a solution that costs money. Luckily, you can – and this is a solution to this objection – is get a new roof, do a solar roof, and combine the two into a single CapEx project. 

If you’re going to buy the project and take the ITC, the 30% investment tax credit on that entire CapEx, that is the wonderful solution to the old roof problem. But only a fraction of facility owners are going to go down that rabbit hole, so to speak. 

Other objections are that we don’t want to make the CapEx expense. You’re in competition, right? When you’re selling a solar project, that capital expense, if it’s a CapEx project, is competing with dollars that a company will invest in other things, hiring, expanding their facility, opening a new facility, installing a new line, doing R&D. 

Money is a scarce resource and there are many things that a facility owner can do with their money. Solar is one of them and it’s a great thing to do with their money, but it’s not necessarily top of mind and the ROI, the payback period, may not be short enough to grab the owner’s attention.

Want to learn more about selling solar to C&I customers? Enroll in Tim’s Selling & Developing Commercial-Industrial Solar course.