Training Tuesday:Addressing Problems

Training Tuesday: Handling Problems

It doesn’t take long for anyone in the transportation business to realize that occasionally bad things happen to good people. You name it, it can and occasionally will happen.

When customers aren’t happy, whether it’s because a shipment is late, damaged or lost, five things can happen—and four of them are bad:






The best possible outcome is that your unhappy customer talks to you.  This gives you a second chance to understand their needs, identify and correct problems, and convert your dissatisfied customer into a happy customer – one who’ll keep coming back.

Here are the proper procedures to best help your customer.

1.Inform the customer as soon as you can—they’re absolutely going to find out—no news travels more swiftly than bad news.

2.Get to the point quickly by saying something like, “You’re not going to like hearing this”

3.If your customer approaches you with a complaint, don’t interrupt.  Don’t become defensive.

4.Take complaints seriously, no matter how trivial the issue may seem to you.

5.Don’t create distance from SunteckTTS by referring to it as “they.”  Use “we” instead, and proudly stand behind our service without making excuses.

6.Apologize sincerely.

7.Avoid focusing on fixing the blame; instead focus on fixing the problem.

8.Let your customer suggest alternatives.  Every customer has some idea of what they want as a solution to every problem.

9.Do something extra. Correcting the problem isn’t always enough.

10.Trust the customer’s sincerity.  It’s better to err by believing too many people than by not believing enough people.

11.Never just say, “I don’t know.” When you don’t know an answer, simply say, “I’ll look into the matter,” and then look into it, soon.

12.Empathize with the customer.  If you can’t relate to the complaint itself, at least relate to the process of complaining.

13.If the timing is appropriate, ask for future business—let the customer know this does not represent SunteckTTS’s usual high quality of service.

14.Follow-up.   Make sure the customer is truly satisfied.

15.Don’t let it affect your interaction with the next customer. And most importantly:  Most customers will accept occasional mistakes.  How you deal with the problem and how you resolve it is what will distinguish you as a real professional.

16.Always remember that listening to your customer is the best way to help in an uncomfortable situation.  Some people want to be listened to even more than they want their problems solved.

Check back next Tuesday for more tips on Selling SunteckTTS. The full playlist of videos can be found on our YouTube channel.


LTL 101:Billing

LTL 101: Billing Accuracy

Many shippers have expressed concern about accuracy of LTL carrier’s billing practices. Having pushed the LTL carriers to be more vigilant with making corrections for weight and other aspects of shipments for proper revenue capture, SJ Consulting researched the validity of such perception by conducting an extensive survey with several large LTL shippers, 3PLs, and freight audit and pay firms, with particular thanks to Williams & Associates. The freight charges on LTL shipments by these companies exceed $8 billion over a 12­ month period, representing 22 percent of the total industry revenue. For decades, the LTL industry has relied on an honor system for shippers to provide true characteristics of their shipments, required to accurately bill the customers for their shipments.

The survey found the range of billing accuracy was 94 to 99 percent depending on the carrier, with the average being 97 percent. The most interesting revelation of the survey was that what shippers perceive as a billing error actually is due to shippers providing an estimated weight or freight class for dimensional attributes of their shipment that are corrected on more shipments as more LTL carriers deploy scales and dimensional machines. Given that about 50% of bills of lading have errors in weight or description of the shipment, it’s no surprise that a correct invoice from a LTL carrier can get perceived as a billing error.

Despite shippers’ perception, the LTL industry has an impressive record in billing accuracy, and it is finally converting rapidly from an honor system.


Check back every 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month for more inside information on LTL through our Multimodal Wednesday Series.


Training Tuesday:Delivering Great Customer Service

Training Tuesday: How to Deliver Great Customer Service

Many customers are suspicious of freight salesmen. They think that we’re there at the time of the sale but not when they need us if something goes wrong. Many people get buyer’s remorse. When they get that follow-up email or phone call, or they experience the other customer service techniques discussed here, it makes them think, “Yes, I made the right decision.”

Constant communication is the key to building a lasting relationship with customers and prospects.  You must stay in touch.

Let’s define SERVICE as anything that builds trust and confidence in the company and the services you provide to the customer.

Following is a list of services that are specific and measurable. You can use this checklist to make service a more specific part of your sales planning.

1.Write thank you notes as part of your service system. Carry cards in your car and fill them out at the end of the call while still in the customer’s parking lot.

2.Schedule a visit of upper management to your client. This is a symbolic and information gathering visit.

3.Conduct agency or corporate office tours on a regular basis. Clients need to see the agency or corporate office, especially large shippers, so that they can see the depth of the professionalism and dedication that goes into moving their freight.

4.Hold round table discussions about business trends and opportunities with key clients.

5.Throw a client appreciation party, cookout, or breakfast.

6.Invite your customer to accompany you to seminars, speeches, and functions.

7.Return all phone calls immediately. The simple act of returning a phone call can differentiate you from the competition.

8.Vary your modes of contact. A call, package, or email will have more impact if it’s reinforced with another form of contact.

9.Make buying fun. Selling doesn’t have to be all serious business. You don’t have to sacrifice professionalism to make buying an energizing, enjoyable experience that will keep your customers coming back.

10.Make sure internal employees are well-trained in good customer service techniques. 

11.Most importantly, do what you promised, do it when you promised, and do it more often than the competition.


Check back next Tuesday for more tips on Selling SunteckTTS. The full playlist of videos can be found on our YouTube channel.


Intermodal 101:Rates

Intermodal 101: Rates

Use of rail controlled, door to door offerings have some positive and negative components to consider. It is important to contemplate them when trying to determine if this option for intermodal shipping fits your needs.  This product offering has been beneficial to the railroads and doesn’t show signs of changing, but to understand why it is good for the railroad, it is important to understand the dynamics that lead to this service.  This post will discuss one of the major contributing factors – rates.

Historically, the rails went to market through a controlled network of 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) companies who held contracts with the rails to sell their service in a ramp to ramp environment.  The 3PLs who held these contracts are known as Intermodal Marketing Companies (IMCs).

It was the job of the IMC to coordinate the origin drayage, rail linehaul and the destination drayage, to put together a complete move from origin to destination.  This allowed the IMC to consider different rails and different drayage firms to arrive at the solution the customer was looking for – whether that was speed, ride quality, lower rates, etc.

This method relied on contracted rates between the rail providers and the IMC’s.  It may be Freight All Kinds (FAK) rates that are basically the same across all IMCs or Special Pricing Quotes (SPQs) that are put in place for a specific Beneficial Cargo Owner (BCO).

As railroad consolidation began to pick up steam, the rails decided to limit the number of IMCs they would allow.  Each IMC that had a contract in place could continue moving freight with the rail on a ramp to ramp basis.   This was an advantage for the IMC community, but was a restrictor to the railroads and their efforts to grow.

Going hand in hand with rates is equipment supply, which we will discuss in our next post.


Check in on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month for more information on intermodal and how it can benefit you!


Training Tuesday:Asking for Referrals

Training Tuesday: Asking for Customer Referrals

Referrals are the easiest sales you’ll make. It’s your job to tell a purchasing manager that SunteckTTS offers the best service available; that’s what he expects you to say. But when he hears it from a fellow purchasing manager then that’s something entirely different.

Always ask for referrals! Asking for referrals is the difference between middle-of-the-pack sales agents and star performers. And yet sales agents are usually terrified to ask for referrals. Don’t be timid. Always start by asking for referrals within their own company, on-site and at different locations. Then, branch out and ask for referrals to businesses in the area where they might know a decision-maker.

When asking for a referral, try and get this information: company name, contact name, new contact’s title, what they ship, address, telephone number, and how your client is acquainted with the referral. You should also ask permission to use their name when making the call.

Ask every prospect you meet for referrals, and ask every satisfied customer for a testimonial letter. If they don’t have time, offer to type up their comments and then get their signature. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain – ALWAYS ASK!

Using referrals and testimonials in your presentations and qualifying calls sends and reinforces the message that it’s a good business decision to trust you and SunteckTTS. Others have trusted you with good results.

People like working with a winner. In many ways it makes them feel like a winner too. When you demonstrate your successes you make the customer more comfortable with their decision to buy from SunteckTTS.

Repeat business and referrals are the two biggest keys to long-term success in transportation sales.


Check back next Tuesday for more tips on Selling SunteckTTS. The full playlist of videos can be found on our YouTube channel.


LTL 101:PODs and Additional Services Charges

LTL 101: PODs and Additional Services Charges

The last blog discussed educating shippers to ensure the BOL is set up correctly and to avoid a possible dispute with the carrier regarding the invoice. This week is discussing educating consignees so they know what to expect at the time of delivery.

It is very important to educate your consignee BEFORE the freight is delivered about what the process will be like. Will they need a liftgate? Will the driver be helping unload the freight in any form or manner? By asking these questions in advance, and by making sure that you are on the same page as the consignee, you can minimize additional charges on the invoice.

On the delivery receipt/proof of delivery (POD), issues should be noted if you suspect that the value of the product has been compromised. Make sure to note any damage to the packaging, and/or missing product. Having these notes on the POD makes it easier to file a freight claim with the carrier if necessary.

Another tactic you can take is refusing a shipment if there is damage; this means that the consignee does not accept the freight in the condition presented – meaning you will eventually file a damage claim. This will alert the carrier that something is wrong with the shipment and that they should get in touch with the appropriate party. Make sure you use this tactic responsibly and honestly, because if a shipment is not damaged the carrier can tack on a redelivery fee. Yikes!
Five of the most common additional services on a POD include:

  1. Lift Gate – Hydraulic lift on the rear of a truck used to assist in the unloading of freight.
  2. Inside Delivery – The driver is only responsible for moving the freight off the truck. If the driver helps move the freight more than a few feet away from the truck, even if it’s not “inside,” then an Inside Delivery fee may apply. Be very careful with this one because the terminology can be misleading and it varies by carrier.
  3. Limited Access (Residential) – This is up to the carrier’s discretion, however, there are locations that will always be deemed limited access.
  4. Sort/Segregate – Certain locations may require a carrier to sort and segregate a shipment. This is additional handling beyond the normal duties of a driver that will incur additional fee(s).
  5. Detention – With most LTL carriers, the first 30 minutes from when the driver arrives are free. Any additional time is subject to an additional detention fee.


So the next time you sign a POD when receiving your shipment, be sure to review it and see if any additional services listed are being used. Services can be pre-printed or added to the POD by a driver, and the additional charges may vary. In some cases, it may be good practice to have your consignee obtain a copy of the POD themselves.


Check back every 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month for more inside information on LTL through our Multimodal Wednesday Series.


Training Tuesday:Handling Rejection

Training Tuesday: Handling Rejection

Rejection is a daily occurrence in the sales profession. You’re going to be rejected.  How quickly and how well you recover will determine how successful your next sales call will be. If you are not careful, a rejection mishandled can lead to several more rejections.

The best SunteckTTS sales reps get rejected, maybe not as often as some, but it still happens.  Learn to accept rejection as an occupational hazard and move on.  One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to get rejected and never go back.  Don’t close the door on a client forever after receiving just one rejection.  People are more likely to give you their business if they know you really want it.  Stay in touch and demonstrate your professionalism.

75% of all salespeople quit after the first NO, another 5% quit after the second NO, and only 20% persist until the third NO. It’s not surprising that 20% of salespeople make 80% of all sales.

Persistence and proper handling of rejection will allow you the opportunity to overcome this rejection and make sales in the future.


Check back next Tuesday for more tips on Selling SunteckTTS. The full playlist of videos can be found on our YouTube channel.


Intermodal 101:Door to Door Rail

Intermodal 101: Door to Door Rail

For people who have not shipped via Intermodal in the past, utilizing rail controlled, door to door offerings can be an effective way to familiarize yourself with it.

Typically, an Intermodal shipment requires coordination of a drayman to handle the pickup, a railroad to move the shipment from origin ramp to destination ramp and another drayman to handle the delivery to the consignee.  This type of shipping usually results in an affordable transportation option for the shipper, though it can be daunting for a shipper. If the shipper lacks experience, coordinating these pieces can feel too risky to justify adding intermodal into their shipping process. In this case, the railroads have another option.

One of the options a shipper might utilize is “Door to Door” shipping on the railroads.  This option allows a shipper some of the advantages of shipping Intermodal, but the rail company is responsible for coordinating the details. The shipper is responsible for dispatching one party, the same as they do for an over-the- road (OTR) shipment.  There are several reasons that a shipper might find this advantageous.

First, the shippers’ operational system already allows them to set up a shipment with one carrier and one party to pay. A “Door to Door” shipment with the rail is a natural fit for that system, because it is only one party to pay.

Secondly, using “Door to Door” simplifies the monitoring of authority and insurance requirements to one party.

Finally, “Door to Door” reduces complications in accessing intermodal equipment, as the railroads have access to empty equipment from loads moving into the area a shipper is looking to ship from.

In the next installment, we will discuss more of the benefits and drawbacks of using the railroad “Door to Door” products.


Check in on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month for more information on intermodal and how it can benefit you!


Training Tuesday:Confirming the Sale

Training Tuesday: How to Confirm the Sale

There’s no magic to confirming the sale.  Right from the initial approach to the very end of your presentation, bit by bit, you should be confirming the sale. Relatively early in the presentation I let the prospect know that I expect him or her to make a decision at the close of my presentation. I go with my instincts.  I close the sale when my customer lets me know it’s time.  Closing or confirming the sale is the most natural thing about selling.

You have to have complete confidence in your ability to close the sale, if not, the prospect becomes consumed with doubt.  The prospect can sense when it’s time for you to confirm the sale, and it’s up to you to ask for the order.  They knew you were a salesperson when they agreed to see you, and if you lack confidence to ask for their business, they’re going to lack confidence in making a decision.  Hesitation is as contagious as confidence.

Your sales presentation should be smooth.  The close should have a rhythmic flow that naturally blends in with your proposal so that the prospect is unaware of a precise moment when he can think, ‘Ah, now he’s putting pressure on me to buy.’ Pressure selling is outdated and counterproductive.

The longer a customer has to think it over, the lower the odds become that you’ll make the sale.  I go with the odds and always make a strong attempt to close the sale while eye to eye with the prospect.

Do not oversell!  Some salespeople enjoy a successful close so much that they want to hear it again – even if it re-opens the door to a “NO.”  When the customer says yes – you should SHUT UP!  The sales pitch is now over.  You and the customer are now business partners.  Learn to take YES for an answer.

Be a closer (confirmer).  Your main objective is to get new business.  At the end of the presentation, a real sales professional will confirm with their prospect that they’ve done a good job.  That confirmation will come in the form of a sale.


Check back next Tuesday for more tips on Selling SunteckTTS. The full playlist of videos can be found on our YouTube channel.