Progressive Online Sales and Support
 
It is easy to dismiss companies with derivative names. The online world has hundreds of companies with the words “direct” in the title or URL. In the online industrial controls and automation business, several companies believe they have something different to offer. The reality is that they all work on the same model of price and availability.
 
When I first left the steel mills in Chicago, I moved to Georgia and worked at one of the largest online automation businesses around. Being part of support and applications, we always felt that we helped everyone; we even won awards each year for our support and service. But, I always felt we were missing something, and sometimes we just could not help some folks. The support engineers wanted to do many different things, but we decided it was not a good idea for various reasons. There was an internal caste system, where bureaucracy and the existing norms silenced progressive voices and lost objectivity.
 
The main takeaway from my experiences was an idea to integrate traditional application engineers into an online business. The question has not been how applications engineers help sales and distributors sell highly complex products to customers. This has been going on for many years. The challenge came 14 years ago when the internet really started heating up over industrial and automation online products, overtaking traditional catalog sales. The boiler room model of technical support mitigated this challenge for a while, like what I saw when I first came to Georgia. The weakness is that when you get a bunch of engineers and specialists in cubicles, it becomes what the Japanese call Hikikomori; they become shut-ins and lose the objectivity to see what is actually going on in the field. The only contact these engineers get is from the phone or via email. They no longer do the work; they answer questions based on past experiences that may or may not be relevant today.
 
Industrial Control Direct is the first online industrial distributor to use progressive tools like #Slack, Trello, and Salesforce to bridge the gap between inside technical support and outside applications engineers. Here is a common example: A customer calls and has questions about a multistring DC disconnect on a solar inverter application. The inside technical support person knows almost all the answers but one. Our person uses Slack and communicates in real time with the other 16 engineers, no matter where they are, at the same time. The engineers answer the question; if there is information the questioner still needs, a remote engineer will call the customer.
 
The beauty of this method is that the engineers never lose their edge; they are still in the thick of technology in the field, where the other companies just look at us stuck in a cubicle not seeing the light of day. This is what Industrial Control Direct does that make us different:
 
Function:  Industrial Control Direct—Progressive Online
Support/Applications:  Real Time Communication Over #Slack
Support/Applications:  Remote Monitoring/Support Contracts
Innovation:  In the Field Every Day
Programming:  Pre-programming AC Drives
Design:  Custom Panel Design and Build
Value-Add:  Packaging Products Together
Credit:  Special Terms and Conditions
Discounts:  Volume Discounts
Training:  Remote or Onsite Training
History:  71-Year-Old Employee-Owned Family Business
 
Here are some links to the tools that we expertly use every day:
 
 
Thanks,
Carl Lee Tolbert – GM ICD