Mastering Freight Sales: Prospecting Calls for Freight Brokers | Episode 234

Freight 360

March 8, 2024

Dive into the dynamic world of the freight industry with our latest insights on market trends, legislative changes, and a tribute to the heroics on the road, including a semi-truck driver’s dramatic rescue. We cover everything from mastering sales techniques and navigating market fluctuations to enhancing communication skills for successful freight sales. Join us to sharpen your skills and stay ahead in the fast-evolving logistics landscape.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Speaker 1: 0:19

Welcome back for another episode of the Freight 360 podcast. It's episode 234 to be exact. If you are new, we appreciate you joining us. Check out all of our other content. You can go right to You'll see blogs, podcasts, youtube videos, and you can check out the Freight Broker basics course as well. It's an online course taught by us in conjunction with DAT, on how to start your brokerage and succeed as a Freight Broker. Please make sure to subscribe, like this video if you're on YouTube. Leave us a review, leave us comments. All that engagement helps us get in front of more people and share all the good content that we've got here. So, ben, what's happening, man?

Speaker 2: 1:08

I still can't get used to the fact that we don't have the song play to me and you as we start the show, like we've done that for so long, and now that we have the new software, that it just does it before you upload it. It's just like I'm so used to hearing. Just the beginning of the joke are kind of coming like tch-tch-tch-tch.

Speaker 1: 1:25

Yep, yep, I can play it for you, man. Good deal, love it. Well, dude, I'm excited we're into March now. I know we'll tend to get our last episode dropped in March, but we're getting further into the year, the weather is warming up Different places around the country and, yeah, man, I'm excited to get down to Florida later this month, get to hang out with you, do some content in person and just get some sunshine.

Speaker 2: 1:55

But and dude, weather's gotten nice. It went up to about it got back up into the 80s this week. I mean like yeah humidity is kind of there, but weather has been nice, at least for the past week or so. For sure. At least the outlook looks like as far enough out as I can see it's going to stay this way. You should have some at least warmer weather when you come down.

Speaker 1: 2:15

We're going to be renting a pontoon boat a couple days around Easter when I'm down in Fort Pierce and hoping that we don't have any weather issues that cause us to not be able to do it.

Speaker 2: 2:26

But I've been lucky.

Speaker 1: 2:28

Every time that I've gone down there in the past and done a boat day, we've had beautiful, sunny weather. So good stuff. Sports.

Speaker 2: 2:38

Cognizant Classic was the old Honda Classic, which had been the Honda Classic forever. They just changed the name. That just finished Monday, actually.

Speaker 1: 2:49

What is it called now?

Speaker 2: 2:50

It's called the Cognizant Classic.

Speaker 1: 2:52

So they just changed sponsors.

Speaker 2: 2:55

Yeah, honda's had it there for I think like 20. I think it was one of the longest sponsored events, like on the PGA.

Speaker 1: 3:02

I remember for a long time, yeah, yeah that just wrapped up.

Speaker 2: 3:06

There was some rain Sunday so it went into Monday. To be honest, I don't even remember who won. I'm looking up Now. I know Rory played really well and they said he's going to be looking pretty good going to the next tournament, but I think it was actually a local kid.

Speaker 1: 3:20

That won it.

Speaker 2: 3:22

Austin Eckero yeah.

Speaker 1: 3:26

Nice Baseball preseason is underway. For anybody out there that's a baseball fan, I'm getting excited, man, now that we're out of NFL. I'm usually on the baseball fan or bandwagon as a fan all spring and into the summer as we get ready. But hey, I mean, before you know it it's going to be NFL Draft Time in just a couple months. So that's pretty much all I got for sports man.

Speaker 2: 3:53

Hey, I like that.

Speaker 1: 3:53

I like that. If you're watching on YouTube, Ben, I like your free 360 mug For sure, buddy.

Speaker 2: 4:02

I dig it. Quite a few of these are on the country at the moment.

Speaker 1: 4:05

I'm sure that we've sent out over the years. There definitely is, definitely is News Anything. Stick out to you.

Speaker 2: 4:15

Not really Everything I looked at. I think somebody from Truck Stop predicted he thinks the spot rates will come up sometime in the fourth quarter. A couple other CEOs said I don't know. This month has been really slow. There was a pretty big uptick in January that was weather related in the spot market that everyone saw. But it seems like the market has fallen right back down to where you expected this time of year. I'd seen I didn't look really in detail at it, but a few of the articles I saw referenced lowest load to truck ratio since 2020, 2019, somewhere around there. So you know what's interesting.

Speaker 1: 4:55

So one of the news bits we put in our newsletter this week was about I highlighted some regulation stuff in Congress is looking to lower the driving age to 18. So they've had the exemption for military.

Speaker 1: 5:13

Military. If you had driving experience in the service, they would use that and let you be 18, but not looking at lower net. But there's, I mean, I think it's good overall, but I think the reality is right now that's not going to. Really, that's not anything. That we need is more capacity. But again, market cycle will change. And our another wild story and I forgot about this is the truck that was hanging off the bridge in Saw that.

Speaker 2: 5:41

Don't know what happened, though what did happen? I just saw the memes in the pictures.

Speaker 1: 5:44

Vehicle collision. Steven sent us it, yeah, so I'll just read it off our thing. It said Louisville firefighter played a crucial role in rescuing a semi truck driver who was left dangling from the Clark Memorial Bridge above the Ohio River after a vehicle collision caused her to almost plunge into the water. The rescue operation, lasting nearly 40 minutes, involved cardin repelling down to the truck cabin and securing the driver before both were safely hoisted back onto the bridge. It said the miraculous nature of the truck's position, which avoided falling into the water, was just incredible. It was just insane.

Speaker 1: 6:21

If you saw the video, it said it resulted from a vehicle losing control and striking the semi truck after an initial collision. It left two others seriously injured. So if you have kids that watch Paw Patrol the Paw Patrol movie the first one like literally starts with what looked like it was on TV. Last You're like a truck dangling off a ridge, but instead of Chase and the other Paw Patrol in the save the day, it was a firefighter in real life and this was from an car accident, not a turtle crossing the road. You ever see that movie with your daughter?

Speaker 2: 6:55

I'm sure I have. I mean, I've watched every one of the cartoons. I don't remember that scene in that movie, but I mean for sure all the Paw Patrol characters are all over my living room. Skye is her favorite, so for sure.

Speaker 1: 7:09

Yep, yep, gotcha. Well, that's news. Well cool, we got a fun episode today. We did want a couple of weeks to go on what your sales pipeline should look like. We wanted to expand it today and talk about the prospecting, the process of prospecting shippers, everything from what to expect when you're making those calls, what the outcome of the calls look like, and maybe some of the hurdles or objections you'll run into. We'll see where the conversation goes. We're just going to kind of wing it here, man, shoot them from the hip.

Speaker 2: 7:41

Yeah, I got some ideas. I think we'll role play a few. We got a lot of feedback from the last episode we did a couple of weeks ago on this, so do you guys want more of it? We're going to do more, for you know, that's the whole point of the show. We want to answer the questions that are relevant to where you guys are now. I think we could do FOB. I definitely want to do follow-ups. Maybe we can do another role play on some intros and go through the structure of really like. The thing I think we didn't really touch on last I think would be good is like how to play into a follow-up right, I think most people approach a follow-up as like a standalone call as opposed to part of your call process, and we can talk through that a little bit in role play. So let's dig into it, man.

Speaker 1: 8:26

Yeah, fo-show, fo-show, sweet. So I'll try to use some of the most recent cold calling sessions I've done with folks to, because, I mean, the market's different, like conversations that were had two and a half years ago are so different than what people are having right now.

Speaker 2: 8:47

OK, that is exactly where I wanted to lead off from Expectations. Right, your expectations should be aligned with the market, not with your personal desires, right? And what do I mean by that? Especially if you're new, or even if you've had a book and you lost a portion of it recently, like you're hungry man, you're aggressive, you want to go and bring more business in. Right, that's clear. I think a lot of people in the market are in this position. Hell, even the brokers I know they're doing well are in this position, right.

Speaker 2: 9:17

So the thing about expectations is, you really want to think a minute about what the person you're talking to is expecting and what they're hearing, because, again, just like in a conversation, if you're way out of tune with what they're expecting or feeling like, you just seem out of touch, you don't seem tied in and you seem out of place in a way that really is hard for them to even connect with you. If they want to, right, yeah. And what does that really mean? And that's a really good point. What is different about the market now than it was two and a half years ago?

Speaker 1: 9:50

Like, what's the biggest thing? Yeah, so I feel like we literally talked through this in 2021 and talked about how this is a great time to prospect. The hard thing is to get a truck, because everybody had trouble getting trucks in 2021. So what's different is where is capacity now versus where it was two and a half to three years ago? So we're in a loose market right now, which means that there is an abundance of capacity. On average, this is at a national scale.

Speaker 1: 10:19

We're looking out here, not just a specific region or market or lane, but it's not very hard for customers to get a truck in front of them, whether it's directly with a motor carrier or through a freight broker, because the amount of demand to ship is opposite of where it was a few years ago. So plenty of trucks available. It's not hard to get one and, with that being the case, they can usually get one for cheap. So there's a lot of price sensitivity right now because they know this is the time where they can make up for their extremely high freight rates that they dealt with three years ago. But if you go back to 2021, what we were dealing with was I can't get a truck, and if I can't get a truck, I'm not gonna have my goods delivered to my customers and that's bad service on my part. So we were seeing customers taking calls from anybody and that's why a lot of people got into brokerage. A lot of carriers were adding to their fleets or opening up new businesses because there was such a high demand and very tight capacity. So I like that you said that, that you should have your expectations set based on where the market is, because you could deal with a tight capacity market, a loose capacity market like right now, or one of those transition phases. Whether you're transitioning from tight to loose is gonna be a little different than how you play it when you're transitioning from loose to tight, because you have conversations with customers about what's coming up in the future or what they've dealt with in the past, and they're gonna be dependent on what everyone's been dealing with. So typically a prospecting call.

Speaker 1: 11:56

A great thing to do besides just getting information is to problem solve, and a lot of times that begins with finding out what the problem is, and sometimes shippers don't necessarily know what their problem is. They just know that they're having problems and they'll give complaints about X, y and Z if you have the time to speak with them and hear about it, but they don't know that. Their problem is that, oh, you're doing this in a way that I wouldn't recommend. It could be that all they're doing is getting the cheapest carrier possible and for that reason they have service failures and delays, because trucks are breaking down, because they have poor maintenance or they're dealing with high cost spend because they're not keeping their brokers and carriers honest by entertaining rates and opportunities with other people that are out there.

Speaker 1: 12:44

So think about where the market is. So if you listen to this podcast when it comes out, you know we're in a tough market. But if you listen to it a year or two years from now, in 2025 or 2026, we don't know where the market's gonna be. Then I hope it's a tighter market than we're seeing right now, because it's been tough for a lot of people. But keep it all in perspective, because the questions you ask, the conversations you have, are gonna be different based on where the market is. And if you're watching on YouTube, ben's camera's doing some wonky stuff, it's crazy.

Speaker 2: 13:18

I tried to update the firmware. It's stuck on autofocus even though it says manual focus. So every time I move it's trying to track me and it's really awful.

Speaker 1: 13:29

Well, just take a motion sickness pill.

Speaker 2: 13:30

if you're watching on YouTube, For sure, and I really wish that I could get it to not do what it is. Pause this for a second. Can you Let me see if I can. I have no idea.

Speaker 1: 13:40

All right, picking the recording back up here. I'm not even gonna cut any of that out because again I'll give our listeners a little glimpse into the technical difficulties. Anyway, as I was saying, you have to set your expectations based on where the market is which you got.

Speaker 2: 13:56

Yes, so where the market is right, so in a tight market, something like 2020, 21,. Right, the way I look at it, and I'm a visual person but you have two opposite ends of the spectrum service and price right. So, in a very loose market, shippers are very price sensitive. They don't care as much about service, and it's for a very simple reason it's very easy to get trucks, and when it's very easy to get trucks, they tend to have less service failure. Yes, things still go wrong, and that's where you'll find the opportunities right.

Speaker 2: 14:29

So, again, in the market we're in right now, you're tending to see shippers that care more about price than service, because they're able to cover their loads Very few of their loads do they not have a truck booked for it? Now, the issues they can still have, though, and a market that is primarily price driven and not service you still have trucks that don't pick up. You still have miscommunication. You still have issues with older trucks that are very cheap to book right, that don't have good maintenance records, that aren't making it to either the pickup or delivery on time. So there are still service issues. In a market like today, they're just far less frequent right Now the exact opposite 21 market like everybody needs a truck and price doesn't matter because service if you have zero service and you can't get your loads booked right, like price doesn't matter because your loads aren't getting picked up and delivered.

Speaker 2: 15:21

So these are your two extremes. Now in the old market, you know 21, 22, where it's really tight, like you can kind of call anybody, and they are almost all having a problem with service. So those are where your conversations are gonna go. That's where they're directed because that's likely where their need is. You don't know, you don't wanna assume, but that's where you'll likely it's a good place to look in a conversation to find where their need is right In the market today, knowing that their primary objective is, to be honest, like they don't need to work with new brokers. They're getting their loads covered. Their brokers are probably servicing them at whatever level that they're okay with.

Speaker 1: 15:59

So you've gotta give them a reason to want to open up the books to let you come in and become a new vendor right, let me hop in here and so and this is one of the things, obviously that we're in this market right now, you get a lot of shippers. As soon as they're on the phone, they'll just tell you like we're not adding anybody new right now and you could totally you know acknowledge that Like hey, I totally understand and I like. This is where I like a lot of your approach of I'm not.

Speaker 2: 16:26

I don't think that we're what's that. Let's role play it.

Speaker 1: 16:30

Yeah, all right, I'll play the shipper and you can be Mr Broker calling me.

Speaker 2: 16:35

Ring, ring ring.

Speaker 1: 16:37

Well, first of all, let's set the expectations here. So we're in the current market. What's my commodity that I'm shipping? What's the size?

Speaker 2: 16:45

So you ship produce, you ship bag lettuce. You're a small to medium size shipper in California and you do ship around the country, at least from what I can tell from the little research I've done it.

Speaker 1: 16:59

All right. So I do lettuce out of California. We've got it All right.

Speaker 2: 17:02

Great Ring, ring ring.

Speaker 1: 17:06

Hi ABC Produce. Hey is Nate there. Yep, this is.

Speaker 2: 17:11

Hey Nate, how's it going?

Speaker 1: 17:14

Ah, dude, all right, how's it going?

Speaker 2: 17:17

Yeah, hey, so much. I was giving you a buzz. To be honest, the reason I was giving you a call I got a handful of guys that deliver out.

Speaker 1: 17:24

Yeah, I'll let you guys hold real quick. All right, go ahead.

Speaker 2: 17:30

Hey, no worries, man Nate, like I was saying, the reason I was giving you a buzz is I got a handful of guys that deliver right into your, honestly, right down the road from you. A couple of them drive past your warehouse literally a few times a week and for the past handful of weeks maybe longer they've asked me to give you a ring, just understand what you guys are doing a little bit and see if they might be a fit to run some back calls for you. If there was even a need there, like I said, I told them I'd give you a ring, kind of learn a little bit more about how you guys are operating.

Speaker 1: 19:07

Hey, appreciate the call. We've been pretty good on our capacity right now, though. Our go-to guys have been just fine and haven't had any issues with trucks falling off lately, but I do appreciate the call, oh for sure, nate, and, to be honest, that's exactly what I would have expected.

Speaker 2: 19:22

I mean, and to be honest, I don't even know if we would even be a fit to work together. I don't even know if we'd be able to work with you either. But again, like I said, I at least wanted to give you a ring, because I promised a few of the guys that have been working with me for a while that I would at least give you a buzz. I mean, I don't know if I would have been in a minute or two, and I catch you at a bad time.

Speaker 1: 19:39

I got a couple of minutes. What's going on?

Speaker 2: 19:40

Yeah. So what I was really curious a little bit about is most of my guys that are coming out of your area, the ones that are literally driving past you. They're all kind of going to the same places on a weekly basis. Do you guys ship back out to the Midwest at all outbound on any of your lanes?

Speaker 1: 19:59

We do, yeah. I mean, we get about as far as the Mississippi. What's about it, though?

Speaker 2: 20:06

Any of your volumes, any concentrated in any specific area where you guys kind of ship to one area in the Midwest by chance.

Speaker 1: 20:13

I got to make something up here. Yeah, we do a bit to St Louis, kansas City. I don't know, I can't think of the time I had to make up a story like this, but yeah, yeah, all those places.

Speaker 2: 20:30

Sure, the reason I asked is like one of my guys. Actually he's based out of St Louis and again one of his back calls that he runs back out of there. I know he's pulling a lot of spot loads out of the market right now to get himself back home. But like I said again Nate, I have no idea if it would even be a fit. I'm sure you guys are doing pretty well. I mean, how are your service and rates been so far? I'm guessing you guys are playing pretty good rate and getting pretty decent service.

Speaker 1: 20:53

We have. We've got a lot of relationships with local reefer fleets here in Southern California, so we tend to get first priority as a direct shipper to them on their capacity. It's really been easy to get stuff secured lately. If you have, you said you got guys that are trying to back call. I'm not saying that we would drop any of our providers, but as our business increases, I'd be and we're looking to onboard additional providers. I'd be interested to see what kind of rates and service you could provide with a back call carrier. If you aren't just making this up as a bluff right now, you actually do have guys that are going back that way.

Speaker 2: 21:36

Yeah, for sure. And, like I said, nate, I don't know if the specific dates would work versus your loads or if any of this would even work out between you and us and even working together. But, like I said, I think it might be worth the conversation down the road. Let me ask you one more question if you don't mind. How did things shape up last year and how did you guys finish out the year? How did it play out? How did you guys land where you expected on volume and sales?

Speaker 1: 21:59

Our volume was down just a tad. The reality is, I know the market in general has done different things, which is why capacity is where it's at, but people are still eating my lettuce. So it's actually been nice for us because we got hammered with freight costs three years ago and it made up for it the last year or so.

Speaker 2: 22:20

For sure. So last year, speaking of when did your season start to pick up? Where were you guys at Like you shipped the most volume per se, like give or take Guys, kind of around like mid-March I would expect you guys, a lot of the other customers I work in your area, their volume is picking up around the beginning of April. Did you guys see around the same thing last year?

Speaker 1: 22:40

Side note, I don't ship any lettuce out of Southern California right now, so I'm just going to make this up. Yeah, you know, right around March.

Speaker 2: 22:49

For sure. Yeah, like I said, you know what? Actually I got to run. I got another customer giving me a buzz right now. But hey, nate, appreciate the time. I'll try to catch up with you a little bit down the road and see if I'm going to be able to find something out, at least be able to discuss it and see if the details work for you.

Speaker 1: 23:01

That sounds good. What was your name again, ben? All right, sounds good Ben.

Speaker 2: 23:06

Sounds good, Nate. Hey, I'll catch up with you later, buddy.

Speaker 1: 23:09

All right, so we'll unpack that call First of all. I swear the next mock call we do we're going to have to have some more concrete data. I'm really bad at making stuff up on the fly, but there was a lot of good stuff, some good takeaways, in my opinion, there. I think you did a really good job. What I like about your and I don't ever do this, but I think it's effective for you is you don't say your name or the company that you're with when you open up a call.

Speaker 2: 23:33

And here's why, right, so I talked about this to a few other clients in the past couple of weeks, right, and the thing is, with an opening call, right, most people say their name and announce it, because it makes them feel better about calling somebody they don't know out of the blue, and it's like, hey, if I announce who I'm calling from and who I'm with, right, like you should feel a little bit okay with the fact that I'm calling out of the blue. It kind of alleviates some of this inner tension that the person making the phone call has. Right, it's, if I tell you who I'm from, that's who's really calling you, not me, right, and it makes you feel a little better when you're doing this, especially if you're new. Here's the reality, though. The reality is is if you call anybody that you actually would be talking to and actually had a reason to call them, what do you do? When you call anybody you've ever talked to or that you actually have something to say to, like, you just say that thing, yeah.

Speaker 1: 24:29

You don't ever call somebody you've known or worked with. The reason that I say my name and I like a lot of times when I've coached people through it is so many times I hear on the phone what was your name or where are you calling from? Who is this? And I have say it in any way, so like. But again, this is a great example because you and I are two different people and this goes to prove that there's not one perfect way and one way that will never work. It's a matter of how you're going to craft your call and the order of your call, Because, if you realize by the end of the conversation you had Mr Shipper's attention somewhat right. That's the hardest thing to do.

Speaker 2: 26:31

The hardest thing to do is that to get your attention.

Speaker 1: 26:34

Otherwise it would have felt like an ingenuine call to me.

Speaker 2: 26:37

Right and for sure, right Like I know, the hardest thing to do at least for my point of view and a cold call is to get you to talk to me, to get you comfortable and to get you to feel like it's a conversation and to get into that rhythm, right? So I know for sure, if I can get you talking and you care at all, you'll ask my name and you'll have it. You'll probably forget it two hours from now, once you go back to your job, anyway, but you'll get it. And the second thing is, if I announce it, most of the time they're just saying that because they're being polite and it's a habit and the reality is they forget anyway.

Speaker 2: 27:11

What's really important is I get you to talk to me, to get you used to talking to me and to make you feel like I'm not going to badger you and call you for something I need, right, because that's why your guard's up. So I get you to talk to me first, I get you to open up a little bit and get into the rhythm of conversation, just like you did in the role play is what most people do. Hey, yeah, I didn't catch your name again, especially if you can get them talking hey, what was your name? Again. And now, when they're asking me, they're genuinely interested or care what my name is, and they're far more likely to remember it anyway than if I just announce it and then go about my thing, right?

Speaker 1: 27:47

Agreed. While we're on here, I'm going to go on produce blue book, so anyone that's listening that does ship lettuce out of like Salinas Valley or anywhere in that California region probably is laughing at us. But I want to know so we can at least put out the right answer for anyone that's curious. What did we say it was? Was it lettuce or cabbage? Yeah, I said lettuce, lettuce, okay, I'll pull up lettuce, and I mean Cali ships year round. So, and also before I would have made the call.

Speaker 2: 28:27

I would have looked that up, obviously, and known what that answer was, so that I didn't but you can see this is like as a side note with if you're doing produce.

Speaker 1: 28:35

Like I can see, california is also a very large state that has varying levels of climate from its northern to its southern end. But when you've got states like New Jersey, new York, Colorado, that you're not getting availability for shipping until the springtime, you know. Then the rest of that, in the winter months, it's going to be coming from the warmer places like Arizona, california, new Mexico. So very likely my peak time would be probably around the time that you mentioned.

Speaker 2: 29:07

You're right and you know what else I would have asked and I knew this after, and I would have had this prepped if I knew that commodity would be good. But I would have said, hey, you guys are probably going to be moving your operations back from Arizona back over to Cali sometime in the next few weeks. When do you guys typically make that transition, right? Yep, now, why do I do that? Because that little piece of information that you can get pretty easily, right, makes me come across as if I'm much more educated and much more experienced in that space, without me telling you I ship all this lettuce. I do this all the time. I've been doing this for years.

Speaker 2: 29:41

That sounds like I'm gloating or bragging and it seems like it's not really genuine, because people kind of don't talk like that either. Right, but when you talk to somebody that is experienced in the thing you're going to hire them for, they'll weave things in the conversation that give you the impression that they know what they're doing. So that's why these little things really do add a lot of value when you weave them into the conversation, because it gives you the perception that I am not just calling you, because you're one phone number on a list and I don't know who the hell you are, what you do to be in with.

Speaker 1: 30:11

So here's a super simple takeaway that some people don't think about, and it's not because they're arrogant, it's just because they were never taught this or learned. This is that if you can just put yourself in that shippers shoes and put yourself in their job and think about what's important to them, it'll give you a way different perspective on how to handle that call. Because if I'm, for example, the industry that's taking a hit right now is the oil industry. So if you do anything with drilling, crane mats, fracking, etc. When oil prices are high, they want to pump, pump, pump and make their profits. When oil prices are low, it's the opposite. So right now there's less work happening in the oil fields, less transportation. So if I can go into the call knowing that, not only is it probably not hard for them to find trucks, but they're probably extremely frustrated with their company's profits Again, if it's a traffic manager, they probably don't really care, they're just getting a salary. But if you're talking to someone higher up or maybe the owner of a small business that's impacted by a certain current event or current market for their type of product, they're going to have a way different. They're not just worried about trucks showing up or trucks being cheap. They're worried about dude. Our industry is suffering right now. Think about wildfires right now in Texas. They've been in California. The past Think about anybody that's owned a crop or cattle or anything that's being impacted by that. You can get into their emotional side by first of all understanding that because you thought about it beforehand, and then very gently asking them about that kind of stuff. So I think one of the easiest things is ask about the past. You asked me how was last year, when was whatever? But I oftentimes say to get around the whole, I'm not calling you right now to ask for a load right now. It's asking about the past and asking about the future. The reality is it's a soft market right now. But if I want to plant seeds for when the market does turn and it will eventually turn, it always does, it always has and it always will I want to understand what it was like the last time the market was tight, which is, how was the past and what they're expecting for the future Another tight market and the transition into it. So those are great questions. But I also want to point this out the roll call or roll, I don't know mock call that we just did.

Speaker 1: 32:56

Don't expect everybody to make a dial phone number to have that conversation. I'll say, more than 90% of the time you will not have that conversation. You either have the wrong number. No one answers. You get a voicemail, you get a receptionist, they answer and they're busy and hang up on you, or they tell you they don't have time to talk. You're going to spend a lot of your time dealing with not even having that conversation and the good thing about that is don't be so scared to pick up the phone that first time Because, guess what? You're probably not going to have a conversation with that person. And I will tell you this when you get like a receptionist, or if you get through a phone tree, I personally find that you can loosen up your mentality and get really yeah, just like loose and more comfortable in your own voice on a call to a new company, because you're talking to someone that you know doesn't matter what they think and they're not a decision maker Exactly.

Speaker 1: 33:51

You can shoot this shit with the receptionist for 30 seconds or a minute and kind of get yourself in the mode. So let's do that one.

Speaker 2: 33:59

Let's do that one next. Maybe the receptionist you be the receptionist and. I want you to scream me as the gatekeeper, right Ring, ring ring.

Speaker 1: 34:11

Hold on, before we do this, I'm going to be a.

Speaker 2: 34:15

You pick.

Speaker 1: 34:16

Yeah, no-transcript. Let's say I'm a receptionist. We're a mid-sized company. I'm familiar with the different departments, but I don't know exactly what they all do. So yeah, we'll do that, got it Ring, ring ring. Abc Widgets.

Speaker 2: 34:39

Jim, there Is Jim there.

Speaker 1: 34:42

Jim, who I there's. We've got a lot of gyms that work here.

Speaker 2: 34:47

Yeah, no worries, jim Martin, Can you, can you patch me through?

Speaker 1: 34:53

Jim Martin. Hang on one second Type type, type, type type, jim Martin. Jim's not with us anymore. Are you looking for it? Looks like he was in our logistics department. Is that where you're looking for?

Speaker 2: 35:05

Yeah, he was. He was in the transportation department. He had the fun job of dealing with all the trucks over there.

Speaker 1: 35:11

Alright, let me see it looks like. Looks like John Doe is the new replacement. Can I, can I ask who's calling and what about?

Speaker 2: 35:21

Yeah, it's Ben. I was giving him a buzz about a driver and some of the carriers. Is he around?

Speaker 1: 35:28

He should be. Let me take a look and, yep, I can forge a theory of him right now.

Speaker 2: 35:35

Great, so unpack right One thing.

Speaker 1: 35:39

I will say that you didn't add in and I do. I do it and I prefer. This is find out. Hit JIT or John Doe's extension before you get transferred because I've had people give it to me willingly and I've had people tell me, like no, like Yep, like they, they, they're doing their job. Like, don't give out my extension, you can forward me through. But yeah, so one packed that call there. So I threw a curve ball by saying that whatever the dude's name you gave me didn't work through anymore.

Speaker 2: 36:10

And here's where I played that. I played that one different and there's really two approaches. The two approaches I have for gatekeepers are one keep the pressure and make it feel urgent. Right, because a gatekeeper's job everyone thinks their job is to keep people out, but it's really a two-way street. A gatekeeper is just as much penalized for letting somebody that shouldn't get through as preventing somebody that should get through, through, right? Yep. So if you need something and they feel that you should be getting through, they will tend to put you through most of the time.

Speaker 2: 36:43

That was why I kept that urgent sense of tone in my voice, right? And the example I usually give for people that are doing this is if you've learned to cover loads or, you know, do check calls or set appointments, when you got a truck that is stuck at the dock and the guy can't find where to check in and you really need to speak to that person. This is what you sound like and, ironically, usually when you're calling that same person for the same reason, you never get screened. But then when you call them when you're prospecting two days later, they screen you. It's because you sound different, not because they're doing anything different, right? So if you can sound as much like you do when there's literally a truck at the dock and you need to speak to somebody because the driver's yelling at you because he's been there for 40 minutes and no one's walked out, talked to him yet.

Speaker 2: 37:25

That's what I sound like and I try to get myself in that mindset and that's that one approach. Now, had you screened me and went, sorry, he's not available, just tell me what this is for and I'll take a message, right, and we can even pick it up from there, because I'm now going to prospect you, right, like, and literally I'm going to start engaging with you, like, oh, hey, I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name yet. What was your name? Again, I'm sorry.

Speaker 1: 37:51

You might actually do this right now.

Speaker 2: 37:52

Yeah, pick it up, go ahead. That is Nate. Yeah, nate, you know what? I am just having a heck of a time getting ahold of John over there and, to be honest, any help you could give me I would just greatly appreciate. Is there a better day of the week or time of day that would be easier for me to reach John, or when he's not going to be caught up in meetings? I don't want to call it, I don't want to be calling you every day and again. I just need to talk to him about something quick, about a couple carriers Curious. If you could give me any help, I'd really appreciate it.

Speaker 1: 38:25

Yeah, yeah. So our traffic department. They tend to wrap up. Most of the guys are gone by three o'clock. I know John does stick around here until 4.30 or five most days, so I would try, maybe at the talent of a day the next time.

Speaker 2: 38:41

Oh, I really appreciate that. Hey, let me ask you. I mean, wow, I mean you probably know all the ins and outs over there, how long have you been with ACME?

Speaker 1: 38:50

Well, I've actually only been here for three months, so I don't know everybody too well, but you know it's been a fun learning experience so far, I'll tell you what you could have fooled me?

Speaker 2: 39:03

I mean you sure sound and have the confidence as somebody that's been there for a long time. I mean I was going to go back to that same question. I lost my train of thought.

Speaker 1: 39:13

No, no. But here's what's good and I want to talk about that a little bit because if you talk to the gatekeeper or the operator or someone in the wrong department, there's going to be such a vast, like a wide range of their experience level and what they know and who they know. I've talked with people that they're literally just like an operator who doesn't know what the transportation department does. Besides it probably involves some kind of like trucks or drivers, right. And then you've talked to people who they know exactly why you're calling and they try to screen you. You know what I mean Exactly, like very, very heavily. Are you a freight broker? You know all of our freight customers are out and stuff like that. Or you know he doesn't take calls. You got, you know, any inquiries. Just leave a message with me and we'll pass it on to him, stuff like that.

Speaker 1: 40:06

So you know, I like that. You ask questions. I like how long have you been in this business? You sound, you know it's not like you've been there for a while. Somebody is kind of brand new. That can be a really good thing because if you can make friends with them and kind of become buddy buddy, they're going to give you preference down the road when you need to get through to somebody versus? Hey, I have no idea who this random stranger call me is, but hey, I've talked to Ben you know about once a month. I don't necessarily know exactly what his business with John Doe is, but you know it's pleasant every single time that I talk to him.

Speaker 2: 40:39

For sure. I mean those two strategies. That was how I did most of the work I did to get on board with the military and all of my big shippers, because I couldn't get to any of the guys in procurement, couldn't reach any of the people because of the way the phone system shielded. You couldn't tell back then who it was who. So you really only path forward or through the people that usually at least had some insight.

Speaker 2: 41:03

Right, and again, I don't need to learn everything from the gatekeeper. I need, like one piece of information, like the previous. I need to know that John is there instead of the guy I thought was there, right, yep, some idea of when and where or who, any one of those questions, right, if you get one of them, you can usually follow up with this person next week the gatekeeper and then speak directly to them. And I can't tell you how surprised and appreciative a gatekeeper is when you give them the attention and you actually talk to them just like their people, not somebody standing in the way to the other people, right, you'll be shocked at how much they're willing to tell you if you can connect with them and have a real conversation with the gatekeeper. Because, again, most gatekeepers, especially if you got an executive gatekeeper they know the boss, the schedule, better than the boss does. They know when their meetings are, when they show up, when they leave, when you can reach them, when they have idle time and when isn't a good time.

Speaker 1: 42:01

Yeah, for sure, for sure. I'm trying to think other stuff here.

Speaker 2: 42:07

Well, here, that's a good segue, right? So, okay, the segue is when you think about the arc of the sales cycle, right? I don't know somebody until they trust me in their doing business and we talk a lot about somewhere between 6 and 12 conversations in 2020 or 2021, that might be two or three conversations over two or three weeks. In this market, that's probably going to be closer to 10 over two or three months, right?

Speaker 1: 42:33

Sometimes it was like one or two calls.

Speaker 2: 42:35

One call.

Speaker 1: 42:37

Yeah, and they're in a pinch and they know that they're going to give that first call. They're going to give you an opportunity because they already know that 10 people before you have fouled at securing a truck Exactly.

Speaker 2: 42:46

And that's okay, right? Yeah, right, when you know the sales cycle is long, you should be thinking about it differently. Your expectations are right. So let's talk a little bit about follow ups, right? Everyone says, well, what do I say in a follow up? Where do I start? Here are the things you don't want to say. You don't want to call and announce yourself again and say, hey, this is Ben Kowalski calling from ABC Logistics. Remember, I talked to you five weeks ago. What do I sound like Even if I did talk to them three weeks ago or two or whatever?

Speaker 1: 43:20

it is right Like I'm not a genuine call and you made me think of something, because it's something I want to add in on the opening. And again, this is different for everybody, but I just about every phone call I have, whether it's sales related or if I'm just like if here's a great example non freight related if you have to call a customer service person and you know your experience can end up being fricking terrible but you want help them to get through to a supervisor, I try to like have some sort of humor right at the beginning of the conversation to break the ice, like oh hello, this is so-and-so.

Speaker 1: 43:59

Hi, this is. You know, my name is Nate. I was wondering blah blah, blah, and then they asked you a question, you know, but eventually you get the point of like, I'll ask like hey, how's your day going so far?

Speaker 2: 44:10


Speaker 1: 44:11

And then they'll, you know, they'll say, oh, you know it's fine, how about you?

Speaker 1: 44:14

And I'll throw something in, like man, it'd be a whole bunch better if the bills didn't get their ass whupped last night.

Speaker 1: 44:18

Yes, but it can be anything. It can be, you know, if I didn't get dragged to three kids' birthday parties this past weekend, you know, or whatever, whatever's relevant to you, and you usually get a chuckle out of it, like one of the guys that I did a cold calling Blitz with a few months ago his I can't remember what the saying was, but whenever he would always say, hey, this is so-and-so, how are you? Like you know, he just went right to how are you? And I think you did the same thing on our first call and when they would say, good, how are you, he had some response that just every single person laughed at it and it broke the ice and I was like man, that's pretty smart. Like everything I always do is related to, like Buffalo, you know whether it's the weather being called or the bills losing, or you know just anything right. But you can have whatever your own little tagline is and make people chuckle over and kind of break the ice.

Speaker 2: 45:14

Here's my. One of my go-to's is like, statistically, most people are looking forward to their day being over or their week being over, right? So when somebody says how's it going, right, like, I intentionally smile when I say it, so it doesn't sound like I'm complaining, I'm like, huh, be a whole lot better if it was five o'clock. I don't know how's your day coming along, right? Right, that cheesy little cliche. And usually you will hear the person go, oh, tell me about it, my day's been rough. Boom, there's my opening. Tell me a little bit about it. What's been going on over there? Right, there's my opening, right? Yep, hey, if it's Thursday or Friday, week's almost over, can't wait till the weekend. How's yours coming along? Oh, let me tell you about it. Oh, hey, what do you got planned this weekend, right? So you're going to give it an opening, right? The ones you're looking for to be able to transition that conversation to your point, to something that is more personal and something that somebody's going to have an actual conversation about.

Speaker 1: 46:09

Yeah, and keep in mind the amount of personal detail that you should be asking about or expecting to talk about is going to depend heavily on how well this person knows you. It's your first time talking to that. I definitely wouldn't be asking about what their kids do for sports. You sound really creepy, but if you've got the same person all the time and you're trying to get through. Yeah, by all means, I think that's a great way to do it.

Speaker 2: 46:33

But that is another great segue into follow-ups. So people say what do I say in a follow-up, right? Well, it really depends on what you said on the previous phone call.

Speaker 1: 46:43

Yes, and I'll add in, you can spend that first two minutes talking about all that filler stuff that we just talked about. Yep, Because you've got to report in a reputation or you've got to report in relation with them already. You can talk about hey, how was the weekend? Did you see the game last night? How did it go with so-and-so? You mentioned that she had a soccer tournament. You know what I mean. You can play into those rapport points that you've already got established.

Speaker 2: 47:08

For sure, right, and that's the best category, but for sure, in every phone call I try to get one piece of future information so that when I follow up I have something to follow up on. And if you remember, at the beginning of this, when I role-played, I talked primarily about the past and then I used the past to tide into the future. I said when were you guys the busiest last year? When did you guys see a peak? Right? Hey, it's second week of April. So this is now what I'm going to use to follow up, right, when I call in two weeks or in 10 days, it's hey, how are things shaping up? I know you said you guys are planning to ramp up in the next two, three weeks. When I talk to you last, you guys still scheduling for that. How the order is starting to shape up. Are you guys lining up for what you expected? Right? It gives me a reason. I don't have that reason unless I set it up in the call before.

Speaker 1: 48:04

Yes, I agree 100%, and I think I've used this phrase before, but I heard one time someone said, like don't use the phrase, I'm just touching base. I was like touching base should only be for baseball and softball or something like that. Yes, and I thought it was good. I never say that to people and it's a pet peeve of mine now when I hear it because I'm like it is such a like, it is such like just a fake sounding blah. Have a reason to call me. If someone says, hey, I'm just calling, I wanted to catch up with you, and it's like you know a friend or something like that, that's one thing. But like if it's like you know when someone is trying to sell you on something hey, just call in such a place.

Speaker 1: 48:47

How's things going?

Speaker 2: 48:48

Yeah, it means hey, where's your money at? Is it checking the mail? Did you buy that yet Did you send me that load? Right? That's what that really means. That's the underlying meaning, right?

Speaker 2: 48:56

But to your point, if at all possible, I am trying to get something personal because, again, if I can play on that, you're going to be more comfortable talking to me, and if you can talk to me like a coworker was my real goal, as if somebody that is sitting next to you, that you've worked with and you're used to talking to now I can at least trust that's what you're telling me is more than likely true and you're going to give me a lot more valuable information. And again, this sounds counterintuitive. I'm talking to you about either your kids, or your kids birthday party in three weeks, or your anniversary, or your birthday, or a vacation or a trip. It doesn't matter, right? If I need to talk about the weekend, I can probably get you to talk about something. Hey, you got any trips planned in the spring? You guys doing anything? You got any hobbies, right?

Speaker 2: 49:43

If I get you to talk about that, I'm not going to call you and say, hey, nate, I was calling to see how your kid's fourth birthday was two weeks from now. But again after that filler, when I'm talking to you I'm like, hey, you know what, as you were talking I completely forgot. Didn't you tell me your kid's birthday was coming up? Did you have that? Or was that next week? I might have the date in my CRM as your kid's birthday because you told me. But I'm still going to make it not seem creepy as if I am literally following you on Facebook or whatever to see when your children's birthday is.

Speaker 1: 50:15

But it's now conversational. I like to add those at the end of a call too.

Speaker 1: 50:18

So you get through business and the reason I like it at the end not saying that you can't have it anywhere else but you end the conversation on a positive like personal touch. If you know, like one of the big ones for me is always typically sports related. So if I know the person is into, let's say, the Dallas Cowboys and it's football season, I would say, hey, how do you think they're going to do this weekend against Philly, or something like that? You know what I mean. And they give you the whole breakdown on what their analysis is going to be on the game. And they're not thinking about work anymore, they're thinking about, like I love football, right.

Speaker 2: 50:55

They're happy. Dopamine it's fired in their brain. All that oxygen.

Speaker 1: 50:58

You'll remember how you make them feel. That's a really important thing to remember is people will remember how you made them feel way more than what you said to them. So good stuff.

Speaker 2: 51:08

Which, again and I don't want to wrap this up, but like it did remind me to that point, right? The other thing is like, even if somebody is giving you all the time and they're continuing to talk to me, like I still will end the call before they do right? Because again, if you think about it, people that keep you on the phone longer than you wanted to be, even your friends or your family, the people that keep you on the phone the longest, do you answer every time they call or do you only answer when you know you have enough time to give them, to talk to them, because you know you can't just abruptly end it right? And that's something I don't think a lot of people think about. It really hit me actually when I moved to Florida was all my friends up north.

Speaker 2: 51:49

What I noticed was we wouldn't talk as much for this reason they're at work, I'm at work, or when I'm driving they might only have 10 minutes, so like we would only talk when we had like time to actually connect. But a couple of my friends we got into this habit of. We just kind of got used to the fact that we're both busy, so we would call each other when we have time. But we were both okay if the other person said I got a run. We didn't need to have another three minutes of conversation explaining why you have to run, like my buddy Ben. He just like, dude, I got a bounce, I'm like cool, I hang up, he hangs up. That's literally the end. So we talk more frequently because we know if either of us has to go, we're not going to keep the other person there and the other person doesn't feel bad, right? So for me that's one of the takeaways.

Speaker 1: 52:31

They're going to put your camera again.

Speaker 2: 52:33

I know. Anyway, again, another one of the things that I try to use on a day-to-day basis in prospecting, because I know that helps them be more likely to answer my phone when I call them to follow up, right. So I'm always leaving, even when I've got probably more time to talk to them, because, again, I want to leave them in a place that doesn't feel like I took a lot of their time. I want to leave them feeling happier than I found them, or at least pleasant about the conversation, right, because I know I've got four more phone calls with this person before they're going to trust me enough with their business. So I'm playing into the timeline. Then 2020, different timeline I'm probably going to be a little more aggressive because the expectation is you need something and I probably know you do. Now I know you don't need anything immediately, so I need your trust before you're going to take business from someone else to give it to me.

Speaker 1: 53:26

Yeah. So I want to summarize this. I want to go through the opening and then the actual prospecting part of the call, just so we can give some clear, usable takeaways here. So your opening and people differed on their thoughts on scripts. I'm not a fan, and I will tell you that. Do this in front of a mirror or just to yourself and your head and then try it out on the phone. But have a few different openings that you use and you heard a couple today, ben. The one that you gave was hey, I don't remember, not like hey, it was just I got a couple of drivers.

Speaker 2: 54:16

That's important. So here's why I do that right. If I say I'm calling for a couple carriers, it's not you versus me. In the conversation there's a third party Me and the carrier and I'm calling on behalf of them. Okay, man, I don't even know if we'd be a fit to work together, but I did tell them I would give you a ring because they've asked me, and that changes the whole dynamic too.

Speaker 1: 54:36

Yeah, it's ambiguous, mysterious. You could be an independent dispatcher, you could be working for the trucking company. You could be a freight broker, there's all kinds of stuff. But so a couple of options are you can say you're calling on behalf of drivers. You can say that you have trucks in the area, because that's the one that everybody says. You can do the hey, this is Nate with ABC company and leave it at that. And if they want to ask what ABC company does? You know we were a bunch of different. You know some different shippers helping them find capacity that you can kind of like leverage in or elaborate into it. You could say this is John Doe at ABC logistics.

Speaker 1: 55:20

If you want to go that route, you'll probably find that with some customers that's the end of the call right there, because they don't want to handle, they don't want to deal with your call. Whatever it is, you know you find your voice in it, whether it's a comic call or you know you have a serious tone of voice or it's soft, lighthearted. Everybody's going to have a different opening and if you read off of a script for that first sentence or two sentences, or if it sounds like you're reading off a script for those first sentences or two sentences. It just starts off the call terribly and people can smell that from a mile away. And then, beyond that opening, once you've got that person's attention, I always recommend, when you're new, have a list of questions and they should be broad at first, and then you should have a separate bucket of like very you know operationally detailed questions that are specific.

Speaker 1: 56:13

You know you're not going to ask somebody when they first get you out, when you're on the phone with them. You're not going to say like how many, how many truckloads are you moving per week out of your whatever facility you can get there? But you want to make sure that your conversation is, like, headed in the right direction first. So those first questions could be to verify that you're talking to the right person, that you understand you know your research on them is accurate. Hey, so you guys are shipping blah, blah, blah out of this area? No, I think you have the wrong company. You know what I mean. So, like I've always done, like Excel sheet full of a bunch of questions, you can reference it and then eventually you don't need it anymore. You just know how to have a conversation. But that's my take.

Speaker 1: 57:01

And again, I think you have realistic questions to ask and no one to end the conversation.

Speaker 2: 57:08

So for sure man.

Speaker 1: 57:11

What else we got on this? I we could go on for freaking hours, but we might have to just look a part three on this.

Speaker 2: 57:19

Yeah, share it with your put. Put something in the comments. If there's something specific you want us to cover, you want us to role play. We can absolutely do that in the future. So give us your feedback, Let us know what you think on this and what you want us to cover in the future. My camera is driving me nuts and I can't stand it out of the quarter mile that it just keeps going out.

Speaker 1: 57:35

Let's wrap this up. Final thoughts Ben.

Speaker 2: 57:38

Whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you're right.

Speaker 1: 57:43

And until next time go bills.

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