Training Tuesday:Overcoming Objections

If it weren’t for objections everybody would be in sales. Without objections there’d be no need for companies to pay big, fat commission checks. So, while none of us likes objections, we must accept them as part of the business and make sure we know how to overcome them.

Your main goal when faced with an objection is to turn the objection around into a reason to purchase our service. If a prospect raises the ever-popular “Your rates are too high” objection, counter it by saying, “Our prices accurately reflect the value you’ll be getting from Sunteck. And good value is important to you, isn’t it?”

Occasionally you’ll run into a prospect in the traffic or purchasing department who’s sure he’s seen everything there is to see regarding freight companies. In other words, he’s seen it all. You might hear, “Get right to the bottom line and show me your rates?” Generally, all this person really wants is attention, and to show you how much he knows about our industry. Recognize his expertise and give him all the attention he craves. This is always a better way to handle a tough customer than to put him down. With compliments and kindness you can eventually win him over, or at least wear him down.

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.”
– W. Clement Stone

People love to buy but hate to be sold. Objections are inevitable. Not only should you expect objections, I think you should welcome them. An objection is a positive part of the sales process. A purchasing VP who gives you an objection is listening closely. They’re considering buying your service to solve their transportation problems. And most importantly, their objection gives you an opportunity to answer the objection and add one more good reason why they should buy from you now.

Expect objections, but never create them. Prepare a list of the top ten objections your customers and prospects have had with all their motor carriers in the past and then prepare two or three appropriate responses to answer each one.

When faced with an objection, first restate the question or statement.

  • “The rates are too high?”
  • “You feel your service is too slow?”
  • “You’re worried about damage?”
  • “You wish we offered next day service to Cleveland?”

Give the prospect an opportunity to confirm your understanding of his objection, and hopefully your prospective client will give additional reasons for his or her objection.

Clarify the objection.

  • “I’m curious why you feel that way?”
  • “Could you be more specific, please?”
  • “Do you need more information?”

Remember this is not a contest. Nobody should win or lose. This should be a conversation where two people are answering questions and gathering information.

After you’ve re-stated the question, and clarified the objection, and you’re sure you understand the objection fully, then answer it. Don’t just handle your customer’s objections, instead answer them. Answer the objection head on, honestly, simply, and succinctly. Handle objections early and often. A direct approach to handling objection guarantees greater sales results.

The right questions at the beginning of your presentation can help prevent objections at the end of it. For example, ask questions to confirm that your prospect has the authority to make a decision by himself to make sure you don’t hear, “I need to talk to Mr. Anderson about this,” right before you’re ready to close.

Be careful about what you say when faced with an objection based on one of your competitor’s services. I handle a prospect’s question, “What makes you think your truckload service to Akron is better than XYZ Truckload Carriers?” by responding, “I’ve never been a customer of theirs. I can only tell you what our customers say about Sunteck’s excellent service to Akron. I can be very specific with you about what Sunteck’s services are like. Then it’s up to you Mr. Prospect, to make a comparison.”

If I’m told that another carrier is also presently under consideration and asked to give an opinion of them, I reply, “It’s a fine company. The key is for you to determine who can give you the greatest value. Who’s going to help your bottom line? And when you run into difficulties, who is going to be there to solve your problems? I am. I’m the person who’s going to provide all of that for you. Through me and my access to all of the resources within Sunteck, we’ll get the job done.”

If you worked for a company that offered objection-proof service, you’d have no competitors. Every transportation company in the country has a shortcoming or limitation. If your prospect finds it, don’t try to prove him wrong. The fact that our service isn’t perfect doesn’t lower its potential value to the prospect, but the fact that you acknowledged the objection’s validity might help you build trust and rapport. Admitting our service’s imperfection also helps give the prospect a sense of control that may reduce his fear of making a buying decision.

When possible, let prospects answer their own objections. Sometimes you can stop an objection in its tracks by asking, “Could you tell me why you feel that way?” If your prospect can’t answer, then you and the prospect know the objection has little or no validity. If your prospect does answer with a more specific objection, you have a chance to eliminate it and move one step closer to the close.

Buying decisions are risky for your prospects. Choosing the wrong carrier can be harmful to the prospect’s career. Objections are the only way they have to help make sure that risk will pay off for them. If you can eliminate those objections, you’ll help provide the reassurance they need to say yes.

0 comments

Training Tuesday:Sales Presentation

 

Be sure to focus your presentation. Only after I spend considerable time conducting a consultative/fact-finding session do I present Sunteck’s services. Thorough research and questioning should give you an idea of your prospect’s logistic problems and the solutions you can provide. Tailor your presentation to suit each individual company and focus your presentation on the benefits—not features, that Sunteck has to offer. Before making the presentation ask yourself: what kind of presentation will convince the prospect to buy (analytical? logical? emotional?), then model your presentation to match them.

“Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. That many sales are killed everyday with the same weapon.”

Know your audience. Make absolutely sure that all the important decision-makers are in attendance. You’ll want as many VIP’s involved as possible to see your presentation of the quality transportation services that Sunteck offers. When possible, be sure to include the traffic manager, purchasing manager, maintenance supervisor, VP of sales, and anybody else involved in the final decision. Include the CEO or President of the company whenever possible. Be sure you know their level of expertise about the transportation industry, Sunteck, and their company’s shipping needs. Use terminology appropriate to the attendees’ knowledge of the transportation industry.

Prepare a presentation folder for everyone who will be in attendance. Since we’re selling an intangible service; this presentation folder will have to suffice for your product demonstration.

I only present the services that Sunteck offers which apply to the prospect’s needs that I uncovered on my consultative call. I stay close to my customers, and if their needs change, I make a new presentation based on their new needs. This way I don’t waste their time or mine. It also eliminates confusion.

Even in your sales presentation you must remember to be a good listener. Being a good listener generates confidence, and demonstrates sincerity in your desire to understand the prospect’s needs. During the fact-finding session, I let my prospect talk as long as he wants. It’s simply a matter of respect for the other person to let him have his say. Unfortunately, too many transportation salespeople forget to extend this basic courtesy during their sales presentation. Listening can’t be emphasized enough.

Most salespeople who are successful in our industry are strong supporters of concept selling. Consequently, each devotes a major portion of their presentation to securing agreement on the need that their particular transportation solution fills before specifically focusing on the nuts and bolts of how they move the prospect’s freight. We sell an intangible service, so we can’t actually give a demonstration (you can’t physically take the prospect along with their shipment on a Sunteck truck from their dock to the consignees dock – you can only describe what happens). The product we sell is nothing more than a promise – a commitment to the customer to move his or her freight when we said we would, at a reasonable price, with no damage.

The final phase in the presentation of a complicated sale to a large shipper, with several locations, might involve making a formal proposal, complete with a PowerPoint presentation, or flip charts and slides. Included might be a projection of cost savings, a plan to educate the customer’s shipping personnel, guaranteed or example supportable pick-up and delivery times, and special billing agreements. In short, the prospect is told, “I’m going to lay out the exact series of detailed events that will take place, complete with all service standards and procedures.” The prospect knows exactly what to expect, and because there will be no surprises, he or she will feel comfortable doing business with Sunteck. When presenting Sunteck’s shipping services to a group, always stand at the head of the table. Create a classroom atmosphere. Be the instructor, not ‘one of the gang.’

An even more difficult scenario than a group presentation for controlling the sale is selling over the telephone. Telephone selling offers no eye contact nor can you employ facial expressions or body language to help get your prospect’s attention. You also don’t know what distractions may be going on in his office while you’re trying to sell him. Never sell on the phone. You can agree to take a shipment to help the prospect out, but don’t attempt to sell him over the phone. Also, don’t give a discount over the phone. Make time to see the prospect in person; it serves him better, and protects you and Sunteck. Phone selling is for telemarketers, not for highly paid and highly trained sales agents. The consequences are obvious when a salesperson loses control of the conversation on the telephone. The prospective client can become distracted by other matters in his office and end the conversation. In a split second he can cut you off. In general, people’s poorest manners surface both more quickly and more frequently on the phone than when you’re face to face with them.

Psychologically, the most memorable parts of sales presentations are the beginning and the end, so they deserve special attention. Engage the prospect from the beginning and get to the point quickly with an imaginative opening that showcases the most important benefits of using Sunteck. Use your conclusion to summarize the key points of your presentation. As you plan it, ask yourself what lasting impressions you want to leave your prospect with before you finish and ask them to choose Sunteck.

“It’s not your customer’s job to remember you. It’s your responsibility to make sure they don’t forget you.”
– Patricia Fripp

Practice, practice, practice. Increase your odds of closing more sales by practicing your presentations. After you’ve made sales presentations, they become practice sessions for presentations you’ll give in the future.

Collect the ideas you’d like to suggest or selling points you want to make; then organize them according to your purpose and the needs of your prospect. Give your words greater credibility by backing them up with data or testimonials. Keep your words as simple and direct as possible; use active, not passive language; and vary your tone, volume and pitch to keep the prospect interested. Illustrate your words with examples and interesting stories to add color to your presentation.

Lastly, get to know everything you can about the transportation business – Sunteck – as well as the competition. Make sure the prospect realizes that you’re an expert. When you demonstrate how much you know about your industry, you’ll gain the respect of your customers and prospects. When people believe they’re dealing with an expert it’s a lot easier to close the sale. Most customers want you to advise them. When they realize that you have a great knowledge of the transportation industry and of available carriers, then they’re happy to let you take control. You become their consultant. It’s when a salesperson doesn’t know as much about the transportation industry as his or her prospect that people resent a strong sales presentation. However, there’s no doubt that traffic and purchasing people are better informed today than they’ve ever been.

The best way to make a compelling sales presentation is by demonstrating that you’re an expert in your business as well as his. When you exemplify excellence in your sales presentation, the customer is eager to find out what you can do to offer solutions to his or her particular transportation problems.

To make the best presentation possible, you must have conviction in the services you’re there to sell. A customer instinctively knows whether you believe in your service. If you do, they in turn will believe in you. Only then can you make a sales presentation that turns into a sale every time.

“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”
– Zig Zigler

0 comments

Training Tuesday:Fact Finding

I’m a big advocate of consultative selling. But before I tell you how great I think the consultative sales approach is, I want to warn you of the negative impact this type of selling has had on some salespeople. Some sales reps visit a customer two or three times, ask them every question they can think of except the most important question of all – asking the customer to buy their service.

If on the second call you don’t ask for the shipper’s business, it then becomes a social visit and not a sales call. You can and should qualify the customer and re-visit their needs on a regular basis. If they’re qualified to buy and you don’t offer Sunteck’s help, then you’re doing them a disservice. On the other hand, if you keep calling on a customer who’s not qualified, you’re stealing time and money from yourself. Be sure after you’ve made a consultative sales call that you follow up by asking for their business.

Treat all your sales work as a consulting assignment. Consultative selling turns salespeople into experts and clients into partners. When you first meet the prospect take your “sell” sign down for the majority, if not all, of your first call.

The best salespeople are professional problem solvers. We’re in the business of solving transportation problems. But you have to know and understand the problem first before you try to solve it. You have to be willing to walk in the door without any preconceived notions as to how best to solve the problems identified.

Since you sell to other companies, you should consider yourself in the business of solving profitability problems. That’s the key concern you’ll ultimately be addressing: how to increase profitability. Everything you do should eventually lead to the goal of the clients’ company increasing its level of profitability. If you can’t break your sales efforts into solutions that help the customer, you’ll either base your sales on manipulating others or fail to persuade prospects that you’re offering anything of value.

On every sales call, be the student, because you really are. In real estate, they say it’s all in the location. In transportation sales it’s questions, questions, and more questions. You’ll be surprised and sometimes shocked at what a customer will tell you.

Not only is the consultative sales approach effective in finding the correct sales solutions, it’s also very helpful in eliminating people who are not potential customers, thus saving you time in the long run.

Even though it’s okay to call an initial visit with a customer a qualifying call, don’t only make the call to qualify. Make the call primarily to learn.

Sales listening is patient listening. Don’t anxiously wait for an opportunity to jump in and solve all the customer’s problems right away. After I ask a question I shut up and allow my prospect to speak. Sometimes I wait for several minutes. I don’t feel threatened by the silence. Most salespeople can’t stand a pause in the conversation. Take a deep breath, relax, and listen. Some prospects want to be listened to more than they want their problems solved. If a client or prospective client has had a bad day, let them talk about it. Don’t try to stop them. Once they lighten themselves of their burdens they can better concentrate on Sunteck’s services.

Everyone is so busy that asking for someone’s time is a big request. A prospect that agrees over the phone to give you a ten-minute appointment will give you an hour in person once you establish value. One of the best ways to establish value is to show that they are important and that you recognize that fact. People love to talk about themselves, their jobs, and their companies. Encourage them to do so.

“Pretend that everyone you meet has a sign around their neck that says MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
– Mary Kay Ash

Transportation salespeople who have been in our industry for a long time should re-visit how they qualify and maintain accounts. It’s easy to start believing that you possess all the answers. Too often we make assumptions based on outdated information. Visit accounts often and ask questions. You never know what changes might have taken place since your last call until you ask.

Take notes! Taking notes during your meeting with the prospect can be one of your most powerful sales tools. It will reinforce the reason you made the appointment in the first place: to learn more about the prospect and his company’s transportation needs.

Taking notes helps you listen. There’s something about holding an empty notepad in front of you that makes you pay better attention to what is being said. It also makes it more difficult to miss important points.

Taking notes puts you in a position of authority. You can also glance at notes and questions you prepared prior to making the sales call. Taking notes will also encourage the prospect to open up. Taking notes sends strong positive signals to the prospect. It says, “I’m listening to you. I won’t forget. I’ll use the information you’re giving me to find solutions when I get back to my office.”

It’s a fine line between asking questions that will help the prospect solve their transportation problems, and a cross-examination. Be sure your prospect feels at ease. Be natural. The consultative sale should be a comfortable two-way conversation.

Never waste the prospect’s time. That may seem like an obvious point, but many of your competitors never know when to get to business, or for that matter, even when the appointment is over. There will come a point when the customer will be ready to move past the small talk, and usually it’s quicker than you might think. Your contact, like most of us these days, is short on time. Most traffic managers, purchasing managers, and other decision-makers you call on appreciate you getting to the point. You can tactfully do this without jeopardizing the emerging relationship.

First, give the prospect a reason he or she should answer your questions. Second, make sure everyone involved in the decision making process is present if at all possible.

Salesperson: “We currently work with General Motors, ASW Technologies, and (use your own local examples of similar companies) in several areas to improve their service while reducing their costs! I feel there’s a good chance we can do the same thing for you, but I’m not sure yet. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”

The prospect expects to answer questions and they’ll give you their permission to proceed.

Salesperson: “At most of the companies I’ve mentioned more than one person was involved in carrier selection. Are there any other people here that would be involved in this decision?” (If NO, proceed on. If YES, obtain their names and ask if they could also be present). Next, move on to your questions.

The following list will provide you with good examples of questions that you can adapt to your sales presentation. Know the questions you’re going to ask before you arrive at the customer’s desk. The list below is provided to stimulate ideas that will help you customize your own list. The information you collect from the customer’s answers will increase your chances of putting together a great proposal after you’ve made the consultative sales call.

1. What does your company do? Manufacturing? Distribution?

2. What do you ship? In what quantities? Expedited? Air? Truckload? LTL? Intermodal?

3. What commodities do you ship?

4. Where do you ship? Intrastate? Interstate?

5. What are some of the cities you ship to?

6. How often?

7. What service level is required? To where?

8. How is your product packaged? Skidded? Banded? Loose?

9. Average weight?

10. What is the normal pick-up time? What unusual pick-up requirements do you require?

11. Are your shipments normally prepaid? Collect? If so, what percentage?

12. What are your average monthly freight transportation costs?

13. Who’s handling these shipments now?

14. How long have you used them?

15. Do you have any vendors that you receive products from on a regular basis?

16. Who chooses the carrier that handles those shipments?

17. Where are those vendors located?

18. What commodities are they?

19. What is the frequency of those shipments?

20. Who’s handling those shipments now?

21. How long have you used them?

22. What percentage of shipments is routed by your customers?

23. How do you feel about your current service?

24. How do you feel about your current pricing?

25. What would you like to change about your current carrier’s pricing?

26. What is most important to you: service, carrier stability, technology, or something else?

27. Why?

28. How do you rate carriers? How is the rating communicated to the carrier? How often?

29. What are the ratings of the carriers you use today?

30. If you could change one thing overall about your current logistics provider, what would it be?

31. Does this problem lead to… (Build up problem with multiple implications / need pay-off questions)?

32. Would you change anything else?

33. What would cause you to begin using a different 3PL or carrier?

34. What is the volume of your cargo claims? Do you experience any frequent service failures?

35. Would you be interested in our EDI capability?

 

Last, but not least, be sure to wrap up the appointment by asking for the next appointment, and by getting a positive response on a trial close. It should sound like this:

Salesperson: “Mr. Smith, I’ve learned a lot here today, and I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. We’re at the point now where we should set up another appointment, one where I can come back after having sorted through everything I’ve learned here, and show you more about what Sunteck may be able to do for your company. Is Thursday at 2PM okay?”

Prospect: “Sure, next Thursday at 2PM will be just fine.”

Salesperson: “Great! One last question ( pause ) if you like the program I develop for you, would you be willing to give us a try?”

OR

Salesperson: “I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Based on what I just learned, I’m confident there’s a fit between our companies and that we can definitely help you solve some of your shipping problems. I’m going to make a commitment to you to develop a customized proposal, which will include my recommendations to you and your company. What I’d like in return from you is a commitment to give us a shot. Let us prove how good we are. I’m confident you’ll be very happy! Can I get that kind of commitment from you?

“Great! I’ll need about a week to get with my team back at the office and develop a package just for you. Is this time next week good for you?”

Both of these approaches let the prospect know that when you come back for your second appointment, your sale sign will go up. It prepares them to say “yes” when you come back later and ask them to buy.

We’ve focused so much of our respective sales energies on the consultative approach that very little emphasis is placed on the sales presentation. I think this is a huge mistake. In the old days, many salespeople could care less about what the customer wanted or needed; all their energy was on the presentation. Nowadays some people in transportation have no definable presentation at all. They just go back to the customer and answer any questions or shipping requirements that surfaced in the qualifying call. I think both are hugely important—the consultative call and the presentation. Give your customer a dynamic sales presentation. He deserves it. It will make you stand out from the other freight reps.

0 comments

Training Tuesday:Meet & Greet

The initial approach to a prospect is the most crucial part of the sales presentation. All the selling skills in the world won’t matter if you don’t get your foot in the door.

Up front I state my name, the company I represent — Sunteck, and the particular transportation services I’m there to sell. Unlike a lot of salesmen and saleswomen, I don’t beat around the bush. I’m a big advocate of concept selling. I tell the prospect, “I’d like to share an idea with you. I’m in the transportation business. I’m assuming that you’re always looking for ideas that will help your company ship or receive goods in a way that will make your company more efficient, more service driven, and more profitable. I’d like to run some ideas by you.”

This statement is a big attention-getter and opens the door. It creates immediate interest. Of course you have to substantiate your statement in your presentation.

The first moments of your sales call should create initial interest by making a statement. “Sunteck is in the business of providing solutions for a variety of different transportation needs. Technology is moving very fast, and I deal with many companies similar to yours. You need a transportation provider which not only can handle your current needs, but is also working on your needs for the future.” Another great opener is, “Our main goal at Sunteck is to enhance your productivity.”

Early in your initial meeting be sure to mention the names of several of your satisfied customers. This is done to establish credibility. It lets the prospect know that Sunteck’s shipping solutions have benefited leading logistic decision-makers that came to the well-informed decision to trust you and your ideas. I always make it a point to discuss other customers in their industry who are working in similar environments. I wouldn’t, for example, mention how we handle an account like Microsoft to a small locally owned computer software company. Their problems are so different that the prospect won’t be able to relate to an organization that is one hundred to one million times bigger. When I speak about familiar customers who have found the solutions to similar shipping problems through Sunteck, I get the prospect’s immediate attention.

When you use a prospect’s competitors or companies in similar industries as examples, it creates an opportunity to use another great opening approach. “Mr. Fulton, I’m Dave Dallas with Sunteck. Has Sean Clancy mentioned my name to you?” It doesn’t make any difference what the prospect answers, this breaks the ice. In fact, even when I don’t have a referral, I’ve been known to mention the name of one of the prospect’s competitors who’s a client of mine. Now, it’s highly unlikely that his competition would have talked to him about me, but again, it’s an icebreaker. And you can bet that he’s interested in all the transportation services that are available to his competition.

If I know beforehand that the prospect knows little about Sunteck and nothing about me, I sometimes send a short bio-sketch and a few magazine and newspaper articles that have featured Sunteck or were written by me. I provide something tangible to the prospect that adds a new dimension to the relationship. Rather than simply sending them a brochure about Sunteck, I personalize it, and at the same time the articles express something about me and my philosophy on transportation.

There are too many freight sales reps in the U.S. today to even come up with an accurate number. I think it’s important for your prospect to know about your qualifications. Tell the prospect about yourself. No grandstanding or patting yourself on the back, just an informative look at your career and the customers you’ve helped. It lets the prospect know that he’s dealing with a professional. It tells him that he’s not dealing with the run-of-the-mill freight rep. In the transportation business there are two kinds of sales people: those who add value to the client’s traffic department, and those who seem to mishandle every shipment or transaction their company is involved with (late, damaged, billed incorrectly, etc.). Let the customer know early on that you fall into the first category.

Of course, when the moment of truth arrives, you’ll have to find the best way to make a good first impression. Take into consideration the particular dynamics of your prospect’s age, position, and gender in comparison with your own. Accommodate and welcome the differences.

Every prospect will react differently to what you have to say. Some prospects will give you all the time in the world, while others believe making time for a ten minute meeting threatens a crisis. Some are skeptical, while others are freethinkers who pride themselves on being open to new ideas. The point is you can’t win everyone over with a single script designed to handle the first few minutes.

Usually there is an advantage to beginning an exchange by focusing on your own observations and experiences. Doing so takes some of the pressure off of the prospect, who’ll be expecting you to try to “draw him out.”

You can always find something that will serve as a positive conversational starting point that has to do with the way your prospect has chosen to decorate his or her surroundings. It may sound corny, but it’s a fact, people say a lot about themselves in the way they decorate their offices.

First impressions are lasting impressions. By using the advice in this chapter you‘ll put the customer at ease and give them confidence in Sunteck’s ability to handle their demanding logistic needs. In the process, you’ll develop a lot of new customers and lasting friendships.

“The better your relationships the shorter your sales cycle and the more money you will make.”

Here are fourteen additional suggestions that will help you create a winning first impression.

  1. Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe you can win the prospect’s confidence, you’ll self-destruct in the opening moments of your first sales call.
  2. Develop and maintain a positive attitude. The first thing a new prospect notices is if you’re upbeat and positive.
  3. Visualize the first meeting with your prospect before it takes place. It will help you become more assertive and confident.
  4. Shake hands firmly, but don’t overdo it. This applies to men and women. A weak handshake creates doubt in the mind of the prospect.
  5. Be conversational. Speak as though you’re talking to an old friend.
  6. Don’t prejudge the prospect. Everyone is different. Respect their differences.
  7. Qualify the buyer early, preferably before your first face-to-face meeting. Don’t waste your time on someone who has no impact on the decision about whether or not to use Sunteck.
  8. Believe in Sunteck and the services you sell. If you don’t, the prospect won’t either.
  9. Know the prospect’s industry before you make the call.
  10. Know the prospect’s business before you make the call.
  11. Look professional. Your appearance is the first thing the prospect notices.
  12. Be prompt. Lateness tells the prospect you don’t respect his or her time. In our industry, it’s particularly telling. How can the prospect expect Sunteck to be on time with his shipments if you can’t make it to your very first meeting on time?
  13. Use humor early. It’s one of your most effective sales tools. Laughter signals approval, so make your prospect laugh. Keep in mind, what is humorous to some, misses the mark with others. Keep your humor PG13.
  14. Be sincere. Sincerity wins customers – insincerity loses customers and prospective customers.
0 comments

Training Tuesday:Sales Prospecting

No matter what you have scheduled for your day there is one part of your job you should do every day – Prospecting. There are no sales without customers and there are no customers without frequent prospecting. You must keep prospects in your pipeline. Set a daily or weekly minimum number of cold calls or prospecting contacts for yourself – your success depends on it.

One of the biggest reasons transportation salespeople are reluctant to approach prospects is because they don’t feel confident about their company’s ability to provide the service the customer needs. A lack of confidence in Sunteck’s ability to do what we promise will stunt your desire to approach new prospects. You may be fearful that they might just buy. You have to believe that Sunteck can help your customer. You must know instinctively the benefit people will derive from working with you and you must believe in your heart that Sunteck’s efforts are in your customer’s best interests. If you’re leaving a trail of angry former customers in your wake – you’re destroying any chances at success with Sunteck. In my career as a transportation sales specialist I have run the gamut, selling for the best, customer driven carriers in the country, and for a period of time I represented a carrier that handled LTL and airfreight that had a lot of problems internally and with customer service. Working for a poor quality carrier can kill a promising career. The only way to salvage a promising career after making a bad career move is to correct it as soon as possible. Your reputation as a straight shooter and knowledgeable resource for your customer is your most valuable asset. Sunteck represents you as well as you represent Sunteck.

Sunteck is a company you can be proud of. Tell everyone you meet who you work for and what you sell. I’m not suggesting you subject everyone you meet to a sales pitch, simply let people know that you’re a salesperson for Sunteck. You’ll be surprised how often someone will say, “Sunteck, huh? You know, we’ve been thinking about trying a new 3PL partner.”

Be proud of being a salesperson. There’s no greater job than yours – we move America! What other professional salesperson can say that?

Okay, now that you represent a company you can be proud of, get busy prospecting.

  1. Talk to and develop relationships with everyone you meet in our industry. I’ve received tons of business over the years from sales reps from other trucking companies whose company could not provide the service the customer needed. Make sure your competitors know you and what you do. Share information. Never give away company secrets, but sometimes you can help each other achieve goals and gain new business you might not have uncovered without the help of others.
  2. Join clubs and organizations. You never know where your next big shipper will come from. Organizations that are good places to start are Traffic Clubs, Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, Civitan, Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, and the Optimists.
  3. Subscribe to magazines like “Transport Topics” and “Traffic World”. Read through trade publications that would apply to your largest customers (automotive, plastics, medical suppliers, etc.). Read your local newspaper and one national or business paper daily, paying particular attention to the business sections.
  4. Attend trade shows and seminars. Those that are aimed at trucking and air freight, as well as major tradeshows specific to your biggest customers’ industries. This can be a great opportunity to exchange business cards, and pick up some great leads.
  5. Give speeches every chance you get. Don’t sell from the podium, but make sure everyone gets one of your business cards. This establishes you as an expert in our industry. After just one or two speeches, you’ll be recognized as the most knowledgeable transportation specialist in your local area.
  6. Take the time to write an occasional article and submit to any publication that might print your ideas, even letters to the editor. This is another way for you to be recognized as an expert. It also adds credibility when you present copies of your published articles to new prospects.
  7. Offer help and resources at fundraisers, telethons, and charity drives. Make sure that Sunteck’s name is associated with good deeds that take place in your community. Have an inexpensive sign made so that your agency will receive the good-will generated from such an event.
  8. Develop and practice networking skills – one of the most powerful business tool. Read all the articles you can about networking. Mastering networking could be the difference between a mediocre and magnificent career.
  9. Surround yourself with successful people. It’s the best way to learn how to be successful yourself. It will pay dividends now and in the future. At the same time, avoid negative people who are not striving for success.

There are several things that a salesperson should do before making an actual face-to-face presentation. Obviously, an appointment must be made with the prospect. These appointments will usually be set by telephone. Also, make sure that you’re qualified to make the sales call (qualified means that you have the necessary product knowledge, are properly prepared to answer all industry-related questions, and possess a basic understanding of the customer’s needs). Effective time management is essential to achieve the maximum number of sales presentations each day.

Poor appointment setting habits can be the death of a productive sales week. Appointment scheduling and general office work should not be performed during prime selling time. Broken appointments, however, create an opportunity to set appointments for the following week. Appointment setting, in my opinion, is the second best use of prime selling time, with face-to-face sales presentations being in first place by a wide margin.

When setting appointments, always consider the characteristics of your territory. Divide your territory into industrial parks and city areas that will accommodate your ability to make the most sales presentations in one day. Too much windshield time kills your earning potential. Remember, your goal is more sales presentations and less wasted time and energy.

Before you pick up the telephone you should have in your possession the following information: the decision-makers name, title (purchasing manager, traffic manager, material control manager, warehouse supervisor, etc.), address, phone number, and information on how you obtained the lead. A qualified prospect is anybody who ships or receives freight or makes those decisions for other locations. If you received this lead from a referral, be sure to have your source’s name ready to cite to the prospect. Referred prospects are by far Sunteck’s best leads.

Never call a prospect without knowing his or her name in advance. For example, if I want to speak to the Vice President of Purchasing at EFG Company, but don’t know his name, I make a call a day or so in advance and ask the main switchboard operator or receptionist, “Who is your company’s purchasing VP?” Later, I put in a call to the proper individual. The internet is also a great source for this information.

There are many obstacles you will face in setting your appointments: getting past the gatekeeper, getting your prospect to agree to a face-to-face meeting, and the dreaded voicemail system.

When speaking to an assistant or receptionist, assume control of the conversation quickly. This is an absolute must. If she asks too many questions, there’s a good chance she’ll suggest that she’ll relay your message to the Director of traffic, and “If he’s interested, he’ll call you back.” You have to be the person who speaks to the prospect— not a disinterested, uninformed third party, in this case—the receptionist! You could lose the sale before you’ve even had the opportunity to present Sunteck’s services. Because there are so many sales reps representing so many freight companies, people managing the movement of their company’s freight are besieged by your competitors making cold calls and it is more difficult than ever to get through to a prospect. To compound the problem, cold calls are even more difficult when a transportation salesperson represents a company whose name is unfamiliar to the general public. In some cases, the prestigious reputation of a major company serves as an effective door opener. A call from a sales representative with Sunteck, FedEx, or UPS for example, is more likely to capture the immediate respect of a gatekeeper. There are times though when representing a well-known company can backfire. It’s an immediate tip-off that the caller is selling for a transportation company when the salesperson identifies himself as being with Sunteck, which often is followed with a, “We’re not interested, we’re happy with our current carrier,” response.

Your only objective for using the telephone on a cold call is to schedule an appointment. Never attempt to sell at this stage. Your only objective is to set up a time for the prospect to hear your presentation.

As little as necessary should be said to the gatekeeper. Assume that the call will be put through. Sound important and confident, but not pushy. I simply say, “Hello, this is Dave Dallas. Is Mr. Johnson in?” Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

However, when I’m calling a referral and I’m asked, “Does Mr. Johnson know you?” I say, “Carl Walker recommended that I call Mr. Johnson. Is Mr. Johnson in?”

If it’s not a referral, I say, “I’ve been assisting people in the plastics industry (or whatever business they happen to be in), and I’d like to share some important information with Mr. Johnson.” Once again, assertively ask, “Is Mr. Johnson in?”

If asked, “What are you selling?” I reply, “I’m with Sunteck. I help companies increase profits, while improving customer service.” I pause, and then ask, “Is Mr. Johnson in?”

Because I speak with conviction, I’m rarely asked additional questions and my call is put through.

This approach works for three reasons:

  1. I’m persistent, but polite.
  2. I’m well prepared with answers. I don’t stutter and stumble for an answer when questioned by the gatekeeper; and
  3. I’m aggressive and I control the conversation by not pausing in my responses long enough to give the gatekeeper an opening to ask more questions.

It’s a matter of how you see and carry yourself. You must always keep in mind that your objective is not to leave the decision in the hands of a third party screening the prospects’ calls. The assistant or receptionist should not be permitted to be the one who determines whether the prospect is interested in learning more about Sunteck. The decisions your prospects make on who they will trust to ship the products they manufacture is one of the most important decisions they make. Be persistent. Make sure they get the opportunity to enjoy the benefits that only you can sell them.

0 comments

Training Tuesday:Sales Planning

 

Your job is to help your customer become more profitable by delivering their products to their customers on time, undamaged and for a price that is compatible with the level of service provided. You’re not selling space on a truck. You’re moving America and the world. You’re helping Sunteck’s customers by increasing their ability to better service their customers; and, best of all, you can earn great money doing it.

Work to develop your sales skills and to increase your knowledge of the transportation industry and your customer’s industry. Read more and listen better. What your customer is buying from you is increased sales and better service to their customers. The more often you can provide solutions to your customer’s transportation needs, the more frequently they will call you for assistance, the more money you’ll make, and the more money your customer will make.

You become a vital part of your client’s success when you provide them information they don’t already have. Your value increases when you help them solve problems they’re having difficulty solving themselves. You waste their time when you tell them things they already know. Resolve to prepare better for your calls and to become an asset to your clients—become one of their business “partners.”

You must establish yourself as the expert in solving shippers’ problems.
Your goal is to be an authority.

Selling is the best job in the world! Combine selling with Sunteck and you have two components that guarantee success. Professional salespeople enjoy unlimited income, freedom, and a clear means to take control of their career. Sunteck on the other hand, provides services that are needed by virtually every company in the U.S. Your profession, transportation sales, beats any other occupation hands down.

“SELLING SUNTECK” is a tremendous tool for you, the Sunteck sales professional. Use the information provided here to help distinguish you from all the other transportation sales people your client will see this year.

Your customers are better informed than ever before. The tremendous amount of information available to your clients and the speed in which they can acquire it is so fast. Thanks to the internet, it’s literally at their fingertips. From your very first contact with a prospect you must be able to demonstrate your knowledge and your successes with previous customers. You must also show an interest in their business and needs. Listen and be prepared to discuss the specific ways you have increased your current clients’ profitability through specific benefits you’ve delivered.

In a push to adopt a consultative sales approach, many transportation sales people have forgotten their number one goal – to sell something. Be aggressive. You’re in charge. Sell the Sunteck solution. Ask prospective customers what they do, how they do it, when they do it, why they do it a particular way, and how you can help them do it better.

There are three stages that complete a successful sale when selling Sunteck. To grow and maintain your successful Sunteck agency, you must master all three. They are simple and easy to learn, but due to their simplicity, they are also easy to forget or to omit.

The three distinct stages of selling that will ensure your agency’s success and growth are summed up by your focus and expertise before, during, and after “The Sell.” Each stage deserves special attention. Once you’ve mastered the time proven techniques applicable to each step in the sales process, you’ll see your revenue soar. ‘Selling Sunteck’ leads you through each stage:

  • Before ‘The Sell’ – Planning, Prospecting, Appointment Setting
  • ‘The Sell’ – Meet & Greet, The Fact Finding Session, The Sales Presentation, Overcoming Objections, Pricing, Confirming the Sale
  • After ‘The Sell’ – Handling Rejection, Referrals & Testimonials, Customer Service, Handling Problems, Handling Stress
  • Everyone has the ability to successfully sell Sunteck. ‘Selling Sunteck’ provides you with the tools you will need to achieve your sales goals. So, get started ‘Selling Sunteck’ today.

    Planning
    In the complex world of transportation sales, the game is won or lost before the salesperson even walks in the door. Preparation before the sales call is critical!

    The surgeon who performs surgery on you or a loved one studied medicine, did his internship, and is properly licensed. You wouldn’t expect him to walk into the operating room without being properly prepared. As in any profession – medicine, law, accounting, and architecture – customers deserve the same treatment from the Sunteck sales professional.

    How many times have you been confronted by a salesperson that knows nothing about you or your business? Did they launch into a barrage of “situation” questions and expect you to take the time to educate them? Or, worse yet, the salesperson doesn’t ask any questions. They jump right into their presentation on something in which you have no interest or need. Unfortunately, the salesperson that is ‘shooting from the hip’ is the norm, not the exception.

    “You have to do what others won’t to achieve what others don’t”

    The planning process is critical to the success of any sales call. The transportation industry is ever-changing and unless you keep abreast of it, you can’t properly serve your clients.

    Knowledge is power. Obviously, to successfully sell Sunteck, you should know all there is to know about Sunteck service, your industry, your competitors, and your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You should also take time to familiarize yourself with everything you can possibly find out about your prospective client before making your first contact with them.

    “The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare.”
    – Thane Yost

    There are many ways to be better prepared. Listed below are what I consider to be the big four.

    1. Know our industry. It’s your job to know as much as you can about the transportation industry. Know the strengths and weaknesses of the major motor carriers and major motor carriers and logistics providers. Technology is rapidly changing. New transportation services are being offered continuously.

    Successful salespeople read industry specific periodicals. You can put yourself at a distinct competitive advantage in comparison with many salespeople by becoming familiar with these publications and other regional magazines just like them. Use them to keep abreast of industry trends. Extensive and up-to-date knowledge of your industry provides your customers with greater confidence in your recommendations and ability.

    2. Know Sunteck. By having a clear, thorough understanding of Sunteck, you’ll field customer questions and objections more easily. Know your customers’ preferred buying conditions and why certain customers do not choose Sunteck as their carrier of choice. What areas need improvement? Know what is unique or value-added about Sunteck’s services. To give an honest and realistic presentation of Sunteck’s shipping solutions, you must be candidly aware of our true market position. Learn as much as possible about the history of Sunteck by talking with other Sunteck agents, members of the Agent Advisory Board, the Agent Response Team and others involved in our business. Read all company brochures, magazine articles, and Sunteck’s website. And finally, develop a written presentation about Sunteck. Use the key ideas in your sales presentations.

    3. Know your competition. Learn everything you can about your competition. Know their strengths and weaknesses and ask your customers what they like or dislike about your competitors. In what areas do they excel? What services are inefficient? What are some of their unique services? Compare Sunteck’s Service with that of your competition. Also compare features, equipment, billing processes, service levels, dispatching methods, and any other aspects of their company that makes a comparison possible. Thorough research of your competitors’ services provides you with the differentiating factors and where you can contribute to making changes that will improve your agency’s performance.

    4. Know your customer. Complete knowledge of your customer’s company will show interest, always impresses, and represents an important first step in earning a customer’s confidence and business. Do you know how your customers use Sunteck and what they demand from their carriers? Do you know their requirements for service? Survey your customers on a regular basis. Let your customers educate you on where your agency and Sunteck should be headed. Learn as much as you can about each customer before making a sales call. Well-prepared salespeople are perceived as more professional. Exhibiting an understanding of the customer’s company and business speeds the vital relationship building process.

    You must be mentally prepared before you make a sales call. The old saying You never get a second chance to make a first impression is important to remember. If this is the first call, the degree to which a salesperson can create rapport and build trust is in direct relationship to the amount of preparation that has taken place before the sales call is made. Preparation is not just limited to the first call. The result of every sales call reflects the amount of time the salesperson invested getting ready for the appointment.

0 comments

Value AddedSales

There are more and more salespeople who have adopted a value-added approach to sales as a means to differentiate themselves from competitors, but few of them put a real dollar value on the value-added benefits and services they provide.
Don’t forget, all benefits are claims, which means they are largely intangible and often difficult for your customer to grasp. When presenting value-added benefits, the proof of their value is even more intangible. The customer is usually not seeking it or paying for it, and may not even realize that they exist. However, identifying value-added benefits often requires a number of resources or services. A salesperson must make the value-added benefit as concrete and tangible as possible, and then present it effectively, in a way that decision-makers both understand and appreciate it.
HOW TO QUANTIFY VALUE-ADDED BENEFITS
With a bit of creativity and some number-crunching, a salesperson should be able to quantify most value-added benefits. Also, while all value-added benefits should be presented and reinforced – including benefits that are difficult to quantify, like relationships and trust – quantified benefits are more visible and leave a positive and lasting impression with the customer. Here are some pointers on quantifying these benefits.
• Start with the value of the benefit. If the benefit cannot be measured in specific terms, try to compute the cost of the service that provides the value-added benefit. For example, your company provides its customers with a customer portal (value-added service), and while the entire transportation department at the customer location can now easily access specific shipment information in one location (invoices, POD’s, other shipment related paperwork), instead of making multiple calls to carriers to check on the status of a particular shipment, there’s no way of measuring how much this has contributed to their bottom line. However, with research you can determine that the portal, based on the number of shipments and confirmation calls required prior to offering that service, will save the customer four hours per week.
• Measure value in bottom-line dollars. Think in terms of profit increases, reduced overhead, increased productivity, and so on. As an example, it’s more effective to say, “If you follow my inventory suggestion, you’ll be able to generate a $10,000 annual return on the space saved,” than it is to use the less effective statement, “You’ll be able to find a more productive use for the 3,000 square feet saved by the inventory reduction.”
• Link value-added services or benefits to make a more sizable benefit. Keep this in mind when quantifying the total value-added contribution. Measure values individually but link them to increase the total amount of the benefits accruing to the customer.
• Project the values over a longer period of time. Obviously, if a value-added benefit has a life cycle of six months or isn’t enhanced over time, you’re limited. However, if you provide ongoing benefit to the customer, you have earned the right to value it over a longer period of time. Many salespeople project value over a period of one to three years. Use common sense to choose a time period appropriate to the specific value-added benefit. For example, it’s more effective to say, “We estimate that our just-in-time service will allow you to save $8,000 a year in inventory costs,” than it is to say, “Our JIT service might help you save up to $150 per week.”
SELL VALUE ON EVERY CALL
If you’ve provided a significant value-added service to a customer, you should capitalize on it immediately, which may be on your next sales call.
Value-added benefits are special and should be presented on their own stage. Do not merge them with product benefits or present them casually. Set the stage by using a transition, such as, “In addition to our normal service, we are pleased that we could allocate staff specifically to manage your freight needs for your eight distribution centers during the quarter. I estimate that this extra service will save you over $6,000 in actual costs and, in addition, adds value by ensuring each shipment gets individual attention and receives the best price and service.”
Always document your data to reinforce the specific and measurable values. Either show the customer your figures in a clear presentation prepared in advance, or dramatically recreate your estimates and calculations on the spot.
When you’re presenting to a new decision-maker or new account, be prepared to cite value-added success stories that you have generated for other accounts. Treat these experiences as “case studies,” and use them to differentiate your offering and improve your presentation.
Value-added summary
1. All value-added benefits provide value to the customer, and most values can be quantified.
2. When quantifying value, the ideal method is to measure the benefit. If this can’t be done, quantify the cost of providing the service (what it costs your company to provide this benefit).
3. If more than one value-added benefit, service, or resource is involved, link them by adding or multiplying as needed.
4. To maximize the value, project the benefits over the long term.

0 comments

The SuperBowl of Success

This week there will be a lot of talk about winners and losers.  There’s not always a tremendous amount of difference between the two, especially in a game like the Super Bowl.  Both teams have a string of victories, the Broncos and Panthers have made many right decisions, they’ve taken chances that other teams haven’t, and both teams deserve to be in the biggest game of the year.  But, when the clock runs out Sunday night, there will be only one winner – one team will be immortalized in the pro football record books, and winning players and coaches will enjoy the benefits of victory even after their careers have ended.  While there probably isn’t a single sale, business decision, or career victory that will define you until you retire, there are some real differences between winners and losers in business.  So, let’s go team – get out there and be a winner – give a ‘Super Bowl’ worthy performance every single day:

A WINNER isn’t nearly as afraid of losing as a loser is secretly afraid of winning.

A WINNER works harder than a loser, and still has more time; a loser is always ‘Too busy’ to do what’s necessary.

A WINNER works through a problem; a loser goes around it, and never gets past it.

A WINNER makes commitments; a loser makes (and breaks) promises.

A WINNER knows what to fight for, and what to compromise on; a loser compromises on what he shouldn’t and fights for what isn’t worth fighting for.

A WINNER says, “I’m pretty good, but not as good as I can be”; a loser says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people.”

A WINNER listens; a loser simply waits until it’s his turn to talk.

A WINNER feels responsible for more than his job; a loser says, “I only work here.”

A WINNER says, “There ought to be a better way to do it”; a loser says, “That’s the way it’s always been done.”

Luckily, your career and your success won’t be defined by a single event.  Follow these winning tips and be the MVP that you were meant to be.

0 comments

An unhappycustomer may sink your success

One unhappy customer may not seem like much, but when one customer shares a complaint, it represents the tip of an iceberg.  According to a Washington, D.C. consulting group that conducts  customer satisfaction surveys, every customer who complains is speaking for many others who feel the same way but they don’t make the time to call.  Most customers don’t complain.  It’s a well-known fact that most customers who have a bad experience are simply too busy to call and to make a complaint.  They usually just stop doing business with you.  When you don’t know, or don’t realize, that you have an unsatisfied customer, you have a problem that gets worse when that unsatisfied customer shares their negative experience with others.  And, industry surveys prove that, even though they may not tell you how upset they were by your service, they will gladly tell others.  Knowing that a customer is unhappy gives you an opportunity to remedy the situation for that customer today and to head off problems with other customers in the future.

0 comments