Learn more about one of the most challenging parts of the C&I solar sales process – connecting with warm leads – from HeatSpring instructor Tim Montague. Tim is a seasoned solar developer who has originated and developed over 50 MW of solar projects. Join Tim as he walks through some tips for the initial phases of the C&I sales process in the video or the transcript below.

Getting the lead in general is the hardest part. Once you have dialogue, getting the meeting is not so hard. Let’s talk a little bit about lead gen and then working the opportunity, so to speak.

Getting leads – you are first and foremost leveraging your warm network.

People do business with people they like and trust. Through a degree or two of separation, you know many people who are connected to companies that own facilities that could be solarized. There’s a huge opportunity in commercial solar – 145 gigawatts worth of solar could be installed in the C&I space in the U.S.  – according to Yale University.

When you fly over major metros, you just see it, right? There’s a huge amount of flat commercial roofs that have lots of open space. Use your warm network. Be active on social media like LinkedIn. Be a thought leader. Create content, whether that’s white paper or blog posts or podcasts or webinars.

I do all of those things and stand out in the crowd, so to speak. Become a voice for the solar industry and good things will happen and people will notice you and send leads your way or contact you directly with an opportunity. 

Now, once you have dialogue with a facility owner. Again, you’re building towards like and trust. People do business with people they like and trust. The only way to do that is to under promise and over deliver. Show up when you say you’re going to show up with what you said you’re going to show up with. Be persistent. Don’t be annoying. You have to nudge your way or wedge your way into their mindset. And become a priority for them, even when energy is not their top priority generally speaking.

The good news is that now with the ITC being 30% for the next 10 years, we have a nice runway. The cost of the technology has come down 80% in the last 10 years. These are points that you can make with your customer and say, “hey, this is a legitimate opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of dollars for large facility owners per year. Over 20 years, you could save millions of dollars on energy.”

And meanwhile, you’re greening the grid. You’re greening your facility. You’re creating a healthier environment. You’re creating a safer and healthier future for humanity. So many wonderful add-on benefits to greening the grid and who doesn’t want that?

So, just be very, very professional. Focus on building a relationship. Be curious. Get to know your customer. Ask questions about their business. Make sure that you’re expressing interest and concern for their business. Meet them where they are because you’re not their top priority, even though selling a solar project is your top priority, that’s not their priority. So you have to meet them where they are and garner a connection. And once you develop that and find common ground, then you will be able to get that foot in the door and build a relationship. You know, it could take anywhere from six months to six years to get a commercial solar project under contract.

This is a marathon. You have to have many irons in the fire, and you have to be committed to the cause and use a calendar that allows you to plan for the future, right? So you touch base every six months or every quarter with a customer that may put a decision on ice for various and sundry reasons, boiling down to time and money generally, or staffing, which relates to time and money.

Those are some ideas.