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Sales Strategies

The Napkin Presentation

Randy Vlasic, Franchise Owner of BlueGrace ORD is a funny dude. We certainly get a kick out of his random calls, Tweets or phone calls. Last week, we were in for a surprise. As we were connecting with our network on Twitter, we saw that Randy posted an image of his Napkin Presentation. He met with a client earlier that day and connected with them on an entirely different level. This was an instance where the client relationship reigned in the moment. Had he broken out a PowerPoint or even a video, he probably wouldn’t have had the same impact as he did with this drawing. What we can learn from Randy’s napkin presentation:

I. Don’t rely on technology to engage with your customers: Face-to-Face Meetings are always the best. It’s important to recognize an opportunity to get in front of your customer. Technology can feel impersonal if it’s all you rely on. Can’t visit? Pick up the phone and have a chat.

II. Have a good time discussing business. According to Randy, THEY LAUGHED THE ENTIRE TIME. If you truly love what you do then this will come naturally. Don’t let the conversation run dry. Remember Core Value #1: Be Happy & Have Fun. Your customers will notice.

III. Don’t Force Creativity you don’t need to have excellent drawing skills (just ask Randy). But getting your message across in a way that is digestible and engaging is important. Be prepared, but don’t rehearse your entire conversation.

Going into the napkin presentation, he already knew what lanes he was proposing to run, prepared for it and going into it with rounded rates.

He went in completely prepared to give one of the best presentations. With freight spend in mind, and showing how to save time and money– he calculated about $130K in savings! The Napkin Presentation is a great way to show value and it breaks the ice when you’re drawing elementary like pictures for an adult conversation, people laughed at how bad the drawings were, but they LOVED the detail they were given about their business.

The Napkin Presentation helps build credibility for the customer. You’re directly showing them what they’re spending and what they could potentially save with a powerful partner like BlueGrace instead versus the competition.

Randy’s strategy is adding BG in the mix and showing their current situation with their existing process and provider, cost savings we could provide, and consolidation.

Good interaction with the customer gives them something to hold on to and to see. If you keep your customer laughing all through the presentation, you know you’re driving the conversation. Here’s an example of how you can showcase your own hand-drawn-Napkin Presentation:

NapkinPresentation
The Napkin Presentation by Randy Vlasic, BG ORD Franchise Owner

1. Start with an unhappy face stick figure and give him a name. List the process of using all the carriers, companies and loads. (Randy drew all trucks, 5 different companies and 5 loads)

2. Show the business owner emailing all the load tenders to the carrier. Show the carrier responding “yes or no.” and somehow show the back and forth conundrum when a company has to decide what provider to go with.

3. Show what the business has to do to manage their own loads with 4 labeled plates (ie: audit invoicing, tracking and tracing, importing and consolidation, etc.) This process is time consuming so your customers will relate.

4. Show your customers the benefits of working with BlueGrace and start with a happy stick figure. Label your benefits in no more than two plates like he did in the above example (ie: “Consolidation” and “Import”). Whatever the benefits are for fitting the situation but keep it simple.

“My customers laugh the whole time. I want to give my customers something to remember.”

Teach your customers about what other companies don’t want them to know. Give them a reason to laugh and have a good time. Business meetings aren’t expected to be fun, but if you can lighten the mood it adds value to the customer relationship. The Napkin Presentation is more than just stick figures, you’re providing and entire proposal in front of a prospect without a stack of boring paperwork.

 

For more information on The Napkin Presentation fill out the form below to contact Randy Vlasic, Franchise Owner of BG ORD.

 

[gravityform id=”5″ name=”Contact BlueGrace ORD”]

 

 

 

Guaranteed vs Expedited Shipping

Every day shipments are booked for pickup with LTL carriers, and on occasion those carriers get overloaded and miss the pickup. A serious problem arises when that freight was time critical, such as a manufacturer waiting on freight from their vendors to finish a product. In cases like this, we have seen plants shut down until the freight arrives.

One way to help prevent this situation from occurring is a guaranteed shipment. By placing a day guaranteed on your shipment, the LTL carrier will be responsible if the freight misses that guarantee. They are much more inclined to pick up freight with guarantees attached to avoid paying the freight charges.

In case a carrier does miss the pickup on a time sensitive shipment, an expedited shipment may be required.  A dedicated carrier is called in to move the freight. This carrier picks up the freight and drives straight through until it arrives at the specified delivery location. Shipping costs for Expedited Freight can become expensive, as you are paying for a dedicated truck. However, when you compare the costs of expedited shipping versus the cost of shutting down the manufacturing plant, it may be a bargain.

Freight traveling cross country may require an air rate. When the freight is sitting in Laredo, TX and needs to be in Boston, MA by 10 AM the next day, the freight must be sent by air. This can be very expensive as airline space is very limited.

BlueGrace Logistics are the experts in expedited situations and the phrase our LTL representatives typically hear is “you just saved my job!” The worst feeling in the world as a customer is knowing that your job may be on line if the freight does not arrive. When you have a hotel opening in New York on Saturday and the drapes are still in Alabama on Thursday morning, that sinking feeling in your stomach will not go away until the freight arrives. On Friday morning when the customer calls to say “Thank you! You saved my job!” there is a feeling of significant relief for them – which is the best feeling for our company.

Avoid the stress and don’t play with chance, setup your next time sensitive shipment with BlueGrace Guaranteed services.  In the event you need expedited help, BlueGrace can help you there too.

 

BlueGrace Logistics

Got Freight? Get a Quick and Easy Freight Quote
1-800-MY-SHIPPING

BlueGrace Logistics will be closed for Labor Day on Monday 9/2

LABOR DAY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE – 2013

BlueGrace Logistics and all Carrier Partners WILL BE CLOSED ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2013.  We will resume business the following day on Tuesday, September 3rd. We’d like to wish you all a great, relaxing Labor Day Weekend.

Need help before the holiday rush? Call your dedicated rep or reach one of our logistics experts at 800.MY.SHIPPING or get an Quick & Easy Freight Quote Online.

Thank You,

BlueGrace Logistics

Need a Freight Quote?  Get one Quick & Easy Here
800.MY.SHIPPING

Fitting the Bill – The Benefits of Intermodal Shipping

With Trucking providing competitive rates and shipments more manageable than ever, why would anyone look to an option with limitations such as intermodal shipping? Naturally one would think there is a more efficient option nowadays than using the old Transcontinental Railroad for transporting goods.

The answer may surprise you. Intermodal shipping has actually been on the rise and offers a unique set of benefits that can actually suit some shipments better than the most popular option of trucking.


Pros of Intermodal

  • Typically cheaper than over the road full truck loads
  • Great for long distance Shipments – Coast to Coast or Over 800 miles
  • Multiple rail providers have increased availability and competitive pricing
  • Not estimated rates – Pricing is locked in

With the pros, come the cons of Intermodal

  • Freight cannot be time sensitive
  • Only full loads- cannot move “LTL” – moves as a 53 ft container
  • Must book with 24 hours’ notice
  • MAX weight – 43,500 lbs

How about an example of how Intermodal is great for long distance project moves?

BlueGrace Intermodal freight

A customer of ours was in the midst of plans to relocate their warehouse from Chicago, Illinois to Houston, Texas and needed to ship over 40 full load shipments to their new location.

Seems easy enough, right? For a truckload representative, they think they just got the sale of month! Unfortunately for them, Intermodal priced each load $300 cheaper for than over the road. Instantly, shipping by rail presented a $12,000 difference in savings over the freight spend for 40 full truckloads. If pricing alone wasn’t enough, there were additional benefits that ended up making Intermodal the crucial choice.

During the move they loaded 3 containers per night, staggered the deliveries to by letting them go to the rail yard and sit when needed (rail yards give 1-2 days of free time, in comparison having to pay a driver to sit overnight or get detention on a delivery). In addition, one carrier was scheduling all the appointments which eliminated the confusion with multiple truckload drivers

For this customer, shipping Intermodal made the whole difference. Rail provided them with the flexibility to manage a successful move by saving over $10,000 in freight costs alone, by allowing them the capability to stage the delivery as needed so that the receiving warehouse would not be overloaded, and avoided a potential logistics nightmare with 40 different trucks from different carriers.

Next time you are looking to make a sizable, long distance shipment, make sure to check out any intermodal shipping options.   Contact a rail shipping representative today. You can also request a rail freight shipping quote to see cost savings.

 

BlueGrace Logistics

Got Freight? Get a Quick and Easy Freight Quote
1-800-MY-SHIPPING

Preparing For A Championship? A Connection Between Football and Logistics!

Take a deep breath everyone, football season is almost here! As you read this article, teams all over the country at the professional and college level are preparing for their upcoming seasons.  Your favorite teams are doing everything they can to fine tune their roster, perfect game plans, and train hard to set themselves apart from their competition. This intense preparation and rigid self analysis can teach us a lesson in business as well. In extremely competitive environments, how does one company stack up to another? What sets you and your business apart? What can you do to become a champion in your industry?

First, you must know your own company’s strengths. What is it that you can do that no one else can or can do better than anyone else? What does your brand look like and how well do you serve your customer base? Lean against these tough questions when facing tough competition, and be honest to yourself. Next, you need to be doing industry research to know your competition and keep up with critical trends like communicating with customers via social media (Check us out on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn). On the field, or during a sale, knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses could make all the difference. For example, BlueGrace takes another sport that we love (MMA) and uses that to reach our customers on another level (i.e. Carlos Condit, UFC Interim Champ truckload campaign “The Champ Has Your Truckloads Covered“).

Regarding your customers, are you meeting or exceeding their expectations? Customers that are just having their needs met, might seem fine, but at the same time might be looking for something more. And believe me when I say there are plenty of companies out there looking to give them more- regardless of the industry you’re in and what you do. So ask yourself, what are you doing to exceed customer expectations on a daily basis? How do you make their jobs/lives easier? Thinking about this concept might help give you the edge in keeping and capturing new business. At BlueGrace, our customers and their needs are always the top priority of every decision we make from marketing, to sales, customer loyalty and even behind the scenes we ask “How are we making a difference today?” .

Lastly, how efficient are the operations within your organization? Are you streamlining as much as you possibly can to keep costs down? Are you using technology to the best of your ability to maximize spending and reduce overall costs to get the most out of your supply chain? A combination of all the above are critical to success and BlueGrace can help (at least with your supply chain). We know the do’s and don’ts in transportation and can effectively manage these processes for you. In 99.99% of all cases, being a champion means working as a team with a trusted group of individuals who all benefit from one another to make progress. In football, the last team standing is usually a well rounded group that’s truly understands the concept of being a team.  Take some time to think about tasks that would benefit partnering with a third party vendor who will take the time to learn your business.

Overall, the incorporation of sports into your company culture is a great way to connect and engage your employees. Happy employees are more productive and, in result, your organization can strengthen and grow. At BlueGrace Logistics, we promote healthy active lifestyles and spark some friendly office competition!  Always remember, company culture matters!

Whether on the field or in the business world how do you set yourself apart? Check out BlueGrace Logistics and see how we set ourselves apart from others in the transportation logistics industry!

#BGInvestigates: Why not use a 3PL?!

No acronym boils the blood of a BlueGrace® Logistics employee more than “3PL”. In our experience, this acronym conveys an adopted meaning that doesn’t give justice to the value added service BlueGrace delivers. We believe 3PL providers should be an extension of your business, not an outsourced process. So instead of a “3PL”, we consider ourselves a Logistics Service Provider.

Phrasing is not the reason that decision makers stray from 3PLs. To further understand the issue, BlueGrace investigated internally. Here are the most common concerns:

 “I’ve been burned by other 3PL’s, so now I steer clear…”

This could be the most common objection to any business considering a new 3PL. To those questioning the use of 3PL’s, we say, “Well you haven’t experienced BlueGrace.” Completely nixing all 3PLs from your life is the wrong move. We have learned the most common reason for failed 3PL partnerships is billing resolutions. At BlueGrace, we take certain precautions to safeguard against mistakes. We know that re-classes and re-weighs are the heartache of any shipper’s existence. Our new and enhanced BlueShip Transportation Management System allows users to enter weight and dimensions into their customized portal; alerting the shipper to contact their rep if the shipment requires special attention (pricing, class, etc.).

Another concern is the lack of education from the provider to the customer. This results in miscommunication and animosity, which potentially leads to a short-lived business relationship. It’s vital for you, the shipper, to understand what we provide. A good Logistics Service Provider (or 3PL) will help their customer understand resources like NMFC codes, cubic capacity and linear feet guidelines.

“If we can be of help, we will. If not, we tell you. We want to create mutually beneficial relationships and properly educate our customers,” says Eric Chambers, Sr VP of Sales.

“You don’t own your own trucks, so why should I trust you with my freight?”

That’s a good question. BlueGrace Logistics has a strong network of top rated carriers to handle our customer’s goods. We use a scorecard with each carrier to monitor overall performance such as damages in transit and punctuality. Our carrier partnerships allow us to negotiate competitive rates on your behalf. Take advantage of the lower costs that the buying power of the right 3PL can get you.

BlueGrace Logistics provides free quotes and internal audits of your current logistics processes. For any questions in regard to your shipping needs call 1.800.MY.SHIPPING

So, we hope this topic was helpful in identifying your concerns in determining whether or not working with a 3PL is right for you. Give us a call, send an email, or follow us on Twitter (@mybluegrace) for more on these important subjects as #BGInvestigates.

Visit us online at www.mybluegrace.com

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow @BG_JennyD on Twitter!

Top 10.5 Reasons Why Jeffrey Gitomer is a Sales Sellout

As a Sales Trainer, Sales Manager and successful Career Sales Professional, I have always been a fan of Jeffrey Gitomer. Although a little goofy at times, I have always subscribed to and practiced his sales strategies and found sales to be fun. I do respect anyone who can understand and adapt to a change in the landscape, but I just cannot get on board with a complete 180 of someone’s principles. I have tweeted, “If you are using social media instead of cold calling, you’re lazy. If you’re not using social media as well as cold calling, you’re stupid.” But it’s not like he said that he understands the new paradigm and that we must adapt to succeed – no, he completely abandoned everything he’s been writing about for years! Will I get a refund for those books? No – he wants us to buy the new ones he wrote after he woke up one day and realized the internet isn’t going anywhere. So, here are:

Top 10.5 Reasons Why Jeffrey Gitomer is a Sales Sellout

1. His new book, “Social BOOM!” reads a little like Homer Simpson claiming he was the King of the Internet, yet didn’t own a computer… or like Al Gore claiming he invented the internet. He is late to the party and trying to make us think he’s throwing it!

2. His Twitter feed reads like the used book list on Amazon.com.

3. His Twitter feed looks like the revolving advertising panel during a Major League Baseball game – only it’s always advertising him!

4. If you “Tweet, therefore you are,” than you may not be much… 795 (as of 9/28/11) self-promoting tweets and none of them directly reaching out to your followers.

5. “Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Lead the way! #JGWebinar ” (Gitomer) A little late, Jeff.


6. At a “Leadership Event” hosted by Jeffrey Gitomer (author of “The Sales Bible”), Gitomer stood in the crowd and said, “Cold Calling is a waste of time,” yet his CD on “Cold Calling” sits for sale in the back of the room… and it’s not even discounted. I am anxious to read his book on “egregious flip-flopping.”

7. Section 3.2 (about 17 pgs) of the “Sales Bible” are dedicated to cold calling in sales referring to them as “popular,” “important,” and “fun.” Where is the section on pandering?

8. He says that “salespeople from legitimate businesses believe that the ‘No soliciting’ sign is not aimed at them…” Does that mean your business is no longer legitimate?

9. If “every NO gets you closer to a YES,” how many ignored Direct Messages do you need to get a YES?

10. He claims you will get 100% of your calls returned if, “You call them up on the phone. Leave half a message, pretend like you have been cut off and hang up.” He goes on to give the call script, “Hello this is Jeffrey. 704-333-eleven-twelve. I was speaking with a couple of your biggest competitors yesterday. They were talking about you, and they said … and you hang up.” Supposedly the prospect will be so curious to hear the rest of your message that he will call back. Does that mean you just trail off your message on twitter or lin……..

10.5 7.5 rules to follow on a cold call include “smile when you talk” and to “…get an appointment…persist until you get it.” Which emoticons do you use in twitter to show your smile? :)

Care to share your comments? Leave a reply below or find me on Twitter!

-Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales and Personnel Development
  Twitter: TheBGexperience

“Not Interested”

All day long I hear from people who are “not interested.” It makes me wonder, what are they not interested in? They don’t want to help their company? Well I do! On a personal level, when you say you’re not interested in life, where could that lead you? Say you’re married – When your husband asked you out, what if you said “I’m not interested”? Then you would not be in your current marriage right now. What if you said you weren’t interested to that amazing job opportunity? Where would your life be? We don’t know for sure how our lives would be based on past decisions, but chances are we’d be different.

The best thing to do is listen and pay attention to the opportunities in front of you. This is what we aim for at BlueGrace. The more open you are with individuals within the company increases the chance for something great. As a logistics and technology provider, BlueGrace wants to help cut your overall costs and introduce you to other options for your business regarding your freight. When we listen to each other, we have the opportunity to do great business together. Without the listening, things stay the same… which means no growth.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

– Ariel Saiani, National Sales Rep
Follow me @ArielSaiani_BG

Conference Call Do’s and Don’ts

There are many things you shouldn’t be doing while communicating with co-workers, customers or potential customers over a conference call. With the help of Eduardo Braniff, here are a few things to focus on during your next conference call.

1.  DO focus on the conversation. This biggest mistake a caller can make is getting distracted by other things going on. Focus on the call/phone as if it were someone in the room with you.

2.  DO schedule the call correctly. Make sure you have allotted the time for this call as the only project or task you need to accomplish during this time period.

3.  DO prepare your environment. For a call in a home, car, hotel room, etc., make sure you prepare an office environment, so that you can focus on the call with minimal distractions.

4.  DO notify the group of your calling situation. Calls may require you to be on a cell phone or in a noisy place. Let your fellow callers know, so that they can prepare for the extra noise or the possibility of your call getting dropped.

5.  DO listen. It is much easier to get distracted during a conference call than a standard meeting. Make sure you are not only listening, but effectively listening by keeping up with the conversation and giving valuable input on the where the conversation currently is at.

1.  DON’T multitask. When sitting in front of your computer or in your office, there is always something to do that can take your mind off the conversation. Make sure to follow DO #2, so that this time is spent for the current conversation and not the emails piling up in your inbox.

2.  DON’T interrupt. It is tough to keep a controlled conversation with people in different areas communicating with each other. Limit sidebar conversations and keep a flow of conversation rather than talking over people. Consider having a moderator to make sure it flows better.

3.  DON’T fall asleep.  I know it shouldn’t have to be said, but this can be a common occurrence for those on a call that don’t follow DO #3. If you are too comfortable during a call, and not fully involved in the conversation, it can cause you to fall asleep and ruin your credibility/reputation.

4.  DON’T forget the phone is a microphone. Most conference call devices are not the standard phone and actually contain a much better microphone in them. They are able to pick up side bar conversations, the rustling of papers or the sound of a coffee cup or soda bottle on the table.

5.  DON’T ignore the other people in the room. By focusing on the conversation over the phone, you can neglect some of the people in the room. It isn’t bad to have a conversation with other people in the room, just make sure it is one that is involving the current conversation. 

– Ben Dundas, Systems Analyst

Live Fast, Die Young

I recently read Live Fast, Die Young – The wild ride of making REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel. The book tells the tales of Director Nick Ray, young actress Natalie Wood, newcomer Sal Mineo and real life rebel James Dean. The insight into the original juvenile delinquent was astounding and any fans of Rebel could see just how much James Dean’s real life experiences play a part in the role he played as confused, misunderstood and angry rebel, Jim Stark. Other than being a misguided youth, James Dean was best known for his reckless and hurried lifestyle that ultimately ended with his untimely and tragic death. Dean died in a car crash while driving his brand new Porsche. Despite his death being a shock that had a ripple effect through Hollywood and his fans across America, the cause of his death was not a surprise to anyone.

Dean had a reputation for living fast and living dangerously. He often rode his 1955 Triumph motorcycle throughout Hollywood. He missed the first three days of production of Rebel because he was racing his Porsche Speedster in the desert. He was routinely stopped for speeding in his Porsche on the set of Rebel. Dean certainly had a reputation for living fast. In fact, he went to great lengths to cultivate this reputation. The ironic thing surrounding Dean’s death was that while he indeed died in a terrible car crash, the police report said that Dean was not speeding and was not at fault in the accident. It was a young, local student who couldn’t negotiate a turn who ended up in the wrong lane. But Dean’s iconic reputation and legend lead people to believe that he indirectly killed himself.

Your reputation is important. The things that you do on a daily basis, regardless of how small, forever change the way in which you, your actions, and even your associates are perceived. Working in transportation, the reputation of our freight carriers is our reputation. The reputation of an individual franchise can effect an entire corporation. If you want to be perceived as the experts in expedited shipping, than every member of your organization from the Receptionist to the President, must be an expert in expedited shipping. To be known to have a state-of-the-art Transportation Management System (TMS) than you must employ people who can in fact make your TMS state-of-the-art.

We are all adults. We all understand that the logistics industry is not perfect. LTL shipments do in fact arrive late. Pick-ups are missed. Products get damaged. To make a reputation for yourself as the proven leader in transportation management, it is not about whether or not these mishaps will or will not occur. They will. To be the best, you must prove to be a leader in transportation management by minimizing the amount of mistakes that occur by focusing on the human error and process improvements. Be proactive. To be perceived as the best-in-class, focus on how you handle these issues as they arise. Cultivate your reputation, your legacy, by understanding what’s important to the people you serve. Perception is reality.

Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales Development
Follow me @theBGexperience

Prank Cold Calls

cold calls | phone salesIt’s commonly known that cold calls are the least favorite activity of both sales people and the people being sold. The reasons that cold calls get so much resistance isn’t because people are weary of pushy sales people, it’s because they are tired and aggravated with WEAK sales people! To a prospective client, to receive a cold call is no more than a nuisance unless they happen to be sitting there with their credit card handy pondering how they can purchase your service. Jeffrey Gitomer, who literally wrote the book on cold calling, says “It’s an interruption, it’s a fight, it’s often a lie, it’s maximum sales manipulation, and it’s a rare appointment and a rarer sale.” Of course cold calling is an interruption, but I still get to sit down. Of course it’s a fight, but I still get to win. Damn right it’s sales manipulation, but it doesn’t mean my TMS can’t be a solution to a prospect’s problem. It’s often a lie? Only if you are trying to hide the purpose of your call.

One of the biggest and most common missteps that give cold calling a bad rap is when weak sales people go to great lengths to hide the purpose of their call. How many times has someone received a call for a free magazine subscription, or a set of golf clubs or $20 from their credit card company for a “free trial” of their credit protector program? None of these things are free and it’s insulting to me as a consumer and a sales person that the person trying to sell me won’t just own up to it. What are they afraid of?

It’s a vicious cycle. Gatekeepers keep up resistance so sales people tend to cower and con their way in. Their transparent efforts become more obnoxious and insulting to a business owner so they tend to fail, forcing the gatekeepers to protect that battleground even more. Don’t  hide what you do! The first thing you should do on a cold call is announce who you are, why you’re calling, and what you want. When you’re speaking with the business owner, inform them of who you are, why you’re calling, what you want, and most importantly, what can you do for them! People ignore you or procrastinate on making decisions because they feel you have nothing of value and talking to you is a waste of time. When you tip toe around why you’re calling, it only exasperates this feeling.

I announce from the roof tops that I’m in transportation. Our state-of-the-art Transportation Management System (TMS) is the platform in which our business provides process improvements and increased profitability, and I can’t get that message across if I try to con my way through the door with some vague pitch about my purpose. I feel it’s tacky and inexperience to make freight rates the focus of your opening pitch, but it’s still better than some jargon about “our brand new program in your area” or how I’ll give this business a free consultation. Do you want an audience? Then give them what they want. WIIFM. Then they may take the call and listen with eager interest. Otherwise, you’re better off making prank calls.

Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales Development
Follow me @theBGexperience

The Fish was THIS Big

There’s only one thing worse than a big fish story, and that’s a story about how big a fish is that you’re going to catch! Potential is a dangerous thing. Potential is a lie that we tell ourselves when we aren’t working hard enough or are afraid of making the tough decisions. The world is comprised of talented failures that are full of potential. Even years back when I was selling telecommunications solutions in New England, I was weary of businesses that had plans to get big. A two phone line account was a two phone line account and that was it. Hardly ever would I lie to convince myself that this small business was going to go through some momentous transition that would require them to have so many services it would be like landing a monster deal without having to do the work. I may have just as well played the lottery.

This pitfall is far more dangerous in the transportation industry. In such a volatile economy with accordion-like freight capacity and ever changing shipping rates, it would seem easy to believe a business is about to get big or that their volume is going to really pick up soon. In the telecom and logistics industries, sales reps both new and veteran alike, would fall for this seduction time after time again. “When they land that deal” or “come out with that new product line” or “when the seasons starts” their volume is going to really get huge. I don’t even like chasing big deals because falling for this seduction can cause you to fail when you feel you are about to succeed. A fish on the hook is still just a fish in the water.

I know I’m struggling now, but when I land that deal I’m about to blow up

This deception disseminates beyond just a sales reps perception of their own sales funnel or career path. Sales managers become too enticed with the potential of their sales reps to recognize when they are not working, failing, or have no chance of succeeding. This potential is just an excuse to avoid making a tough or unpopular decision.

I know they’re struggling now, but when they land that deal they’re about to blow up.

Falling for the deception of potential prevents you from capitalizing on actual opportunities. When you convince yourself that a bad deal is a good deal, your competitor is already selling the next truckload or expedited shipment. When a sales manager is hanging onto every phone call their inadequate rep is making, their competitor has just hired the market’s newest logistics sales superstar.

Strong prospect management involves understanding the specifics of your prospects. How many LTL shipments do they currently do?  How much revenue does the sales reps currently project in their funnel?

The biggest crime of all is that by setting this false potential, we will never live up to our true potential. With that said, should we continue upon this dangerous course, we are all destined to be failures. Focus upon the opportunities in front of you and save the fish stories for another day.

Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales Development
Follow me @theBGexperience

Coffee is for Openers

If you or your sales people are not absolutely addicted to coffee or some other type of over the counter caffeine equivalent, then you just simply aren’t trying hard enough. It’s a big country and a short day and you should be playing with live ammo at all times. As someone who reads hundreds if not thousands of resumes each month, I will tell you that the most overrated “skill” on a sales person’s resume is their ability to close. Closing is a myth. Closing is the simplest task of a sale. Closing is simply asking for the order or some other type of call to action, typically to schedule a next step to move forward with the sale. Coffee shouldn’t be the reward for doing the easy part of the job, yet, let’s makes it be the catalyst for the most important part of the sale – opening the sale.

The task of opening the sale needs to be met with the utmost enthusiasm. If you are fortunate enough to be selling LTL or other freight services in this volatile transportation market, especially with a technology platform such as a TMS, this is your market to own! Businesses need you now! Manufacturers need to reduce costs on shipping! CFO’s need more visibility and control! Warehouse managers need to reduce time wasted on manual tasks that could be automated! Customers need to know they have LTL, Truckload, and even Expedited options. You have a value and a service to provide, Caffeine Up! And get it out there! The fact is, most sales people are just plain bad at opening the sale. They wait for the very end of the call to show any swagger or confidence, and its feigned confidence at best. How can you close if you can’t open? Too many freight or logistics sales people are too timid on the call. They don’t share confidence in their product or service, and allow themselves to be handcuffed into dealing with contacts who don’t have the authority to buy because:

  1. They don’t believe enough in the value of their own product or service.
  2. They don’t value themselves enough to attempt to reach the business or other C level executive.

Several years ago, while out cold calling to hawk my logistics services, I came across a “No Soliciting” sign. These are, of course everywhere, and useless. But when I looked closer, I saw that it said, “No BAD soliciting.” I laughed out loud. The door belonged to a Sandler Sales Training Institute. Although I knew they didn’t ship freight, it was worth a cold call anyways to test my chops. I got directly to the business owner and he immediately granted me a sit down. I spent about 20 minutes in his office just discussing sales and sales processes. It was an interesting conversation and affirmed what I already knew: Be cocky. Be arrogant. Be confident. But be right. KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER BEFORE YOU OFFER IT. If you have a valuable product or service that can indeed benefit a way that a business operates, it should be your mission, your moral imperative and even your right to get that information out there.

This morning I listened to a sales call that made the hairs on my arms stand up. The sales rep, while attempting to open a sales call, said the following three things in less than a minute:

  • “We have a similar system…”
  • “…Pretty much the same as Freightquote…”
  • “…Very similar as…”

All this says to the business owner is that if your system is so similar to my system, what’s the purpose in continuing this call? What he should have opened with:

  • “Our TMS is leading edge and leagues ahead of our competition…”
  • “Our rates are not only very aggressive, but I can study your lanes and distribution habits to optimize your pricing…”
  • “We have a largely robust and constantly increasing carrier base…”

Each one of these followed by a question about the prospects own current processes, needs or problems.

So, Caffeine Up! Get on the phone! And open some sales calls!

Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales Development
Follow me @theBGexperience

Admitting you don’t know is better than pretending you do

In a service industry such as transportation and logistics, the three most powerful words a salesperson can say are “I don’t know.” Admitting that you don’t know everything about freight shipping is better than pretending you do.  As we grow we need to remind ourselves that although we strive to be experts in transportation, we never truly know everything.  There are several different types of customers out there. Mainly, the ones who know everything, the ones who know nothing, and the ones who think they know everything but they know nothing.

The customer who knows everything will tell you what they want, educate you, and you will earn their trust when you don’t insult them by pretending to know what you don’t. The customers who know nothing rely on you to get them the right information. They don’t want you to mislead them in attempts to earn a fast sale. And finally, the customers who think they know it all will never respect a sales rep that pretends to be something they are not. Nobody has ever had a problem with a sales rep telling them “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

The key to continued growth is forgetting what we think we know about our customers and continue to ask questions about their current service and their needs.  This is also true for prospects.  Once you hesitate to pick up the phone because you have already called someone ten times, you have failed.  Preconceived notions about customers as well as transportation carriers cause you to be complacent.  People, business practice, and customer’s happiness change daily. If you don’t have the determination to pick up the phone against your will, then you will miss out. 

Outside sales is no different; when you have gone through your territory ten times and think you know everything there is about each business, you have lost your edge.  You either have to have the determination to go back in to that business and treat it like you have never been there before, or have been hit in the head enough times like me that you really don’t remember being there.  Both will allow you to gain new opportunities. It is only when you can admit not only to others but to yourself that you do not know it all is when you can begin to learn it all!  

– Steve Hicks, Account Executive
Follow me @BG_Steve

Best in Class

Pictured above is the winner of the Westminster Dog Show. The reason that I linked to this is I have been thinking of the way people are sometimes judged. I am sure this dog knows more tricks than just “sit”. He more than likely knows “follow”, “rollover,” “play dead” etc. But none of those tricks are why Sadie won Best in Class. Best in Class goes to the dog that most closely sets the standard for the breed and not the dog that does the best tricks.

I recently began my career at BlueGrace, and I want to be known as the guy who sets the standard for best in class not as the guy who can just do a few tricks. For example “sit” is pounding the phones looking for new freight business. But to be best in class, I need to understand and know about the rest of the company. There is customer service, invoicing, administration, collections (Eek), transportation management and many more things to learn. I need to be well rounded in this company if I want to be best in class.

I always think of what happens in another person’s shoes. I don’t know what Gail, Juan, Dave Scott, NickRandy etc deal with on a daily basis as of this moment, but would I like to? Of course! To be well rounded is good for my company and me. I believe everyone should share this ambition in this company and know everything about it. I studied religion, history, and politics at Florida State University (FSU). These are the things no one wants to talk about, but I wanted to know exactly what I was talking about if the conversations took place. With BlueGrace, my job and company, I want to be the same exact way!

– Dustin Snipes, Account Manager, Inside Sales
Follow me @DSnipesNole_BG

Making Yes be the First Answer

How many times have you been in a customer service situation where the first person you spoke to couldn’t or wouldn’t resolve your problem? If you are like me, I am sure the answer is plenty. The usual reaction is to ask for a supervisor. Most of the time the supervisor will resolve the problem to your satisfaction, but in reality it’s now too late. Your impression of that company is already lowered, and you are less likely to continue as a customer if you have other options.

A few years ago, I decided to get Direct TV installed at my home since my current provider did not carry the NFL Network. The entire install process was a disaster requiring me to spend literally hours on the phone over two days with their customer service trying to resolve the issue. The first part of the process was me trying to fix the problem, but after an hour or so I had already completely soured on Direct TV. The rest of the time was spent getting it removed at no cost to me. Finally at the end of two days, I was connected to a conflict resolution department who listened to my tale of woe, confirmed what I was telling them, agreed with me and apologized. Of course, I told them it was too late and that I could never again be a customer of Direct TV. If only the first person I had spoken to had actually listened to me and really tried to resolve the problem, they would have had a customer instead of an enemy. Too many companies look at conflict resolution as a last resort to keeping a customer happy. That’s just silly. The solution is to solve the problem on the front lines before a conflict ever occurs.

Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, “A general that fights a hundred battles and wins a hundred battles in not a great general. The great general is one who finds a way to win without fighting a single battle.” A great customer service organization does not need a conflict resolution department since the battle never occurs. Why does it always seem to take escalation to resolve simple customer service issues? In my opinion, it’s a company culture issue. From the top on down, company management needs to create a culture of yes. Most people who work in customer service really want to help.  Their job is a lot more fun when they are dealing with happy customers. I think my number one job at BlueGrace is to create an atmosphere where yes is the answer from the first person a customer speaks to.

I am confused about the class of my freight. Can you help explain this to me? Yes I can, tell me a little about what you are shipping.

Can I have this shipment delivered on Saturday with a lift-gate to a residence? Yes you can, it may cost a bit more but sure we can get that done.

It is so much more fun saying yes. Why not make yes be your first answer?

Randy Collack, COO
Follow me @schmengieBG

What do you do for a living?

What do you do for a living?

This is a pretty common question when being introduced to new people.  I work for a logistics company, so how should I answer?

Am I in shipping? No, not really.

Do I work for a computer company? That’s not entirely correct either.

Here is my typical answer: “I help manufacturers and distributors optimize their processes to efficiently distribute their products by using our technology.”  Sounds long-winded, right?

Oh, so you are in shipping?Well, it’s not that easy. 

The reason why I love my job and find it so interesting is because of its intricacies.  Good logistics companies do not just provide a website or help you select a trucking company; they become your business partner.  They work with you to determine where the current inefficiencies are in the shipping process. Then, they set goals to help you improve those processes and allow you to focus on your business.  A good logistics company will show you how to control your soft and hard costs and implement strategies to grow your bottom-line.  While technology is important to this process, it really takes a consultant to bring it all together. 

Is your distribution process optimized? Would costs actually go down if your distribution centers were located eslewhere?  Are your customers moving and thereby creating additional costs for you to service them? Are your customers ordering in too small a quantity to reduce shipping costs? Could you affect this by offering inducements to change their ordering patterns?  These are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed.

So I ask,  “What do you do for a living?”

– Vanessa Castillo, Account Executive
Follow me @Vanessa_BGmgnr

Best 5 Bullets in your Gun

Top 5 ways to best position your freight, logistics and transportation services:

1) Sell to the business owner:

If you are simply selling cost competitive freight, LTL, or other price-based transactional services, then by all means sell to the shipping manager. The fact is a good 3PL can offer so much more to a business that only the owner or chief executive will care about. You can provide technology solutions that enable for better-streamlined process and information flow throughout an organization. Focus on the soft costs and enhanced productivity that will allow for the owner to focus on their core competencies and realize greater savings. Sell business solutions that will otherwise be lost at the shipping manager level.

2) Sell to higher volume customers:

The old adage of “small and medium sized” business is not true for all markets. In fact, if you provide comprehensive transportation management services:  the more detailed and complex, the better. It’s true that you can still make a significant financial impact to a small business, but the higher the daily shipment volume and the more moving pieces, there is more for you to offer in the way of a solution. Create prosperity by simplifying the complex!

3) Sell to your strength:

If you’re strength is in LTL, Truckload, or even Transportation Management Services, then sell to your niche. There is no true advantage by being a “one stop shop” and offering a myriad of services in which you are weak in all. A logistics provider with a web-based technology as their platform will not benefit their customer by promoting services such as Ocean Freight that is not their strength. You can sometimes provide a greater benefit to your customer by truly acting as a business consultant and even referring them to someone who specializes in that type of service. This allows you to focus on your core competency and therefore provide superior service.

4) Sell business solutions, not price:

Customers who are only loyal to price will not be loyal to you. You always want your services to be as cost competitive as possible, but that is not what will ultimately separate you from your competitors. Engage your customer and understand their current business processes. Understand how their current freight shipping program affects their business and further determine how your logistics services will improve upon what they are currently doing. When you are able to communicate to a customer how your service offerings will help their business be more competitive, you are far more liable to earn a loyal customer.

5) Ask for comprehensive data:

These days customers are reluctant to provide invoices or data for fear sales reps are looking to undercut their current rates by a mere few percentage points. If this is you, then this Blog is not for you. If you are a sales rep who prefers to compete for business on a quote-by-quote basis, then this Blog is not for you. The fact is, as a transportation, logistics and technology provider, it is imperative that you collect as much data as possible in order to provide a comprehensive solution. You need a clear snapshot – a week or even a month’s worth of invoices – so that you can determine the true volume, analyze all of the different weights, lanes, and classes, and identify any commonly used accessorial charges that the customer incurs. Only then can you provide a true cost solution to the customer in which they will realize a greater savings.

Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales Development
Follow me @theBGexperience

Do what you do

Back in 2006 All Pro and future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was asked how the Bucs handled Falcons QB Michael Vick so easily. His response was, “Everyone thinks we have this magical defense we pull out every time we play Michael Vick. We don’t. We do what we do.” These are five simple words, but stunningly succinct. 

Having been a salesman most of my life, I know the art of the sale requires convincing successful businesses that they are doing something wrong. Most sales people do not create need; they just try to convince you that something you are doing or using can be done better. In the world of 3PLs that means convincing businesses that their shipping processes are broken, or that the people who are implementing the processes are wasting time and money using antiquated systems or even worse, no system at all. It is our job to convince these businesses that with our help, they could do what they do more efficiently. You would think this is a relatively easy task. Each week during sales meetings, we ask our reps why it’s taking so long to close these deals. After all, the business owners are smart; they must see the advantage to having experts like us handle the supply chain or shipping processes. By allowing us to do what we do, they can do what they do

But over the last few weeks, I have seen why this is so difficult. At BlueGrace, we had an internal need for some technical documents. This need was unmet for a few months. Finally, I decided to outsource this to a Technical Writer at the cost of more than a few dollars. One after another, the VPs said, “Why are we outsourcing this?  We have more than enough qualified and talented people working for us, and we can do this on our own.”  My reply was,  “If that was the case, why haven’t we finished yet?” Last week the Technical Writer worked with us for a week, and we will have our document shortly. Even people like us who spend their days trying to convince others to let us do what we do couldn’t let go to allow someone else to do what they do.

Letting go is hard. It’s hard to admit that someone can do things better than you. But successful businesses know that letting go of non-primary tasks will help them stay successful.

Randy Collack, COO
Follow me @schmengieBG

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