Using Your Website

You now have a current and robust website and every one of your customers, old and new, should know about it.This is your new on-line catalog. It’s your new tool for selling. You should be proud of it! In fact, as with any new product you carry or tool you use, you need to learn the features inside and out so you can best serve your customers. You should take time to surf through your new website as much as possible and become familiar with how it works. This knowledge will be vital when you need to help a contractor navigate your site to get the information he needs about the hardware, tools and materials you carry that he wants to purchase.

Customers often call not knowing exactly what they are looking for. Ask the question, “Can you access the internet right now?” If they can, direct them to your website to help determine their needs.

Because you are familiar with your site, you will simply walk them through the steps to get to the pertinent product page. Once you get them to the correct place, don’t forget to ask for the order!

A 48WS website is filled with features:

  1. It’s a powerful business card, line-card, and catalog with a lot of content showing the depth of your offering
  2. MSDS are up-do-date and readily available through links to manufacturer’s sites.
  3. Easy search for products by name, type and manufacturer
  4. Order Pad, at your customer’s fingertips day and night
  5. Representative of your businesses’ products and services
  6. Locations, hours, directions and contact information

Why no pricing?

The website has no pricing. Price is not the issue when it comes to servicing the contractor’s needs for the specialty hardware tools and materials you supply him. As a STAFDA, Evergreen or Sphere One house, the contractors you usually deal with are need-it-now, not buy-it-now customers. They locate what they need on the internet then call to check inventory. They usually require immediate will-call or delivery. Price is not the issue but rather supply and service are.

Not listing price is advantageous because if it is a concern of the contractor’s, he will call you and while you have him on the phone, you get additional information such as the quantity, when and where the product is needed, and the job he is working on. When a contractor needs price in order to estimate, your response should be that pricing varies by quantity and location of the project.Then ask, “How may I help you?” Make the sale.

Dealing with Fraudulent inquires

As with any advertising you will get an occasional fraudulent inquiry. To minimize your exposure, you must always qualify the customer you are dealing with. Fraud is usually associated with a new company and a large quantity that needs to be shipped out of the area.

Four warning signs of a possible fraudulent order:

  1. Large quantity of usually higher dollar items
  2. New customer
  3. Shipping out of state
  4. Paid for with a credit card

Not every sale that fits the warning signs are fraudulent but to be safe, if you pre-qualify the order and three of those four ingredients of fraud are involved contact your manager.

Special Orders

Special orders represent between 10-25% of the sales of the typical industrial distributor. Your company sources the odd product all the time to be sure your customers do not have to go to your competition.Your on-line offering is larger than your current inventory. This is advantageous because it just may drive new customers looking for that unusual or unstocked product to you. If it is a new customer that has made the inquiry, this is your chance to get his day-to-day business.

How Did You Hear About Us?

Why do we want to ask the question?

Sales professionals taking phone inquiries should ask the question, “How did you hear about us?” The answers provide valuable insight to help effectively judge a marketing promotion, to see where marketing dollars can best be allocated, and to let management know when new opportunities arise.

When to Ask the Question

If you do not recognize the customer and you cannot locate them in the company directory, they do not have an account set up with you and they say that they have “heard of you”, those are your clues that you are dealing with a new customer.Be sure to ask the question! “How did you hear about us?”

How to Ask the Question

“Have you been here before? Is this your first time calling us?”
“I have never helped you before? Who do you usually work with?”
If in doubt, simply ask the question, “First time caller?”
The best time to ask the question is when you are looking up an answer to the customer’s inquiry, finding his product, or researching price.
If the caller answers that he found you on the internet, be sure to ask him what WORD he Googled.

In-Store Advertising

Asking the question is not only necessary with phone inquiries but also with walk-in traffic.Post a sign at your counter, on your door and add a line to all of your communications such as email. This will not only help remind your employees to ask, “How did you hear about us?” it will also prompt your customers to engage in the conversation.

Company literature and logos should now all list your web address (URL).Where at all possible, the announcement of your new website should be prominent on monthly statements, invoices, delivery tickets and business cards. Consider a constant contact mailing to your current customer list. Let everyone know of the new resource they have to understand what you can offer and how you can service them.

What to Do With the Answer

First time customers need to be handled with TLC. There is no loyalty yet but with careful handling of their request, fair pricing, and meeting of their delivery needs you can build a strong base for a life-long customer.

The answers received from the “How did you hear of us” question should be given to the marketing department. They can use it to gauge promotions and future marketing strategies.

The store manager should follow up with all new customers to understand their needs and provide a welcome personal feeling from your company.

The typical construction supply distributor gets new business from:

  • 50% word of mouth
  • 25% outside sales force
  • 15% internet
  • 5% print media
  • 5% trade shows

Collecting E-Mail Addresses

Why collect email addresses?

Email is the preferred business communication venue. Collecting email address can be used to aid in future larger scale communications or as simply to follow-up on an individual transaction. It is the easiest way to communicate with your customers and email marketing is much less expensive than print media.

How to collect email addresses:

  • Ask for a business card
  • Ask if it is ok to correspond via e mail
  • Have a sign-up sheet
  • Just ask!