What To Include In A Solar Panel Proposal
Knowing how to write a successful solar panel proposal isn’t just a competitive advantage. It can make or break your PV installation business. However, too many installers get this critical step wrong, either erring on the side of providing:
too much detail in their proposals. This conversion-halting decision can overload customers with unnecessary information and lose the sale; or
insufficient detail, leaving customers with more questions than answers. And that’s the last thing you want when trying to seal the deal.
Worse still, the solar proposal writing process can consume valuable time – especially if you have to design new submissions from scratch for each potential prospect.
This article explains how to streamline the process so that your own solar proposals are easier to write, stand out from the crowd, and help you close more clients.
8 Components Of A Successful Solar Proposal Template
Whether you primarily serve residential solar customers or commercial ones, below are the eight most important components of a winning proposal. Note, however, that commercial solar projects often feature more complexity for any number of reasons, including:
Larger system sizes with more technical challenges
More stringent permitting and zoning requirements
More decision-makers, making the “conversion” process longer
In most other aspects, however, writing proposals for commercial and residential solar customers is very similar.
1. Solar installation pricing
For the average customer, solar panel installation cost is often the most important criterion. And while it may be tempting to hide pricing information, don’t bother. Instead, frame any upfront or ongoing costs as investments that deliver the very tangible benefits outlined in the next section.
2. Return on investment
Although most customers focus on pricing, the long-term ROI of their solar investments should take priority. And it’s worth outlining this section in detail. In addition to explaining the customer’s return on investment (as a percentage figure), it’s important you also include details like:
Estimated savings in Month 1
Estimated savings in Year 1
Estimated payback period (breakeven point)
Estimate lifetime savings
Estimated property value increases
Projected carbon offsets (monthly, annual and lifetime)
Another way to shift attention from solar pricing involves positioning the customer’s investment as an affordable one. See the next two sections for tips on how to do that.
3. Solar financing
Because there are many different ways to pay for a new solar panel installation, you should outline the relative pros and cons of whatever financing options you offer. For example, loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs) typically cost $0 upfront, with future utility bill savings being used to service the solar financing agreement.
If you offer multiple financing options, be prepared to include different breakdowns of the customer’s ROI. It’s also a good idea to list the names and credentials of any lenders or financing partners with whom you work.
4. Solar incentives
Depending on how customers pay for their solar PV systems, they may qualify for any number of green incentives, including tax credits, rebates, and net metering. These subsidies can help reduce the upfront and long-term cost of going solar. If you have the bandwidth to guide customers through the application process for these programs, now is a good time to let them know. Otherwise, consider outlining the application steps to help minimize unnecessary guesswork for your prospects.
5. Installation overview and timeline
In this section, you should map out the actual solar panel installation process, including permits, financing, incentives, labor, testing, and the general timeline involved. Given how competitive the industry is, there is a lot of pressure to overpromise with unreasonable deadlines. But transparency and honesty are important. Developing trust in your brand can generate positive word-of-mouth marketing to help grow your business.
6. Hardware and specs
This section should include the different solar components that go into the customer’s PV system, including panels, inverters and batteries (if applicable). Some customers will likely gloss over these technical details, but others will carefully analyze your solar project proposal and do their own outside research. Be prepared to justify your reasons for selecting Panel X over Module Y.
7. Warranties and guarantees
Nearly all PV panels sold in the U.S. come with 20 – 25 years of protection. Inverters and batteries typically come with warranty coverage ranging from 5 – 15 years. And this is the section where you want to highlight the manufacturers’ warranties for whatever products you carry.
In addition, a growing number of installers now offer performance or production guarantees. If you do too, add those details here – including the full scope of responsibilities, maintenance and repairs should a customer face a problem.
This section is also the ideal place in which to address common myths and misconceptions surrounding PV technology. People want to feel good about their decision to go solar. And this is where you provide them with the confidence they need to move forward.
8. Credentials and licensing
Solar is a largely unregulated market, with new installers cropping up all the time. This is why you should differentiate yourself by including things like:
The credentials of every installer, contractor, and electrician on the team
NABCEP certifications or other types of industry-specific training
The number of installs you’ve performed and/or how long you’ve been in business
It also helps to sprinkle Yelp! reviews and customer testimonials throughout your solar panel proposal.
Do’s And Don’ts For Solar Project Proposals
Now that you understand the broad strokes of creating a solar proposal, here are some important best practices.
1. Aim for transparency
Make your solar project proposals as easy to read as possible, with clear organization and formatting. Hiding information from prospects will only frustrate users and make you seem less trustworthy.
2. Include a call to action
Most potential solar customers receive multiple proposals. Providing clear next steps is an effective way to remove indecision. This is why you should always include a call to action with every submission. Even better – add a reminder to follow up with each customer a set number of days after they’ve received your solar panel proposal.
3. Highlight customization
Include different design and financing options so that customers can choose the optimal configuration for their needs. But don’t overdo this step. People like options. However, too many choices can lead to decision paralysis.
4. Avoid being too technical
It’s easy to include too much technical jargon – especially if you’re someone who works with PV technology all day. But your solar project proposals should be written so that anyone can understand them. For example, use words like “savings” instead of “utility bill offsets.”
5. Avoid reinventing the wheel
Many installers start from scratch each time they need to write another sales pitch. But working from a proven solar proposal template not only saves you time, it can also help you churn out higher quality submissions that convert better.
This last point is so important that you may want to consider using solar proposal software to help automate the process.
The Benefits Of Solar Proposal Software
There now exist a range of software platforms that can simplify the solar proposal writing process considerably. Many also come with built-in customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities that integrate with some of the more popular CRM tools you may already be using. This integration can help streamline outreach, on-boarding, and follow-up – allowing you to convert more leads with fewer resources.
If you’ve never used solar proposal software before, below are three options worth exploring.
GreenLancer is not technically a solar proposal software, but a marketplace with a number of options to fulfill solar proposal needs (plus permit design and engineering). It stands apart due to its easy interface, which includes drag-and-drop capabilities for assets like schematics and photos. The setup process is intuitive, allowing installers to get up and running very quickly. And GreenLancer also comes with location-specific design templates that factor in things like solar radiation, local permitting regulations, and weather conditions.
Solargraf bills itself as an all-in-one solar project proposal software suite that integrates with some of the most popular installation platforms in the industry. For example, Solargraf can automatically import permitting information from partner platform GreenLancer with a click of the mouse.
In addition to expansive project management capabilities, Solargraf also supports team collaboration, with easy sharing options. Best of all, the tool allows you to create beautiful proposals that will wow your customers.
3. Aurora Solar
Aurora Solar is unique due to its reliance on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Using a mix of satellite imagery, weather information and utility spending, the platform allows you to create 3-D renderings of PV projects without committing boots on the ground. This explains why the company’s tagline is “Create a complete engineering design and sales proposal with just an address and an electric bill.”
Let Us Help You Create Your Next Solar Project Proposal
For many installers, solar proposal writing is often the least fun aspect of the entire job. But having a proposal template and checklist to work from can speed up the process dramatically. And using software to do more of the heavy lifting can actually make the process enjoyable – often with a much higher conversion rate.
To learn how GreenLancer’s solar proposal services can help your own sales pitches stand out, fill out the contact form below to speak with one of our energy experts today.