Faxes have become the secret to smarter selling for UV Process Supply, a Chicago mail-order firm that sells technical supplies to companies that use ultraviolet light in printing. When customers had equipment problems, they used to call president and CEO Stephen Siegel, an industry veteran with more than 20 years' experience. That was great for them but not so great for Siegel, who often spent one-third of his day taking calls. Siegel estimates that his time on the phone has since been reduced by about 85%, thanks to extensive use of a fax-on-demand program. Customers calling the fax-on-demand service can choose from hundreds of documents that cover all kinds of technical questions.
UV Process Supply, which does about $5 million a year in sales, has integrated the service into its catalog: Each product description includes instructions for obtaining additional information by fax. Most of the documents in UV's database are product-information files that the company developed, so they already reside on UV's local area network. Others--such as product instruction manuals--must be scanned in.
Using the fax-on-demand service costs UV's customers nothing, except for the toll call. That's because Siegel views the information the company provides as an integral part of its sales process, largely replacing a sales and technical-support staff. At first, it was hard to coax customers to try his service, but at its peak, the system averaged a healthy 20 calls a day, and all but the most technophobic customers used it. Although the fax-back system is still operating, most customers now field their tech questions through UV Process Supply's Web site.