How to catch fraudulent solar lead generation companies



The following is an op-ed from SolarReviews' Founder and President, Andrew Sendy

My introduction to solar lead buying was in 2009, buying leads from a company called SolarQuotes in Australia. I grew a large and profitable solar installation business by buying leads from this company because they were an honest lead vendor. My installation company based in Australia, Solar Wholesalers, is now the largest installer in the area and, to this day, still buys leads from SolarQuotes. 

When I came to America to start SolarReviews, I was shocked at the dodgy practices employed by the lead generation industry here. Lead fraud was rife, and unfortunately, this caused solar companies to incorrectly conclude that buying solar leads and appointments is not profitable.

SolarReviews is both the largest supplier of leads and appointments to the residential solar industry and also the highest quality. On average our customers generate $6-$8 of gross margin for every dollar they spend with us on either leads or appointments.

Solar lead buying can be expensive and competitive even at the best of times, but if you’re dealing with a dishonest lead vendor, you’ve failed before you’ve even begun.

At every solar conference I attend, at least three or four people from companies I have never heard of approach me, claiming to generate 1,000 solar leads a day and offering to sell me these genuine web leads for $25 each. 

I know they’re lying, but I’ve always been one for a bit of fun. So, I ask them how they do it.  Invariably, they say through their website.

“What website is that?” I ask. At this point, you’ll see a little fear in their eyes, but salespeople are not prone to give the game away easily. 

After receiving the name of their site, I enter their web address into a keyword tool like Semrush or Similarweb, which offers accurate estimates of website traffic. Of course, their website has little to no traffic. At this point, it clicks for them that I knew they were lying all along; their faces go white, and they usually walk off.

I don’t do this to humiliate someone but rather to discourage them from spinning the same line on unsuspecting small business owners.

We haven’t been immune to companies attempting to sell us fraudulent leads. Here’s a cautionary tale on why you should always verify your leads:

We had a telemarketing company come to us and offer to sell us leads, only to find that 100% of the leads they sold were fraudulent.

After receiving said leads, our QA team called the phone numbers to verify the consumer’s interest. We noticed the responses we received were strangely similar. We began asking the so-called homeowners questions that only a genuine person would know, such as their fence color or what school zone they were in. We quickly realized the people on the phone had no idea. In this case, the telemarketing company employees were pretending to be consumers, using VOIP numbers and random addresses to generate fake leads. 

The bottom line? It pays to have an exceptional QA team determine if the leads you’re purchasing are real. 

 - Author of Solar Reviews

Andrew Sendy

Solar Industry Expert

Andy is arguably the most qualified rooftop solar expert in America. He is in a unique position, having founded a large solar company but now being independent of any particular company. He has appeared on CNBC, has been referenced in public hearings concerning the rooftop solar industry ( such as the recent CPUC NEM 3 decision) and has been referenced by many major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and many others.

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