Wednesday, May 29, 2013

People skills - How any SME can win a transport contract

Some of the technical expertise that seems to apply to winning clients can seem intimidating. But SME’s have simpler ways to get a transport contract.

If you are running a business in a haulage industry packed with huge mega-companies and thousands of SME's, confidence about your client list can wear thin. It can seem that there is so much technical knowledge and jargon to winning jobs away from your competition. Yet there are simple, effective, and very everyday things you can do to feel that more clients are ever in your grasp. And the need to wrap your head around these means and grow your list for the future is vital. Just as a restaurateur does not take a day or two of at whim, so to a SME run in the haulage industry cannot sit on its hands waiting for tomorrow's client, indeed, even for the ones after that.

How do you present?

Even if your prospective client knows you have great vehicles and has heard of your competitive rates, if your dress and attitude reek of laxity, he or she will at the very least be reluctant about future transport contracts. This particularly applies to those swift meetings when you are hoping to impress new clients. This is why you must present well. In the end, agreements are made partly due to the deal and partly due to the person offering it.

How well do you connect?
Rapport means people are more likely feel safe making transport contracts with you, for the first time or as a repeat customer. The firm handshake, warm smile, and assured manner combine with taking time with people on a human level to build a connection. The importance of this in getting repeat business is underestimated. Remember, all personal contacts, from business acquaintances to the clients at hand, all offer leads for further clients.

How do you get your message across?

Since every chance you have to communicate with people who down the road may sign transport contracts with you is a golden opportunity that can turn on the quality and style of your communication, whether off your website or from your mouth, be ever prepared to do this well. After all, these agreements are ultimately words in discourse. Heavy, legally-binding words, but speech and ink on paper or screen no less. This is why being well-versed in spoken, written, and online communication is so vital.
How are you known?

When hunting transport contracts, marketing is not always the same as reputation. Word-of-mouth quickly spreads about your brand no matter how you sell it, so make sure it isn't tainted by poor past relationships with former clients. Marketing is a well-known must, but your future clients also count your status as a quality provider.
How much do you know?

You need to do your homework to gain transport contracts. Every ounce of research that is done into the market, your client profiles, potential new niches and the future clients you wish to target will pay dividends. Some people are technocrats, and there is no denying the value of the personal touch when operating an SME in this hectic haulage environment. Yet, no worth their salt were ever won by sheer charm alone.

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