So you’re thinking about a career in the transportation world, huh? Honestly, that’s not a bad idea.
For one, transportation is a booming industry, chock-full of unique opportunities to make an impact on the world around you.
For two, the business of moving freight simply isn’t going anywhere; it arrived before World War II, was around to see man’s first step on the moon and will be here well into the future.
For three, well. . . financially speaking, a career in transportation can open a lot of doors for any individual willing to put in the work. But what will this work demand of you? And, more specifically, what does it take to find success in a transportation industry sales career?
Grrrrreat questions. Let’s talk about them.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’ve been in the transportation business since 1955. During this time, we’ve seen this industry exponentially expand in a way that can only be compared to the process of cell division, doubling and doubling and doubling some more (haha, science!).
Needless to say, in order to keep with this industry's growth, we’ve hired our fair share of transportation-industry sales professionals. Some of these people thrived in the fast-paced world of transportation, while others had a more difficult time.
That said, with a bit of guidance, any person can find great success in a logistics sales career. This article will outline some of the largest keys to doing just that.
We invite you to take this information under advisement as you search for your next great adventure. Even if you decide to take a position outside of ATS, we’re happy to help make your experience selling logistics services as smooth as possible.
The 9 keys to a successful sales career in the transportation industry are:
- Practice determination and resilience each day.
- Adopt a genuine care for your role in the transportation industry.
- Commit yourself to learning the intricacies of logistics.
- Develop a system of prioritization.
- Don’t take rejection personally.
- Be a sponge during your first year.
- Sell your expertise.
- Exude confidence in each customer interaction.
- Learn to cater services to match customer needs.
#1 Practice Determination and Resilience Each Day
To say that a sales position in the transportation industry isn't challenging would be a lie. This business is incredibly complex and selling logistics services won’t be the easiest thing you’ve done. But nothing worthwhile ever is.
There will be days when the road ahead of you — be it lined with loads to cover, solutions to find, phone calls to make or emails to send — will, at times, feel insurmountable.
Rest assured though: You're not the first one to climb that mountain. . . It can be done!
Good companies with cultures centered around employee growth will give you the tools for success. Over time with guidance from the colleagues that will become friends, covering your customer commitments will become easier, meeting your prospecting commitments will be a breeze and increasing the commissions you take home won’t be nearly as difficult as before.
Resilience and determination are close companions of every great logistics sales professional. Persevere when things aren’t going your way and continue to work hard even when they are.
Finally, always remember: The bar set by management is there for your benefit as well as the companies. If you’re able to fight through tough times and stay determined to achieve or exceed your goals you’ll like the boundless outcomes.
#2 Adopt a Genuine Care For Your Role In The Transportation World
Literally every single consumer good, manufactured product, building material, fabrication component and household item has interacted with the transportation industry at one point or another.
Whether it’s a flatbed shipment of I-beams headed to the construction site of a soon-to-be elementary school, a container load of retail products chartered on a vessel from Asia or a reefer trailer stacked with perishable food items, the transportation world touches every inch of our lives.
As such, the role of sales professionals — charged with the distribution and oversight of transportation services to companies around the globe— couldn’t be more important.
Your job couldn’t be more important. The sooner a logistics sales rep. recognizes this fact, the sooner their real success begins. Every shipment makes an impact and every phone call these sales professionals make is a crucial piece of the bigger picture.
Get the picture?
If you think that a career in this field might be your next step, it will be worthwhile to recognize the impact of your time from the start.
The loads you arrange aren’t just numbers on a screen or dollars in your pocket; they represent a rising tide bolstering stakeholders of all types. From putting food on the table of the truckers you work with all the way to the successful fulfillment of global supply chains.
#3 Commit Yourself to Learning the Intricacies of Logistics
Succeeding in any sales role requires a commitment to learning on behalf of each new representative. Transportation-industry sales jobs are no different.
Selling logistics services at the highest level can only be done by individuals who have the necessary expertise. That said, no one was born with these understandings.
The answers to questions like, “How many pallets fit in a 53-foot trailer?”, “How does the food safety modernization act impact freight transportation?” and “What is partial-truckload shipping?” don’t spring to the top of any logistics professional’s mind. . . at first.
No, becoming a transportation expert is a learned skill developed through trial and error, mentorship and study. Luckily, good companies give all new hires ample opportunity to fine-tune their skills and build their expertise.
And, when the time comes to help customers move their freight, sales professionals with the right training have no trouble doing so.
That said, no matter what level of training your company gives you before throwing you into the mix, taking the initiative and building your knowledge base from the onset will go a long way. Take an interest in the larger transportation world, do your research and, most importantly, don’t forget to have some fun with it. . . it’s just life, after all.
#4 Develop a System of Prioritization
As you’ll find, a career in logistics comes with a mix of responsibilities. Like many other positions, plenty of things are asked of sales representatives every day — some of which fall under their job descriptions, some of which don’t.
Having processes in place to navigate, rank and organize competing priorities is central to the success of transportation sales representatives. Without them, individuals can sometimes get overwhelmed and important duties can slip through the cracks.
And, when the success of external supply chains hangs in the balance these skills are crucial. Too many great customer relationships have fallen victim to the shoddy organization and time-management skills employed by their sales contact. Don’t let this happen in your job by organizing your daily duties from the get-go.
#5 Don’t Take Rejection Personally
Rejection is a part of life. Every successful individual has experienced it both personally and professionally. The difference between sales professionals that flourish and those that struggle, however, is their response to these situations.
As such, if you see a logistics sales role in your future, you’ll want to approach rejection the right way. Every time you hear the word “no” or the phrase “I’m not interested”, look at this as a professional opportunity, not a personal shortcoming.
The best salespeople see rejection as nothing more than a stepping stone, as progress in their search for their next ideal customer relationship. Surround yourself with people with this mindset and incorporate it into your own line of thinking.
Don’t take anything personally in the logistics-sale business. Carry yourself with confidence and handle prospect rejection cordially. This mindset will pay dividends many times over.
#6 Be a Sponge During the First Year
Of the nine keys to a successful career on this list, this one usually impacts a sales professional’s long-term success the most. You see the best, most reliable, transportation companies in the business become a career home for many people.
As a result, these companies are brimming with industry experts — experts that have dedicated a large portion of their lives (10, 20, sometimes even 30 years) to the world of logistics.
For new salespeople, all of this in-house expertise can be highly beneficial as long as they put it to good use. If you choose the right organization to join you will be shocked at the amount of knowledge in the air.
Take advantage of the opportunity this presents. Listen more than you speak. Capitalize on every possible learning opportunity. And, most importantly, surround yourself with the best in the business at every turn.
Doing so will help you facilitate the success of your career in this business as the value you bring to your organization increases to match your growing expertise.
#7 Sell Your Expertise
Companies with freight to move want a trusted expert in their corner. These businesses have far more to worry about than just the logistics of their transportation supply chain. They have customer demands to meet, employees to pay and a bottom line to maintain.
As such, the expertise and advice that their transportation provider lends is really important.
For this reason, sales representatives looking to make a sale need to stress the value of the expertise they hold and outline what each prospect will receive in exchange for their dollars.
In relation to the money they spend on transportation, many shippers see this as solely an expense; as nothing more than an unavoidable bullet to their balance sheet.
As a result, in the interest of fostering ongoing, fruitful customer relationships, selling the expertise of you and your company — over that of the competition — will be highly important.
#8 Exude Confidence in Each Customer Interaction
Every good salesperson is confident in their abilities and the value of the services/products they provide.
That said, this is easier said than done and many sales professionals — particularly those just starting their careers — struggle to exude this quality with each interaction. If confidence is something you grapple to find at times though, this shouldn’t deter you from a job in logistics.
You see, over time as your understanding of these services expands so too will your confidence in providing them. In turn, the shippers you talk to will feel increasingly comfortable with giving someone that has confidence like yours, their business.
#9 Learn to Cater Services To Match Customer Needs
Depending on the type of company you decide to work for, the logistics services you’ll be selling will change.
For a freight brokerage, like ATS Logistics, offering shippers a third-party transportation solution they can count on will be your top priority. For a trucking company, like ATS Specialized, selling the use of the assets your company owns that match each customer’s requirements will be your core duty.
That said, no matter which breadth of transportation solutions your company of choice offers, one thing will remain the same: The needs of the customer always come first.
Finding success in a transportation sales career will take a thorough dedication to this end.
- How can you make your customer’s life easier?
- Are there things they’re not considering that could save them money?
- What other solutions can you offer them to help their supply chain run smoother?
These are the types of things great logistics sales professionals work hard to figure out and these are the things that keep shippers satisfied. And, as you’ll learn, a satisfied customer makes for a fruitful career in this business.
No two customers are the same. As such, learn to cater your services and interaction tactics based on what each customer demands. Doing so will help you make the most of these interactions and maximize your book of business well into the future.
What Challenges Will You Face in a Transportation Sales Role?
Now that you understand the profound impact each of these tactics could have on the success of your potential sales career, it’s also important for you to understand the challenges you’ll face.
To give you this information — information that will truly help you decide whether a career in the transportation industry is right for you — we’ve put together an article outlining the 8 largest challenges logistics sales professionals face (as well as some keys to overcoming them).
We invite you to give it a read today so that you can be prepared should any of these challenges pop up in your own career.
Finally, if you feel like a position in the transportation industry is right for you, check out some of our open career opportunities here at ATS. We’re always looking to add driven, talented, individuals to our growing organization and have job openings in many locations around the United States.
We look forward to hearing from you!