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Your sales team might know everything there is to know about your company and what you offer your customers. But let’s face it, when you start a logistics company, generating new business requires cold calling. And there’s a science to cold calling that can be hard to master, especially in a market as competitive as third-party logistics.  Cold calling involves starting a new (and positive) relationship with someone within a few minutes, over the phone. The concept can be scary just to think about. But, as uncomfortable as cold calling may seem, it can be an integral part of your outbound sales strategy.

Making a science out of cold calling and using the tactic successfully to acquire new customers can be done. Here’s how you can get started down the right path.

Start a Logistics Company: Start with a Plan or Even a Script

Not only will starting with a plan calm your nerves, it will also give you a better idea of where you want the conversation to go. Who are you going to be speaking with? What do you know about the person you are calling? Map out how you want the conversation to go before placing the phone call. What is the purpose of the call? What are you trying to accomplish? In addition to mapping out the goals of the call, it can be helpful to use a brief sales script if you are nervous. You basically have about 10 seconds to convince the person on the other end of the phone that you’re worth their time. What might that script look like? Here are several examples to take a look at. 

Work Towards Decision Makers, but You Don’t Have To Start at The Top

To add customers and begin moving freight for new people, you will eventually need to reach decision makers. The trouble is, every other freight broker on the planet knows this, and is trying to reach them too. Decision makers may be especially adept at avoiding your calls. If you keep calling and you only reach the dock manager, does that mean you should give up all hope? Of course not! You can still reach the decision maker, but you just have to know how to work your way past the person guarding the gate. It’s important to remember that everybody, no matter what their job title, wants to feel respected and appreciated. If you think the gate keeper isn’t important, odds are they can feel that in the way you speak with them. 

Rather than simply asking to be connected to the decision maker, invest time in establishing a rapport with the gatekeeper. Make small talk. Be charming. Ask them how their day is going. Let’s be honest; working in the shipping department isn’t the most exciting job in the world. What makes the job enjoyable is the people they get to work with. Focus on being someone who’s enjoyable to talk to. If you can put a smile on the gatekeeper’s face with a joke, or some friendly banter, you don’t guarantee access to the decision maker. But you’ll definitely improve your chances over time. When you start a logistics company, you’re responsible for making everyone feel like the most important person in the room.

Ask The Right Questions, But Ask Permission First.

You can make all the calls you want, but you have to remember, just because you start a logistics company doesn’t mean people owe you anything. You could start a call by firing off a quick round of questions. But more often than not, your call is interrupting someone else’s day. When you’re starting out, this will also be someone with whom you have little to no relationship with. Once you do get on the phone with a live human, don’t immediately launch into the value proposition. Introduce yourself, then ask if they have 28 seconds to hear why you’re calling. Why 28 seconds? Well for one, you should time your value proposition and two, it makes the engagement feel like a very low commitment. Who doesn’t have 28 seconds to spare?

Once your prospect has given you permission to proceed, you can make your value proposition, followed by some pointed questions that will help you determine if the prospect is a good fit or not. Asking questions allows you to learn about your prospect’s business, their pain points and their needs.  

In addition to asking questions, think about ways in which you can actually add something of value during the call. Is there a unique industry trend you have some perspective on? See if an issue like self-driving trucks is a topic that sparks some debate.

Leverage Social Media to Engage Key Contacts

Connecting and networking with contacts via social media before calling can greatly improve your chances of the prospect not only speaking to you, but also listening to what you have to say. In a recent study from Vorsight, the study found that if the person you are calling is in a common LinkedIn group you are 70 percent more likely to get to speak with them on a cold call. Some pre-call research before you actually get on the phone can give you a small but needed leg up when it comes to showing the prospect that you’ve done your homework. 

Take Notes & Keep Records in a CRM

Although it can be difficult to take notes during the phone call, make it a point to jot down some key differentiators about the call once you’ve hung up. Logging diligent call notes after the call is essential. If it is a short call, do it right away. With the amount of calls you’ll be making, keeping all the key details straight in your head will be nearly impossible. This will also give you an opportunity to reflect on the phone call. What could you have done differently? What went well? How could you have prepared more thoroughly? When you start a logistics company, you want your team to grow. And as your team grows, diligent call notes will help new sales reps pick up where you left off.

Establish a Connection & Mention Referrals

When you start a logistics company, successful sales calling will come from your ability to make a connect with your prospect quickly. Mentioning referrals can help immensely in getting your prospects more interested. Do some research, check to see if you have a common connection via social media. LinkedIn is an excellent resource to see referrals and common similarities. Even a subtle similarity, like having a friend from the same hometown, for instance, can be useful when you’re trying to establish a connection. Even the dock manager can be a referral, as long as you treated them well when you first talked to them.

Cold calling is actionable, strategic and highly effective in many instances.  By implementing these strategies and remaining consistent, the more effective your sales tactic will be.