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. These relationships with other salespeople can help you better
adapt your selling techniques, and help you handle rejections more easily.
2. Join clubs and organizations. You never know where your
next big shipper will come from. Focus on developing and practicing your networking
skills – the most powerful business tool. Mastering networking is the difference
between a mediocre and magnificent career.
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. Give speeches every chance you get.
Don’t sell from the podium. However, speaking will help with positioning
yourself as an industry expert will benefit you in the long run.
5. Surround yourself with successful people. It’s the best
way to learn how to be successful.
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.
Though closing the sale should be the most natural part of
the process, it can be tricky. Below are some of our top tips for confirming more
- Make your sales process a series of small “closes”
– this takes the pressure off of a final moment and makes it easier for a
prospect to agree to move forward. Getting your prospect comfortable saying “yes”
will help make the final confirmation of the sale more natural.
- Research the customer first. If you understand your
customer’s business, their needs, and their current solution, you will be
better able to adapt your presentation to emphasize the strengths of your solution.
It is much easier to confirm a sale if you can make sure that your service
meets the needs of the customer and solves their problems and pain points.
- Listen more than you speak. Put the customer,
and their needs, first. If you can put the customer first, they’ll feel valued,
and often times, listening to their problems and needs can give you extra
information for tailoring your sales presentation. People want to work with
people who make them feel valued and heard – so hear them, and they’re more
likely to say “yes” when you ask to work with them.
Work on making the confirmation process an ongoing and
natural part of your sales presentation and you will be able to close more
sales, more easily.
Asking for referrals is the difference between the average
salesperson and the superstar. It can be intimidating to ask a customer or
prospect for a referral, but it is key to keeping your sales pipeline full.
Below are some of our top tips on getting more referrals.
- Ask for simple introductions but know your ideal
customer. Don’t add pressure by making it seem like a formal interaction,
instead, ask for an introduction to a person who fits the characteristics of
your preferred or ideal buyer. Making the referral project casual, but
specific, allows you to ask more easily, and also makes it easier for the
customer to provide a referral.
- Give as many referrals as you hope to get. If
you can give a referral, it opens the door to ask for one as well. Plus, if you
give referrals, it makes people feel happier and better about working with you,
and therefore, makes them more likely to happily offer referrals to those in
their professional network.
- Make it as easy as possible for your customer.
Keep your ask specific – make sure they have an easy way to share your
information, and a clear idea of who would be good to share it with. If you can
make it easier for the customer, it limits the chance that they will say no or
not have time to actually give the referral after you ask for one.
- Time your ask appropriately. Pay attention to
when you ask for a referral. Time it to be after they express satisfaction with
your services, or after you’ve successfully delivered on promises you made in
your sales presentation.
- Say “Thank you.” If a customer does provide a
referral, even if it doesn’t turn into a sale, be sure to say thank you to
them. Showing that you are grateful for the time and effort they put in to
giving that referral will make them more likely to give future referrals.
Value-added selling is one of the best techniques to
accurately represent and sell your product but also provide a reason for a prospect
as to why they should buy from you and pay your prices. Understanding exactly
what adds that kind of value can be tricky. Below are the top 3 things that we
believe add value to your services.
- Personal – Keep the personal element at the
forefront of your sales process. Focus on offering quality service at all
stages of the sales process and the post-sale interactions you have with that
customer. Additionally, adding value through additional services – like tech
support or company-specific training – can also be a great technique. One other
benefit of staying focused on the personal connection is that it increases the
level of trust or credibility that your prospect or client has in your
abilities and services.
- Perception – Seeing is believing/perceiving is
believing. In this world of proving the worth of something, it’s all about what
we believe the value to be. It’s the customer’s perception of the value you are
adding that counts.
- Performance – You may get the business by
creating the perception of greater value, but you keep it through performance.
If you are selling all of this added value, you have to actually deliver it. You
must prove and provide the value you promise in your sales presentation.
Remembering the 3 P’s of adding value can be a really
helpful way to approach the technique of value-added selling.
There are many ways to become a better salesperson, and one
of the most successful is to continuously research and work to enhance your
skills in small ways. Taking the time each and every day to actively work
towards improving yourself and your sales skills, is the best way to increase
your level of success in sales. To that end, below are some quick tips and
tidbits that you can almost immediately apply to your selling techniques or
- Be consistent and communicative – don’t leave
prospects hanging and waiting to hear from you
- Be enthusiastic. Have a sense of urgency in the
way you treat your job and your life. Find ways to bring excitement and enthusiasm
to every sale. Richard Branson says, “Boring your customer is worse than
pissing them off.” It is incredibly powerful if you can be enthusiastic and
happy in spite of your situation or others around you who may be less so.
- With customers, be a chameleon. Adapt to their
needs rather than expecting them to adapt to you.
- Be a good listener. Sometimes a customer has had
a bad day and just needs to talk about it – let them. Some people want to be
listened to more than they want their problems solved.
- Try to avoid arguments. Sometimes you can win
the argument, but lose the sale, and being right isn’t always the most important
- Behave ethically at all times. Never sell your customer
something you know they don’t need. Expect objections and be sure to have
responses for the most common objections, but maintain honesty and integrity in
- Conquer your “impostor syndrome.” You must let go
of the thought that you might be an impostor, or that you don’t deserve greater
success. Many of those around you, and even above you, likely have similar feelings
about if they “deserve” their success. Once you become comfortable with the
idea that you can be successful, you subconsciously open the door to more
opportunities for success. Be the master of your destiny – take control of your
life and career.
- Set SMART goals. Goals should be:
Email may be a hard way to sell – but it is worth a little
extra time to send stronger sales emails. Of course, email should never be your
primary method of contact with a prospect unless you’ve already spoken with
them. It is hard to get prospects to open and respond to emails, so we have
some tips for improving your sales emails.
- The perfect time to deploy a sales email is after
a call, as a follow up – with a call to action. If you’ve finished a phone call
with a prospect, a follow up email is the perfect place to reiterate the key
points of your discussion with them and to offer additional information that
may be valuable to them. The email should also include some sort of planning for
future conversations, or a call to action, otherwise prospects will question why
you’ve sent it, and may begin to feel you are wasting their time.
- Craft the perfect subject line. Keep subject
lines short and sweet – increasing numbers of emails are opened on smartphones,
and they have a limited number of words shown in subject lines. Make sure it is
clear what you are emailing them about and avoid misleading subject lines or
- Keep formatting and fonts simple. Some email
software will strip out fancy formatting and fonts on the receiving end, and that
can result in jumbled emails if you don’t keep it simple. Stick to a simple
font, and normal paragraph and line breaks.
- Maintain a conversational tone but keep it professional.
You want to sound friendly and engaging, but remember that this is a
prospective client, so avoid overly informal language or emojis. Also, double check
your spelling and grammar, and always check for typos to avoid looking
Email can be a helpful and efficient sales tool when
utilized properly in conjunction with other sales methods and tools, like phone
calls and social media, but it is important to remember some simple rules for
crafting professional and relevant emails.
If you can’t “close the deal” then you aren’t really succeeding
as a salesperson. The main goal of a sales presentation or meeting is to make a
sale, and if you aren’t willing to ask for their business then you won’t get
it. While closing can seem challenging, and does present unique difficulties,
it can be conquered with practice.
Never reduce the price or offer a discount to try to win
their business. If being the cheapest is your only way to close the deal, then
you need to re-evaluate your sales presentation and figure out how you can add
value for your prospects. It may be tempting to reduce the price, as this could
be the fastest way to convince the prospect to sign a contract, but you should
instead plan to have a few non-monetary concessions to offer a particularly
stubborn prospect. If you can make a concession not based on finances or price,
then you are more likely to convince the prospect that you are both winning
from making this deal.
Avoid trying to use manipulative tactics. At this point, most
prospects have been trained to recognize overly manipulative sales and closing
tactics. If you really believe in what you are selling and saying, a prospect
will be able to tell, and that belief and confidence is often more compelling
than some manipulative or dishonest closing method. As part of that, it is
important not to make a promise you can’t keep. Don’t offer something you can’t
fully deliver just to close a sale. Having a bunch of unhappy customers down
the line will eventually begin to affect your selling and closing success as the
word spreads that you don’t deliver on promises made during the sales
Show that you are truly listening to your prospects and attempt
to genuinely engage with them. Building rapport throughout the presentation
will make a prospect more likely to say “Yes” when you ask for their business.
If you can foster a sense of trust and understanding, that will build the
prospect’s confidence in your ability to provide them with the best service.
Overall, closing the deal should feel like a natural
continuation of the sales presentation. After all, if you’ve delivered a successful
and impactful presentation, the prospect will be excited to work with you and
take advantage of all of the great things you offer them.
Some salespeople will tell you that they don’t have a set
presentation, that they don’t like presentations, or even that they choose not
to have a presentation because “just talking” to the prospect is better. While
these things may suit some salespeople and clients, for the majority, it is
important to have an excellent sales presentation. If you develop a
presentation you are proud of, you can easily tweak it to suit specific prospective
customers, reducing your stress levels, amount of time wasted, and increasing
your chances of closing the sale. Plus, once you have a basic presentation that
works, you can practice it, and the more you practice, the more confident and
successful your sales pitch will be.
With all that in mind, below are some tips for improving your
- Give context about the industry. If you can give the client context about how your company is on the cutting edge of whatever trends are happening in your industry, or how your company will help them make strides towards the future of their industry, you make it even more attractive to work with you.
- Find their pain point – and tell that story. Show that you understand their issues and “pain points” and then you are in a strong position to share what they can gain from working with you. Making sure they feel understood – and making it clear that you understand their issues and have helped solve their exact problem before will instill a sense of confidence and comfort in working with you.
- Show them proof of the results. Give them evidence that what you are offering isn’t too good to be true. Offering proof of your success – or other companies’ successes due to your partnership allows them to see that you are the “real deal” and will be able to help them instead of making empty promises just to close a sale.
- Short, sweet, and visual. Make sure your presentation is short and to the point. You don’t need excess time or wordiness in the sales presentation, as it just makes the presentation boring and hard to remember. You can improve retention and attention by replacing words with visuals (infographics, pictures, charts) and by keeping your presentation length to just under 10 minutes.
- Let the prospect interrupt and give feedback. Allowing the prospect to interrupt your presentation will give you invaluable information about their needs, and about where you could change and improve your presentation. Asking for feedback after the presentation also allows a shy prospect the opportunity to ask questions or tell you what they need to know.
The most important key to a successful sales presentation is
finding out the magical combination of techniques and elements that works for
you, your industry, and your ideal or typical prospects.
Do you feel trapped in a “rut” and unable to make any real
progress towards your sales milestones? Unsure how to break free from that
trapped feeling? There are a million techniques for improving your success in
sales, but sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most helpful.
Of course, it is important to remain focused on your goals
in order to complete them, however, it is also important to avoid “burnout” that
can occur from working all the time and feeling unfulfilled by that work. You
must clarify your reasons for working in your field, also make sure that you
leave time to relax and de-stress. Sales is a field full of rejection, and hearing
“no” after “no” can be extremely disheartening if you aren’t clear with
yourself on why you are working in this field. You must be prepared to combat
that rejection with techniques for relaxing and re-centering yourself. Being
able to accept a rejection, without letting it get to you, is always going to
be challenging, but it is important to develop strategies to cope with the overwhelming
amount of rejections that you will receive throughout the course of your career
as a salesperson.
In addition, you can improve your sales success by remembering
that even the most successful and accomplished salesperson can improve somehow.
Committing to going back to the basics and refreshing your training in a
particular sales area can be extremely helpful. Strengthening your foundational
sales skills will allow you to build your more advanced sales skills in a more well-rounded
way. Listening is the most important skill you can cultivate as a salesperson,
and working on active listening and really absorbing what the prospect is
telling you will never hurt your sales success rate.
An attitude adjustment can also be one of your best tools in
breaking out of a professional or sales rut. Remember that your thoughts and
feelings about yourself and your job can influence your behavior, and
therefore, the reactions that others may have to you and your sales techniques.
Your attitude is your most important weapon for moving into greater success – you
can control how you react and think in various sales situations. Once you learn
to control your own thoughts, fears, and beliefs, you can begin to change them
to become more productive and helpful patterns.
Customer service is an essential part of the sales process, even though it may not seem that way at first. Offering your clients and prospective clients excellent customer service is a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition – and it can help you win customers and keep the ones you already have. Below are some tips for improving your customer service and relationships with customers.
- Stop apologizing. Instead, start thanking the customer for their patience in letting you handle their issue and resolve their problem. This puts you in a stronger position to be able to keep the customer happy and let’s them know that you are sincere and going to help them.
- Use positive language. Each interaction with your clients and prospects is shaped by the language you use. Similar to the tip above to change the way you frame apologies, using positive language can influence the customer to feeling better about working with you and their experience with your company overall.
- Manage time appropriately. This pertains not just to managing your schedule to give clients and prospects the time they need, but also to using the time you spend with them wisely. You want to be respectful of their time and yours.
- Structure conversations and interactions. Remember that first impressions are important, but so is knowing when and how to close. Being able to end a conversation or interaction naturally, and without neglecting any important components is crucial to successful sales calls and customer service.
- Create a smooth experience for the customer. Don’t just be their contact for the sale and then leave them alone. Be available and in contact with them throughout their time working with your company so you can help ensure they have a positive experience. If you can help smooth pain points and transitions, it will not only showcase the value you and your company add, but it will also make them more likely to continue being a customer and to recommend or refer you to other people in their industry.
Obviously, customer service will always be a complex task that can’t be explained or resolved in 5 tips or even 500. It is always a process, and you can always improve your skills, but having a diverse set of tricks up your sleeve will only increase your ability to work with a diverse customer base.