Have you ever expressed interest in a product online but were never contacted by the company?
I recently visited a website seeking a specialty product for recreational vehicles. (Since I travel a good deal by RV and am always looking for products that will make traveling easier or better in some way.) The website was very user-friendly, and I easily requested more information. I received an email indicating that all their products were sold through dealers, and a dealer in my area (without the name provided) would contact me soon.
Several weeks have passed, and I have heard nothing from the dealer. Now, not surprisingly, I am becoming less and less interested in the product.
What causes lack of response to happen?
Most manufacturers of industrial products use a second level dealer or distributor to get their products to the end buyer. Many products require a level of support that manufacturers simply cannot provide. Consider construction equipment, power systems, agricultural equipment, and machine tool markets as good examples. In each case, there is a dealer/distributor that is involved in selling a complex piece of equipment and then providing the after-sales support necessary to keep it productive.
So why was there a communication breakdown through the manufacturer/dealer system? There are several reasons:
Disparate information systems
The manufacturer may have a sophisticated CRM system but the dealers have a different system or none at all.
The manufacturer may be able to see what leads or requests for information have been sent to a dealer, but the dealer has no effective way to manage or track the information that comes from the manufacturer.
Even if the dealer has a process in place, it is sometimes quite laborious.
Requests of poor quality
A large manufacturer may get many information requests during a week.
If these are not properly screened before being sent to the dealer network, many leads may result in “wasted” time on the part of dealer employees. For example, one client who has a company in a different industry with the same name. Consequently, employees then place a low priority on leads.
Customers sometimes go to our clients’ sites and request information about the other company’s product (customers appear not to read the site very carefully as the products offered by the two companies are very dissimilar). Screening to make certain the request is appropriate and is of reasonable quality is critical. Having call-to-action pages on the website that are as specific as possible helps this process.
Leaving the customer hanging
In the example highlighted at the beginning of the blog, at least the manufacturer acknowledged receipt of the email.
However, no further follow-up has occurred. I still am interested in the product but do not want to go through the process of resubmitting a request and get to the same point I am now…. AGAIN!
A few years ago, we recognized this problem and created our lead management system which addresses many of the issues I highlight in this blog.
Specifically, it allows you to:
- Review and route inbound inquiries from your website, phone, marketing campaigns and other initiatives. Leads are routed to the appropriate recipient within your dealer or distributor network, or the correct corporate department.
- Follow-up on unclear lead requests by email or phone so that the lead quality is improved.
- Automatically map leads by ZIP Code so that the right lead goes to the right dealer or location.
- Provide custom email responses, workflows and dashboard KPIs based on your input.
- Connect via API to your website, other digital properties, and CRM applications.
- Close the loop from customer request through dealer follow-up using a common platform that both manufacturer and dealer can share.
Too often, customers raise their hands to express interest in a product, and they are ignored.
How often is this happening in your business?