Six Ways to Keep Stakeholders Interested (and Close the Deal)
Commercial solar lead generation has come a long way from when salespeople found prospects by driving around looking for big rooftops. (True story!)
But one thing hasn’t changed: the frustratingly long sales cycle of commercial solar.
Many companies want to transition to renewable energy. They really do. But the problem is, the people in charge of the decision have day jobs. And if their job description doesn’t say something like “make the switch to solar and be a hero,” it’s not long before prospects lose their enthusiasm.
So how can you keep your prospects engaged and eager for solar throughout the sales process?
When it comes to content marketing for renewable energy, there are three basic objectives:
- Tap into each stakeholder’s pain points.
- Educate prospects on how going solar with your company will address those issues.
- Keep prospects moving along until close.
Simple enough, right? But as a marketing director, you know these simple objectives can get tricky with a complex, multi-stakeholder process like commercial solar.
To help demystify the process of taking commercial solar leads all the way from that excited first point of contact through to final commissioning, we’re sharing six can’t-miss tips from our own commercial solar marketing experience:
1. Identify the Right Commercial Solar Stakeholders
Every commercial solar sale involves multiple stakeholders. Find out who they are. Possible suspects for smaller companies are the owner(s) of the building and its tenants. For larger companies key influencers include the facilities manager, energy director, chief sustainability officer, or even the company’s board of directors. Talk with your sales team to hone in on who to contact, which in turn helps you know how to find their motivations for considering solar.
2. Find Each Stakeholder’s Hot Buttons
For each of your stakeholders, there’s something about their current situation that they’re not satisfied with, and that they think solar might solve. As in Step 1, prioritize meeting with your sales team to find out more about the prospects’ industries, and their own particular challenges and pain points. Then do your own homework on the industry to validate and expand on the sales team’s impressions.
This step is essential because pain points vary by type of prospect. For example, for the CFO, financial drivers come first, while the sustainability director is likely more interested in raising the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance score (but also understands the importance of financial savings). Whatever their motivations, find out and you’ll know which messages will resonate with them.
3. Map Each Commercial Solar Stakeholder’s Customer Journey
While the customer journey is common knowledge among marketers, it’s important to remember that not all stakeholders in a particular customer account will be on the same map. The facilities manager, the owner of the building, the sustainability leader, and the tenants all will have different motivations, questions, and hurdles to ascend in the decision-making process.
That’s why it’s important to map each stakeholder’s journey from initial awareness to purchase and ultimately, advocacy. Once you understand the pain points and questions of each stakeholder along the way, you’ll be able to identify content needs for every step that encourages each individual further down the journey.
4. Press their Hot Buttons with Informative — and Entertaining — Content
With individualized maps of each stakeholder’s customer journey and motivations, you have the blueprint to keep your stakeholders’ interest during the complex sales cycle. Now it’s time to bring your campaign to life with effective content.
So what does effective content do?
In the beginning stages of awareness and discovery, the very idea of putting solar on a facility roof can seem overwhelming to your prospects. So for this stage, eduational content that clearly lays out the process will bring them much-needed clarity and confidence.
For examples of educational commercial solar content, look through our client SunPower’s blog. Beginner-friendly posts such as Top 5 FAQs Businesses Want to Know About Solar and 7 Questions Solar Companies Ask Businesses help prepare stakeholders for the process of going solar, but more importantly, they help them feel prepared. And that confidence can turn a prospect into a customer.
Guide Each Stage
Once your stakeholders have the basics of commercial solar down, don’t stop educating them – you want to remain their trusted source of all things solar. As they identify vendors, approaches, and financing, they’ll want to know how to evaluate these options. And you’ll be ready, with content that speaks to their needs every step of the way. Financing one-pagers, product explainer videos, and customer testimonials all help move prospects along their own customer journey.
Mix It Up!
We humans love variety, and the recent explosion of content marketing types proves it. Rather than get bogged down using one type of content, keep your prospects’ interest with a plethora of content (always tracked for effectiveness):
- Blog posts
- Interactive quizzes
- White Papers
- And, most of all, customer success stories (more on this in the next tip)
5. Engage Your Customers In Your Content
Let’s say you’ve got a plumbing problem at your house. Which would make a bigger impression on you as you decide who to call: a plumber telling you he’s great, or a good friend’s story about the plumber who fixed a major leak at a reasonable price?
Most people will listen to a friend over a stranger any day. That’s why social proof is so important. In the B2B world, social proof comes via proxy — a trusted advisor, colleague or even a competitor who talks about their experience. This is why the case study is one of the most effective types of B2B marketing content there is. If your prospect sees other customers (particularly in their own industry) praising your professionalism, integrity, and high-quality work, they’ll know your marketing claims have truth to them.
When done right, success stories help to illustrate, in detail, what going solar entails, and more importantly, what it’s like with your company. So it’s important to generate as many success stories as you can from a wide variety of customers from different industries, as well as nonprofits, government institutions, schools, and more.
This extensive library of case studies and success stories will be invaluable to your marketing. They build organic SEO, and can be used at strategic points in the sales cycle to push a prospect to the next step — and even help close a deal.
6. Give Your Salespeople the Keys to the Kingdom
So now that you’ve started developing your content marketing assets, it’s time to do something radical: Let your salespeople take the wheel.
Any good salesperson with a penchant for account-based solar marketing will know the right moment to send each individual the right content that addresses the right questions at the right time. Your role as the marketing director is to be the content expert and strategist. With so many touch points along the customer journey, your content will be invaluable in helping the sales team educate, inform and win the customer over in the end.
From Awareness to Final Approval
Armed with these six strategies, you and your sales team will have a plan to target the right people, at the right time, with the right message. Instead of getting bored or frustrated, your prospects will feel educated and become confident advocates for going solar with your company.
Not sure where to begin? For a complete assessment of your lead nurturing and content marketing process, Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.
P.S. You can also Check out our Case Studies page for a fast, easy way to create customer success stories and case studies. CPMG helps companies across the U.S. incorporate satisfied customers into their B2B marketing efforts to engage more prospects and win more business.