Tips for a new transportation sales rep and sales manager

Five years ago, I posted a blog that was derived from a LinkedIn sales management group. A range of people responded to the question, “What advice would you give a new salesperson?” To that list, I added my own observations.

While many sales techniques stand the test of time, others evolve based on changes in technology and culture. This updated list of tips is designed for two sets of users, new reps, and their managers:

1. Achieve mastery of the services that you sell and understand how your services compare with those of your competitors.

2. Achieve mastery in sales skills. Observe how top sales people perform their craft. Seek out constructive feedback on your sales skills. Work on those areas of your sales skills that need improvement.

3. Achieve mastery of the technological tools that can help you perform prospecting, sales, and account management. Learn how to use your CRM (customer relationship management) software and make it a part of your daily routines.

4. 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

5. Measure every element of the sales process (i.e. leads generated, leads converted to prospects, prospects converted into customers). Compare your KPI results to other top performers and then create action plans to achieve superior scores.

6. Set daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals for yourself and measure yourself constantly against these goals.

7. 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 solve their problems.

8. Focus on identifying your prospects’ “pain points,” even if it is just a lane or mode and then try to solve that problem first. This will give you and your company credibility that you can build on over time.

9. Speak your customer’s language. Understand your customers’ businesses and how freight transportation fits into their businesses. What can you do to make your customers’ businesses more successful?

10. Get to know your prospects before you turn them into customers.

11. People buy from people, specifically people they like and trust.

12. Prospect, prospect, prospect. Keep your sales pipeline full so you can grow your revenues.

13. Create a strategy to obtain face time with your prospects. We live in the era of voicemail, text messaging, e mails and the disappearance of receptionists. Learn how to combine knowledge of your prospects and what they are doing with a compelling value proposition to get in the door. Practice makes perfect. You need to make a strong first impression every time.

14. Learn as much as possible about your customers’ businesses. The more due diligence you do up front, the easier it will be to close the sale at the end.

15. Be persistent and consistent. Success comes from a strong work ethic. Don’t give up. Yes, there are hurdles and obstacles, but every shipper must move his/her freight and that freight is moving with one or more transportation companies.

16. Be proud and passionate about your company and its services. If you don’t have confidence in the freight services you sell, you should provide feedback to your supervisor and operations. If service problems are not fixed, it may be time to find a better company to work for.

17. 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.

18. As more transportation companies extend their service offerings (by adding truckload and/or intermodal and/or last mile delivery) to their portfolios, learn how to mix and match services to meet the unique needs of your customers.

19. 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.

20. View yourself as a profit center. To be successful, time management is critical. Spend your time, energy and resources on the most viable opportunities in your sales pipeline.

21. Be ethical in all of your business dealings. You are selling your (and your company’s) credibility and integrity. If you lose your integrity, you have nothing to sell.

22. Invest in yourself. Continually upgrade your product and business knowledge and your sales skills.

23. 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.

24. Make intelligent use of social media. Join groups that can help you and your career. Be very careful in how you communicate online. Never be abusive or insulting. Be very pragmatic and judicious in your use of social media. Participation can be addictive, time-consuming and unproductive. Learn which media help you achieve results and shift away from those that consume your time and energy but produce no revenue.

25. 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.

26. While the sales job can seem very lonely at times, don’t forget it is a team sport. Work closely with your manager and the rest of your team (e.g. drivers, dispatchers) to achieve your goals.

27. Always ask for the business. If you don’t ask, you may not get.

28. Spend time with drivers. If you sell small parcel or LTL services, get out with your route driver (s). Get out of the truck and see how your freight is picked up and delivered. Look at the paperwork, the availability of dock doors, how your freight is packaged and whether your freight is ready on time. Find out the true impacts of ELDs and capacity shortages. This time will help you be much more effective in doing your job.

29. Invest in your appearance. Your clothes and grooming say a lot about you.

30. There are successful sales reps who are introverts and extroverts. Be sincere. Be yourself.

I am sure there are many more tips that can be added to the list. What advice would you give to a new freight transportation sales rep? Please share your thoughts with the readers of this blog

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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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