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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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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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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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– 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.

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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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Training Tuesday:Time Management Tips

Salespeople who don’t value their own time will end up wasting valuable selling minutes that can stretch into days or even weeks. Before they know it, they’re down on quota and up on stress. The time management tips below can help you make the most out of every selling minute.

Tend to Business, not busyness. Don’t waste working time with office gossip, reading newspapers unrelated to work, or daydreaming. When you’re at work or on the road, spend your time wisely engaged in sales and selling-related tasks only.

Accept responsibility for the use of your time. Don’t blame others for your pressure or your slacking off. Be in control of your schedule. Don’t let the needs of other cause you to stray from your course – stay focused on your goals and plans.

Delegate. Don’t let others dump their work on you. Give away work that someone else can do better. Keep your sales goals the primary focus in front of you.

Enjoy your work. Have fun with your customers. Be someone they welcome because of your bight and cheery personality. Create genuine connections with your customers that will allow you to provide better service in the long run.

View time as your friend. Imagine time as a clock in your pocket. You can spend the entire day carrying it around and it will always be working for you and with you. And remember, tomorrow is always a fresh start with another 24 hours to make work for you.

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Training Tuesday– Prospecting

No matter what you have scheduled for any particular 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. To keep your trucks full of freight, you have to 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.

There are many resources that cover the best ways to be successful in prospecting, and some of our top tips are below:

1. Talk to and develop relationships with everyone you meet in your industry. 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 others help.

2. Join clubs and organizations. You never know where your next big shipper will come from.

3. Subscribe to industry publications. Read your local newspapers, business publications, and national publications. There are many online resources and articles that will provide excellent industry insight.

4. Attend trade shows and seminars. Those that are aimed at trucking and freight, as well as major tradeshows that are specific to certain industries, are a great place to start.

5. Give speeches every chance you get. Don’t sell from the podium, but positioning yourself as an industry expert will benefit you in the long run.

6. Develop and practice networking skills – the most powerful business tool. Mastering networking is the difference between a mediocre and magnificent career.

7. Surround yourself with successful people. It’s the best way to learn how to be successful.

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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

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