Common misconceptions customers have about partnering with a solar distributor are listed here.
It’s cheaper to buy directly from the manufacturer.
• Installers might imagine they are cutting out a huge margin that distributors are taking in, but distribution is generally a high-volume, low-margin business.
• Generally, when manufacturers sell a product direct, it is because they have insufficient distribution or are hoping to capture the distributor’s margin (without providing the distributor’s services) — not because they want to sell the product for less.
• Distributors are easy, profitable customers for manufacturers. They buy in bulk, pay promptly and almost never contact the manufacturer except to place orders. Distributors place almost no burden on what are generally thin manufacturer service and sales organizations.
Sales are easier when buying direct.
• Distributors give installers the ability to one-stop shop, rather than buying components for a project from several different manufacturers.
• As a result of volume purchases and core focus on service and support, distributors almost always provide installers and developers with a lower cost of product as well as a lower cost of procurement.
• The ability to source all of your products for a project and coordinate delivery, support and financing solutions with one company provides a huge time and cost savings for installers and developers.
It’s better or easier to get support directly from the manufacturer.
• Manufacturers aren’t usually prepared to service and support the daily needs of installers.
• The challenge of a successful direct sales approach for manufacturers is that it requires them to build a service organization that mirrors that of distributors.
• If manufacturers do build a service organization that can truly support the installer, they take on the costs of the distributor and negate any potential cost advantage.
Training comes with the product.
• Since providing services (like training) is not a core function for manufacturers, installers can typically expect to receive only a product manual from the company.
• Distributors, with their core emphasis on service and sales, will often offer classes on the product, as well as create online videos that installers can access in the field. They have a lower service cost to manufacturers because of their low support needs, and they provide value in their ability to reach a broad audience of customers.