It’s 6:30 a.m. on a typical Tuesday in November and the Industrial Bolting headquarters on Tyler Mountain in Charleston, West Virginia is already buzzing. Sales Manager Chris Dosier pokes his head into the office of owner, Mike McCown.
“India needs to talk with us and it’s urgent.”
The new distributor has technical questions about their product and needs answers to help prepare for a sales pitch to a potential customer in a few hours.
Within minutes, Mike and Chris settle into a spare office in an adjacent building. By 7:15 a.m., they’re live on Zoom with their distributor in India, demonstrating their hydraulic torque wrench in their newly developed videoconferencing studio.
We Had to Do Something and Do Something Quick
Despite the rapid growth of the digital economy over the past decade, business still requires face-to-face interaction. So, when stay-at-home orders shutdown much of the global economy in the spring of 2020, many business owners saw their sales plummet. For the folks at Industrial Bolting, this was a time to get creative.
With customers and distributors located around the world, in far-reaching places such as southeast Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America, members of the Industrial Bolting sales team would travel monthly to engage customers, develop new distributors and maintain key relationships. So, they were desperate for a way to keep communication channels open that didn’t require members of the sales team getting on an airplane.
“We’ve always tried to stay ahead of the game instead of just reacting to whatever comes our way,” said Chris Dosier, Sales Manager for Industrial Bolting. “When the pandemic hit, we knew we had to do something and do something quick.”
The answer was found in a closet.
New Tools of the Trade
Videoconferencing has become a vital part of conducting business in 2020, but Industrial Bolting has taken things a step further. When the company needed to connect with distributors and customers around the world, they knocked down a wall between two unused office spaces and set up old cameras they could use to showcase displays of their products.
“We found out we could use old video cameras to stay in touch with our customers,” said Deveron Milne, IT Director for Industrial Bolting. “We were able to create a simple system where our sales representatives can focus on their jobs and not worry about the technology.”
Now, the Industrial Bolting sales team has access to the private studio and can conduct critical calls at any hour of the day. Everything operates with the simple touch of a button and the sales team doesn’t need to be tech savvy to connect on a video call or switch between cameras to showcase their products.
“If I could give other business owners a word of advice, it’d be that you need to be able to pivot,” Dosier said. “Don’t be afraid to take that first step.”
That first step for Industrial Bolting meant the sales team had to step out of their comfort zone and get comfortable in front of a camera.
“None of us are news anchors or weathermen,” Dosier said. “We just want to promote our product and stay in business. Sometimes, you just need to take that step and move forward.”
Before the pandemic, an emergency conversation like the one with India would have been conducted on the phone without a way to demonstrate the product or it would have been postponed until someone could travel from West Virginia to India.
By using videoconferencing, the sales process at Industrial Bolting has been simplified, training new agents is easier and overall communication is more effective. And connecting with distributors and customers is more personal, even though they are thousands of miles away.
The pandemic has caused Industrial Bolting to fundamentally change the way it conducts international business and it’s been for the better. The company has already signed three new agents since the pandemic began, proving that their ability to pivot when faced with a new business challenge pays off.
Resources For Adapting Your Business
If you are concerned about how to adapt your business to the changing economy or difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia Department of Commerce has developed a resource directory for businesses and communities. If you have any questions, contact us today.