How to Make it Through Your First Year in Logistics Sales (8 Tips)

Every job is challenging in its own way. Underwater welding, for example, requires running a torch and executing a single-bevel groove weld while sipping from an oxygen tank and trying not to make eye contact with the hammerhead that just noticed you near its babies. . .*gulp*. 

Sure, not every job has life-threatening implications. Most careers leave you with all four limbs and a beating heart at the end of each day. To any underwater welders reading this: ATS is hiring (no diver’s suit required). 

Working in sales certainly isn’t easy. That’s why so many people struggle to get their footing in a sales job — especially off the bat. According to the Harvard Business Review, average sales tenure is less than two years and the annual U.S. turnover estimate for this field is 27 percent

It’s estimated that the majority of sales professionals — in the majority of industries — start to hit their stride around the 2-3 year mark. Up to this point, though, new sales representatives, regardless of the product or service they’re selling, must grind. 

Cold calling, cold emailing, direct messaging, warm calling and networking are all portions of a good sales outbound outreach strategy. That said, doing these things can be daunting for people who are new to these roles and hearing “no” is never fun, regardless of tenure. 

On the other hand, sales are the heartbeat of every business. Without the ability to sell its products or services, no business can survive, making sales an essential piece of every corporation. 

For those that thrive at it, a job in sales comes with many benefits including:

  • Great work-life balance
  • Extreme earning potential (well over six figures)
  • High growth and advancement opportunities
  • The chance to create lasting relationships with customers and colleagues 

It’s understandable why you might be considering a career in sales, it’s a great way to earn a comfortable living. Let’s make sure you’re set up for success long term. 

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we employ hundreds of sales professionals across multiple locations in the U.S. 

As a growing company that’s always looking to add talented individuals to our team, ATS is also aware of the challenges transportation/logistics sales representatives face throughout their first year of employment. While we’re confident in our training processes and culture, there are several unavoidable realities of logistics sales jobs that challenge the people in them.  

In this article, you’ll receive eight tips for making it through your first year in logistics sales, including insights into how to employ each of them and why they matter

Sales Director Giving Sales Representatives Advice

What’s So Challenging About a Logistics Sales Career?

There are a lot of things that may frustrate a salesperson during their first year in logistics sales. Prime among these roadblocks are the activities required to build a book of business. 

Logistics sales representatives are tasked with selling their company’s ability to move a shipper’s freight. This includes finding, prospecting and qualifying leads that fit their organization’s service strengths, and then converting these shippers into customers. 

Every logistics company has baseline requirements for its sales representatives. ATS, for example, asks its salespeople to conduct 50 calls per day

Initially, this is a daunting ask; it’s not uncommon for a logistics sales professional to hit 35 voicemails and hear “no” 15 times in a day. This can leave first-year sales representatives feeling deflated and discouraged, especially because a portion of their pay is commission incentivized

These dry spells can last a while. Some logistics salespeople don’t make their first sale until months after they begin, making this a role especially difficult in the first 90(ish) days. 

In the end, however, a bit of sticktoitiveness does salespeople well. And, as long as they can “survive” the first 12 months, many sales professionals create lasting careers in the transportation realm. 

Related: The 8 Largest Logistics Sales Career Challenges [+ How to Overcome Them]

8 Tips for Getting Through Your First Year in Logistics Sales

Here’s how you can make it through your first year in logistics sales:

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of things you can do to make your first year successful (and we’re happy to chat through a few more), these are some of the things you can control. And, in an industry as unpredictable as transportation, controlling what you can is really important.  

Tip #1) Understand How You’ll Be Paid

Money-on-The-Table-Paper and Coin

This tip might seem like a no-brainer — of course you’ll ask about compensation before you accept a job. After all, you’re there to make money. Don’t skip this point though, your job satisfaction depends on it. 

You see, many sales jobs in the transportation industry are incentivized using a base-pay-plus-commission structure. Under this framework, sales representatives are paid a portion of the dollars they generate for their company. 

That said, each company organizes its commission structure differently, incentivizing current and new-business revenue on separate scales. For this reason, it’s important to firmly understand the compensation parameters at your company — as well as the milestones where your pay will increase.

This will help you set income expectations during your first year and ensure you’re not discouraged if your paychecks — at least initially — don’t match what you thought you’d make when you accepted the job. 

Tip #2) Celebrate Wins

Whenever you start a new sales role, it’s going to be tough sledding for a while. 

Building a customer base from scratch takes daily dedication, plenty of caffeine, and a great team to lean on. Unfortunately, creating a book of business means handling a lot of rejection too. 

Successful logistics sales representatives get comfortable hearing no in all forms including “we’re not interested,” “we’re not looking for new carriers at this time,” “someone else handles our transportation” and “we’re happy with our current setup.”

This will be your reality as a first-year sales professional and will take some adjustment. 

That’s why it’s so important to celebrate the wins in whatever form they take. Whether it’s securing a quoting opportunity, moving your first load, locking down a follow-up meeting or otherwise, take the time to celebrate the successes. Your sales team will be a huge help here, lifting you up and calling you out in these situations

It’s important to be kind to yourself during your first year in logistics sales, celebrating the good times is a huge part of doing so. 

Tip #3) Ask For Help Where Needed

Most transportation companies have teams of sales representatives comprising of directors, managers and sales representatives (with varying years of experience). This is the structure you should expect to enter.

There are several advantages to working within a sales team. Most namely, sales teams give new sales representatives the opportunity to learn from their peers, find internal mentors, ask questions and get help when needed

During your first year, take advantage of the knowledge and experience around you.

Don’t shy away from asking for help; everyone else has been in your shoes at one point. And, while everyone has individual goals, the success of the organization is the top priority, making your achievement important to everyone.  

Tip #4) Participate in Regular Sales Training

Sales People Around Table For Training

As previously stated, sales is not easy. Even the most experienced sales professionals struggle to “close the deal” every once in a while. This is where training comes in handy, especially if you’re brand new to the sales world. 

Depending on the company you work at, your level of exposure to sales training(s) will change. Most businesses give new-hire sales representatives ample training throughout their first year in the form of role-playing, seminars/lectures, scenario walkthroughs and more. 

Make sure to fully participate in these activities. Use them as a place to fail — with a relatively soft place to land when you do. In group settings, observe the behavior and techniques of the most successful salespeople and put them to use in your own processes. Often, becoming great at sales takes trial and error and learning from others. 

Tip #5) Keep a Positive Attitude

It’s best to approach each day as a new adventure when starting your sales career. Though it can be challenging to overcome a difficult day, the more you can do to remain positive the better. Regardless of their field, keeping a positive attitude takes people a long way, allowing them to approach each day refreshed and excited. 

During the first few months of a logistics sales role, the “nos” can often pile up. 

However, hearing “yes” a few times can make all the difference for your career trajectory and satisfaction. To remain motivated, do your best to stay positive through the tough times.   

Tip #6) Set Realistic Expectations

It’s not really realistic to assume you’ll start this job and immediately begin making a six-figure income. Setting this expectation for yourself is unfair; you’re not leaving yourself room to fail, learn and grow. In the end, this expectation could impact your self-esteem, confidence and job satisfaction. It will take time to begin making huge sales, give yourself plenty of grace here. 

Additionally, you won’t want to set unrealistic expectations for how successful your first few months of sales will be. Every conversation you have will be a learning experience and every call you make will increase your comfort level. 

Instead, set realistic expectations for things you can control, things like your effort level, daily outreach numbers, training participation, etc. 

Related: 9 Keys to a Successful Sales Career in the Transportation Industry

Tip #7) Develop Processes to Meet Outreach Goals

As a logistics sales representative, your performance will be assessed in a number of ways. Outreach volume is one metric companies use to gauge the productivity of their sales staff

So, when you start a new sales job, expect to be evaluated based on the number of calls and emails you accomplish each day. Hitting these requirements will only be possible with the correct systems in place. As such, work with your manager and fellow salespeople to develop a personalized system for staying on top of your outreach goals

Man on the Phone

Tip #8) Schedule Conference Calls Where Possible

This final tip can sometimes go overlooked, but it’s really impactful. Whenever you can, try to schedule conference calls with prospective customers where a peer or manager can join you/listen in. In the right situation, this could help you close a sale, allowing your team member to step in and provide assistance where needed.

Adding a manager/senior salesperson to a conference call also opens the door for coaching opportunities after it concludes. As such, to get ahead as a new logistics salesperson, schedule a few conference calls during your first year. 

Looking For a Logistics Sales Job in Your Area? Start Here. . .

No matter which industry it’s in, starting a new sales job can be intimidating. Although there are pros and cons to every job, working in a logistics sales role is especially beneficial for the right individual. 

Now that you have these eight tips for getting through the hardest part of this job, you’re in a good position to succeed — should you decide to pursue a career in logistics sales. 

Sure, everyone’s journey is different, but you’ll make it through your first year ready to succeed as long as you:

  1. Understand how you’ll be paid
  2. Celebrate wins
  3. Ask for help where needed
  4. Participate in regular sales training
  5. Keep a positive attitude
  6. Set realistic expectations
  7. Develop processes to meet outreach goals
  8. Schedule conference calls where possible

If you’re walking away from this article excited about the prospect of a job in this realm, great! Your next step is to pursue one. 

Here are 6 Ways to Find a Logistics Sales Job in Your Area [+ How to Choose]. If you’re serious about starting a career in the transportation industry, those six tips will help you do so. 

Finally, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at ATS with any questions. 

ATS has sales teams located in:

  • St. Cloud, MN
  • Duluth, MN
  • St. Louis Park, MN
  • Greenville, SC
  • Lenexa, KS
  • Plano, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Ames, IA
  • Youngstown, NY
  • Louisville, KY

If you’re located in any of these areas, think about applying to ATS; we’re a growing organization with ample opportunities for people like you!

Tags: Sales Careers, Career Resources

Tony Block

Written by Tony Block

Tony has been with ATS Logistics as a national sales representative since mid-2020. During his time here, Tony's passion for helping shippers of all types meet their deadlines and maintain their budgets has been second to none. His heightened problem-solving skills and ability to make on-the-fly adjustments to meet customer needs plant Tony among the best in the business.

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