Logistics Sales Tip: Be the "Sherpa" for Your Specialty

Jim Bierfeldt

Jim Bierfeldt is the founder and chief strategist at Logistics Marketing Advisors, a marketing firm that helps logistics businesses define and communicate their value, and then translate that value into revenue.

This week’s logistics sales tip: change your approach from “selling” to pure, selfless, ask-nothing-in-return “helping.” You’ll build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with prospects, get more referrals and, ultimately, close more business.

Logistics Marketing SherpaIf you’re a logistics marketer, you may have heard of “Marketing Sherpa,” an organization that benchmarks marketing best practices.

I love that name. It implies that they will be your guide for a difficult trip. Actually, “Sherpa” is imbued with qualities not found in a simple guide.

A “guide” is a job that can be learned. For example, “I worked last summer as a guide before my senior year in college.”

A “Sherpa” has wisdom that can’t be gained from a book. Sherpas are indigenous – native to the environment. Their advice is the product of repeated experiences, and that is what makes them so invaluable.

Logistics sales people should aspire to be the “logistics Sherpa” for their company’s area of expertise. Wise. Trusted. Invaluable.

Traditional Logistics Sales Approaches No Longer Work

Traditional sales management is laced with words (and attitudes?) that pit the seller against the buyer:

  • Win the business
  • Overcome the objection
  • Close the deal

Someone wins and someone loses.

This selling-oriented approach doesn’t work for high-value logistics products and services, where the sales cycle is quite long. Throughout much of that cycle, prospects are simply not ready to buy. They are researching, learning and exploring options.

During this time, they need advice, not a pricing sheet. If all you are doing is trying to do is sell, you’ll end up driving them away.

That’s the thing about buyers of high-value products and services, they hate to feel like they are being sold. They want to feel like they have done their homework, explored all their options and made the wise choice.

How can you be valuable, even invaluable, during this research period?

First, identify the pain – the need. Without a real need, there is no sale. Then, be generous with what you know and what your company knows about addressing that need. Involve one of your internal experts, arrange a discussion with another company that struggled with a similar problem and solved it, email them educational papers on the subject.

In other words, be the logistics Sherpa. Help them on their journey, regardless of whether it’s part of a formal bid process.

Buyers aren’t stupid. They don’t need to be told that you provide the services they may eventually require. But by focusing on the problem and not the sale, you make it clear that, first and foremost, your motivation is helping their company solve a problem.

Another Logistics Sales Tip:
Get them to Choose You

Logistics services are bought, not sold. Buyers have access to a wealth of information that they can use to research problems and identify possible service providers.

As a logistics sales or marketing professional, your goal in this buyer-driven sales process isn’t selling the buyer as much as it is getting the buyer to choose you.

How do you do that? By using your unique knowledge on a particular logistics challenge to help buyers get a better handle on how to solve that challenge.

Let’s face it, you don’t seek fix-it advice from the neighbor who says “I’m the smartest guy on the block.” You seek it from the neighbor who demonstrates his knowledge and is always happy to help.

Leave behind the hard sell sales tactics and, instead, become the logistics Sherpa. With a “help first” approach, you position your company as the logical choice for the educated buyer.

Free eBook:

2016 Survey eBook CoverLogistics Buyers Reveal How to Get, and Keep, Their Attention

Our new 2016 eBook summarizes the results of our survey of buyers of logistics services, including verbatim comments that take you inside the minds of your prospects and how they feel about the many marketing and sales pitches they field daily.

Download the eBook


Sherpa photo by Tshiring Dorjee Sherpa/ CC BY-SA 2.0

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