In my last blog, I covered how to set sales goals for a freight agency looking to grow its book of business. Today I would like to share five tips I learned from Tom Searcy, CEO and Founder of Hunt Big Sales, during an EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) conference Louis and I organized for our regional chapters last September. Searcy’s methods of unlocking explosive growth were developed through years of real-world success. An engaging, high-energy speaker, he is also the author of Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company*, a book I have yet to read, but one of my fellow EO members enacted the principles and has been quite successful.
Searcy has identified five best practices of fast growth organizations that can be adapted to our industry to help freight agents from small to mid-size companies grow their books of business by effectively competing with the Goliaths of the industry in approaching big companies:
- Focus on transformational accounts that will truly make a difference to your bottom line long term. Searcy counsels us to avoid toxic clients. We have all had them, the ones who want one more quote, who are constantly price shopping, and if you finally get a load, you find out your bid was too low when you cover it at cost. One of the filters we use to get rid of toxic shippers is to ask if they send a mass email out on their loads vs. working with a select group of brokers and carriers to whom they give the loads regularly. We don’t hire agents whose entire business is based upon mass-emailers.
- Solve the Real Issue: Here the idea is to think strategically about what problem you can solve for your shipper’s higher level managers. The lower level people are often looking for the cheapest rate, but the higher ups see the bigger picture, and when a cheap truck falls off because he/she found another load, the cost is poor customer service. By providing reliability, timely service, and proactive updates particularly when issues arise, our agents solve the real issues and concerns faced by higher level managers in the shippers’ transportation and customer service departments.
- A Bigger Buyer’s Table: In the past, having one relationship with the highest level person was enough. Nowadays it is important to know the people above, below, and beside your shipper contact, as many decisions have become group decisions. With all the reorganizations that happen in large corporations, if you don’t know the other people and your contact gets laid off, you lose the account. When our agents are selling to larger companies, we provide resources from the home office to support them in their sales efforts to match interactions with the appropriate counterparts at One Horn. This way the shipper knows the agent is not out there all alone, but has resources to draw upon to better service the shipper depending on what needs arise.
- Think Like a Big Company: Big companies like to buy from big companies out of fear that if something goes wrong, their decision will not be questioned. I may be dating myself, but people used to say, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” (For those of you who are a bit younger than I am, IBM used to be the industry leader in computers.) At One Horn we have successfully shared Fortune 500 shippers with the largest 3PL in the business by presenting case studies in a way that made the shipper feel safe about providing a rationale for why they chose to work with us. If you can tell one shipper your experience with a competitor in the same industry, they often feel more comfortable that you know and understand the intricacies of their freight.
- Hunt Heavy: Here Searcy encourages us to use outside resources when necessary to enlarge your sales team, for example, if a special insurance policy is needed for higher value freight, we will bring our insurance agent into the mix, so the shipper representative concerned with insurance will have a counterpart with whom he/she can speak the same language. Leverage your internal and external experts to close the sale and build the relationship.
Check out Searcy’s Web site: www.huntbigsales.com to learn more about explosive sales growth. He was truly an exciting and engaging speaker whom I highly recommend! In my next blog, I will share with you 3 Steps for Reinventing Yourself or Your Company, and how we reinvented One Horn, twice!
– By Cheryl Biron, President
* Click through for full references on books that inspired us: http://onehorn.com/agents/get-inspired