When you want to sell your service, you won’t be able to persuade anyone to work with you until you fully understand what it is that your customer wants and what your competition is providing. Once you understand this, you can then sell to them with the knowledge of what you can provide that your competition can’t.
Find out what makes your business unique from the competition. The more you know what you’re able to provide that the competition can’t, the more effective your sales pitch can be. Get to know your competition and find out who they are, what they provide, and what they charge to provide it. This can help develop a stronger awareness of what you should offer and how to make your services stand out.
You want to then emphasize the benefits of using your service and how you provide solutions to challenges the competition isn’t able to provide. Ask your current customers why they work with you to find out why you earned their business and if it was for the same reason you thought. Anticipating the future needs of clients and staying current with the market will make you better able to continue to assist them.
Keep in mind that when making a sales call to a potential client, they are most likely using a competitor. This is why it’s important to know who they are currently using, if they are satisfied working with them, and how they can benefit from working with you instead. Here’s where you will need to make sure you have a grasp of your benefit offerings, price, and how your business can serve this client.
Trucking is a business where it’s easy to replicate the services in most cases. Same truck, same trailer, same routes traveled, etc. However, there are still areas where you can separate yourself. A few examples can be:
Cost - Do you charge less than your competition?
Timeliness - Are you always on time and able to get the load delivered quickly?
Safety - Do you have a clean safety record?
Professionalism - Do you treat the client and the load in a professional manner?
Location - Are you located near the customer?
Part of finding an advantage in your business can be unseen by the customer. These include items such as fuel efficiency, operation costs, increased tire life, as well as decreased office and administration costs. Advantages can include better load trip planning and less deadhead. Each day we need to work to streamline our businesses to increase profits and lower costs in order to provide a service that differentiates itself from the competition. If we stay stagnant without constantly learning about new products and ways to keep ourselves ahead of the competition, we will become complacent and our competition will pass us.
If you don’t keep competing or striving to do better, your business will not remain relevant in the marketplace. It would be nice if every time we figure out how to load more, how to go faster, and how to be more efficient that there would be a direct correlation to making a profit. Increased revenue is not always the outcome - sometimes it is just keeping that customer as part of your portfolio. The forces of supply and demand always keeps profitability in check.
Trucking customers, the shippers, are always looking for value added services. At the same time, they are not usually looking for higher freight rates. There are, however, value-added services that can be incorporated into your business model with little or no cost. A simple example of this that was mentioned earlier is kindness and professionalism. Take the time to learn about them, their family, pets, hobbies, and background. Always follow up and stay in touch with your current or potential clients, even if they have not worked with you in a while. This will help them to not forget about you and your business. Place a phone call just to say hello or take them to lunch to catch up if you have not connected in some time. Staying in touch shows you care and can keep you current on their business needs. Not every value-added service needs to come with you cutting costs or spending additional money in other areas.
It’s up to each business to be able to succeed and flourish, the key here is the competition waits for no one. If you continue to run business as usual for an extended period, your rivals will be in a position to overtake your business's competitive advantages or you will never be able to catch up to the competition. You are only as good as you were yesterday. You don’t want to be put in a position where the customer says “They were great at one time”.
Resting on your laurels and becoming complacent can bring the largest or the smallest of businesses to their financial knees.