March 22, 2018

solar panel

As the pace of growth in solar energy and related services accelerates, the pressures on distributors to compete are becoming more evident. Those distributors who adapt, evolve and optimize their businesses have significant opportunities to increase their revenues. Here are 5 trends affecting revenue opportunities for solar distributors that I have observed over the past few years:

Trend 1: As solar equipment prices continue to fall, distributors face increasing pressure on margin and competitive differentiation

Opportunity: Distributors need to find creative new ways to add value beyond selling equipment.

Contractors typically have relationships with numerous distributors with little allegiance to one in particular. And is common practice switching distributors based on price, availability, and other factors. To add value beyond equipment sales, distributors might consider empowering contractors. To facilitate the sale and finance those projects directly with an integrated solution. That is, one that brings sales, operations and financing together on a single platform. So by empowering their contractor base, distributors can reduce their customer acquisition costs and increase revenue while strengthening relationships with their contractor base.

Trend 2: Solar contractors and developers increasingly recognize, and are acting to find solutions to lower operational costs.

Opportunity: Distributors can facilitate marketing programs, standardized procurement packages and other innovations to help contractors reach their goals.

Distributors who empower contractors to sell and finance projects in a one stop shop approach can gain immediate insight into their contractor base’s pipeline, and thereby track and plan their equipment sales volume more accurately. This visibility enables distributors to more effectively manage their inventory, reducing costs, and decreasing inventory hold times. Further, with insight into exactly the equipment that will be financed, distributors gain greater revenue predictability and de-risk cash flow management.

Trend 3: Many non-traditional contractors are entering the solar market.

Opportunity: Distributors can leverage relationships with electrical, roofing and other non-traditional contractors to help them enter the solar market successfully.

Turnkey solar sales, operations and financing offerings enable non-traditional contractors. Such as electrical and roofing contractors, to enter the market and start selling solar faster. Distributors who take advantage of this trend and begin building relationships by providing ready-built solutions have the opportunity to drive additional revenue. And they get ahead of the competition with new market participants.

Trend 4: Access to competitive, easy to use financing has become a must for successful contractors and developers.

Opportunity: Distributors can create and provide such programs on a contractor’s behalf.

Traditionally, the entire financing process can take too long. Because contractors have to submit each project in a manual and lengthy process from application to funding. With an integrated solution that bundles sales, operations and financing into one, the entire process can take minutes, rather than days or weeks. With greater access to predictable financing, distributors have greater confidence in procurement pipelines and can manage inventories more effectively.

Trend 5: Multi-technology solutions are emerging, but many risks arise.

Opportunity: Distributors have an opportunity to provide tools to help contractors educate themselves. In order to sell more successfully.

As new technology emerges, contractors require a great deal of specific sales and technical training for each new solution. Distributors that are able to provide easily accessible on-demand training (for example, how to install lighting or battery storage in combination with solar), can ensure projects are successful and revenue from new technologies continues to grow.
In summary, to capitalize on these trends and determine which actions may yield the greatest returns distributors should;
Speak with their contractor base to validate and prioritize areas to drive greater efficiency and value creation.
Explore deeper partnerships with contractors for select sales, operations and finance related innovation.
Test and iterate such innovation in order to ensure long term fit, positive contractor feedback and enhancement to distributor brand & reputation
To learn more about how ENACT systems can help distributors empower their contractor base to sell more, contact us today.