This short webpage outlines the actions we recommend you take while participating in Industrial Channel Research’s Supplier Feedback program. It is a very simple process.
It is broken into three sections:
A few weeks before your survey launch date, you will need to complete ICR’s sign-up sheet. It’s an Excel template that primarily serves to tell us whom to survey. Here are a few rules with respect to completing the sign-up sheet…
- Each row on the left hand side is an individual you want us to survey; there can be multiple individuals for us to survey in a single organization.
- Most of the columns are obvious. The segment column is only relevant for the channel partner leadership and sales person surveys.
- The extra columns are for additional information about each contact. This is typically used for information that would allow us to further split out the results (e.g., if there are different product groups sold by different distributors, indicating this in these columns will allow us to separate the results by product group.)
- Provide contact information for as many individuals as possible, even individuals who represent very little business for your company.
- For Channel Partner Leader Survey – Only provide contact information for individuals in a position to evaluate your organization at a high level. Every relationship is different, but the best contacts are typically Owners, General Managers, Presidents, Heads of Sales, Heads of Marketing and Product Managers. Sometimes Branch Managers are relevant if the relationship is managed at a lower level. Rarely will there be more than five or six individuals per channel partner. Segment column is required.
- For Channel Partner Sales Person / Transactor Survey – Provide contact information for those individuals at the channel partner who either deal directly with end-users or who place orders with your company. Do not worry about distinguishing between the two as the survey asks them to describe how they work with your company, which determines which questions they are asked.
- For End-user Decision-Maker / Transactor Survey – Provide contact information for those individuals at the end user who either make decisions about your products or who place orders with your company. Do not worry about distinguishing between the two as the survey asks them to describe how they work with your company, which determines which questions they are asked. Ignore the segment column.
- For Machine Tool Builder Survey (metal cutting only) - Provide contact information for those individuals at the Tool Builder who have a view of different cutting tool suppliers and how the decisions are made. Ignore the segment column.
Preparing – Establishing a gift for completing the survey
Invitees are much more likely to complete the survey if there’s some kind of an award or incentive for completion. Many participants have held a raffle for all respondents completing the survey. Typical value of the reward item is about $500 (e.g., iPad, Visa gift card).
If you choose, ICR will select the winner at random for you, from all individuals completing the survey once the survey window is closed. Fulfillment of the reward is not included.
Preparing – Writing an invitation to your invitees
The invitation to participants to complete the survey must come from your company. If the invitees only hear from ICR, they will not take it seriously; yielding low response rates. The short invitation should come from someone at your company in a senior position, so that it carries weight with invitees. The message should explain what you’re doing, emphasize the importance of their feedback, and outline the thank you gift. Feel free to send your own message, but here is a sample:
SUBJECT: Please complete ICR’s survey on behalf of Widgets Inc. and be entered in a drawing for $500 Visa gift card
Shortly, you will be receiving a note from Industrial Channel Research (ICR) requesting you participate in an anonymous survey on behalf of Widgets, Inc.
We have paid to participate in the survey and your feedback is extremely important to us. We hope to use the survey results to improve how we do business with your company so that we may realize mutual benefit.
The survey only takes a few minutes and you don’t have to complete it in one sitting. If you don’t receive the invitation from ICR in the next 24 hours, please let me know.
To thank you for your time, everyone who completes the survey will be entered in a drawing for a $500 Visa gift card.
If you have participated in the ICR survey in the past, it would be a good idea to cite learnings from the prior survey and point to positive improvements you made as a result.
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Running - Actions on the day of the survey launch
On the day of the survey launch, two things should happen. First, you send out the email you constructed to the listed invitees; middle of the day is best. Second, ICR will send out a survey link to those same individuals late that evening so that it arrives towards the tops of invitees’ email inboxes the next morning.
Running – Adding or changing the invitee list
No one ever provides a perfect initial list of invitees (e.g., incorrect people, incorrect email addresses, and wrong phone numbers). Typically changes will need to be made.
The day after the survey launch, ICR will send you a status report of all of your invitees. It contains data about your invitees. Most importantly, it contains each invitee’s unique link they use to take the survey.
If you want to add new invitees to you list, use the sign-up template to put just those on that you want to add. If you want to delete, just send us an email with the email addresses to connect. If you want to change, you will need to add and delete.
Running – Handling bounces
When you look at your log, you may notice a few “bounces”. This means that you provided an incorrect email address and it didn’t get to the person. This is easy to fix… simply send the correct information in the sign-up sheet and let us know which ones to delete in the email.
Running – Responding to invitee questions
Typically, you will receive some questions about the survey once it is launched.
The most frequent question will be saying that they didn’t get the link from us. When this happens, first check the status report ICR sent you. It will contain everyone who received a link from ICR. It also contains the link unique to that invitee. If the invitee is on the list, respond back to them with a note like this filling in the info in brackets:
Thanks for your note. We very much appreciate your interest in supporting us by taking the survey. ICR tells us that they sent you an invitation. It’s possible that it was sent to your spam folder. Take a look there (and unblock icr-survey.com as well). If you can’t find it in your spam, just click on this link to take the survey: [invitee’s unique link here].
Thanks, [your name here]
If their name does not appear in the status report, let us know using the delete/ add form.
Another common question is whether you can stop emailing them about the survey. It’s unfortunate that this happens; but when it does, you can say something like this.
Thanks for your note. We certainly didn’t intend to bother you and we’re disappointed you aren’t interested in filling out the survey. We hope you’ll reconsider (it only takes a few minutes), but if you really don’t want to hear about it anymore, just use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email you received from ICR.
Thanks, [your name here]
Occasionally the survey doesn’t not work properly for someone (e.g., it won’t load, it gets stuck or crashes). When this happens, a note like the following works.
Thanks for your note and interest in providing us feedback. Sorry you’re having trouble. ICR has had thousands of people use the survey successfully; so when problems like this occur, it’s usually something with your computer or network. Maybe try using another web browser, another computer, or another network. That usually fixes the problem.
Thanks, [your name here]
If you get other questions, feel free to forward them to us as you deem appropriate. Occasionally, we get feedback about the survey itself. We like to get that feedback, so please forward it to us. Hopefully, it is constructive.
Running – Acting on your status reports at the end of each week.
Together, we will work to get a high response rate. We typically get a very good rate by the end, but sometimes we have to push a little bit to get there.
We are aiming for at least 30 total completions. We know that half of all completions you are going to get typically come in the first week.
In the three week survey period, ICR will email each invitee as many as three times (once a week) until they complete the survey (they can unsubscribe easily if they want to). If they are ignoring all of OUR messages, there isn’t much we can do. However, your reminders can be effective.
If your completion rate is not what you had hoped for, you may want to send a reminder message of your own. In some specialized cases, it might be worth picking up the phone (e.g., you only invited seven catalogers to participate and only one has completed). Regardless of whether you phone or email, the message should be something like this:
ICR let us know that you haven’t been able to complete our survey. We’d really appreciate it if you could find the time as your input is extremely important to us.
Remember, the survey is completely anonymous. ICR tells us who completes the survey, but not how specific individuals responded.
Thanks, [your name here]
We leave it to your judgment how best to do this, but we will ALWAYS push you to try for more completions.
Closing - Acknowledging the input
Once the survey period is over, you will need to send out a message to everyone you invited. We recommend a note like the following:
SUBJECT: Thank you for completing our survey and the raffle winner
Thank you to those of you who completed our recent channel partner survey. We truly value your input and appreciate the time you took to do it.
There is a lot of information for us to take in and we will be reviewing it over the next weeks to formulate an action plan. You should notice improvements we make will align with your feedback.
Additionally, [put name here] is the winner of the raffle for the $500 Visa gift card. Congratulations, [put name here]. It’s on its way!
Closing - Assessing the feedback
ICR will work with you to help you understand what all the feedback means and how to act on it. We highly recommend you read and absorb everything as there are some pieces of feedback that ICR will not have the context to interpret. Most importantly, develop an action plan for making improvements.
When ICR does its first debrief with your company on your results and what they mean, the right people to have in the room are typically the managers charged with managing strategy, marketing and sales. High-level executives are typically too far removed from this topic and sales individual contributors are too close to the topic for the first debrief.
Closing – Acting on the improvements
Action is key. You have asked your stakeholders what you need to make things better and they have told you. Now it is time to take action to improve. It is important that you reference and explain the survey feedback when taking action. That way they know their efforts were valuable.