By Gregg Hicks, VP, Modernize Home Services
Solar installers are anticipating a surge in demand as a new round of investment tax incentives roll out in the IRA. To get the most out of these new opportunities, your sales and marketing teams must work together as one cohesive unit.
Across the thousands of home improvement companies Modernize works with, we’ve observed the five most common strategies the top performers use to align their sales and marketing teams.
1. Create a uniform definition of leads
Every employee should use the same language to distinguish the phases of the marketing and sales funnels. If you ask marketers about leads, they might point to those generated by ads, organic search, trade shows, and third-party affiliates. But salespeople might not consider these leads until they are sure it is worth pursuing.
Define leads at three or four different levels and ask everyone to use the same language and definitions. Here are examples of common terms both marketing and sales can use:
Inquiry or initial lead (Lead): new solar prospects acquired from any channel or source.
Marketing qualified leads (MQL): inquiries showing at least some level of interest in a solar project.
Sales qualified leads (SQL): have passed through filters such as homeownership, budget, and urgency.
Opportunity: homeowners who have received or will receive a solar proposal.
2. Share goals
Share your business goals and how they relate to each stage of your funnel. Determine the targets your team needs to reach at each stage, in terms of quantity and conversion rates. For example, if you plan to book ten solar installations per month, your goals might cascade through the funnel as follows:
Leads goal: 360 raw leads are needed, assuming 33% are responsive enough for digital marketing qualification.
MQL goal: 120 MQLs are needed, assuming 50% are qualified and accepted by sales.
SQL goal: 60 SQLs are needed, assuming 50% of SQLs receive a proposal.
Opportunities goal: 30 opportunities are needed to yield 10 sales, assuming a 33% close rate.
These are round numbers and generous conversion rates to simplify the examples. The key is for both teams to understand that the result depends on success in each one of the lead stages, in terms of quantity and conversion rates. Watching your funnel allows management to determine where improvements should be made in each phase.
3. Schedule events that build understanding
Schedule face-to-face meetings between the sales and marketing teams to share performance against goals, as outlined above. It’s also a chance for each team to share areas of opportunity and barriers they’re facing. The marketing team should go over sales calls with the sales team as This can enhance their understanding of your target market, customer needs, and common objections. Cross-functional training ensures that each team is educated on the other’s responsibilities and priorities. Sales training should include a module on how marketing works to understand what engagement has taken place before they get involved. The marketing team should be taught how the sales team converts their leads.
4. Create a lead-qualification machine
Many solar companies use a team whose sole responsibility is qualifying leads before they are handed off to sales. It can be a third-party call center or an internal team. This enables the marketing team to focus on maximizing initial lead volume at the top of the funnel. Your sales team will be more focused and effective at closing the qualified leads that are passed to them.
5. Integrate marketing and sales software systems
Marketing uses software to manage the website, social media, digital advertising, and email. The sales team uses theirs for customer relationship management and sales funnel tracking. Integrating the two allows for accurate attribution of closed deals, so you know which sources yield the best performing leads.
Try these five steps to get your sales and marketing machine working, and turn those new investment tax credits into gold for your solar company. If you have comments or questions about these suggestions, feel free to tweet or DM us on Twitter @ModernizePros.
Gregg Hicks is a longtime marketer of home improvement services. He is a business leader for Modernize Home Services and has 20 years of experience in web analytics, SEO, social, SEM and affiliate marketing. His role as a spokesperson is to explain the value of thoughtful matchmaking between homeowners and home improvement professionals that builds positive and productive connections between the parties.