SALES & MARKETING PROGRAMS
For the past 28 years, Ahern & Associates has assisted numerous trucking and logistics companies in establishing and improving their sales and marketing programs. As part of Ahern’s services, it is important to recognize that an effective sales program involves continually changing the culture of the way that sales and marketing people offer services, as well as their behavior.
Trucking is a cyclical business – it’s a pennies business, and it’s constantly changing. In order for salespeople to be successful:
- They must be consistent;
- They must be persistent; and
- Have a strong belief in themselves as well as the product or service that they are selling.
Many times I hear, “This individual is a natural salesperson”, but that is not a factual statement. Salespeople are not born, they are created.
Salespeople that aren’t successful, are people afraid of success.
- They state that they want to succeed; but
- In some cases, they are afraid of achieving success.
A successful salesperson:
- Writes down their goals and objectives daily;
- Starts with small goals;
- Establishes higher goals and aspirations; and
- Revisits their goals and objectives, consistently.
A successful salesperson is always properly prepared.
- They must be eager;
- They must be ready; and
- Know how to create opportunities.
I constantly hear from salespeople that aren’t performing, that all they have to sell in the trucking industry is rates. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. Particularly today, in an industry where there are dramatic capacity constraints because of a lack of drivers;
- Service is important;
- Capacity is important; and
- Yes, rates are important, but if all you have to sell are rates, then choose another profession.
It is important for salespeople to master the knowledge of their company products and services, and learn to be an effective listener. The trucking industry is a relationship business, regardless of what some may believe. Part of the process of implementing a successful sales program is determining how salespeople create relationships and forms bonds of trust. Sales people need to:
- Establish a competence level in their business;
- Recognize that people buy utilizing their own buying patterns, not necessarily the salesperson’s selling patterns;
- Create a need;
- Understand what the potential customer wants to achieve; and
- Provide solutions to problems.
It’s important to understand that successful salespeople:
- Have objectives
- Don’t make excuses
- Ask for orders
- Raise and meet objections
- Do their homework
- Manage their time and their territory
- Have product knowledge
- Listen to their customer’s needs
- Talk to decision-makers
- Set high goals
- Follow up
- Give concessions, only for a return
- Control situations
- Never close the door on opportunities
- Believe in their company.
One of the primary reasons sales and marketing programs fail is because salespeople are not prepared:
- They are not focused
- They are not consistent
- They are not persistent
- They find excuses to blame others for their lack of achievement.
It’s important for salespeople and owners of trucking companies to recognize that:
- People only buy when they can’t fill their own needs
- The buyer has the answer: the sales person has the questions
- Relationships come first, task second
- People buy using their own buying patterns, not the seller’s buying patterns; and
- A salesperson has nothing to sell if there is no one to buy.
Product knowledge is useless until the sales individual knows how their product or service will benefit and profit the customer. On the surface, this seems simple, but I challenge salespeople daily to determine how far they’ve gone to understand how their customers actually use their product or services on a day-to-day basis. How do they use it? How does it bring benefit to the Buyer’s working environment?
Ahern’s processes consist of working with salespeople to assist them in overcoming objectives and establishing goals. We work with management to hold salespeople accountable for their actions and continually work with their sales staff to improve their overall performance.
Over the years, Ahern & Associates has discovered that in numerous instances, a trucking company’s sales staff needs to change their behavioral patterns to specific responses so that a sale can be completed. If pricing is the sole objective that your sales staff complains about for not obtaining market share, that means they are failing. They are failing to utilize the proper approach to obtain the results that you desire. The same applies to sales managers.
When managing a sales staff, I use what I call buyer facilitation – sales managers must understand that there is a different sales cycle and different expectations as to how a sale should proceed. In essence, Ahern works with sales people to focus on the Golden Rule – “Stop, Think, and Listen”.
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