Factor 8 offers virtual sales tips to navigate recession, industry change

Sales is a lot like baseball, according to Lauren Bailey, president and founder of Factor 8. “You can’t get home, if you can’t get on first (base).” It just so happens that getting to first base is one of the most difficult aspects of a salesperson’s job — that initial conversation.

“You could be the best seller with the best demo in the world or you could have 37 years of logistics experience that you’re willing to share, but unless you can get somebody to talk to you and listen, it doesn’t matter,” Bailey said.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries were already shifting toward more streamlined, technological ways of handling sales. The pandemic pushed businesses across all industries, including logistics, into remote work whether they were ready or not.

Many salespeople who were used to face-to-face meetings and attractive presentations must now rely solely on their ability to sway people virtually, or “blindfolded,” as Bailey called it.

The number of calls it takes to connect with somebody has nearly tripled in the past 10 years, she said. The six calls it used to take to reach 90% of prospects is now closer to 16, so developing practical sales skills has become a must. The relationship and rapport-building used to make it easy to sell. Now you have three and a half minutes on an outbound call, she added.

Factor 8 has specialized in teaching salespeople virtual conversational sales skills and techniques for 15 years through an affordable and customizable blended learning process. This process combines sales skill training and workshops with an interactive e-learning platform. The company considers itself an extended arm of its customers’ sales enablement team and has sales advisors who have experience in a wide variety of fields, including logistics.

“One of the current challenges in the logistics industry is finding opportunities,” said Ted Martin, chief revenue officer at Factor 8.

Shipments are down, and a variety of Factor 8’s customers have had weekly load counts cut in half due to the current economic challenges. And while logistics sales representatives have been ready to get back into the field, many have come to the realization that the buyer has already become conditioned to do business remotely, putting face-to-face prospecting out of the question.

“When we work with our clients, we meet them where they are in the midst of those challenges. We teach them the skill of creating opportunities, and we coach the leaders on the different tactics of how to manage their team effectively, long-term,” Martin added.

Bailey pointed to the example of an India-based company selling into the freight industry that hired Factor 8 to onboard its young outbound sales teams. The teams “had extremely low connect rates and trouble scheduling demos. After three months, calls back to reps increased 25% for tenured reps and over 300% for new reps.”

Other Factor 8 customers have seen similar success with one company experiencing increased lead acceptance, a decrease in turnover to under 40% and roughly $150 million revenue regained in year one of using Factor 8’s sales training, according to Martin.

“It’s a nervous economy right now, for sure. But during times like these, smart leaders and sellers make necessary adjustments,” Bailey said.

In an already volatile industry on top of the highly volatile market conditions, Bailey and Martin offer logistics sales representatives some tips.

“Be comfortable with just picking up the phone and be genuine in your conversations. Don’t overthink it. Listen to what the folks on the other end of the phone have to say and just be yourself,” Martin said.

“Don’t be afraid of virtual selling,” Bailey added. “The people who are comfortable with embracing the new way of selling and treating it as a profession are excelling. The combination of field experience and virtual skills is freaking magic.”

Martin also advised salespeople to do research beforehand so they have one or two nuggets of information about prospects. “Know what they’re up to and ask them engaging questions to get them to talk to you. And while you’re at it, don’t use marketing lingo,” he said.

“Qualify your accounts first, and the ones that come out on top; make at least 16 attempts,” Bailey said. 

She also strongly recommends leaving a voicemail every time to leave a brand impression.

“If it takes 16 calls to get ahold of some people, marketing will tell you that it takes anywhere from six to 12 touches to get somebody ready to buy. And every time you call and don’t leave a voicemail, that’s not a touch,” she said.

She added that there are four important components to a voicemail — mystery, urgency, value and lever. Factor 8 helps clients create a custom voicemail using those four components, and that has tripled calls back, Bailey said.

She also recommends following up a voicemail with an email and never ever using voicemail, email, or social media as mediums to make a sales pitch.

“Sales can and should be fun. This is a job that is a ton of fun when you know how to do it well, and it can be so rewarding and lucrative with great opportunities to get to know different industries and different customers and help to solve their problems,” Bailey said.

Recently, she sat down with the FreightWaves team at the FreightWaves Sales & Marketing Summit to give logistics sales representatives tips on how to grow revenue more quickly starting with that first call. To view this recording, visit factor8.com/freight-waves-virtual-sales-tips.

For more virtual sales tips, sign up for Factor 8’s upcoming webinar, “Mastering the Transition from Field to Virtual Selling.”

To learn more about Factor 8, visit its website

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Editor: Britni Chisenall