Food ingredient companies are embracing the benefits of automated, online sample request tools with features aimed at a new generation of buyers who value expediency and expect a quality user experience (UX). McKinsey reports that 71% of B2B buyers prefer remote or digital self-serve interactions when evaluating suppliers. They want to research and sample products in a convenient way, but also connect with a representative in their own time.
According to Dialogtech, in 2020, 80% of the average B2B buyer journey took place online. Buyers will only reach out to a food ingredient company AFTER they’ve done extensive online research. This means much of your top-of-the-funnel lead gen is dependent on your website’s UX, including sample requests. The more obstacles your customer encounters to perform this task, the more likely they are to move onto the next supplier on their list.
But fulfilling sample requests shouldn’t be all-give-and-no-take for your company, as vetting is critical for smart business. Gathering data on leads and cross-selling can be a powerful tool for your marketing and sales teams.
Below are some questions to ask yourself to find out how well your sampling program is performing for both you AND your customer.
- Most importantly: Is there some sort of captcha or bot protection?
- Is a sample request initiated with one click after viewing info about a product? Is it easy to view and make changes to the request?
- Are you gathering a reasonable amount of data from your customers and using it to vet them?
- Does the shipment take a reasonable amount of time? Do you set expectations as to when samples will arrive?
- If there are product shortages or delays, are there alerts on your website?
- Are you following up, whether via phone or email, immediately after the request?
- Are you using it as an opportunity to cross-sell similar products?
- Are your customers given updates about the status of their requests?
- Do you follow up later on to gather feedback on the product?
Remember that online sample requests aren’t just for prospects. Existing customers are the most likely source of additional business, and these targets are likely to perform sample requests too – especially if you’re releasing and promoting a new product. This vital combination of lead nurture AND customer enablement makes your online sampling one of the most vital pieces in your marketing strategy and one that can’t be overlooked.
Interested in a team of food ingredient marketers that can strengthen your sampling program? Get in touch.