This short webpage outlines the actions we recommend you take while participating in Industrial Channel Research’s Supplier to End User survey program. It is a very simple process.
It is broken into three sections:
ICR supports two distinct methods for inviting end users to complete the survey:
- Direct invitation -It is best to send invitations to end users directly when you have name / email information for end users AND are comfortable contacting them directly. Keep in mind that you need to target people who use and make decisions about your products; these may or may not be the same people you have in your end user database.
- Indirect invitation - It makes sense to request that channel partners send invitation for you when you do not have name / email information for end users OR you are not comfortable contacting them directly.
Most suppliers will use a combination of both techniques, but it is a decision you need to make. Descriptions of how to prepare for both follow.
Preparing – Establishing a gift for completing the survey (regardless of invitation method)
Invitees are much more likely to complete the survey if there’s some kind of an award or incentive for completion. Other 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.
If you are using the indirect invitation method, you will also need a reward for your distributors.
This should happen roughly four weeks before survey launch.
Preparing - Identify end users (Direct invitation only)
You will need to complete ICR’s sign-up sheet. It’s an Excel template that primarily serves to tell us whom to survey within your end users. 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 end user.
- Provide information for as many end users as possible, even end users who buy very little from you.
- Only provide contact information for individuals in a position to evaluate your organization. Every relationship is different, but the best contacts are typically involved in either using your products or making decisions about whether to purchase it. Rarely will there be more than five or six individuals per channel partner.
- The email field is required. The other fields are very important, but the survey can be sent without them.
Have the sheet completed at least a week before your scheduled survey launch. We need time to review it and provide you feedback.
Preparing – Writing an invitation to your invitees (Direct invitation only)
The invitation to end users 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 more weight with your end users. 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 about 7 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.
Have the email written at least a week before your scheduled survey launch. We need time to review it and provide you feedback.
Preparing – Requesting channel partners to send out invitations on your behalf (Indirect invitation only)
You will need to ask your channel partners to send out a link to their end users inviting them to complete the survey. Obviously, this might be a little sensitive, so how the request is worded matters. You may not choose to ask all of your channel partners.
Here is a sample of what that request might look like in email, though you may wish to make a request via phone instead.
SUBJECT: We could use your help getting end user feedback; there’s something in it for you.
Hi, [insert name here]
In a few weeks, [Insert your company name here] will be launching a survey of end users to learn what we can do to improve the value we provide them. We will be utilizing an outside firm, Industrial Channel Research (ICR) to accomplish this. They do the surveys over the web. Here is a sample that shows you what the questions are: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/845562/58fa73fc9d9b.
We are making an investment to do this. The feedback is very important to us.
One of the challenges in surveying end users is that we don’t know man of them as most of them buy through our channel partners, like you. So, we want to know if you would be willing to send out emails to those end users who buy our products from you to ask them to complete the survey.
It is very easy. We will write the note for you… you just send it out. I have attached a sample to this note so you get the idea. You can edit it if you want, as long as the link to the survey is included. Also, ICR will not tell us who the responding individuals are. We will not receive ANY user contact info from the survey… only end-user viewpoints.
All of our channel partners who help us with this will be entered in a drawing for a $500 Visa gift card. But more importantly ICR has set up a program that allows you to run your own survey to get feedback on your distributorship (completely independent of us). If you agree to send out our link, they will run it for you for $500 instead of the $5,000 it typically costs (we are subsidizing it). Check it out at http://icr-survey.com/distributor/.
Please let me know if you would be willing to help us with this very important initiative. If so, we’ll send you an email that you can edit and forward to your end users.
For the file you should attach to this email, click here.
This must be done about four weeks ahead of survey launch date.
Preparing – Finalizing arrangements with channel partners (Indirect invitation only)
For those channel partners that have agreed to send out the link, they will need an email to forward to end users. You should email them something like this:
SUBJECT: Please send out [supplier] survey invitation to our end users within the next week
Thank you for agreeing to help us run our end-user survey.
As we agreed, please send the attached email to end users buying our products within the next week. Feel free to edit as you see fit, but make sure the link stays as is.
We really appreciate your support on this. Please let me know if you have any questions.
For the file you should attach to this email, click here. You will need to modify this email as appropriate… specifically, you will need to get the proper link from ICR.
This should be done roughly one week before survey launch.
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 end users; 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. Some will show a status of “bounced”. That means the email address was wrong or the message did not go through.
Use the delete / add Excel worksheet to remove and add invitee information. If you need to make a change, you will need to put the invitee on both the delete and add sheets to remove their old information and add their new information.
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]
In rare situations, the survey will not work for someone: it might not load, it might crash in the middle, some questions might appear strange, etc. When that happens, try responding with something like this.
Thank you for your note. We very much appreciate your wanting to complete the survey and are sorry it is giving you trouble. Thousands of people have completed the survey in the ICR program; so when someone has an issue like yours, it’s almost something with your setup. Trying the survey from a different computer on a different network is best, but it might work if you just use a different computer on the same network or the same computer on a different network.
Please give it a try and let me know if you still have questions.
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 AND a 30% response rate AND good representation. We know that half of all completions 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 10 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 channel partners 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.