Training Tuesday:First Impressions

There are too many freight sales reps in the U.S. today to even come up with an accurate number. It is 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 they’re dealing with a professional.

If I know beforehand that the prospect knows little about my company, and nothing about me, I sometimes send over a short bio-sketch and a few magazine or newspaper articles that discuss the company 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, I personalize it, and at the same time the articles express something about me and my philosophy on transportation.

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 in. 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 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.

Making a first impression requires a bit of work, but it is an essential part of the sales process and worth the effort.


Training Tuesday:Making Appointments

There are several things a salesperson should do before making an actual face-to-face presentation. Obviously, an appointment must be made with the prospect. Also, the salesperson must be qualified to make the sales call, meaning that they must have acquired 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 ruin 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.

When setting appointments, always consider the characteristics of your territory to ensure you are able to make the most sales presentations possible in a day. Too much windshield time kills your earning potential. Remember, your goal should always be 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 maker’s 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.

Never call a prospect without knowing his or her name in advance. You can call a day or two in advance to ask the main receptionist the name of the purchasing VP or whomever you’d like to connect with, and then call back later to the specific individual. You can also search the internet for the needed information.

Your only objective for a cold call is to schedule an appointment. Never attempt to sell at this stage, instead aim to set up a time for the prospect to hear your presentation.  Sound important and confident, but not pushy. Be persistent, but polite, and always be well-prepared with answers to the most common questions about why they should meet with you.

Much of this part of the process is about how you see and carry yourself. 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.


Training Tuesday– Sales Questions

Asking questions that turn into sales is an extremely important part of the sales business. You must pay attention to the needs of your client, spot subtle buying signals, know when to foster an open dialogue, and know what questions to ask.

One of the most critical elements to a successful sales call is asking good sales questions. Prior to every sales call or customer meeting, it’s a good idea to think through and write down a list of twelve to fifteen sales questions you want to ask a potential customer during the meeting. You may not get the opportunity to ask all of them, but you must be prepared to get as much information as possible.

Below is a list of generic, consultative sales questions to get you started. Building greater levels of prospect trust, more quickly, is the best way to increase your selling success. Asking your prospects well-thought-out questions is one of the key ways to build prospect trust.

These sales questions are not in any specific order – choose the questions that best fit your sales situation.

1.How do you manage your transportation needs today?

2.What are the disadvantages of the way you’re handling this process now?

3.What are the key deadlines?

4.What are the most important elements that keep your organization functioning?

5.What are your greatest challenges?

6.What benefits might result if we tried the following approach?

7.What can I do at this point to better serve you?

8.What concerns do you have?

9.What could get in the way of getting an agreement made?

10.What criteria would you use to choose a replacement transportation provider?

11.What details do you want explained?

12.What do you see as the greatest risks in making this decision?

13.What do you see as the primary benefits of our solutions? Do you see any other potential benefits?

14.What do you want to happen that isn’t happening now?

15.What does it take to be successful in your position?

16.What else do we need to discuss?

17.What expectations do you have for me in returning your phone calls, emails, etc? how quickly would you typically expect me to respond?

18.What is important to you about making a change at this time? Have you considered or tried to make a change in the past? What stopped you from considering a new transportation solution last time?

19.What is your company’s annual sales volume?

20.What is your expected outcome for our meeting today?

Hopefully these investigative questions will help you solve the mystery of sales success.


Training Tuesday:Initial Approach

A good initial approach to a prospective customer is a 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 you should state your name, the company you represent, and the particular transportation services you’re there to sell. Unlike a lot of salesmen and saleswomen, you shouldn’t beat around the bush. You should work on concept selling, 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, improve customer service, and increase profitability. I’d like to run some ideas by you.”

This statement opens the door and informs the customer that you’re there to add value. It’s intended to create interest, but 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. “My company 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 can handle, not only your current needs, but is also working on your needs for the future.” Another great opener is, “My main goal 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, as it lets the prospect know that your shipping solutions have benefited leading logistics decision-makers that came to the well-informed decision to trust you and your ideas. You should always make it a point to discuss other customers in their industry who are working in similar environments. For example, mentioning how your company handles shipping needs for a company like Microsoft to a small locally owned computer software company won’t necessarily be helpful. Their needs are so different that the prospect won’t be able to relate to an organization that is so vastly different from their own. Speaking about familiar customers who have found the solutions to similar shipping problems through your company will 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…the referral. Even if you don’t have a referral, you can mention the name of one of the prospect’s competitors who’s a client of yours. Now, it’s highly unlikely that their competition would have to talked them about you, but it is still an excellent way to break the ice. And you can bet that the prospect is interested in all of the transportation services that are available to their competition.

Breaking the ice, gaining credibility, and earning enough trust to ensure the prospective client will listen to the benefits of doing business with you is a must. These represent just a few of the many ways you can get a customer’s attention in a short period of time. Getting your foot in the door is the first step in building a long-term, profitable relationship with a new customer.


Training Tuesday– Tips for a Great End of the Year

As we move steadily towards the end of the year, it is important to continue to work hard to gain new customers and keep existing customers satisfied. Below are some of our top tips to make the end of the year just as strong and successful as the beginning.

1.Call every existing customer you have.

Remind them why they already rely on you. Let them know that you and your staff will continue to provide excellent service through the remainder of the year, and beyond. Also ask them if there are any new projects or additional shipments coming in the next few months that you should prepare your staff for.

2.Call every “hot prospect” you have.

You never know when a prospective shipper may have encountered a problem with their current 3PL or carrier. You may luck into calling them on a day when they are receptive to hearing how your agency can provide better service than what they are currently receiving.

3.Train your team.

Ensure that your team has the knowledge and tools they need to finish the year strong. If they need additional sales or operations training, make sure they get it.

4.Set an “end-of-year” goal.

People find a way to achieve great things when they have a well-defined goal. Review your prior year’s results and compare them to current year-to-date run count and revenue results. Then, set an aggressive, but attainable, goal for you and your staff.

5.Make 10 customer calls per week for the remainder of the year.

By simply making 10 new prospect calls per week, you’ll contact almost 200 new prospective customers by year’s end.


Selling is the key to our success; as individual agents, and as a company. Our sales success has a direct impact on our ability to grow, to become more profitable, and to take market share – today and in the future.


“It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.” – Patricia Fripp


Training Tuesday:Preparation Before the Sales Call

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 answer all of them? Or, worse yet, the salesperson didn’t ask any questions, but instead jumped right into their presentation about something that you have no interest in. Unfortunately, that kind of sales technique is the norm, not the exception. Preparation before the sales call is critical.

Knowledge is power. You should know as much as you can about your service, your industry, your competitors, and your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You should also learn as much as possible about your prospective client before you make contact with them.

Below are four basic elements of successful sales preparation:

  1. Know the industry. Technology and trends are rapidly changing and new services are being offered continuously. Read industry specific publications, websites, or periodicals. Extensive and up-to-date knowledge of the industry provides your customers with greater confidence in your recommendations and abilities.
  2. Know your company. Having a clear, thorough understanding of what we do, and how we do it, will allow you to field customer questions and objections more easily. Know what areas need improvement and what is unique and adds value to what we offer. Seek to learn as much as possible about the company history and path for the future. This will allow you to offer an honest and realistic picture of what you and your company bring to the table.
  3. Know your competition. Know the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, and ask your customers what they like and dislike about your competitors. Compare your services, features, equipment, billing process, service levels, dispatching methods, and then use that to determine differentiating factors you can feature in your sales presentation.
  4. Know your customer. Complete knowledge of your customer’s company will show interest, will always impress them, and will represent an important first step in earning a customer’s confidence and business. An understanding of the potential customer’s industry, requirements for service, and general information about the customer’s company and business speeds the vital relationship building process.

You must be mentally prepared before you make a sales 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. The result of every sales call reflects the amount of time the salesperson invested in getting ready for the meeting.


Training Tuesday:Service Calls

To some sales agents, service is what they do when they don’t feel like selling. Service can be a way to putt off more important activities. Don’t use service calls as a way to pad your call report. Making service calls to your customers is very important, but remember that a service call should have definable objectives.

One problem that many have with service calls is that there’s very little short-term reward for it. There’s a much greater immediate reward for, and attention paid to selling than to servicing.

We define service as anything that builds trust or confidence that in our company and the services we provide to the customer. We’ve put together a list of services that are specific and measurable that you can use to make service a more specific part of our sales planning.

1.Write thank you notes as part of your service system. Carry the cards in your car and fill them out at the end of the call.

2.Conduct a training session for the client and their staff. Something in the sales training or customer service field is usually appreciated and it shows an interest in the customer’s success that goes beyond just the business you want from them today.

3.Schedule a visit of upper management to the client. This is symbolic but also allows your upper management team to gather information and stay connected.

4.Conduct office tours on a regular basis. Allow clients to come to the office to get a grasp of the depth of professionalism and dedication that goes into meeting their needs.

5.Throw a client appreciation party.

6.Bring coffee and donuts to their office. Get stickers that have your company logo and your contact information and put them on the box so you have many opportunities for name recognition.

7.Help clients with long term planning and strategizing efforts.

8.Send a thank you card or small gift to clients after they utilize your service for the first time. It shows you appreciate your customer and that you stay on top of the things happening at your company.


Training Tuesday:Accelerating Sales – Part 1

Almost all companies, from the smallest to those in the Fortune 100, frequently – if not continually – face the challenge of getting sales fast: next month, next week, even “tomorrow.”

Sometimes you should rely on the tried and true methods, but sometimes you should shake things up. Often the well-established selling principles may need to be shelved.

Here are some of our key tips for improving your and your company’s sales results:

1.Set clear sales objective. Determine what sales you are being asked to make in this situation and then set a strategy for getting them. Make a plan and put it in writing, even just a couple sentences will do. Refer to your plan every day and don’t hesitate to make revisions when necessary.

2.Be certain you have pre-call credibility. Proper pre-call credibility will telegraph what benefits the buyer can expect from your sales call and get him to look forward to meeting you, or to at least listen and learn about what you have to offer.

3.Make use of sales support. Use every ounce of sales and marketing ammunition available to you: telemarketing appointments, email, pre-call letters, literature, testimonials, referrals, leads, ads, etc. Test them, then use what works and discard what doesn’t.

4.Skim the “cream” of your customers, prospects, and suspects. Make a list of prospects most ready to buy. Sort them into groups and then target them in priority order.

5.Rehearse. Even if you’ve sold the same product or service for years, one or two mistakes can kill a sale. Practice, record your presentation and review, role-play with your team; practice and perfection will pay.

Check back next week for more of our top tips to quickly improve your sales success rate.


Training Tuesday:Sales Traits Part 2

Last week we discussed several sales traits and the signals to improve them that you may be getting from your prospects and customers. This week we’re covering five more of these sales traits and signals.

Handling Resistance. If you’re running into a lot of resistance, the best thing you can do is work on analyzing needs and talking about benefits. When customers ask the same question over and over – even though you feel you’ve addressed it – you may be focusing on a benefit that doesn’t matter to them, and failing to find out their true concerns.

Selling Pressure. You’re coming on too strong if, when you attempt to close, customers become defensive or raise objections that seem irrelevant. When a customer starts defending a competitor they were unsatisfied with, that customer is telling you to back off. And if it seems the longer you’ve known a customer, the harder it is to get an appointment with them, the message is “stop pushing.”

Compatibility. Customers tell you you’re compatible by greeting you warmly, calling you when they think you can help them, and showing an interest in you that goes beyond “strictly business.” If new prospects quickly become unwilling to see you, customers are rude to you and keep you waiting, or customers keep calls short and straight to the point and refuse your invitations to lunch or recreational activities, be concerned about compatibility.

Trust. If customers don’t trust you, they may show it by withholding information you need, especially sensitive information such as budget constraints or involvement with competitors. They may ask you to put everything in writing or require proof, in the form of technical documentation and third-party references, of everything you say. If they’re calling the home office to check up on you, you haven’t gained their trust.

Account service. Simply put, this means getting in touch with your customers often enough to know about any changes that might impact future orders, and being available to handle little glitches before they become big ones. If you’re weak in this area, you may be getting these signals: Business from new customers drops off after the second or third order, or you lose sales to a competitor, even though you believe your product is better.

These are all important sales traits to work on and listening to the signals from your customers will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. Improving these skills will improve your overall sales success.


Training Tuesday:Mastering the Sales Presentation

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 simples 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 – both SunteckTTS and the competition. When you demonstrate how much you know about your industry you’ll gain the respect of your customers and prospects. When people believe they are 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. It’s when a salesperson doesn’t know much about the transportation industry as his or her prospect that people resent a strong sales approach. 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 theirs. When you exemplify excellence in your sales presentation, the customer is eager to find out what you can do to offer solutions to their 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.