Amid COVID-19 pandemic, how has the way RL Hudson sells to current and future customers look different?
Very early on when COVID-19 became an international crisis we really had to stretch and think about new or different ways to interact with customers. Obviously, travel is reduced from pre-pandemic levels and every customer is calculating their availability for in-person meetings differently. We have actually seen an uptick in interest to visit our headquarter facility in Broken Arrow, OK and that has allowed us to continue face to face meeting opportunities when other options are not available. Online meeting platforms are frequently used, and we have seen our sales calls or project management meetings go virtual on regular basis.
It starts with an open-minded mentality to do things differently, and once that part is accepted, there are a lot of ways to continue a dialogue with customers and continue to develop business. The world hasn’t stopped buying and thankfully we haven’t stopped selling and producing.
How much value does RL Hudson place on customer experience vs. actual products and services?
Every quarter our managers meet to review the previous quarter of activities, improvements or opportunities for improvement, metrics and customer feedback. We take customer input, whether informal or from an official scorecard, very seriously. So much of what we do is depending on the part or the product being right according to the specifications. That’s a given. The experience we provide through the manufacturing process and the service life of the part is very important to us.
People like doing business with RL Hudson and we are doing everything we can to continue those relationships. One of our corporate values is “We are passionate about our relationships and our partnerships.” You know it’s meaningful to us because we can directly trace our decision making back to this value and others like it.
We need our customers to be successful. That’s why our approach is considerate of the experience, and we take pride in all facets of that process.
Does a more personal approach to sales allow your territory managers to meet customers expectations in a relevant and insightful way?
Think of this in terms of communication. There are all kinds from verbal, to non-verbal, written and so on. To gain the most from our interactions one should tap into as many forms of communication as possible, and certainly find and utilize the most effective form of communication to any particular individual on the receiving end. A personal approach allows for these variations and our team looks for cues whether direct or not, to help craft the best possible solution for the customer’s need. Even in the pandemic environment we look for ways to make personal connections when traditional ways of physically meeting are not allowed. Some things will always be better understood when communicated in person, but it’s our job to find ways to communicate around the circumstances, no matter what they are.
How important are social media channels and web content currently for decision makers in gathering information to support purchasing decision?
Social media and other electronic and digital communication have become imperative to the flow of marketing and sales in this environment. Since our sales models are business to business, we are generally not relying on social media and web content to drive sales, but they really allow us to stay connected to customers, employees, and an educational component. We are proud of our accomplishments, relationships, and path moving forward. Social media allows us to share that with a larger audience.
Most of our products are made for OEMs and they will make their purchase decisions after very thorough processes that would include new supplier onboarding if we are new to their supply base. It goes a lot deeper than social media and web presence.
However, from a marketing standpoint we need those same customers to know who we are and how to find us. It’s helpful for decision makers to narrow down their searches using these platforms and it works like an early part of the discovery process.
How closely do you monitor market trends and patterns during the pandemic to balance sales forecasts?
This is a metric in our sales forecasting, as it was prior to the pandemic, but it is not our primary tool for sales forecasting. Direct input from each and every customer is our preferred way to forecast, and with regular dialogue and monitoring of the forecast against actual orders has resulted in reliable information on most occasions.
Customers realize the macro environment so changes in demand are communicated. Our sales and customer service teams will collaborate with customer contacts to compare what we’re seeing and expecting, and this results in better plans and readiness.
We work hard, play hard, and laugh often
We are passionate about our relationships and partnerships
We take pride In what we do
We make above and beyond seem ordinary