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CEO’s old-school approach pays off

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Brennan Mulcahy takes an old approach to sell a new product: His sales force goes door-to-door to sign up customers.  

Mulcahy’s company, American Solar Direct, provides solar panels to homeowners. He launched the Los Angeles-based firm in 2009.

To sell solar panel installations to California homeowners, Mulcahy adopted a counterintuitive strategy. Rather than rely on advertising, telemarketing or social media, he opted for door-to-door sales.

Mulcahy figured that in order to convince people to pay $30,000 for solar panels, his team would need to appeal to them face-to-face. So he hired educated staffers who care about the environment and paid them a sales commission.

Before he lets them knock on doors, he puts the sales force through one month of classroom training. Then they team up with seasoned salespeople to watch and learn.

Mulcahy coaches the salespeople to show how solar panels can reduce customers’ monthly power bills. He also directs them to knock on doors of homes located near the company’s three equipment distribution centers, which lowers the firm’s installation costs.

Even though the fast-growing company generated $52.1 million in sales in 2013, American Solar Direct continues to use door-to-door outreach.

Mulcahy trains the salespeople to double as educators. They skip pushy tactics in favor of asking homeowners for permission to conduct an assessment to determine the potential cost savings of solar panels.

After they gather data and inspect the roof, they itemize how much money the customer can save. As a result, they close roughly half of their presentations by letting people conclude for themselves to go solar.

— Adapted from “Using Old-School Tactics to Sell New Solar Tech,” Jennifer Alsever, www.inc.com.

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