Part One of Two

You’re a solar developer home from the second meeting with the prospect (and soon-to-be client, you hope), and you’re feeling pretty jazzed. He looked at solar a couple of years ago, so that long sweep of a learning curve has been shortened to a quick chicane thanks to the efforts of the solar contractor who met with him previously.

“Great!” you think to yourself. “Someone else spent 20 hours and two appointments giving the free solar 101 education sessions. This could be a slam dunk, or as close as they come in the solar world.”

Fred in facilities tells you he sent the previous proposal upstairs with his blessing and offered it to the management team to review.

“The last time I looked at a solar sales proposal, it made perfect sense to me,” Fred tells you on the phone the next day. “They typically let me do the early evaluation of products like this, and if you can convince me, I can usually get it pushed through. With the drop in module prices since the last guy was here, this proposal looks even better than before.”

He stares out the window for a moment and thinks out loud, “I’m not sure why we didn’t move forward on this solar project before…”

In your head, you tick off the reasons why the other guy’s proposal could have withered on the vine, while yours will sail through the approval process: your price is almost 20% less than the last one; modules are more efficient now, so you’re delivering the magic 90% of energy use within their allocated roof space; or maybe you got the appointment because you and their VP have kids in the same T-ball league, the old “I know the decision maker—I’ve got an inside track” game.

But as with many solar sales deals, the devil, as they say, is in the details, and the real reason this deal never got a green light before is that the prospect could never finance a project of this size.

So just like the last EPC who pitched the money-saving benefits of solar, you never bothered to mention that you would be asking for three years of financials and the standard credit worthiness documents. Instead, you’re living off false hopes that somehow, the most important piece of the project—the money and credit to truly seal the deal—will magically make themselves available.

It’s no surprise, then, that a week later you’re staring at the paperwork that will never be signed, wondering if there might have been a way to avoid all of this. In many cases you already knew the answer: understanding your client’s financial scenario before you commit the significant amount of time and effort needed to put together a quality proposal.

Next time, we’ll talk about easy ways for solar developers to ask the right questions regarding a client’s finances early in the relationship. Learn these these query techniques and not only will you be more successful, your client’s will be better served. #solarfinance #solarpv #NABCEP #solarsales

Mike Drei is Director of Marketing for Sunvestment Group. He can be reached at