Listening to the Voice of Your Prospect

Many in transportation and logistics call it “consultative selling.” This means a sales approach that prioritizes relationships with shippers and other qualified buyers, and opens dialogue to identify and provide solutions to a prospect’s needs. It’s hyper-focused on the customer, rather than the product or service being sold. Ultimately, it guides the salesperson to better understand the challenges faced by the prospect so they can position their solutions in a more compelling, relevant, effective way.

A consultative selling approach helps the transportation sales pro to position a strong value proposition that could be quite different from the competition and most relevant to the prospect – thus maximizing your chances of earning the business. This 7-step process ultimately becomes a repeatable one that can be mastered and applied with discipline.

Be prepared.

You can maximize your sales effectiveness, build credibility, create a strong impression, and best utilize your time with your prospect by being fully prepared. Do your research by such tactics as reviewing in advance the company website; checking out the individual decision-makers’ LinkedIn profile to identify potential interests, concerns and career focuses; and asking in advance questions that can guide the conversation. Then plan the agenda of your call or meeting in advance according to your findings.

Personally connect.

The connect phase of the sales call opens the meeting, creates a personal impression, and sets the tone. A strong opening of a conversation quickly helps to build credibility – and a relationship. You can learn a lot about an individual’s personal life and interests simply by checking out their social presence.

Listen intently.

Understanding pain points and problems is at the heart of consultative selling. Sales professionals in transportation and logistics need to connect with shippers, gain and keep their openness and willingness to engage in a dialogue, and ask a full range of relevant questions. Start the conversation by asking them: “What keeps you up at night?” Be prepared to listen and probe deeper into their responses before even beginning to think about what solutions you may be able to offer.

Fully understand.

The way a sales professional positions a specific solution can make it easy or difficult for the shipper to understand. It also can make the sales professional sound either compelling at best (or boring at worst). To be persuasive, sales pros should describe capabilities and solutions using clear, concise, compelling messaging that links value to challenges and needs. High-quality questions help you gain vital information, influence the shipper’s thinking, and show how you add value. And strong listening skills demonstrate that you genuinely care.

Offer solutions.

If you’ve done a good job at listening to the voice of the customer, you’ll then be well-equipped to recommend solid transportation and logistics solutions. This is where you’ll do most (but not all) of the talking. The key is to now use what you’ve learned to understanding needs to tailor what you say to be relevant and persuasive.

End with a commitment.

You need to advance the sales process – so make sure to end every sales call with either a commitment to the business or a next step that will advance the decision. Treating closing like a process lowers the risk of rejection, gives you confidence in the sales situation, and increases the likelihood of gaining commitment and winning the business.

Flawless follow-up.

Effective follow-up with the customer is one of the fastest ways sales pros can build credibility and differentiate themselves. That’s because many sales pros actually are not strong in their follow-up. Internal reflection and action planning after the call is necessary to ensure that each customer interaction is fully leveraged in order to learn and plan an appropriate action to win the business.

Use this consultative selling framework, along with a customer-centric mindset focused on listening to the voice of the customer, as the roadmap you need to master a consultative sales process. Lay the groundwork to your sales process using this approach and you’ll be able to leverage the voice of the customer to build relationships (and business)!

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