ThomasNet Triples Sales for Industrial and Military Electronics Distributor

It’s not every day that a small family owned business grows into a company on which every branch of the U.S. military depends. Yet CDM Electronics, a worldwide stocking distributor of electronic connectors, coaxial cables, and other interconnect products for electronic devices, has accomplished this by developing an effective online sales strategy.

HOW TO ATTRACT BUSINESS AND BUILD TRUST

CDM Electronics General Manager Carmen DeLeo set an ambitious five year plan in 2004 to more than double  annual revenue to $10 million. He knew the company could get there by reaching more defense and aerospace contractors. More and more, defense contractors are finding potential suppliers through online searches and evaluating companies like CDM by browsing their websites. Mr. DeLeo realized that a poor website was preventing the company from competing. Realizing that CDM needed an Internet strategy, Mr. DeLeo sought a way to turn its website into an effective online sales channel, one that would replicate the company’s online sales process by providing an overview of its capabilities, engaging prospects to dig deeper, anticipating and answering their questions, and guiding customers toward a purchase. Partnering with ThomasNet, CDM followed these steps to help its site deliver more sales:

1. Moving product information online:

CDM knew it needed to provide as much detailed product information as possible in an easy to navigate format. It organized this information in an online catalog that became the foundation of its new site. Now prospects can search the catalog in the way that is easiest for them—by manufacturer, keyword, or part number.

2. Anticipating and answering questions:

For defense contractors, choosing the wrong product is not only expensive, but risky. To help engineers ind just the right products, CDM included a Compare Products function in its online catalog. his feature let prospects compare up to five products at a time, side by side, with illustrations and pictures, according to a host of key variables.

3. Letting customers take action:

If customers still need additional details, they can request information, type in comments, and attach files. He site also includes a toll-free number to place an order.

REVENUES MORE THAN DOUBLE— AND KEEP GROWING

By 2008, CDM had met and surpassed its goal, growing revenues to $15 million. And last year, despite the recession and funding cuts, its sales soared to $16.8 million. Mr. DeLeo credits the new online catalog with the company’s acquisition of 100–150 new customers each year. Search engine referrals had tripled by 2008 to 40,000 annually. According to Mr. DeLeo, this achievement would not have been possible without the new Internet strategy. “Bottom line: online catalogs drive revenue and results,” he said.

Susan Orr is senior director, strategic marketing for ThomasNet, which helps companies in the industrial marketplace increase sales and serve their customers more efficiently.

Reprinted from NEMA Electroindustry, September 2010

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