Do you need a Swiss Army Knife or a Sushi Knife..?

Should your sales tool (CRM) for global logistics be more like a Swiss Army Knife or like a Sushi Knife?

Many GLP's have signed contracts with IT resellers of Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics, etc.

Unfortunate souls are SOLD when told that the generic CRM platform can be "customized" for any type of sales, including global logistics.

Riiight...

Right...

Unfortunately, the next option is to then spend considerable time and money "reinventing the wheel" with a GENERIC implementation.

At the end of the exercise, ending up with a slow, expensive tool that sales reps resist using and resent.

Bottomline, giant software companies are good at sales, but their tool and approach is NOT USER FRIENDLY for Freight Sales Reps.

Perhaps you need just the features and functionality relevant to keep you organized and on track to WIN more business?

Maybe a sushi knife - a specialized sales tool designed for specific business of origin / destination freight and logistics sales..?!

ere asked by our first subscriber to do a Salesforce implementation.  

Instead, we chose to begin building our industry-specific, freight-specific CRM solution.

All or most of our subscribers today, six years later, are leading global logistics providers who at some point had a Salesforce, swiss army knife, chapter.

Until they saw First Freight CRM and understood our approach to improving freight sales processes and results.

Our Mobile CRM apps are the real sushi knives - very fast and user-friendly for freight sales - they let sales reps quickly add/edit/update their deals, contacts, etc. from anywhere.

After a meeting,  waiting in line somewhere, at the bar, you can add a comment or update Lane or deal information.

First Freight CRM has the same, simple workflow on the desktop, web app:  all built for freight sales so it doesn't try to capture 100 fields of data: only the data that really matters to logistics sales reps and their managers; the service types, origin / destination, estimated revenue, profit and volumes involved in the deal, any comments.

Our program, like a sushi knife, cuts through to capture these relevant deal details and pass them straight through to the REPORTS.

Unlike the clunky swiss army knife that is Salesforce, First Freight CRM lets its users easily manage their Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Deals.

Like a sushi knife, it has a single purpose: improve the sales reps ability to do their job.  Make it easier, not harder, faster, not slower...

The immediate benefit of providing First Freight CRM to your sales team:  the data goes in and populates the built-in freight sales REPORTS.

The reports and dashboards show exactly what both reps and managers want to see; Activities like calls and meetings and the Sales Pipeline:

All deals by service type, sales stage, industry, relevant dates involved, the estimated volumes, etc between port pairs.  

From lead generation to CRM automation and Mobile CRM freedom, we are focused at First Freight CRM on being everything logistics sales organizations need, and nothing that they don't.  

So, are you going to pay some guys to "reinvent the wheel" again and build you an outdated, expensive swiss army knife to carry around?

Or are you going to arm your sales team with the precision tool, the cost-effective sushi knife designed for global logistics sales?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Industry-Specific CRM Solutions

Comparing Industry-Specific CRM Solutions

Types of CRM Software to Choose for your Business

Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is software designed to monitor sales and marketing needs and improve results.

By using a CRM, a business may be able to streamline operations, seal loss of revenue loopholes, access customer feedback and also view available business opportunities. This is made possible through the availability of data at a centralized point.

There are different types of CRM software out there. Some cut across different industries while others have been designed for the demands of specific sectors and the needs. There are several benefits of using an industry-specific CRM over the generally based ones with the common names.

Read More...

Some of the CRM software in the market include salon software, real estate, building and construction management, logistics/freight sales software and a host of other industries.

Reasons for Integrating CRM Software into your Business

A CRM solution helps a business stay organized. Since there is so much information to be accessed and organized, a CRM software keeps track of all that information in one central database. A management software also helps predict future business trends and analyze areas such as sales, profits and loss. Customer management is also another reason why you need to invest in management software. It helps you keep track of return clients and also manage deliveries in various locations. A management software shields you from unexpected data loss. Data is a very important part of any business operation.

Benefits of Industry Specific CRM Software:

Integrates Seamlessly into Your Business

Specific freight sales software like First Freight CRM comes with features that will enable a freight sales rep to manage Leads, Accounts, Contacts & Opportunities.

The ease with which industry specific management software integrates into your business increases your efficiency. For example, people who work in the home improvement industry will need management software that can enable them to create proposals and sign contracts. Thus, they do not waste time adapting a general CRM software to their needs.

Easy to Use

Since an industry specific CRM is designed for a specific industry, it is easy for the business owner and the workers to integrate easily into the technology. It will be intuitive to operate since the terms and systems used were designed by someone who had an inside knowledge of the specific industry.

Since the learning curve is quite short, employees at all levels will be more comfortable using and applying the software in the business instead of wasting time trying to learn and adapt the general based CRM software. A CRM solution such as First Freight CRM built for the global freight industry comes with the specific terminology used in freight forwarding and is focussed on improving sales.

Saves On End-User and Operational Costs

Since the product is already designed with industry specifications, the end-user should not incur any additional costs. The product manufacturer has already integrated all the required modules meant for a specific business.

For example, a freight forwarder will require a CRM software that has features that incorporate ocean/air/road, origins / destinations, etc. So, a CRM software like Erply which is primarily a point of sale software for retail operations would not work for international freight sales teams. With such a specific number of tasks to be managed, it is best to use an industry specific CRM since customization will incur significant extra costs.

Advantages of Investing in CRM software

Some advantages include: customer management, data management, managing sales, predicting future trends and overall simplification of operating a freight sales business. Since there are numerous CRM software packages choosing an industry-specific CRM software or a general / universal software depends on numerous factors.

Regardless, there are several benefits of choosing an industry-specific CRM over a general one: minimal operation costs, saving time, increasing efficiency, better business results and above all it is easy to integrate because the designer had the business in mind.

Finally, your current situation may also impact the decision. If you are a start-up with few customers then a more generic and cheaper choice may be best for now. If you are an established business, then integrating a more industry specific CRM may better streamline your operation providing more actionable data and greater opportunities.

Become a Super Seller using these 11 Words

Yes, eleven words can help logistics sales reps WIN more deals with shippers and make more money!

What are these 11 magical words, you ask?

1) "You"

In sales, it is not about you, it is all about your Contacts, your Leads. Make them feel acknowledged and special by using the word "you" often.

2) Value

Customers don't care about features and benefits, they only care about value in a cheating their objectives… Make clear how your company provides real value.

3) "And"

"And" sounds more inclusive been "but". The word "but" telegraphs that you are about to utter a statement that runs counter to what they want to hear. Use "and" instead. See the difference? I see that you only have a budget of $50,000, AND let me tell you why our system costs $100,000

4) "Do"

"Do" sounds better than "try" because it gives a sense of trustworthiness. Instead of saying "I'd like to try" say "what I'll do is…"

5) "Or"

It lets you offer multiple options. Who doesn't like to have more options? Presenting multiple options can double or even triple your odds of receiving a yes. So don't just ask for a signed contract, offer contract A, B, or C.

6) "Should we?"

Make a suggestion instead of telling them what to do. Nobody wants to be told what to do. Turning suggestions into questions is a great way to maintain respect.

7) "Consensus"

You have to have management support to move forward with your sales. Widespread support is the number one thing senior management looks for. Get management on board by conveying consensus.

8) "Imagine"

Try to tell a story and engage your lead! Storytelling is a useful tactic, but don't just tell a story… cast your lead as the protagonist so they can picture themselves with it. The word "imagine" allows leads to not only hear about what your company can do but picture themselves doing business with you.

9) "See; show; hear; tackle"

Use sensory language to grab their attention. So it's not technically one word, but they're all in one family: the sense evoking family. Use sensory language to grab your leads attention!

10) "Their name"

Calling prospects by their first name is sales 101. Similar to "you", using their name shows your presentation is customized just for them. Get people to pay attention and even like you more by using their name

11) "Power Words"

Use power-packed words to elicit strong feelings and you will be more successful. Incorporate "power words" throughout your sales conversation:

Spirit           Hero           Triumph           Spectacular           Amazing           Magic

Mind blowing           Fearless           Devoted           Sensational           Bravery

Stunning           Breathtaking           Victory

After a while, using these power words will become a habit that helps put your contacts at ease and gets you to more quickly to YES!

How to Succeed in Global Logistics Sales Today: Start By Helping

Sales is a vital part of any freight organization — if you’re providing ocean, air, road and/or 3PL services, you’re going to need someone to sell all of it.  Especially in the world of freight sales, having a team of great salespeople is the difference between making or missing revenue goals. At many freight sales organizations today, having a great sales team can be the difference between eating and going hungry.

Getting into freight sales can have it’s risks but also yields high rewards. There’s lots of demand for great salespeople; just not for people without passion or empathy for others, according to many freight folks we talk with.

What’s constantly debated is: “What is the difference between a regular freight salesperson and an exceptional one?” What qualities, skills, and tools do the latter use to be successful?

To find out, we asked a few of our favorite subscribers to First Freight CRM; junior and senior freight sales executives, managers, and representatives from leading freight forwarders around the world. What we got was an outpouring of great advice addressing everything from how to listen to a shipper, to the value of leveraging internal resources, to the importance of being dedicated, to constantly improving skills and knowledge. They all reflect a common theme: at the end of the day, freight sales should be about helping your customers, be they a lead or an established account.

Here’s how the best freight sales teams puts the “helpful sales philosophy” into action.

1) Form Real Relationships

Cecilia V., VP Business Development

“Be genuinely curious about your lead’s professional and personal life so you can form real relationships. Don’t ask questions just to figure out if you think they’ll be likely to ship with you. Ask questions so that you can truly understand what your shippers are dealing with and what they’ll need in order to be successful with your solution. If you are indeed able to help them with their goals and challenges, you’ll have built the trust required for them to buy and stay with you.”

Jay M., EVP Global Sales & Marketing, Top 10 Global Freight Sales Organization

“Treat a lead as if he or she will be your best customer. By adopting this philosophy, you force yourself to give all shippers the same level of consultation during the sales process and provide them with a solution that truly matches their needs and goals. Happy leads become happy customers (accounts) who may refer business to you within or even outside their organization. Down the road, they are also more likely to take you with them when they move companies. By treating everyone this way, you’ll not only find great clients, but also establish a wide network of trusted contacts over the years.”

Brian F., VP of Sales, Pharma, Top 10 Global Freight Sales Organization

“If you are at a larger forwarder, create cross-departmental relationships. In the long term, a lot of freight salespeople miss out on strategically setting up internal relationships with people in other departments at their organization. It’s likely that there are dozens of people in your organization who can help you achieve your personal and professional goals; at other station or in other regions, but easily reachable. Sometimes their help comes in the form of hopping on a sales call with you if their expertise could be helpful to one of your prospects. Other times it can come in the form of being your mentor for career conversations that broach topics beyond Sales. If you can balance your long-term relationships with short-term quotas, you’ll find that your success grows in both respects.”

2) Truly Believe in The Services You’re Selling

Sammy S., Director of Sales, Mid-Sized Freight Forwarder, Germany

“People can tell when you are saying something you really believe in versus something you don’t. Be confident about what you’re selling and talk to a prospect as if you were sitting down with your best friend face to face. Emotional involvement is still a very critical piece. If you aren’t excited and passionate, how can you expect your shipping prospects to be? Numbers and facts alone will not inspire a prospect to act unless they are emotionally invested in changing. The best freight salespeople know their products and services can help a willing customer reach their goals. A great salesperson is truly fulfilled when they can accomplish that.”

3) Be a Consultant, Not a Salesperson

Mark S., Independent Freight Forwarder, Hong Kong

“It’s much better for the shipper if the salesperson diagnoses a problem and works with them to solve it. When you’re just starting out as a salesperson, you are often tempted to go into a call with prospects eager to pitch your services, and then ask for the sale. Most of the time, the pitch does not resonate for some reason that the salesperson never uncovers. The prospect then gets turned off because the salesperson seems only interested in helping themselves, not helping them. It’s also not in the best interest of the salesperson as it causes a lot of “deal chasing.” Deal chasing leads to stressful nights because you don’t have any insight into why a prospect doesn’t bother answering questions or returning calls. How do you avoid this? Instead, learn to think like a consultant and seek to really understand your prospects’ goals and challenges. Once you learn to understand and diagnose the problems your prospects are facing, you can problem-solve together. The value of your product will be much more apparent to the prospect, sometimes without even a need for a pitch.”

Rik van M., Station Manager, Amsterdam

“It’s important to invest time at the beginning of the sales process to really understand the shipper’s business. Ask about the company’s objectives, goals, and challenges. The tendency is to want to speed through the “qualification” stages and get to what most people refer to as “selling” or presenting the solution. You need to resist that temptation. Sometimes, it makes sense to schedule an extra exploratory call if you don’t feel like you fully understand the prospect’s needs and the factors affecting his or her decision-making process. If you rush, the things you missed will inevitably come back in the form of objections after you’ve presented an incomplete and less-than-customized solution.”

4) Be a Good Listener

Danielle H., Senior Sales Manager

“Let the prospect do the talking. If you have trouble pressing ‘mute’ internally, then press the ‘mute’ button on the phone after asking your prospect a question. It will let them articulate their thoughts in full and can help you guide them toward their own conclusions. Initiate a dialogue with a prospect by asking him or her some open-ended questions that can’t simply be answered with a single word. Ask questions like, ‘Tell me more about what an ideal customer looks like for you,’ and then follow up with ‘Why’s that?’ Show them that you’ve listened to a long-winded answer by paraphrasing what they’ve said, and use this summary to transition into a relevant follow-up question. The trick is to ask questions on the call without making the conversation feel like an interrogation. Once you mastered that, you’re well on your way to properly determining whether your product or service can truly help the individual you’re speaking with.”

John S., VP Business Development, Shanghai Station

“Asking questions and listening carefully are incredibly important to being a successful freight  or any kind of salesperson. One carefully worded question could help you uncover the needs and wants of a shipper way more effectively than what you think is a convincing pitch. Also, when listening, leave out affirmations like ‘aha’ and ‘yes.’ Affirmations like these distract and interrupt your prospect’s train-of-thought and show that you’re impatiently listening, just waiting for your turn to speak.”

5) Be a Curious Skeptic

Brian K., COO, Top Global Forwarder

“Be honestly curious and helpful. Ask ‘Why?’ A lot of qualification calls sound like a one-sided interrogation instead of a two-way dialog. Questioning with curiosity allows you to challenge a prospect’s assumptions without offending them.”

Frederick R., Country Manager

“To be most successful as a salesperson, you need to be skeptical about what your prospects are saying even if they’re saying what seems like all of the right things. Prospects will often tell you what they think you want to hear just to get to the part of the sales process where you talk — that’s when the pressure is off of them. Most prospects don’t want to reveal challenges or share the consequences of their challenges for a variety of reasons. They could be embarrassed, be afraid of repercussions of acknowledging issues, or may want to try to figure out the solution themselves. What do you do in these situations? Use storytelling and positioning statements to help prospects realize that you can help them with their challenges and that it’s worth the risk to reveal their struggles with you. You need to learn how to uncover these things even when prospects don’t want to share. Otherwise, you could be presenting the wrong solution or pitching unnecessarily, wasting everyone’s time and destroying your credibility as a helpful salesperson in the process.”

6) Leverage Your Resources

Alexandra C, Senior Vice-President, Sales & Tradelane Manager

“Everyone loves to help salespeople sell. Bring in leadership, technical resources, or someone in your prospect’s role from within your own organization to make your prospect feel like a VIP. Prospects will love having your coworkers on the call — they’ll trust your coworkers to bring a different perspective with a lower perceived bias. You can also use executive connections as a carrot to be traded for a meeting with one of their executives if you are stuck at the influencer level. And, pulling in resources is a fantastic way to network with other people in your company. If you do your diligence and the necessary legwork to make sure the connection is a successful call, you will build your own credibility quickly with your prospect and within your company.”

7) Be Open to Learning

Mark R., SVP of Global Ocean Sales

“Be coachable. Are you open to new methods and advice? Do you apply what you’ve learned to your sales pursuits? In interviews, I often role play a specific sales scenario with the candidate, ask them to self-assess, and then provide them with coaching. I then ask them to do it again. Many candidates fail this test because they aren’t great at self-assessing shortfalls and absorbing the takeaways I give them. Some just revert back to their way of doing it and miss the whole point of the exercise. Based on my experience of hiring and managing hundreds of salespeople, this lack of coachability is one of the biggest reasons I see salespeople fail. But, when salespeople embrace learning, critical feedback, and coaching from other people, they make immense progress on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. We hire lots of salespeople who have never sold before, yet they become some of our best salespeople because they are so coachable. Ask yourself if you’re coachable and how much of a difference it could make in your sales career if you were.”

Andrew Q, Director of Sales, Asia-Pacific, Medium-sized Forwarder

“Keep learning. If you can’t name a sales book that you’ve read and how you’ve applied it in a previous job, you’re doing a disservice to yourself, your shippers, and your profession. Actively seek out ways to learn from others outside of your day-to-day job: sales books, coaching, blogs, and peers can all be extremely valuable sources to learn from. Without a commitment to learning from others, you will not improve as a salesperson. Curious salespeople not only seek out learning from others, but they are also good at understanding and uncovering their prospects’ needs during the sales process. Curiosity increases earning potential deal-by-deal and year-by-year.”

Logistics sales is a great way to jumpstart your career, increase your earning potential, and grow as a person. You have the chance to wear many different hats in a fast-paced, high-stakes, high-impact role. You have to be an expert on every facet of transportation and other value-added services. You have to be a great listener, a consultant, a problem-solver, a challenger … all in a friendly, helpful manner. My advice to you?   Don’t be age-ist, find a mentor, leverage your internal resources, always seek to learn new things and improve your sales skills, and most importantly: always strive to help — not sell.

Do this and you’ll go far.

What do you think makes a successful global logistics salesperson? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

9 Ways Freight Salespeople Destroy Credibility With Shippers

It’s never been more important for freight salespeople to appear credible.

Shippers’ suspicion of transportation and logistics sales reps is already high, and they’re more and more unwilling to connect.

That means the instant you lose credibility with your shipper, your whole opportunity, and multiple lanes full of business, could be on the line.

Good news is that it’s possible to avoid this scenario. Avoid the nine behaviors below that will tank your credibility and destroy your status as a trusted transpo and logistics advisor.

 

1) Fumbling basic information

Calling your shipper contact by the wrong name, or messing up any facts you should have found out via a Google search is always unacceptable. What’s more, it’s an incredibly easy way to prematurely kill a deal.

Fumbling facts like these sends a message to your shippers loud and clear — you don’t actually care about them. If they know you haven’t even made the effort to get basic information right, there’s no reason they’d believe you have their best interests at heart.

2) Asking shippers to repeat themselves

Whether you’re asking shippers the same questions multiple times or you keep asking, “I’m sorry, what?”, making them repeat themselves is a big no-no. It’s one thing if you’re asking follow-up questions or digging deeper on a point you didn’t catch, but if you have to ask a buyer to tell you how many stakeholders are involved in a purchase more than once, it’ll be clear you aren’t dedicating your full attention to the conversation.

That said, it’s hard to keep track of many minute details when you’re simultaneously juggling lots of deals. Make sure you’re taking careful notes on your shipper’s challenges, goals, and plans, ideally in First Freight CRM so you can refer back to later.  Too difficult to type all of that CRM data in?  Just tap the microphone icon on your iPhone and SPEAK your comments directly into CRM.

3) Not actively listening

Not only do you have to listen to absorb information, you have to listen in a way that facilitates a real back-and-forth. You can’t just listen, say “Uh-huh” in response, then move on to your next question.

Even if you’ve understood what your prospect’s said, that method of communication doesn’t demonstrate that you’ve actually absorbed anything. To be as effective as possible, you need to communicate in a way that shows you’re involved. That’s right — I’m talking about active listening.

Brian F., VP Ocean Sales at a Top 10 global forwarder, teaches his reps the following four-step process:

  1. Truly listen to the shipper.
  2. Feed back the content and feeling of the shipper’s words.
  3. Confirm you heard the shipper correctly.
  4. Ask a relevant follow up question to further clarify your understanding of their situation.

Active listening shows the prospect you’re present and invested in what they have to say.

4) Talking instead of asking

A close cousin of #3, telling before you’ve asked your prospect anything is a cardinal sin. You can’t possibly make useful recommendations to your prospect if you’re not informed about the problems they’re trying to solve.

It’s fine to make some assumptions when you’re in prospecting mode — after all, making educated guesses about what a buyer’s challenges might be is necessary when you’re trying to provide value from day one. But once you’ve connected with a buyer, you should be in exploratory mode. Refrain from making sweeping statements or recommendations until you fully understand their situation.

Be Authentic, Listen to your shippers pain points and…you will move more cans!

5) Misstating information

Active listening is important because it confirms that you have the correct understanding of your prospect’s situation, which helps you avoid this mistake — misrepresenting information your prospect has already told you.

You’re probably not doing it on purpose, but it calls into question how much weight you place on what your prospect says and wants. If you say, “In our last call, we talked about X” when really you just misunderstood what your prospect told you, you’re sowing seeds of doubt in your prospects’ minds.

Luckily, this problem is easily avoided through repeating back information to your prospect and getting their buy-in on your recommendations.

6) Using slimy closing techniques

Many classic closing techniques call on reps to act as though the sale has already happened, and ask their lead (shipper) which of two options they prefer (the “alternative close”), which day they’d like to start implementation (the “assumptive close”), or trying to get the shipper to commit to a purchase if the rep answers a question (the “right angle close”).

Closing should be a foregone conclusion if you’ve done your job correctly. By thoroughly exploring a shippers situation, you’ll know by this point in a sales process whether they’ll buy or not.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask for the business — of course you should! But trying to close a shipper in a sneaky way won’t do anything to make them like you.

7) Overpromising

Oftentimes, shippers will ask about extremely specific use cases for your services, and you might not know the answer. It’s okay to not know everything — you should be highly proficient in your product (see #8), but you can’t be expected to anticipate every single unusual use case it could have.

It’s only human to want to keep your shipper on the line and interested, so you might say, “Yes, we can do that,” without thinking. But if you find out later that you were wrong and have to backtrack, you’ve just lost authority in your prospect’s eyes.

It’s okay to not know the answer. Simply say so, then follow up once you’ve confirmed the answer. Shippers will be okay with waiting a few hours for correct information — they won’t appreciate false promises.

8) Incorrectly describing your product

As a sales rep, your job is to be an expert. So when you can’t demonstrate how your product will fit a prospect’s situation or get basic facts about your product wrong, your reputation gets severely dinged.

Practice demos with your manager and study up on any areas of the product in which you feel weak. Have your manager or a tenured rep sit in on your calls your first few times around the block so they can step in when you’re unsure, then make notes of anything you need to work on.

9) Contradicting yourself or your team members

In freight sales, it’s a good rule of thumb to never promise or say anything that you don’t know to be true. Even if it’s an offhand answer, chances are if your shipper’s asking about it, they care about it. And if you give different answers on Monday than you do on Thursday, or if you and the other people involved in the sales process aren’t synced up on what you can and cannot promise, your prospect is getting an inconsistent, confusing sales experience. And just as importantly, they’ll feel misled and lied to — certainly not emotions you want to invoke in your buyers.

To avoid this, take notes on what you’ve said during calls too, and make sure all stakeholders on your side are briefed and aligned before team calls.

What behaviors do you think kill a freight sales rep’s credibility? Let us know in the comments below.