How to Qualify a Sample Request


As a food ingredient company, one of the issues you will most certainly run into with a sampling program is qualifying those who place online orders. It’s not financially beneficial for you to send samples to companies or organizations that aren’t going to produce relevant business for you. So how do you qualify customers?

Kraft Food Ingredients (KFI) recently redesigned its online sample ordering system. To announce this to its customers, it distributed an email blast. The email drives you to the website to register and then place your sample order. The registration is pretty typical—asking for contact information and what products you would like to sample. What I found interesting about this system is what I received after I registered.

I received an email with an attachment that included a letter. The letter was sent from a generic “info” email address. KFI requests that you provide additional information about your company, the trade your company services, how KFI products would be applied to the products you manufacture, and an estimated annual quantity of pounds the project or company would require. This approach is unique and will surely solve the challenge of qualifying customers. What I would have liked to see done differently is for this letter to appear to come from and be signed by an actual person at KFI. (Note: the email address could still be a pseudo person for this purpose.) It may have also felt more personal and real if the text of the letter was in the body copy of the email, instead of in an attachment. We are often asked if requiring so much information from the customer will hinder them from requesting a sample. It depends how detailed you try to get. We think that if a customer is truly interested in your products then they will not hesitate to provide this information. One way to streamline this process is to request all this information at registration, and provide field boxes and dropdowns for completion as often as you can.