Vice President, Sales
We all know by now that an experienced, professional driver is one of the most important assets to a trucking company’s business. It’s been 10 years since the start of our last recession began; In 2008 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 is booming and rates have picked up, fleets are having a tough time hiring qualified O/O’s and Drivers again. Although companies who treated their O/O’s and Drivers with respect in the tough times may still be struggling to fill their trucks; they are much further ahead than those companies who forgot to treat them with the respect they deserved. Folks, we have all heard the expression that “nothing 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 you won’t be able to move freight, and then of course, the rest of us are no longer required.
Another extremely important role in your company is the role that your sales people perform. Why? Because without the sale it’s the same scenario; you’re not going to have any freight for that driver to move. Once again, the rest of us are no longer required.
I know a lot of fleet and recruiting managers have attended seminars, read articles and took part in webinars on the importance of attracting and retaining quality drivers. Should we not use a lot of the same concepts to attract and retain a quality sales team? Consider it for a moment. 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, potentially 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 people feels like they are not respected or continues to be de-motivated, they’re more likely 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 nothing 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 should come from all areas of our business. Anyone that works directly with your sales team (and your drivers) from accounting to dispatch can be part of encouraging these valued employees. The more sales that your sales team makes, the more successful our companies will be, isn’t that true? Isn’t it also true that many successful companies tend to give raises to their staff, whereas companies that are struggling may implement a wage freeze? Helping keep our sales team inspired doesn’t just help the salesperson 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 sales people are constantly reading books on sales and customer service. They are taking courses to help grow their business, listening to inspiring and educational podcasts 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 anyone successful unless they are giving it their 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!