Companies in the solar industry face a unique combination of challenges, with all the complexities of a cutting-edge technology provider, a large-scale manufacturing firm, and a sophisticated construction company. Every solar project is unique, and no matter what facet of solar power you’re focused on — from sales and installation to service and maintenance — growing your business requires data-powered insights, streamlined processes, and seamless collaboration across your entire team.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help to solve many of the biggest challenges facing solar companies today. In this blog post, we’ll explore how a CRM can improve your solar business and why Insightly is the best CRM for solar firms.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Why your solar business needs a CRM
  • How CRM fits into the solar tech stack
  • CRM options to support solar companies
  • Key functionality to look for in a CRM for solar
  • Why Insightly is the best CRM for the solar industry

Why your solar business needs a CRM

The solar industry is about more than just making a sale and installing some equipment. Depending on your business model, it may also involve site assessments, power projections, system design and engineering, financing, permitting and approvals, material sourcing, component fabrication, and construction — not to mention years of ongoing service. The most successful solar companies also deliver an excellent customer experience, from the first sales outreach to the final service call.

But all of that is hard to do if your internal teams use different software tools and your data is spread across multiple platforms. And it’s almost impossible if your business operations still rely on manual processes, paper forms, file folders, and spreadsheets.

A CRM keeps your marketing, sales, project management, and customer services teams perfectly aligned and enables effortless collaboration. It can streamline processes and automate complex workflows, so you can minimize project timelines and ensure smooth hand-offs between departments as the project progresses. By bringing all your data into a single, centralized location, your teams will be better equipped to convert leads into sales, manage projects from start to finish, and develop lasting relationships with your customers.

How CRM fits into the solar tech stack

There’s no shortage of technology available to support solar businesses. Many popular software packages — including Solargraf, Aurora, and OpenSolar — include specialized functionality to help design solar systems, generate solar project quotes, and build business proposals. As a result, most large solar companies have adopted one or more of these platforms to support day-to-day operations.

A CRM is not a replacement for solar software, but instead offers its own complementary capabilities. Rather than focusing on industry-specific needs, a CRM is built to manage your critical customer data, enable better customer relationships, and streamline business processes from start to finish. And it can be customized to accommodate a wide range of business models and unique operational needs.

In order to be truly valuable for solar companies, a CRM must work together with common solar solutions and connect seamlessly with the company’s existing technology stack. It should enhance the solar software, rather than competing with it.

CRM options to support solar companies

CHecklist of solar CRMs

Solar companies have many options for CRM technology, but every CRM system is different. Some applications are expressly designed for and marketed to the solar industry, while others are flexible enough to support any type of business. Some attempt to provide an all-in-one solution to solve all your software needs, while others are built to integrate with the tools you already use every day.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sunbase CRM is a comprehensive software package built specifically for the solar industry. This all-in-one tool includes not only CRM functionality, but also HR, finance, asset management, and more. While this might seem appealing as a one-stop solution, it also means you’re locked into a single closed system for all your software needs. If any part of the platform fails to perform as expected, it may be difficult to find an add-on solution that integrates smoothly.
  • HubSpot CRM claims that its CRM platform provides all the tools you need for marketing, sales, customer service, and content management. Because it’s also a closed system, HubSpot is most effective when your organization uses the entire platform. Once you outgrow one part of the solution, it becomes challenging to get full value from your investment.
  • Zoho CRM promotes its CRM system as a refreshingly simple solution with no hidden costs. However, it offers limited customization options and third-party integrations can be difficult. In addition, the Zoho suite is not built on a unified data platform — which means that individual apps within the product may not work together seamlessly.
  • Insightly CRM. Insightly offers a modern, flexible CRM that’s simple to set up and built to scale with you as your business grows. Insightly’s unified data platform aligns your marketing, sales, project management, and service teams to deliver an outstanding customer experience. Insightly’s built-in project management capabilities are crucial for solar projects with many moving parts. And with AppConnect, it’s easy to connect your CRM with other important business tools.

Key functionality to look for in a CRM for solar

Before selecting a CRM solution for your solar company, it’s important to determine which features and functionality will be most useful to your business. The right tool can drive greater operational efficiency and improve business outcomes, while the wrong choice will become just another underutilized piece of software.

Following are some key capabilities to look for in a solar CRM:

Customized communication. Delivering an excellent experience requires understanding your customers on an individual level. The best solar CRM should include sophisticated segmentation functionality to help you organize your contact list by industry, demographics, location, interests, and more. From there, it’s easy to personalize each customer interaction to create a more relevant, meaningful experience — and build lasting relationships that benefit both your customers and your bottom line.

Pipeline management and revenue projections. Solar companies have to manage long and complex sales cycles, which can make it difficult to forecast future sales. But your sales and marketing teams need reliable revenue projections in order to plan effectively — and your executive team relies on revenue data to assess the health of the business. A solar CRM should give you the ability to visualize your entire pipeline with granular details and projected values for every open opportunity, so you can generate accurate revenue projections for the coming month, quarter, or fiscal year.

Workflows, process automation, and project management. Solar projects are complex, with numerous stages, unique processes, and many teams involved at any given time. The best solar CRM software allows teams to follow every project from initial lead scoring through the sale, installation, and long-term servicing. It should include workflow and process automation capabilities to eliminate repetitive manual tasks and reduce the risk of human error. Project management functionality is also critical to minimize the confusion and risk that can occur when data is passed between multiple systems.

Seamless integrations. A CRM sits at the core of your business operations, so it needs to be compatible with the other software tools you use every day. After all, adding a CRM to your solar business is intended to boost efficiency — not create additional headaches. The best CRM for your solar company will integrate easily with common business applications and specialized software solutions.

Deep performance insights. CRM software should make it easy to understand how your business is performing, with real-time insights, robust data visualization, and customizable reporting. It should put business-critical data at your fingertips to power smarter, more strategic decision making.

Why Insightly is the best CRM for the solar industry

Insightly is the CRM of choice for more than 100 solar companies worldwide, covering the entire spectrum of solar manufacturing, installation, sales, and servicing. Here are just a few of the many reasons why solar businesses choose Insightly:

  • Insightly offers powerful, flexible functionality that can be easily customized to meet your unique business needs.
  • Insightly’s workflow and process automation capabilities let you streamline repetitive tasks and reduce manual effort so your team can focus on what matters most.
  • Insightly comes equipped with sophisticated segmentation features to help you create refined audience segments for more personal customer interactions.
  • Insightly’s built-in project management capabilities let you create projects directly from closed-won deals, creating a holistic view of the end-to-end customer journey.
  • Insightly gives you powerful analytics tools, including customizable reports and dashboards to enable smart, data-driven decisions.
  • Insightly AppConnect lets you build seamless integrations with hundreds of today’s most important business applications — without help from your IT team.

Insightly is built to handle the complexities of the solar business — and it’s designed to grow along with your company. Start with Insightly CRM and leverage the power of Insightly AppConnect to integrate with the tools you use every day. As your business expands, you can add Insightly Marketing for lead generation and management, or Insightly Service to help with customer support and ticketing.  

Ready to see what Insightly can do for your solar business? Watch this testimonial video and read the customer story to learn how Insightly CRM and AppConnect helped Better Earth Solar minimize timelines, improve the customer experience, and triple their revenue — all in just a few months.

Want to see Insightly CRM in action? Check out this CRM for Solar Companies demo video, then request a personalized demo Insightly CRM today!

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