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Solar Sales 101: Getting Started Selling Solar Panels | Palmetto

August 5, 2022
Solar Sales 101
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Whether you’re looking to jumpstart your own solar sales company or scale your existing business using solar, there’s no denying that solar energy in the United States is more affordable, accessible, and prevalent than ever before.

In fact, U.S. solar jobs have increased 167% over the past decade—that’s five times faster than the overall job growth rate in the U.S. economy. It’s this very growth, along with strong federal incentives and policies, that has caused the cost of solar to drop substantially, allowing even more consumers to adopt solar at scale.

Best yet, solar isn’t even close to reaching its full potential. In 2021, less than 3% of U.S. electricity was generated by solar, whereas wind energy accounted for approximately 9% of the total generation that same year. Thus, significant work remains to remove barriers to entry, drive down costs, and adopt solar energy at scale.

That’s where Palmetto comes in. If you’re interested in learning what selling solar is like and how you can help homeowners adopt clean, renewable energy, this article is for you.

What Benefits of Solar Can You Sell to Customers?

The U.S. electricity market has a big problem: A decaying and failing grid system. While electricity costs continue to rise and as the grid further deteriorates, solar energy has only been getting stronger and becoming more efficient, reliable, and affordable with each passing year.

We are on the brink of a New Utility Revolution, where soon the majority of our energy will come from decentralized, renewable resources like wind and solar power. The change, however, is happening right now.

Not only can solar help homeowners save thousands on their energy bills over their system’s lifetime and break free from the utility company’s chokehold on their budget, but it also helps reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate power outages (with battery storage), and increase their home value.

Solar Provides Greater Control Over Rising Electricity Costs

Historically, electricity becomes more expensive over time. Solar helps counteract this constant increase in price by offsetting a homeowner’s need to pull electricity from the grid and utility company. Over time, Palmetto estimates that most homeowners will save thousands of dollars over the 25-year lifespan of their residential system.

Moreover, many homeowners find themselves eligible to receive solar tax rebates and incentives, and, in some cases, can even earn credit from their utility company for any excess energy they produce.

Solar Typically Adds Value to a Home

Multiple studies ranging from Zillow to PEW Research Center have shown that a solar energy system can provide a significant return on investment, in addition to the monthly savings on electricity bills. If a homeowner thinks they might sell their home before the expected lifetime of their solar system, no problem. Solar-powered homes have been shown to stand out, earn more, and sell faster in the national real estate market.

Solar Lets Homeowners Vote with Their Dollars

Sustainability and the threat of climate change are significant issues that we as a society must eventually face. Solar provides a solution to homeowners looking to make a positive impact on the planet. Solar power is one of the cleanest resources available and decreases the reliance on fossil fuels, which release harmful greenhouse gases.

Solar with Battery Storage Protects from Power Outages

Homeowners can use solar energy and storage solutions to protect their home from unplanned power outages, insulate their finances from unpredictable energy costs, and minimize their reliance on public utilities. A comprehensive solar energy and storage solution allows uninterrupted power even when utilities turn off or the sun goes down.

Know the General Qualifications for a Good Solar Candidate

While we’d love for everyone to benefit from solar power, not everyone can or should invest in solar. For some homeowners, it’s because their roof has too much shade, they don’t meet financial or ownership requirements, or it simply might not be the right time in their life to do so.

Whatever the case, as a solar representative, one of the most important parts of making a solar sale is ensuring that the person you’re speaking to is actually a good candidate for making an investment in solar.

Generally speaking, at Palmetto, we encourage sales partners to verify:

  • Homeownership: Whether they are on the title or deed and whether the home in question is their primary residence.
  • Credit score: Since many customers choose to finance their solar system, credit score is an important indicator of a person’s ability to repay their loan.
  • Roof shade-to-sun ratio: If a customer has towering oaks or mighty poplar trees surrounding their home, they might not be the best candidate for solar.
  • Utility company: We work with a variety of utility companies, so making sure the homeowner gets their energy from one of those companies is an important qualification.

Many other circumstances can impact a person’s candidacy for solar, but these requirements generally give us a good indication of how much they’d benefit from a solar system. These questions save everyone—you, us, and the homeowner—mountains of time and effort and are critical to making sure we’re helping the homeowner make the right choice.

How to Identify a Customer’s Tax Incentive Eligibility

You may also want to see whether a homeowner would be eligible for solar tax incentives, like the Federal Investment Tax Credit—also known as the ITC. This is a national program that helps people pay for their solar panels through credits on their federal tax liability and is one of the biggest financial incentives for homeowners.

There are several eligibility requirements, but the main criteria are that they must owe federal taxes and they must purchase their solar system rather than leasing it. As you can imagine, not everyone is eligible to receive such benefits, so making sure they are aware and it is on them to determine eligibility is critical. You don’t want to overpromise something and not deliver.

To learn more about the nuances of the ITC, visit our blog post on Explaining the Tax Credit to Potential Solar Customers.

How To Use Discovery Questions To Find Key Motivators

An extension of qualification, knowing how to ask the right questions will help both you and the homeowner know whether solar is right for them. Questions like:

  • How much do you know about solar?
  • What concerns do you have about solar?
  • What are your main goals for going solar?
  • Do you typically owe federal income taxes?

Are all critically important for you to know a person’s motivations, while also making sure they are going to get the most out of their investment should they choose to purchase or lease a system.

How to Dissect and Read and Electric Bill

People choose to go solar for many reasons, but the most common of which typically stem from their utility company. Electricity bills provide good insight into how they’re paying for electricity and further prove whether they would be a good fit for solar. More often than not, many people are unsatisfied with their utility company and want a better solution—they just don’t know how to find it.

Key indicators include:

  • Electric charge
  • Base charge
  • Delivery charge
  • Rate increase over time

This information can help you build a case for (or against) a person’s candidacy for solar. If you’re a Palmetto sales partner, you can then use this information found on a customer’s utility bill as part of your sales pitch by inputting it into one of our customized proposals, which considers historical data and predictions to calculate their electricity costs over time—like this one below.

The problem with the status quo: Utility companies have raised electricity rates annually by 3% over the past 10 years. What this means over 25 years: an example monthly bill would go from $149 to $305. The yearly bill would go from $1793 to $3645. A graph shows this same trend of the annual utility bill compounding over 25 years from $1793/year to $3645/year.

Learn more about this topic in our blog post on How to Explain Utility Bills to Solar Customers.

Learn About Your Local Utility Company’s Net Metering Policies

As a solar sales representative, you should be familiar with how solar works in your area, as that’s one of the most common—and important—questions that a homeowner might ask.

Generally speaking, all solar sales professionals should know how the utility grid works and the basics of net metering. Any further information typically varies from state to state, so knowing your state and utility’s specific policies and procedures is handy to have in your back pocket. Learn more about net metering in our blog post on Explaining Net Metering to Solar Customers.

At Palmetto, we have a library of resources at our partners’ disposal so that they can equip themselves with the information they need to answer homeowner questions and close a sale with confidence. Visit our Sales Partner page to learn more about partnering with Palmetto.

Learn How to Explain the Concept of Solar Offset

When it comes to design, no solar system is created equal. Each panel brand has a different efficiency level, and each home has a different energy footprint. One family with a big home might actually need a smaller solar system than a family with a smaller home with relatively moderate energy usage.

It all comes down to solar offset—or the measurement of the yearly difference between the amount of electricity generated by your solar panels, and the amount of electricity your home uses. And it can make or break your sale if you’re not clear in your explanation.

While you might think that a solar power system with a solar power offset of 100% could eliminate a person’s electric bill entirely, you’d be setting the wrong expectation. Because of the way that net metering works in many areas, offset solar of 100% could still mean that you owe the utility for some of the power that you used.

As a result, we sometimes recommend a solar offset that is more than 100% to maximize savings. In some cases, we may recommend a solar offset that is less than 100% because this will allow a homeowner to save more money overall. It all depends on a unique set of factors that you will have to consider and be aware of.

Setting Expectations is Everything

A homeowner may be the perfect candidate for solar, but if they’re not given the right expectations from the getgo, that model customer can quickly become frustrated and cancel their solar panel installation—neither good for you nor them!

To avoid doing your customers a disservice and making sure you’re setting the right expectations upfront, know your company’s general timeline and process for going solar. That way, you can avoid frustrated and confused customers and instead have happy customers that could lead to referrals down the road.

Working with an Established Solar Company Like Palmetto

Historically, the solar process hasn’t always been that easy or affordable. Complex manual processes, dated technology, and disjointed communication have led to significantly long installation timelines, confused homeowners, and costly markups.

Palmetto looks to solve these issues by streamlining the solar process using advanced platform technologies and intelligent use of data. Through our Clean Energy Operation Platform, we connect buyers, sellers, lenders, and installers in a single location and simplify the process. From system design and intelligent targeting to customer support and more, we offer solutions to any business owner looking to expand their clean energy footprint.

Selling solar alone is possible—but extremely difficult to do. In almost all cases, you’ll need help with permitting, design, sourcing, maintenance, support, and financing—to name a few. Whether you choose Palmetto or not, working with a reputable, established solar company is the standard.

Scale Your Solar Business Operations with Palmetto Today

You need the right people in your corner, and Palmetto can help ensure you have everything and everyone you need to promote solar and scale your business. If you’re interested in a potential partnership with Palmetto, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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