“Getting information to the people who need it when they need it is key when you’re in the business of serving manufacturers,” says Hoffer.
2. More leads for the sales reps. Currently, the online catalog is not e-commerce-enabled, says Hoffer. “Orders are still taken through the SMC salesperson or independent distributors, so the function of gathering leads is still very important [to us].”
SMC sells through its own sales force and distributors. Working through multiple sales channels, SMC’s main goal is to feed leads to its sales force. “The online catalog replaces browsing of the paper book and waiting for a salesperson to configure the spec for an order,” Hoffer explains.
SMC requires customers to register to use the free E-Tech catalog services. This enables the company to gather and track leads, and it gives SMC valuable marketing information for very little cost.
“Registering doesn’t cost the user anything, other than a few seconds of their time,” says SolidWorks’ Bob Noftle, general manager of 3D content solutions. “Overall, it’s a win-win, because it reduces the cost per lead for the seller and expands the reach to a broader market without incurring more marketing costs.”
The site funnels as many as 150 new leads a day to SMC’s sales staff of 500 sales reps.”In the world of manufacturing sales, where the salesperson is still an integral part of the process, those leads are key to success,” Noftle adds.
More than 90,000 customers registered to use SMC’s Web site in its first three years. The system is easy to use, Noftle says; all the user has to do is navigate through a product tree.
SMC’s salespeople received hands-on training on the system, so they can answer customers’ questions. Hoffer says the sales staff was receptive to the new online catalog. “If customers are happy, our salespeople are happy. And this [online] capability is something our customers wanted.”