Tips for the New Transportation Sales Rep (and his Manager)

For the past week I have been reading with great interest the postings on the LinkedIn Sales Management Group. As of the date of this blog posting, there have been over 40 responses to the question, “What advice would you give a new salesperson”? The tips offered were so good that I thought I would share a “reader’s digest” version with the followers of this blog.

As I read these suggestions on a daily basis, I see two sets of users for these tips. First, new sales reps should study this list and make sure they take action on every item. Second, sales managers should take this checklist and cross reference it with their current (and future reps) to ensure they maintain a winning team. Here are my 21 favourite tips for the new rep.

1. Achieve mastery of the services that you sell.
2. Achieve mastery in sales skills.
3. Seek out the top performers on your sales team and learn from them as to how they dress, their work ethic and their communication skills.
4. Understand how your services compare with those of your competitors.
5. Be a great listener so you understand the needs of your prospects. There is a good reason why we have two ears and one mouth. Focus on understanding the needs of your customers so you can solve their problems.
6. Get to know your prospects before you turn them into customers.
7. People buy from people, specifically people they like and trust.
8. Prospect, prospect, prospect.
9. Learn as much as possible about your customers. The more due diligence you do up front, the easier it will be to close the sale at the end.
10. Be persistent and consistent. Success comes from a strong work ethic.
11. Be passionate about your company and its services.
12. Try to sell solutions rather than products or services. Learn your company’s value proposition and where it fits best. Sell the value of your solution, not price.
13. Learn early on to distinguish buyers from non-buyers (i.e. lack of mutual fit/interest/resources, etc.). This will go a long way towards increasing your income and your employer’s income while reducing customer acquisition costs.
14. View yourself as a profit centre. To be successful, time management is critical. Spend your time, energy and resources on the most viable opportunities in your sales pipeline.
15. Be ethical in all of your business. Remember, you are selling your (and your company’s) credibility and integrity. If you lose your integrity, you have nothing to sell.
16. Invest in yourself. Continually upgrade your product and business knowledge and your sales skills.
17. At the end of the day, when all of the other sales reps have left the office, make one more call to a new prospect.
18. Acquire a CRM tool and use it faithfully every day.
19. If you are having difficulty in one or more areas of your sales pipeline, this is telling you that you have a weakness in specific areas (e.g. prospecting, obtaining appointments, asking for the sale). Take action to turn these weaknesses into strengths.
20. While the sales job can seem very lonely at times, don’t forget sales is a team sport. Work closely with your manager and the rest of your team (e.g. drivers, dispatchers) to achieve your goals.
21. Always ask for the sale. If you don’t ask, you may not get.

I am sure there are many more tips that can be added to the list. What advice would you give to new freight transportation sales rep? I would love to hear from you.

This year’s Surface Transportation Summit will take place on October 16, 2013 at the Mississauga Convention Centre. Please block out this date in your calendar. We have some great speakers lined up for this year’s event.

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Dan Goodwill, President, Dan Goodwill & Associates Inc. has over 30 years of experience in the logistics and transportation industries in both Canada and the United States. Dan has held executive level positions in the industry including President of Yellow Transportation’s Canada division, President of Clarke Logistics (Canada’s largest Intermodal Marketing Company), General Manager of the Railfast division of TNT and Vice President, Sales & Marketing, TNT Overland Express.

Goodwill is currently a consultant to manufacturers and distributors, helping them improve their transportation processes and save millions of dollars in freight spend. Mr. Goodwill also provides consulting services to transportation and logistics organizations to help them improve their profitability.

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