Many manufacturers correctly consider their website to be the prime source of fresh, qualified leads. It follows then that the best tool on their website to produce these leads would be their contact form. This reality causes them to put a lopsided amount of time and resources into developing their contact form features while ignoring other important lead-generation tools. In this article, we’ll be discussing one of the other, often left behind, important lead generation tools manufacturers have at their disposal, the request a quote form.

Whether your product is complicated, varied and intricate or simple and evident, many prospects have unique applications or interests which beget unique questions about the product’s options, functions, performance and availability. A well-crafted request a quote form (RFQ) can pay dividends for years to manufacturers looking to drive qualified leads through their website.

The standard request a quote form has been around for decades. Typically it consists, at a minimum, of fields for the user’s name, contact details and basic questions on what their inquiry is for. However, proper planning and some tactical innovation can bring a whole new life to this manufacturing RFQ form.

Who will use your manufacturing request a quote form?

Seems simple enough… website visitors. But digging deeper can reveal some important wisdom needed to guide the way this form functions and the questions it asks the user. Below, we’ll look at a few of the more typical user types on your manufacturing request a quote form.

Design engineers and mechanical engineers

Does your industry typically send their engineers out to conduct standardized product research? If this is the case, fields and options allowing questions about product specs, downloadable info sheets, performance requirements and variations and customization possibilities are key. If you can offer them CAD drawings and assembly diagrams, you’re doing even better.

Procurement Managers

These visitors tend to be focused more on costs and availability. They most often work initially from their “short list” of approved vendors, but when the fit isn’t right they’ll turn to new suppliers and begin their search. Providing these visitors with ample details on your product’s specification and function can pay off since they’ll be comparing your offering to known suppliers or an engineer’s recommendations. If you can help them understand that your product can meet or exceed in terms of price, quality, delivery time or availability, you’ll have a leg up. A manufacturing request a quote form that allows questions focused on price or availability can be just what they need. Make sure to offer case studies or testimonials which verify your product’s reliability and your delivery time.

Operations and maintenance managers (MRO Managers)

These visitors are focused on systems operation, their job is to keep things running. While the occasional frantic, last-minute search is a possibility, most often they’re searching for vendors who can make their maintenance planning and upgrade process successful. MRO managers will be interested in all aspects of your product but focus on questions that give them information on your order size requirements, availability, technical system documents, emergency and rush services and service responsiveness. Providing tools such as CAD drawings and detailed technical drawings can be a positive. Offer reassurance through testimonials that your company is highly communicative when it comes to product bulletin information, recalls, updates and best practices and that you have a specialist waiting to help them anytime they need consultation.

Ease of Use

Be assured, the question of form ease of use will be summoned, and you’ll need an answer. This question relates to the idea that some users want quick, easy-to-use forms that don’t require extensive work to complete, while other users, often averse to direct communication, want to explain their needs and get specific questions answered. The answer is never simple but with a little forward-thinking and the right development team, manufacturers can offer a request a quote form that is approachable by both extremes.

Consider the following tricks to achieve this win-win scenario for your manufacturing form.

  • While your form may be extensive and offer many fields, consider keeping the basics required and upfront with options to expand.
  • Require only what you need. Name, email, company, inquiry details and perhaps phone would be the bare minimum. Provide an option for your visitor to leave only these details and allow them to get specific in the notes.
  • Use a dynamic process to allow your visitors to request a quote on one product at a time instead of forcing them to submit their request on many products all at once.
  • Alternatively, you can create a shopping cart experience where they can add products they’re looking for quote details on into their “basket” and answer simple questions that pertain to that product along the way. This breaks up the process and doesn’t create a cumbersome and labor-intensive process at the end. They simply review and submit.
  • Instead of making them wade through various downloads and yes/no questions – ask if they’d like additional details on your case studies, technical drawings and CAD files, product spec sheets, white papers or more. If they choose yes, you can display these options a section at a time, if they say no – great they’re one step closer to submission.
  • We understand for some products you’ll need details to provide even a basic quote but do your best to avoid requiring too many answers. Obtaining their high-level needs and contact details allows you to return for follow up. Better to send them an email afterward than risk their frustration with your heavy-handed form and the loss of the lead altogether.

Deployment opportunities.

If you’re like most manufacturers, the standard manufacturing request a quote form sits at the top of the menu bar and maybe has a few redundant links throughout your website. However, providing better placement, better call to actions, and the promise of a quick return can bring higher engagement. Here are a few ideas to spruce up your manufacturing RFQ form and the likeliness of it being found and utilized.

  • Integrate it in your contact form. Your RFQ form can, of course, be its own standalone form, however, providing a link out or even optional integration into your standard contact form can provide some users with an easy on-ramp for engaging quickly with their specific questions. Please don’t make it required in this format and bypass the urge to show all its fields right away, this will have the effect of making your contact form extensive and tedious when it should be quick and easy.
  • If you have a cart or are e-commerce enabled, consider displaying a reminder when someone visits and then leaves their cart or your storefront. Often, a user adds a product or is looking for more details but isn’t ready to purchase yet. Providing an option for them to get more details by requesting a quote can save the lead.
  • Do you have a product configurator? (Need a configurator – contact RedMoxy’s team). If you have a configurator in place, consider attaching a link or the form itself as an option at the end of the configuration process. Once your visitors build and customize their product it only makes sense to attach this configured part to an RFQ. This can be as simple as a button that says “request a quote on this configuration” or you could add more questions relating to quantities, delivery requirements or more.
  • If you have the manpower to provide immediate answers, consider a live RFQ which would operate much the same as a chat form. Once they’ve submitted the details on your RFQ form you can allow them to submit for standard response or engage immediately in chat (or phone) with one of your company’s specialists who can review their details in real-time and forward this prospect many steps ahead in the sales cycle in no time.
  • Keep mobile design in mind. Packing your manufacturing RFQ to the gills with useful information and fields for questions may seem like the right move but it turns off many visitors and can even be impossible to use for those on a mobile device. Mobile users can make up 50% or more of your core audience so ignoring usability for this subset could be a major mistake.

Follow up.

If you receive multiple daily inquiries and you’re not leveraging some type of response automation you may be hurting yourself. While a unique, manual response is ultimately the best follow-up to a visitor’s RFQ submission, covering a few basics through automation can certainly deliver a sense of responsiveness, awareness and attention to customer service. Here are two, no-brainer, automated follow-up ideas to consider putting in place in response to your manufacturing request a quote form.

Submission received

Basic and easy. Let the visitor know you received their submission and you’ll have a team member on it shortly. Let them know when they can expect to see a response and any next steps that are appropriate. You even have the opportunity to pitch other resources or services they may want. Avoid adding them to your subscriber list by default, but this could be an opportunity to receive their approval of receiving your newsletter.

Status inquiry

After you’ve provided this visitor with a detailed response to their request, consider an automated follow-up email that expresses your interest in their satisfaction of the quote, additional questions, project cycle and more. Keep the newly budded relationship alive with easy emails like these that reinforce your company’s commitment to customer communication and appreciation.

If you’re in need of a team to help you integrate automation and communication workflows into your systems, RedMoxy can help.

Tracking performance

You’ll know how many people are accessing your RFQ form from the number of submissions you receive, obviously, but wouldn’t you also like to know how many tried to use your form but became frustrated and left? We advise placing appropriate tracking tools from your chosen service onto your forms, thank you pages and more to gain a full picture of your audiences’ level of engagement. In addition to tracking markers, review metrics such as user flow, bounce rate, time on page and device or browser failure rate to round out your assessments. Once you’ve identified areas of weakness you can start to make adjustments. Maybe your manufacturing RFQ form is engaged but rarely submitted, or maybe it is only used for one product or perhaps users try to use it as a contact form. Whatever your issues, if you have the right development team you can build what’s called an AB Test to try to confirm your theories and, once confirmed, fix them.

Need a few other ideas to sauce up those manufacturing request for quote forms? Here are a few bonus tools and tricks to wrangle as much performance as you can.

  • Allow for an in-line sample request. If your shop offers samples.
  • Allow for a follow-up chat.
  • Allow your users to check a box requesting an immediate follow-up call.

Whatever your manufacturing company produces, a convenient and well-constructed request a quote form can do wonders for lead generation. This important form shouldn’t be forgotten or abused but rather reviewed and improved at every opportunity. A process like this can do wonders for your funnel.
To learn more from a team with years of experience building custom manufacturing request a quote forms and much more for industrial B2B, contact the team at RedMoxy, we’re always ready to help.