I’m publishing a series of Q&A excerpts from my interviews with Sales 2.0 leaders, which will appear in my next book. This is the first excerpt from my interview with Andrew “Birchy” Birch, CEO of Sungevity, a leading provider of home solar-energy systems.
Sungevity is creating Solar 2.0 through Sales 2.0, and proving it is possible to work for social change and make a profit. Birchy worked with my company, Phone Works, to test and implement a customer-focused inside sales system and successfully introduce the principles of Sales 2.0 to the solar-energy industry.
Anneke: There really wasn’t a Solar 2.0 model before; you guys are breaking new ground with how you’re selling. Phone Works applied what we know works in other industries, and then modified that for Sungevity based on customer feedback, results, metrics and measuring.
Birch: It didn’t exist before we implemented it. Some 99.5% of all solar sold in California and across the states is sold by a very labor intensive, unscalable model. The customer goes to the Yellow Pages, online or however they find those installers; they then have to take valuable time to get someone out on the job a few days or weeks later. That experience is incredibly time-consuming, and it increases sales pressure, which makes the face-to-face sales process really intrusive on your life. You’ve got a guy or gal who’s just driven a truck at great expense, and they know they have to close that sale; they’ll push pretty hard.
The great thing about having much more of a pull strategy on the sales side is customers come to you and call the inside sales consultant to request information at their own pleasure and time frame, seven days a week from 8 am until 7 pm. They can get that service with no pressure, so it suddenly becomes a much nicer experience for the customer.
Anneke: Solar 1.0 reps are trying to force a decision in one in-person call. Because solar is still early-adopter territory for most people, they can’t make a decision that quickly. Your approach is not economics-driven. You can avoid the pressured sales approach that is necessary to cover the cost of the face-to-face sales call. You call that visit a “truck roll,” right? How much does that cost?
Birch: The cost of doing that truck roll generally adds up to about 10% of the end cost of the residential system. By removing that truck roll, you have a real economic advantage, which is basically passed on to the customer in the shape and form of a lower electricity bill with solar energy.
The process has made a meaningful impact on renewable energy, which is kind of unusual. If you think about it, most people wouldn’t imagine Sales 2.0 and Solar 2.0 could affect solar uptake, but it’s a really smart model.
Read the full interview with Andrew “Birchy” Birch in the Resources section of this website.