2 months ago I have posted the article Converting sales lead to order – forwarders tale. In this post I have tried to attract the attention of the forwarding community to an important but highly undervalued process. The process of sales. As any process the process of sales has an input which has to generate a result. But what we provide as an input in freight forwarding, how we manipulate this input in order to get the desired result and what result do we get at all (is it the desired result?).
Firstly, I would like to accent on an important point. The sales process starts from the end of the marketing process. It is the sales lead and the cold call that are the inputs of the sales process. Now, let us take a short look at the freight forwarding sales process. I see three steps which I put in form of questions.
Question number one: What we sell? Freight – no, definetely not as we do not own the freight, transportation – again wrong answer, we do not provide transportation services (we are forwarders not carriers). You might be laughing for saying obvious things but belive me my practice thought me that they are not obvious at all and many salespersons tell to their customers they sell freight or transportation. Actually as forwarders we sell – organization, coordination, consolidation of various services which aim at the proper movement of our customer’s freight from one location to another. That is it. This is what we do. This is what we sell. Organization, coordination, consolidation !!
Question number two: How we sell? Normally, most of the salespersons, being eager to close the deal start by overwhelming the prospect with information about the organization and the products they can offer. This is very wrong approach, I can say it from bitter personal experience. Firstly what we need to know is what is actually our customer looking at. What kind of transportation they use, how they perceive such vague notions as “short tranzit time” and “low freight cost”, what is their understanding of the “quality forwarding services”. And this we can find out only by listening and asking the right questions. We should understand that selling freight forwarding services is not like selling “sneakers”. You can not impress the prospects by telling them how good is it for them to ship using your services 100 kilos from New York to Sofia, Bulgaria if they do not have the need to ship. This is the starting point. Unlike foodstaff for example, our customers must have loads in hand in order to look for our services at all. On my practice I have this case when I spent 30 minutes explaining what opportunities my company had just before realizing that the prospect does not have international shipments at all. So the starting point is: either start selling with a sales lead or do your homework before making the cold call. There are many books on this topic that is why I will not go there. But I would like only to share with you what became one of my foundations in selling freight forwarding services – Does my prospect have any international loads at all !?! Only the positive answer to this question will put the prospect in my list.
Question number three: When we stop the sell ? This is easy. We stop selling in two cases. Either prospect tells you – “We are not intrested in your services” or they give you an order. Many of you might object to the last but it is my understanding that after you receive your first order you should start serving your customer in order to get repeated orders which is different process from sales (though closely related to it).
Whether you agree with me or not – please comment or remain silent!
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