Training Tuesday:Sales Pitching and Silence

Often the most important part of your sales pitch is when you are completely silent. We often rush through all the great benefits of why a customer would buy, without really listening to them tell us what they need and why they might buy from us.

Most people hate mimes. Why do they exist? Are they evil? If a tree falls on a mime does he make a sound? But, silence is the one important sales attribute that mimes demonstrate in abundance. So, on your next sales call, be a mime, at least for part of the call. Silence just may turn out to be the most important piece of the sales puzzle.

Why is it that so many salespeople think they must tell everything they know before allowing the prospect to talk? Why is it that some think the sales process involves a lot of talking when, in reality, the most successful salespeople do more listening than talking? It’s a fact that the more we listen, the more we can learn about our prospects and the easier we can find their “hot buttons.”  It’s not what we say that makes the sale, it’s what we can get the prospect to say.

Begin With Questions

Think about how many times you launch right into your presentation thinking you know what the prospect wants. Sometime later, often too much later, you find you’re on the wrong track. The prospect has an entirely different need – one you might have uncovered by asking open-ended questions that required more than a yes or no response. Then you could have focused on what the customer wanted instead of what you had to sell. Stop thinking so much about what you are going to say and concentrate on what the prospect is telling you.

It’s a paradox: the more we try to tell the prospect up front, the more barriers we create to the purchase. However, the more we listen to why he or she wants to buy, the more we can tailor our delivery to providing very specific information concerning how our product or service fits his or her needs.

Ask More Questions

The opening question is merely the first in a series of questions that guide the dialogue. It’s an approach as old as the art of miming. If we want to involve someone – the first step in convincing that person – every comment we make should end with a question that solicits more information. The person asking questions is the person controlling the direction of the dialogue. The one who is talking is providing information that helps the other adjust the direction.

After you ask a question, however, don’t be too anxious to fill the silence. Let the silence work in your favor. Too often we answer the question for the prospect by jumping in and providing him with an objection:

“Perhaps you don’t like the price,” or, “Maybe you don’t like the resources it would involve.”

Beware of the very real temptation to fill in the silence with a product weakness – the one we are most worried about.

Don’t Rush In With Answers

Salespeople have a terrible tendency to try to get their point in as soon as the customer stops talking. Think about how often you find yourself stepping on your prospect’s last words, rushing in right after the prospect has finished making a point.

Salespeople can break themselves of this self-defeating habit by training themselves to wait several seconds after the customer has stopped talking before they begin. That gives you ample time to think about your response and answer in a way that reflects the customer’s concerns.

Get in the habit of paraphrasing what the prospect has said. This will accomplish two things. One, it reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding what was said, and two, it boosts the prospect’s ego. People like to hear their thoughts repeated – it makes them feel like what they said was important.

Learn to Listen

Don’t listen with just with your ears. Listen with your eyes and your entire body. Use body language that shows you are paying more attention, and your listening habits will automatically improve. Lean forward intently, look the prospect in the eye, and focus on the valuable information you are hearing.

And finally, listen for buying signals. You’ll never notice a buying signal from the customer when you’re doing the talking. Sure, we want to talk so the prospect will learn how smart we are. But the prospect only really knows how smart we are when we’ve “listened” to the information he or she wants to share.

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LTL 101:Limited Access Charges

Limited access charges were created to compensate LTL carriers for additional time spent at your shipment’s pick up or delivery locations and constraints that can result from these specific locations. Limited access is defined as meeting any of the following conditions:

  • Not open to the walk-in public during normal business hours
  • Not having personnel readily available to assist with the delivery or pickup function
  • Not having access to loading dock or platform
  • Sites where carriers are delayed with security related inspections and processes prior to freight tender

Did you know: Some of these high security locations will ask for a driver’s license and drivers have the right to refuse to do so? This causes the carrier to find a driver who is willing to do so, which in turn causes a domino effect or constraint on the daily operations of that particular terminal.

In order to avoid unexpected charges, it is best practice to ask the consignee if they have a dock or way to unload the freight and ask them if they need a liftgate for delivery. Liftgates are commonly associated with limited access and if the consignee advises they don’t need a liftgate, let them know that if the driver offers a liftgate and it is used OR signed for even without being used, there will be an additional fee that will be charged to them.

Limited access fees can be assessed on both commercial and non-commercial delivery sites. Charges and what constitutes as a limited access will vary based on carrier, but here are some of the most common examples:

  • Camps, Carnivals, Fairs
  • Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples
  • Schools (not including colleges and universities)
  • Colleges and Universities without a dock
  • Medical/Urgent care sites without a dock
  • Prisons
  • Individual / Mini Storage Units
  • Mines, Quarries, Natural Gas or Oil Fields
  • Golf Courses, Country Clubs
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Military Bases/Installations
  • Parks, Farms and Rural locations
  • Courthouses
  • Daycares
  • Hotels, Motels, Retirement/Nursing Homes
  • Restaurants
  • Cemeteries
  • Convents
  • Amusement Parks
  • Construction Sites
  • Outdoor Flea Markets
Camps, Carnivals, FairsChurches, Mosques, Synagogues, TemplesSchools (not including colleges and universities)Colleges and Universities without a dockMedical/Urgent care sites without a dockPrisonsIndividual / Mini Storage UnitsMines, Quarries, Natural Gas or Oil FieldsGolf Courses, Country ClubsNuclear Power PlantsMilitary Bases/InstallationsParks, Farms and Rural locationsCourthousesDaycaresHotels, Motels, Retirement/Nursing HomesRestaurantsCemeteriesConventsAmusement ParksConstruction SitesOutdoor Flea Markets

Google Maps is a great tool that can be used to help explain whether or not a location has limited access. However, please keep in mind that even though the location is easy to get in and out of, and they may have the necessary equipment to unload, they may still be considered limited access. Some great examples of this are as follows:

  • Farms: While they are easy to get to and have equipment, they usually take the driver off his/her usual route which causes delays for the other shipments on the trailer
  • Mini Storage Units: The driver will have to use a smaller trailer with or without a liftgate and thus make fewer deliveries that day because of the space available on the trailer, so the charges are there to compensate
    • Carriers normally have fewer trailers with liftgates which makes this even more difficult when the volume of limited access or liftgate shipments goes up

Keep in mind: Commercial buildings with docks are normally clustered in the same area, a carrier can easily make multiple pickups or deliveries in a business park in the same time it may take to make one limited access delivery.

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Training Tuesday:Being a Confirmer

Being a successful salesperson requires a lot of practice, being able to envision making a sales call that results in sales success. Confirming the sale requires a lot of confidence and belief that you can make the sale and help the customer. The confidence you demonstrate when talking with a customer about our ability to deliver the service they need has the effect of transferring that confidence to them.

In the transportation industry, a lot of credit is given to a salesperson who is a proven closer. That has always been my reputation – a guy who always asks for the sale and expects the customer to say “YES.” Being known as a “Closer” is a big compliment. The only downside is the negative connotation of being a “closer,” when it is more accurate to call it “confirming the sale.”

Whatever you decide to call it – there’s no magic to confirming the sale. Right from the initial approach to the very end of your presentation, bit by bit, you should be confirming the sale. It’s when you find out if you did your job properly, but by following your instincts and confirming the sale throughout the process then the customer will let you know when it’s time to close the sale.

Closing or confirming the sale should be the most natural thing about selling. It’s the only reason for your job and it should become automatic. Don’t hesitate to ask a shipper for his or her business. The only time you shouldn’t be outwardly confirming the sale is when you’re on the fact-finding call, and even then, there will be a series of opportunities for minor closes that prepare your prospect for your next sales call.

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

Confirming the sale is simply demonstrating a confidence that you’re ready to provide the prospect with the service they want and need. When the prospect feels comfortable with you in this regard, it’s time to say, “Okay, when are we going to handle your first shipment?”

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LTL 101:Delivery Appointments vs Notifications

This blog we will discuss the difference between an appointment and a notify before delivery.

Delivery Appointments:

  • Appointments cannot be set until the freight arrives at the destination terminal.
  • Contact must be made with the consignee to deliver.
    • LTL Carriers will always make appointments, we cannot make the appointments for them. However, if they cannot get a hold of the consignee we may assist them.
    • We can’t stress enough how important it is to contact the consignee even if they are not your customer in order to understand their appointment process.
    • It is best practice to then get with the carrier to insure they are not having trouble setting up an appointment and causing further delays.
      • It is not the carrier’s responsibility to understand every consignee’s appointment process.

A great example of the above is Grocery Warehouses: If the carrier needs to book an appointment online or reference PO#s in order to get the freight delivered then we need to put this info as clear and concise as possible on the BOL. This info must be entered on the “special instructions” section under the carrier tab in BTMS.

  • Appointments can sometimes delay transit by 1-2 days with the freight sitting on the dock.
    • Don’t forget that LTL drivers depart from their terminals early in the morning and if an appointment cannot be set prior to their trailers being loaded, your freight will be left behind.
    • Regardless if “THE FREIGHT MUST DELIVER TODAY” the drivers will not go back to the terminal once they have dispatched for the day.
  • A few things to keep in mind with appointments:
    • Specific delivery windows can cause a driver to take an inefficient route which has a domino effect on all shipments for that day.
    • Some consignees may have Drop Trailer schedules set up with certain carriers.
    • Some consignees may have standing appointments set up with certain carriers.

 

Notify Before Delivery:

  • Your shipment does not have to deliver at a specified time and may arrive any time between the standard LTL hours of 8am and 5pm local time.
  • This is typically used when shipping to residences, storage facilities, or even businesses with limited dock space.
  • Drivers do not call ahead to the shipping location. This is done by a dispatcher or clerk at the destination terminal and sometimes even at the corporate offices of the LTL carrier.
  • This can cause a delay in transit while the freight sits on the dock until the consignee can be notified.
    • Due to the high amount of volume in LTL and depending on the size of the terminal, there could be multiple, even hundreds of shipments that need to be notified for the day.
    • If the consignee cannot be reached on the due date of delivery after multiple attempts, it is highly possible that the freight will be held at the terminal until contact can be made.

 

Remember: If you’re looking to set up a Delivery Appointment you’ll need to select that particular service. But if you’re just looking for a “head’s up,” then Notify Consignee is the accessorial you’re looking for.

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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.

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SUNTECKTTS ACQUIRESHA LOGISTICS

October 9, 2018 – Jacksonville, Fla. – SunteckTTS, a leading provider of agent‐based, technology-driven transportation logistics services, today announced that it has acquired HA Logistics, a California-based freight brokerage and logistics company with full-service sales and support operations in San Ramon, CA, Ontario, CA, Columbus, OH, Dallas, TX, Rohnert Park, CA and Seattle, WA.

Established in 1984, HA Logistics has built an extensive offering of transportation services and solutions for its customers throughout North America. Alan Huttmann will continue as President of HA Logistics.

“We are pleased to be the latest addition to the SunteckTTS organization,” said Huttmann. “This move represents a great opportunity to expand our client service offering and remove obstacles to efficiency by utilizing SunteckTTS’ technology and transportation solutions. Joining SunteckTTS further enables our team to provide customized solutions to our customers.”

“HA Logistics has shown remarkable growth and is an excellent fit to help accelerate our company’s expansion,” said Ken Forster, Chief Executive Officer of SunteckTTS. “Further, this acquisition will drive growth and profitability by combining our technology-enabled transportation solutions with HA Logistics’ experienced sales and operations team members. ”

Ranked the 9th largest freight brokerage in the U.S. by Transport Topics, SunteckTTS continues its growth through technology expansion and strategic M&A.

About SunteckTTS

SunteckTTS delivers technology-driven transportation logistics services and solutions to shippers through a network of sales, operations, and capacity agents utilizing a dynamic, proprietary, cloud-based technology platform that enables customized shipper and capacity coordination in an accelerated environment. Through our network of over 200 freight agents, SunteckTTS is an industry leader with a base of over 10,000 customers and 32,000 partner carriers. In 2017, Transport Topics ranked SunteckTTS as the 9th largest freight brokerage firm in the U.S.

About HA Logistics

Privately held with the corporate office in San Ramon, California and key locations across the U.S., the company provides a one-stop source for all supply chain needs. Known for its commitment to customer service, HA Logistics delivers transportations solutions including truckload, LTL, intermodal/rail, refrigerated services and more.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Kristen Williams at (904) 570-3473 or email at Kristen.Williams@suntecktts.com

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LTL 101:NMFC Transportability Characteristics

Remember 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.”

These characteristics can be defined as follows:

  1. Density (Weight, Length, & Height): Density is the space the item occupies in relation to its weight. The density is calculated by dividing the weight of the item in pounds by its volume in cubic feet. Your item’s volume in cubic feet is Length x Width x Height/1,728, where all dimensions are measured in inches. The density of your item = Weight/Volume, where Weight is measured in pounds and Volume is measured in cubic feet.
  2. Stow-ability: Most freight stows well in trucks, trains and boats, but some articles are regulated by the government or carrier policies. Some items cannot be loaded together. Hazardous materials are transported in specific manners. Excessive weight, length or protrusions can make freight impossible to load with other freight. The absence of load-bearing surfaces makes freight impossible to stack. A quantifiable stow-ability classification represents the difficulty in loading and carrying these items.
  3. Handling: Most freight is loaded with mechanical equipment and poses no handling difficulties, but some freight, due to weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties, requires special attention. A classification that represents ease or difficulty of loading and carrying the freight is assigned to the items.
  4. Liability: Liability is probability of freight theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight. Perishable cargo or cargo prone to spontaneous combustion or explosion is classified based on liability and assigned a value per pound, which is a fraction of the carrier’s liability. When classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.

Sub-NMFC Codes

Yes, there is more! There are also Sub-NMFC codes which are noted with a dash after the code (i.e. 41024-04). Make sure to confirm that the Sub-NMFC code matches the correct freight class. Carriers sometimes overlook this, but it’s also not uncommon for them to charge you at the higher class; whether it be the class that was listed, or the class corresponding to the Sub-NMFC codes on the BOL. These can often be disputed, but usually require a manufacturer’s specification sheet and a packing list proving the correct class. That’s more work for all parties and can be avoided by simply double-checking to make sure your class and NMFC code match.

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.

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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.

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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.

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LTL 101:BOL Basics

This week revisits educating our shippers in order to ensure our BOL is set up correctly and to avoid possible disputes with the carrier regarding our invoice.

Did you know LTL carriers employ “weight & inspection coordinators” whose sole responsibility is to catch the “bad guys” who list an inaccurate weight or class on their BOL?

  • They keep an eye out for any shipments whose description on the BOL doesn’t seem to match up with its appearance.
  • They will physically examine your freight, and if they deem it necessary to inspect the contents or check the weight, they’ll issue an inspection certificate.
  • You will foot the bill for the additional inspection.

It is for this reason we need to make sure our shippers understand the follow:

  • It is imperative to make sure the weight and class on the BOL are accurate.
  • Don’t just guess, and don’t try to be sneaky, either! You can’t classify furniture as lumber, even though it was once lumber… (Yes, believe it or not, people actually do this!)
  • Include the weight of your pallets in the total weight calculation of your shipment.
  • If you forget multiple pallets, they could add up to an additional 500 pounds or more; that’s not just a few pounds off.
  • Most LTL carriers have scales installed right on their forklifts that double-check the weight listed on the BOL automatically.
  • Make sure you are measuring the freight with extreme accuracy (to the nearest inch)
  • Some LTL carriers make it mandatory for drivers to carry a tape measure and measure the freight at the time of pick up.
  • A couple of inches can add up to hundreds of dollars when classifying freight.
  • Shippers who misrepresent freight need to understand carriers are not taking any more chances and the time to do the right thing is now!
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