Game-Changing Sales Tips in a Male-Dominated Industry

There’s no question that roles in the transportation industry historically have been predominantly male. Men would be in primary buying roles in traffic management, logistics, and supply chain. And on the provider side of the equation, men would by in key leadership, operations, and sales and business development roles. And only a small handful of females were professional over-the-road drivers.

But times are changing dramatically, thanks in part to the Women In Trucking Association (WIT), which is a TMSA member. Last week, more than 500 professionals in transportation attended the 2017 Accelerate! Conference & Expo in Kansas City, which was hosted by WIT. The Transportation Marketing & Sales Association helped to manage the Marketing & Sales Education Track, and one topic was heavily focused on: How sales and business development professionals who are women can succeed in what is still a male-dominated industry.

Jayne Orr, Director of Product Management with Accuride Corp., facilitated a panel discussion with other females who are in lead sales and business development roles. These executives discussed perspectives and practical insights who have figured out how to project confidence, gain trust, and build longstanding relationships in this industry.

Orr suggested these practical tips to make a meaningful connection with new and potential customers: “Know your customer by doing your research,” she says. Sources to profile your prospects include the Internet (LinkedIn and customer websites), and your network with other suppliers or even former employees with the company. “The key is to find common ground.”

What things do you do during your first meeting or telephone conversation with a prospective customer? “Be aware of your surroundings,” Orr advises. “Be observant of pictures, trophies, and other items in the prospect’s office.”

There are key opportunities to set yourself apart from others, Orr suggests. These include:

Listening. Be sensitive to such things as what keeps them up worrying at night and how could you potentially solve those related problems. “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” she jokes. “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

“And don’t fake it,” she advises. “If you don’t know the answer to the question, admit it but let them know you’ll find the answer. Then follow through.”

One concern that the panelists all seemed to acknowledge is that women in a lead sales position can seem overly aggressive. “Know your stuff and be the number one expert on your product and service offering,” says Orr. “Be a student of the industry, outside of your own product lines. With knowledge comes credibility. You’ve got to go above and beyond in establishing your credibility.”

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