Although the standard in selling logistics solutions has undoubtedly improved in recent years, we all too frequently see missed opportunities and disappointments for one or both of the parties involved. It may be that great salespeople are born not made, but by following a number of simple steps most can achieve a high level of success and satisfy the requirements of their customers.
The key steps to greater sales
Step 1 – Qualify the opportunity
All too often salespeople play the numbers game by quoting for everything but not progressing sales particularly well. It is far better to limit to a smaller number of prime prospects and achieve a high standard of sales activity, than to expend resources quoting for every opportunity on the market. A good prospect is one where there is a good match between what the customer requires and the contractor’s core area of expertise.
Step 2 – Establish your customer’s basis of decision
Ensure that you fully understand a prospect’s requirements, and the criteria upon which a decision will be made. You can never sell successfully unless you truly understand the prospect’s business. This not only includes the distribution task, but also the future strategic direction of the company along with wider organisational and commercial issues. This can be a dynamic situation: the prospect’s criteria may change during the selection process.
Step 3 – Determine the solution
Any solution must be based on firm data, address the prospect’s basis of decision, and be capable of delivery by the contractor. Failure to collect the necessary operational data and relevant information is the prime cause of dissatisfaction once a contract goes live. Ideally, the solution should be tested against different future scenarios to determine how robust the operational approach is.
Step 4 – Determine the Commercial Approach
The relationship between the prospect and the contractor will only endure if the commercial relationship remains acceptable to both parties. The commercial terms must not only consider the proposed charging structure but who takes what risk. This includes not only the risk of product loss and unplanned operational costs but also the risk of failing to achieve planned productivity standards or service failures. The pricing system should provide the contractor with a fair reward provided they deliver on their promises.
Step 5 – The Proposal
The Proposal is the most important document in the sales process. It should be totally relevant to the prospect clearly laying out the requirements, proposed solution, the commercial and financial considerations and why the prospect should choose the contractor. Use of standard ‘boiler plate’ material with standard diagrams and schematics should be avoided because they really don’t impress anyone. A short, but pertinent, proposal is far more effective than a lengthy highly polished desktop-published document that is largely irrelevant to the customer.
Step 6 – Stay Close
Often, a prospect’s perceptions of what is required change as they go through the purchasing process. It is also the case that, because of the complexity of logistics outsourcing, a contractor’s offer can be misunderstood. Ideally, the proposal should be the subject of a formal presentation where greater explanation can be given and questions answered. It is also important to stay close in order to amend the proposal should the prospect’s requirements change.
Finally, remember that the role of the salesperson is to assist the prospect through the buying process, NOT to attempt to drag the prospect through the contractor’s sales pipeline process.
Your Logistics Sales Solution
Davies & Robson has developed a programme of SALES PROPOSAL WRITING COURSE FOR THE LOGISTICS INDUSTRY. If you need further INFORMATION, please give us a call on 01327 349090.