We all know by now that an experienced, professional driver is one of the most important assets to a trucking company’s business. A few years ago when the recession hit, there was an overabundance of O/O’s and Drivers and many fleets had to reduce their fleet size to remain profitable just to keep afloat. Now that freight has picked up, fleets are scrambling to hire new O/O’s and Drivers. We are back in the position that there seems to be an overabundance of freight and not enough drivers. Although companies who treated their O/O’s and Drivers with respect in the tough times may still be struggling to fill their truck; they are much further ahead than those companies who forgot to treat their drivers with the respect they deserved. Folks, we have all heard the expression that “nothin’” happens until the load is delivered. One of the most important roles in your company today is your experienced professional driver because without their skill and abilities we won’t be able to move the freight and then…the rest of us are no longer required.
Another extremely important role in your company is the role your sales people perform. Why? Because without the sale it’s the same scenario you’re not going to have the customers to provide you the loads and you’re not going to have the revenue to pay the bill – which means the rest of us are once again…no longer required.
Many of us have attended seminars and meetings, read articles and took part in webinars on the importance of driver
retention. Could we not use a lot of the same philosophy for our sales team? Think about it. Are we treating our salespeople with the respect that they truly deserve? Are we treating our salespeople like they are one of our best customers? Are we doing everything we can to help inspire and motivate them each and every day?
Here’s a formula I want to share with you. It’s proven that an inspired, respected, motivated salesperson WILL bring in more sales… a lot more sales. A salesperson that is pumped and feels part of a team is going to make that extra sales call when he finds it tough out there. On the other hand, if our sales rep(s) feels like they are not respected or continues to be de-motivated, they are going to go home and cut the grass (or take a nap) when they find it tough out there. They will find reasons to take longer lunches and talk to fewer people each day. Like a driver, our salespeople have nothin’ but miles in their car to think about how they are being treated and rather than thinking about what they can do to get the next sale, they may just be thinking about leaving.
Dan Baker suggested that “people don’t leave companies… people leave people.” He also reminds us that “people don’t always remember what you have said… they only remember how you made them feel”.
Respect and motivation doesn’t just need to come from the direct supervisor, it really needs to come from all areas of our business. Anyone that touches the sales rep (and your drivers) from accounting to dispatch can be part of encouraging these valued employees. Think of it this way. The more sales (that generate profit) that the sales rep makes, the more successful our companies will be ….isn’t that true? Hey…isn’t also true that many successful companies tend to give raises to their staff where companies that are struggling have been known to roll pays back to remain afloat? Helping keep our reps inspired doesn’t just help the rep and company make money, it may also help give everyone in the company a raise as well.
Am I saying that sales reps are not responsible for their own success? Of course not. Sales reps are truly in charge of their own destiny. Top reps are constantly reading books on sales and customer service. They are taking courses to help grow their business, listening to inspiring and educational CD’s in their car and getting out and networking at events which their customers attend. Getting extra inspiration from others in your company will not make you successful unless you are giving it your best effort, at any given moment.
If you are in charge of managing your sales team, here’s your action item. In the next 24-48 hours, set up a meeting with your sales rep(s). Ask them what their issues are and really listen to them. Let them know how much you appreciate them and that you value their opinion then do anything you can to help them overcome their objections and meet their goals. Add some incentives that keep them inspired and watch how the increased numbers start coming in!
There are things we can all do or avoid doing that will make things better for everyone in our organizations. If you’re an owner or a manager and need to add salespeople to your business, Jeffrey Gitomer a very well known sales trainer suggests that “we hire, smart, enthusiastic, knowledgeable salespeople. Stay away from salespeople that know it all and have crappy attitudes.” He goes on to say “You can teach sales skills, you’ll be forever trying to change their attitude”.
Pay them well, bonus them well, inspire them, reimburse them on time and don’t nickel and dime them for a few expense dollars and provide extra incentives for top performance. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Celebrate each victory and analyze the failures… as a team. The ultimate goal for every team is to win. Why not try winning it together?
About the Author
Glenn Caldwell is an insurance professional for over 30 years.