Training Tuesday:Escaping a Sales Rut

Do you feel trapped in a “rut” and unable to make any real progress towards your sales milestones? Unsure how to break free from that trapped feeling? There are a million techniques for improving your success in sales, but sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most helpful.

Of course, it is important to remain focused on your goals in order to complete them, however, it is also important to avoid “burnout” that can occur from working all the time and feeling unfulfilled by that work. You must clarify your reasons for working in your field, also make sure that you leave time to relax and de-stress. Sales is a field full of rejection, and hearing “no” after “no” can be extremely disheartening if you aren’t clear with yourself on why you are working in this field. You must be prepared to combat that rejection with techniques for relaxing and re-centering yourself. Being able to accept a rejection, without letting it get to you, is always going to be challenging, but it is important to develop strategies to cope with the overwhelming amount of rejections that you will receive throughout the course of your career as a salesperson.

In addition, you can improve your sales success by remembering that even the most successful and accomplished salesperson can improve somehow. Committing to going back to the basics and refreshing your training in a particular sales area can be extremely helpful. Strengthening your foundational sales skills will allow you to build your more advanced sales skills in a more well-rounded way. Listening is the most important skill you can cultivate as a salesperson, and working on active listening and really absorbing what the prospect is telling you will never hurt your sales success rate.

An attitude adjustment can also be one of your best tools in breaking out of a professional or sales rut. Remember that your thoughts and feelings about yourself and your job can influence your behavior, and therefore, the reactions that others may have to you and your sales techniques. Your attitude is your most important weapon for moving into greater success – you can control how you react and think in various sales situations. Once you learn to control your own thoughts, fears, and beliefs, you can begin to change them to become more productive and helpful patterns.


LTL 101:Freight Classifications

It is VERY important you understand freight class. If you incorrectly classify your item to be shipped it can be reclassified by the freight carrier. Disputing this is difficult, time consuming and you will be charged the difference (usually without a discount).

The National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC®) is a standard that provides a comparison of commodities moving in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce. Commodities are grouped into one of 18 classes—from a low of class 50 to a high of class 500—based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, stow-ability, handling, and liability. Together, these characteristics establish a commodity’s “transportability.”
By analyzing commodities on the basis of the four transportation characteristics and ONLY on the basis of those characteristics, the NMFC provides both carriers and shippers with a standard NMFC number or code by which to begin negotiations and greatly simplifies the comparative evaluation of the many thousands of products moving in today’s competitive marketplace.

If you don’t have an NMFC number/code listed on your BOL, there is a good possibility that your freight will be reclassified. Some carriers will assign an arbitrary class if there is no code listed on the BOL, often outlined in a carrier’s rules tariff. This, along with the proper code, will greatly reduce the possibility of additional reclass charges.

Don’t forget we are participants of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association which means we have access to multiple ways of obtaining the correct NMFC number/code for your shipments. If you have any questions or doubts regarding your product’s freight class, please reach out to the LTL Team.


Training Tuesday:Customer Service Tips

Customer service is an essential part of the sales process, even though it may not seem that way at first. Offering your clients and prospective clients excellent customer service is a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition – and it can help you win customers and keep the ones you already have. Below are some tips for improving your customer service and relationships with customers.

  1. Stop apologizing. Instead, start thanking the customer for their patience in letting you handle their issue and resolve their problem. This puts you in a stronger position to be able to keep the customer happy and let’s them know that you are sincere and going to help them.
  2. Use positive language. Each interaction with your clients and prospects is shaped by the language you use. Similar to the tip above to change the way you frame apologies, using positive language can influence the customer to feeling better about working with you and their experience with your company overall.
  3. Manage time appropriately. This pertains not just to managing your schedule to give clients and prospects the time they need, but also to using the time you spend with them wisely. You want to be respectful of their time and yours.
  4. Structure conversations and interactions. Remember that first impressions are important, but so is knowing when and how to close. Being able to end a conversation or interaction naturally, and without neglecting any important components is crucial to successful sales calls and customer service.
  5. Create a smooth experience for the customer. Don’t just be their contact for the sale and then leave them alone. Be available and in contact with them throughout their time working with your company so you can help ensure they have a positive experience. If you can help smooth pain points and transitions, it will not only showcase the value you and your company add, but it will also make them more likely to continue being a customer and to recommend or refer you to other people in their industry.

Obviously, customer service will always be a complex task that can’t be explained or resolved in 5 tips or even 500. It is always a process, and you can always improve your skills, but having a diverse set of tricks up your sleeve will only increase your ability to work with a diverse customer base.


Training Tuesday:Improving Your Sales Pitch

If you’ve done proper prospecting and initial calls, then you’ve finally reached the part of the selling process that means you get to really start selling. It can be exciting, but in addition to being your biggest opportunity for success, it can be your biggest opening for failure as well. If you don’t approach the sales pitch properly, then you risk losing sales and wasting your time. There are tons of tips out there on how to give “the best sales pitch ever” and many of them are great, but the important thing is to find out which tips make your selling process smoother and more successful.

Below are a few of our tips for improving your sales pitch:

  1. Focus your pitch. Before each major sales pitch, you should have had some contact with the prospect to gather details and information to personalize your pitch for the client in question. If you can take the information you discussed with the prospect during the information gathering stage and use it to focus your sales pitch, then you can ensure you discuss topics that are relevant to your prospect. For example, if most of the initial call was spent discussing one particular need, you would likely be most successful if you focused on that issue during your pitch.
  2. Sell solutions. Figure out what challenges or situations your client needs help with, and then find the services you offer that will provide them with a solution. Presenting them with the solution to their challenge will always be more appealing to them than just selling benefits or generic services. Don’t just focus on features, focus on how those features could be the solution to their biggest pain point.
  3. Always have the next step ready. Determine your goal for the pitch, if you want the sale, go for the close, but if not, make sure you are prepared with the next step the prospect will take with you. If it is another meeting, set it up at the end of the first meeting. If you’ve made the sale, set up the next steps for them becoming a full-on customer.
  4. Keep your pitch short and sweet. We all have busy schedules and short attention spans. It is important to keep your pitch short and make your point quickly. If you can make your point succinctly, it will not only be appreciated, but it will allow you to hold your prospect’s full attention throughout your presentation.

Some of these tips may be useful to you, some may not, but figuring out the best combination of these types of tips that will work for you is the key to being successful in sales.


LTL 101: Restricted Commodities

Did you know that certain types of commodities cannot be shipped via LTL carriers due to governmental regulations and that LTL carriers can refuse to accept certain items as a matter of company policy? In many cases, the root issue is liability — certain items are too valuable and/or high target items for theft to make them worth the risk to handle and transport.
Items of Extraordinary Value:
Carriers have different policies regarding these items and they may be willing to accept certain items if they have the appropriate insurance coverage and specialize in the transport of valuable merchandise.
Restricted or Prohibited Items:
Another group of items that LTL carriers may refuse to transport are those excluded by government regulations or due to being extremely hazardous in nature. In addition, carriers that lack the proper storage and stowage equipment to maintain the proper temperature will refuse certain items, such as refrigerated items. Finally, certain items (such as canoes) may be prohibited by certain carriers because of their size, shape, difficulty to stow and difficulty to handle.  
Do your homework and research LTL Carriers Carefully!

Restricted Commodities are listed in the Rules Tariffs of each LTL Carrier. To give you an example of how complex some of these Restricted Commodities sections are, please visit FedEx’s “Prohibited and Restricted Articles” section of their rules tariff by clicking the link:

Make sure to address specific questions to the carrier you are considering. Within the world of LTL carriers there is a great deal of specialization. For instance, some carriers specialize in the transport of perishable items or hazardous materials. If you have items to transport that fall into both of these categories, you may be forced to hire two separate LTL carriers. 
Whatever company you choose to move your hard-to-handle item(s), make sure to do your homework. Make sure you select a freight company with a solid track record, solid liability coverage, and solid maintenance and quality control processes to ensure top performance.


Training Tuesday:Tips for Better Sales Calling

Cold calling is a key part of the prospecting process for many salespeople, and it is also one of the most dreaded parts. Calling someone who has never heard of your company or thought about why they might need what you can offer will always be tricky. Below are some of our best tips to making your cold calling process less stressful and more successful.

  1. Plan, Prepare, Practice. Being prepared for each call will make the call smoother, increase your confidence and ensure that you aren’t wasting your or the prospect’s time. Research who the decision maker is, what their pain points are, who their competitors are, and what value you may be able to add that will convince them to give you a shot. Also, just as you have a prepared and practiced sales presentation for an in-person meeting, you should practice and prepare to run a smooth phone call that will ultimately encourage your prospect to meet with you in person or through further phone calls.
  2. Schedule your calls. It is important to schedule your calls for you schedule, but also around what will hopefully suit your prospects schedules. Try a variety of times – mid-morning, early afternoon, etc. – to see what gets you the greatest number of answered calls and best responses and interactions during the calls. If you notice that prospects are most receptive in the mid-afternoon, plan your day around being able to make calls at that time, don’t waste your time calling when people aren’t willing to answer.
  3. Perfect your talking-to-listening ratio. Start the call with a good opening, make sure you connect with the prospect and humanize yourself, but don’t waste too much time on small talk or introductions. Get started by getting the qualifying information you need and then listen to what the prospect is telling you. If you don’t listen, you can’t find places to add value and answer questions in a way best tailored to the prospect and their needs.
  4. Remember, the initial call is only selling them on additional calls – not on purchasing or using your services. The initial call is the time to gather information and start building the prospect’s trust. You want to make sure they feel comfortable with you and are willing to listen when you start an actual full sales pitch. Use the first call to get their attention, qualify them as a client, and prepare the information you need in order to really sell them the products or services they need.

Cold calling will never be the best part of the job, but with a little patience and practice, you’ll begin to develop an approach that works for you and your prospective client base. Having a plan for calls, and lots of practice through real calls and role-played situations, will increase your confidence and make your cold calling process much more successful.