I never really thought of sales like dating until I was chatting with Joel McGinley of TranStrategy Partners.  We were actually talking about recruiting, but as in everything, I try to think about how what I learn can be applied to making freight agents more efficient and effective. This probably should have been my Valentine’s Day blog.  But instead of waiting until next year, since we have all been in a dating situation either trying to attract the attentions of someone or being the object of someone’s attention, this analogy made sense to me, so I figured I’d share it with you now.

Relationship selling is different from other sales methodologies.  In relationship selling, we are looking for repeat business.  In dating, people are often looking for a longer term relationship or even marriage.  So what are the three components of a shipper/freight agent relationship?

  1. Passion:  Showing desire and enthusiasm.  In dating, it’s about making the other person feel special.  In sales, as freights courting shippers, you have a desire for getting the shipper’s business and enthusiasm to help them.  You are attracted to their business, and you want to get them attracted to working with you.  You demonstrate enthusiasm for their kind of freight and for helping them solve the kinds of problems they have on a day-to-day basis.  If you are passionate about what you do as an agent to help your shippers, it shines through.  The desire to work together can then become mutual.  I used to work in the sales role, trying to attract shippers to One Horn, and I was genuinely passionate about helping new shippers.  But now I am in the recruiting role, trying to attract freight agents to One Horn.  When I see an agent who is a good fit for our model, I am genuinely enthusiastic about attracting them to join us, because I am confident the relationship will be mutually beneficial.
  2. Intimacy:  Understanding the other person’s needs and making sure they are satisfied.  In dating, this involves really getting to know the object of your affections, and what makes them happy.  In sales, this involves getting to know your prospective shipper’s day-to-day challenges as well as their future aspirations.  What is a typical day in the life of your prospect?  What are their pain points?  How can you relieve that pain on a day-to-day basis?  Does your shipper feel overloaded?  Do they want to unload some of their responsibilities on you so they can focus on other priorities?  How can you really, truly help them be happier?  Making our agents happier is really our focus at One Horn, since we are no longer working to personally attract shippers.  We work to truly understand our agents’ needs to help them grow their businesses.
  3. Commitment:  Always do what you say you will do to build trust over time.  In a committed personal relationship, your partner should be able to trust that you will always be there for him or her.  How about your shipper?  If you consistently deliver what you say you will over time, you will develop a level of trust with your shipper, and they will know they can depend on you to get the job done, or to help them when they are in a bind.  Honesty, reliability, and responsiveness have been our core values since the inception of One Horn.  In approaching our shipper relationships, we have demonstrated our commitment to them by living these core values.  Our agents continue to live the core values with their shippers as we do with our agents.  They know we are committed to helping them succeed and realize their dreams.

So now you have this great relationship.  How do you nurture and grow it?  By gaining in-depth knowledge about your shipper’s needs and continuing to give your relationship your all.  In my next blog, I will share with you five questions to enable you to exceed your shipper’s expectations.

– By Cheryl Biron, President