They say nothing in life is free, but when it comes to software for your solar business, we’ve gotta disagree. No matter what stage your business is in, the number one tool or “hack” that is going to save you tons of time and money is CRM software to make you more efficient.
In fact, a recent study from Nucleus Research shows that for companies that use a CRM, the average return on their technology investment is $8.71 for each dollar spent.
Not yet using a CRM? That kind of return on investment is like printing money for your business.
This how-to guide will dive deep on the automation essentials for solar business, how the right solar software will pay for itself, and what the ideal features you need in your next CRM.
CRM Automation is Your Solar Business’s Secret Weapon
Whether it’s streamlining your process workflow, integrating all the tools you use into one central place, automating customer follow-up and marketing, or anything in between, the benefits of automation software for solar business owners are simply staggering.
Consider a recent study by Instapage around the various benefits of automating different areas of your business with software:
Automation is proven to boost sales productivity by 14.5% and reduce marketing overheads by 12.2%
CRMs can lead to a 30% increase in deal closures, an 18% reduction in sales cycle, and a 14% reduction in sales administration time
90% higher customer retention rates can come from marketing automation
80% of marketing automation users see increased leads, and 77% see increased conversions
60% of users say marketing automation has increased the quantity and quality of the leads that get passed to sales
40% of productivity is lost to multitasking and task-switching
Lost productivity and poorly managed leads cost companies over $1 trillion annually, some of which could be saved with automation software
Automated emails have a 70.5% higher open rate and 152% higher click-through rate than generic email newsletter
Businesses using marketing automation software are 2x more effective in lead generation than those using only blast email software
Automating lead nurturing with well-timed emails and offers has been proven to generate a 10% or greater increase in revenue
How a CRM Will Transform Your Solar Business
We’ve already established that smart business owners and teams know that to stay competitive you’ve got to keep up with the latest trends and technology. We’ve evaluated dozens of solar software tools on the market and collected the top 5 reasons why you need to be using a CRM right now to transform your business into a money making machine:
1 – Save hours on administrative work every day.
Business owners are responsible for a variety of paperwork, tasks, and client interactions at any given moment. These procedures are often both complex and dynamic. A paper and pencil system no longer makes sense.
Not only does it make sense to adopt a modern, upgraded business management system – it’s what your customers have come to expect. Use a CRM to automate your daily to-do list and spend more time helping your clients.
2 – Strengthen relationships with prospects and customers.
Relationship building used to require a lot of time and energy. Thanks to marketing automation software included in CRMs like Shape, creating or improving relationships can be automated, authentic, and successful. Send perfectly-timed emails, helpful project status updates, and follow-ups to you need to get the job installed and completed on time.
3 – Automate follow ups.
Fact: Following up with prospects helps you win more business. About 80% of sales require five follow up touch points. For busy solar professionals, following up with every lead that many times isn’t sustainable.
At least not without the right software. A proper solar software system can send perfectly timed follow-ups at any stage of the sales lifecycle. Customizable templates and automated email delivery triggers make those five follow ups a snap.
4 – Improve your intake process.
The hope most people have when they first adopt solar business software is that the program will cut down the time they spend on everyday tasks. The intake and evaluation process can be time consuming when done manually. But it’s one of your most powerful customer service tools. Automate the process with e-Signature capabilities, reminders, and status updates sent for you.
Solar businesses who automate parts of their onboarding see turnaround times shrink from weeks to hours.
5 – Score your leads by quality.
What if you could have a system that seamlessly reviewed every new inquiry, assess their needs, and generate a score based on their interest and urgency?
The right CRM will automatically score your leads based on essential data points from your company as well as any specific parameters you can set and manage at any time. Once your leads are scored you can concentrate your efforts on reaching out to those with the highest ROIs first or even automatically assign them to marketing campaigns.
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Our solar software specialists can help you make sense of all the CRMs out there.
The Top Solar CRM Features You Need (and how they help you)
Everyone wants the biggest, baddest, most robust software that money can buy. But when considering a solar CRM, it’s most important to understand how essential certain software features are to your daily business.
Do you get a lot of inbound leads and have trouble keeping up with inquiries? Do you use other software tools that you need to integrate with? Are you wanting to score and assign your leads to your team quickly and automatically?
Depending on how you answer, you can start to get a fuller picture of your needs and which software systems will be the best bang for your buck. We’ve reviewed dozens of solar CRMs on the market and spoken to top firms about the most essential features you need on a day-to-day basis.
Solar CRM Feature: Lead intake and follow ups
Why you want it: Lead intake allows you to properly collect, store, and act on leads in your database without losing track of important details you need for installation. The right intake tool will automatically follow up with new leads, create custom triggers, and send online proposals that include Shape’s built-in eSignature.
Solar CRM Feature: Marketing automation
Why you want it: Whether you are managing inbound or paid leads, you want a CRM that has tons of tools to help you close more deals. You should have the ability to build and send automated drip campaigns, newsletters, SMS, and more to engage with your prospects at the right time.
Solar CRM Feature: Lead management
Why you want it: There is no worse feeling than realizing you left new leads unworked and discover they went to a competitor. With lead management tools you don’t need to worry that an influx of new leads will drag your team down. Look for a system that can auto-assign leads based on your parameters so that even when you’re on-site or with a customer, you don’t need to worry about the future of your business.
Solar CRM Feature: Calendar integration
Why you want it: Double bookings and missed appointments can destroy your business’s credibility and lead to awful online reviews. Instead, opt for a system that offers calendar integration with seamless appointment scheduling so you can view and manage site surveys or client meetings in just a click of a button.
Solar CRM Feature: Google Maps Integration
Why you want it: Some solar businesses really don’t understand the power of integrations. With a seamless Google Maps integration in your CRM you can view properties in real time, search for a location, zoom in, and see the roof from an aerial view to ensure optimal placement – all from the comfort of your office.
Solar CRM Feature: Site Surveys
Why you want it: This is a CRM must have for solar businesses. Site surveys will allow you to ensure every property has been properly inspected to prevent any pitfalls. Opt for a system with a responsive mobile application so that even out in the field you’ll have client data and can report back to your CRM at any time.
Solar CRM Feature: Construction Tracking
Why you want it: Doing construction in-house? You need to have this feature to track the progress of the job site from design to installation. Referring the project out? You’ll also need a way to track your referrals and commissions.
Solar CRM Feature: Reporting
Why you want it: We’ve known way too many solar business owners who do zero to analyze where their prospects come from, how much their marketing ROI is, how well their team converts, and so on. Not having data is a huge liability to your business. Your CRM must 100% include reporting and analytics tools to help you make more informed business decisions.
Solar CRM Feature: Email Automation
Why you want it: Still manually sending every email? Get out of the 1990’s and join the wave of solar business owners saving tons of time using email automation. Send perfectly timed follow ups, build nurturing drip campaigns, automate status updates, and more. Email automation does more than just free up valuable time – it keeps your process consistent!
Solar CRM Feature: Advanced Security
Why you want it: With the latest legislation on consumer privacy making the rounds, it’s absolutely critical your team is abiding by data best practices and security measures. Choose a CRM that has cutting-edge encryption, data storage policies, and customer privacy.
Solar CRM Feature: Price
Why you want it: We saved the best and most important for last – price is always big when it comes to choosing a software tool you may be using for years and years to come. We highly recommend avoiding CRMs that offer gated services for a price or enforce long-term contracts. You want a tool that will grow with you, not hold you back, and often locking in a year-long commitment can be detrimental to a team.
Ready to take it to the next level?
Is your solar business weighing a new CRM? We’ve got all the answers to your burning questions.