The solar industry term ‘customer acquisition’ is a euphemism for ‘convincing people to spend money.’

The top solar installers have tens of thousands of potential customers who have expressed interest in solar. But turning those leads into purchases can be tough.

As GTM solar analyst Nicole Litvak pointed out in her recent report on customer acquisition, it can cost solar companies $0.49 a watt to close a residential sale. That adds up to $3,000 for a 6-kilowatt home system — 10 percent of the total cost.

Reducing those costs means crafting better management software and more attractive financing options, as well as finding new retail outlets via which to reach consumers. But getting customers to actually sign a contract requires traditional sales tactics like door-to-door visits, phone calls and advertising.

It’s not like solar executives are acting like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, but these tactics inevitably make some people feel uneasy.

Anecdotally, I’ve talked with a handful of people over the years who say they felt overly pressured by salespeople in the solar industry. I’ve heard far more positive reviews about the installation process than negative; however, it’s clear that hard sales tactics are the uncomfortable reality of ‘customer acquisition.’

But don’t take […]

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