ATS Transportation Blog

    An Honest Review of the National Sales Representative Role at ATS Logistics

    Embarking down any new career path can be intimidating — even if you know exactly what you’re getting into. Understanding what this new role will entail, and what challenges you will face throughout it, is valuable information. Unfortunately, most people enter a position blind to these realities. 

    You deserve to feel excited about starting a new job. Perhaps more importantly, you should rest assured the company you’ll be working for has systems in place to help you succeed.  

    Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) makes empowering every employee to reach their full potential a priority. Achieving this end starts before an individual is hired. Namely, ensuring a candidate is comfortable and confident that the role they’ve applied for aligns with their skillsets, needs and expectations is the first step here. 

    ATS Logistics’ National Sales Representative (NSR) positions are a foundational piece of our company. NSRs make a measurable impact on our business and the world as a whole by connecting companies with the transportation solutions they need.

    However, an NSR position here is certainly not the right job for everyone. For this reason, it’s important you understand what being an NSR at ATS Logistics means, including what you’ll be doing, what challenges you’ll face and everything in between. 

    In this review of our National Sales Representative role(s), you’ll find an honest glimpse into what this position is like, including:

    The last thing you need is to start in an NSR position with the wrong expectations. Your career journey matters to us, even if you decide not to pursue a role at ATS in the end. 

    What are an NSR’s Duties and Potential Career Path?

    NSRs are the centerpiece of ATS Logistics. These employees are responsible for finding, locking down commitments with and servicing (on an ongoing basis) ATS Logistics’ customers. 

    Typically, prospecting potential customers — a primary duty of this role — is done through calls and emails as well as connecting with companies in other ways (like through social media or via referrals).

    Here are some of the responsibilities NSRs shoulder: 

    • Maintain relationships with current customers
    • Conduct strategic planning efforts to achieve sales results and department goals
    • Prospect, plan and qualify leads
    • Sell transportation and logistics services to qualified leads
    • Onboard new customers, ensuring a seamless customer experience
    • Work with other members of the sales team to cultivate and maintain an effective sales program 

    Related to their duties, ATS Logistics’ NSRs have performance goals and baselines to meet each period (month, quarter, etc.). 

    Salesperson-looking-at-computer-monitors

    To meet these goals, no transportation industry experience will be needed.  

    Instead, strong interpersonal, presentation, communication (written, verbal) and time-management skills are more important. 

    For the first year, ATS Logistics has a robust sales training program designed to get new NSRs comfortable in their role and up to speed with their responsibilities. 

    Like many other sales jobs, your career path as an NSR will be dictated by both tenure and goal achievement. ATS has a pre-set progression path for people in this role — from NSR to NSR II, NSR III, NSR IV, and Senior NSR. With each progression, sales representatives see their pay increase and responsibilities change. 

    Eventually, it’s possible for NSRs to be promoted to sales management (where they oversee a team of salespeople) and ultimately on to director-level roles.

    The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an NSR at ATS Logistics

    Like any other job, there are advantages and disadvantages to working as an NSR at ATS Logistics. To ensure you understand what this job looks like, we’ve outlined them below. 

    Starting with the advantages, being an NSR at ATS Logistics will mean. . . 

    • Heightened income potential
    • The freedom to self-manage
    • A healthy team environment
    • Making an impact on various markets and the world

    Let’s touch briefly on each of these. 

    Heightened Income Potential

    Most sales roles give high performers the potential to truly control their income. ATS Logistics’ NSR position is no different. 

    At ATS Logistics, there are no caps on the commissions salespeople can make. 

    As a result, it’s not uncommon for NSRs to take home substantial sums of money when things are going their way. Though it can be challenging to get to the point of making a six-figure income, once they have a dependable book of business, NSRs can do so consistently. 


    Related: How Much Do Logistics Sales Representatives Make?


    The Freedom to Self Manage

    After a while (the first year or so), working as an NSR can feel like running your own business. Instead of hovering management and pre-determined workflows, ATS Logistics allows experienced NSRs to structure their days. 

    If you need to focus on prospecting on Monday and calling customers on Tuesday, great! If Wednesday is full of emails and customer service, leaving Thursday for internal meetings, all the better. 

    Essentially, NSRs are given the freedom to build their days around the needs of their book of business, allowing them the flexibility to meet customer requirements as they come up. 

    A Healthy Team Environment

    Every NSR works within a team. Typically, a team consists of five to eight sales reps. and one sales manager. This structure allows salespeople to collaborate and develop lasting relationships. 

    Within their team, NSRs work side by side to hit organizational goals and participate in friendly competition with other teams. Team members are always willing to help one another succeed, making sure that new NSRs feel comfortable and confident in their duties. 

    Since transportation is such a complex industry, ATS’ team-based structure helps new reps. learn the ropes from more seasoned logistics professionals. 

    Making an Impact on Various Markets and the World

    The transportation industry is a vital piece of local, regional, national and international trade. As an NSR at ATS Logistics, you’ll likely make an impact at every geographic level. 

    With so much freight moving across the U.S. and the world each day, there’s no shortage of opportunities for NSRs to get in the game. Solving logistics problems for businesses around the world makes the NSR position here incredibly rewarding. 

    And, as an NSR’s relationship with customers grows, their ability to influence the success of these supply chains follows. 

    As some of our NSRs will tell you, a job at ATS Logistics can feel like the best job in the world at times. This is thanks, in no small part, to the advantages listed above. 

    That said, there are also several downsides to this role that you should be aware of before starting here. 

    The main disadvantages of working as an NSR at ATS Logistics are. . .

    • Success is (somewhat) dependent on things you can’t control
    • Building internal relationships takes time
    • Job responsibility/duty variety can feel limited 
    • Income can be unpredictable

    Success is (Somewhat) Dependent on Things You Can’t Control

    NSRs face several challenges when performing their duties. Although challenges often make a job more exciting, they can also make things harder than necessary. 

    Sometimes, NSRs deal with issues that are completely out of their control

    Externally, things like bad weather, equipment failure and road construction cause disruption, limiting an NSR’s ability to follow through for customers. And, even though no one could have foreseen them, reporting these failures/delays to customers can be challenging. 

    Internally, ATS Logistics’ sales representatives and carrier representatives work side by side to move a shipment. Usually, the NSR is responsible for finding a customer and booking a load while the carrier representative works to connect that load with one of ATS’ many partner carriers. 

    Salespeople-talking-about-shipment

    This process, although smooth most of the time, sometimes ends with a shipment failing — a fact that’s frustrating for everyone. 

    Customers recognize when something happens that nobody can control. It’s how you react to these situations that can make you stand out in these scenarios. 

    So, it’s important for NSRs to be problem solvers and great communicators — both of these qualities help them gain as much control as possible over their success.

    Building Internal Relationships Takes Time

    ATS is a large company with a relatively complex structure. With four main operating divisions and a variety of support departments, meeting and developing relationships with everyone can take time. 

    Even though everyone is willing to help new hires, it usually takes a while before NSRs are familiar with every carrier representative, permitting professional, sales manager, operations employee, etc. 

    And, since you’ll probably need to work with each of these departments at some point, building relationships with the people in them is important. That said, expect it to take time before these relationships fully develop. 

    Job Responsibility/Duty Variety Can Feel Limited 

    As an NSR, your primary responsibility will be just that: selling ATS Logisics’ transportation services. Sure, there is a lot to this and a wide variety of services to offer customers. However, sometimes NSRs wish they had a bit more involvement in actually routing the shipments they book. Instead, NSRs must hand loads off to a carrier representative and move on to the next shipment on their docket. 

    As such, if you’re not interested in a sales position where selling is your main job, this might not be the best position for you.  

    Income Can Be Unpredictable 

    NSRs don’t exactly know what they’ll make each month beyond their set salary. 

    This uncertainty drives some people and is too unpredictable for others. The goal here is to have NSRs use this structure to their advantage by establishing a predictable base of customers and building on that foundation. 

    Since the commission these employees make can be unpredictable, NSRs can only guess what they’ll bring in each month. As you can imagine, this can be especially stressful when things aren’t going an NSR’s way.

    If you’re interested in starting a career as an NSR at ATS, this income instability is certainly worth noting as it makes budgeting more difficult.   

    Note: As you grow in your NSR career path you can start to rely on more of a steady base salary, as each step in the career path comes along with a salary increase.

    Who is The NSR Position a Good Fit For?

    National sales representatives usually have a variety of skills that allow them to be successful. More than anything else, the people that perform best in these roles have a can-do attitude and have no trouble persevering when things get tough. 

    Additionally, great NSRs invariably are. . .

    Self-starters

    The NSR position at ATS Logistics might be a great fit for you if you’re a self-starter by nature. Having the drive to seek and initiate sales without prompting from management or direction is a valuable skill here. Some of the highest performers at ATS are self-starters. However, if you prefer a job with more pointed supervision, this may not be the role for you

    Problem solvers

    You must be able to proactively solve problems as an NSR. With so much going on internally (at ATS) and in the transportation markets each day, most of the time NSRs are responsible for finding a solution to problems as they arise. Customers count on their NSR to come through for them when it matters. As such, being able to problem solve is a non-negotiable skill NSR candidates must possess. 

    Good with people 

    As an NSR, you’ll be asked to be in constant contact with all kinds of people. For this reason, it’s important that you’re relatively charismatic and capable of relating to others. 

    National-Sales-Representative-at-Desk

    Who is the NSR Position Not a Good Fit For?

    Although the above qualities should help individuals gauge whether this job is up their alley, you may want to look for a different position if you’re.  . .

    Easily Defeated

    Like any other job — or sales role — the NSR position will have highs and lows. For the first 6-12 months in this role, NSRs are focused on building a book of business

    This is done by cold calling and emailing businesses that move freight. As unfortunate as it is, performing these duties can be really challenging for people, particularly when you’re only reaching voicemails or hearing “no.”

    The benefits of this job are well worth these efforts. That said, if you’re not interested in persevering through hundreds of tough calls, this might not be the role for you. 

    Looking for a More Structured Role

    Some jobs are highly structured, laying out exactly what that person needs to accomplish daily. The NSR role is not. While NSRs are required to meet a set of criteria to measure their performance, how they meet these goals is less structured. So, if you’re looking for a job where everything is laid out for you, this won’t be it.

    Looking for a Consistent Paycheck

    As previously mentioned, the trade-off for the NSR pay structure is that you can have a huge impact on your take-home pay (above your base salary). If you can’t keep your customer relationships healthy, though, you’ll see inconsistent monthly commissions. 

    This is a simple reality of commission-incentivized positions. But, if you’re looking for a more consistent and predictable monthly salary, this might not be the position for you. 


    Related: The Pros and Cons of a Commission Incentivized Sales Career in Transportation


    Salesperson-on-phone-with-customer

    Start Your Career as an NSR Today! 

    As you now understand, taking a job as a national sales representative here won’t always be easy. ATS Logistics holds its employees to a high standard and the NSR position is no exception. 

    That said, you can also see how awesome this job can be; how much of an impact these people make on the world, our company and their communities. 

    Starting a career as an NSR will be a grind at first but, given enough time and perseverance, we’re willing to bet you’ll thrive here. 

    Interested?

    Luckily, ATS Logistics has offices in multiple locations across the U.S.

    So, whenever you’re ready, check out our open positions page for a look at where we’re hiring for this role. We look forward to helping you take your career to the next level.

    Tags: Sales Careers, Career Resources, Position Reviews

    Tim Larson

    Written by Tim Larson

    National Sales Representative, Tim Larson has been with ATS since 2017, when he came on as a regional carrier representative with ATS Specialized. During his time with ATS, Tim has enjoyed tackling each challenge the transportation world throws his way as he strives to find out-of-the-box solutions to every one of his customers' needs.

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