The logistics sector is facing extensive employee shortage issues. And here we are not talking about drivers or warehouse personnel; there are tensions within other positions. Many initially thought this was a short-term pandemic issue, but it’s not. As we have already written and done surveys about different positions and generally talked about how to solve labor shortages issues (you can find those articles here and here), this time, we will look more closely at sales-related positions as we hear from the market that there is a considerable shortage to be filled with. And this is a big problem because, nevertheless, a company has much to offer or is looking for expansion plans. Without one to sell those services, it faces growth-related issues. This is why we have so many small and medium-sized logistics companies instead of big ones.

This article will provide an in-depth view of why the shortage is happening and possible solutions.

It’s a long read, so that we will make a summary for those lacking time. There are two ways of solving labor shortage issues making existing employees more efficient. And the second way is to make it easy for newcomers to succeed within the shortest time possible, even for those with little experience in the field. Essential advice for getting this done: Hire and fire fast, what gets measured gets done, be super precise when setting up goals and tasks, provide needed tools, train and coach, and reflect together with the team.

What are the main reasons for this happening?

If you would ask the question the above question of a logistics business owner or sales leader, you most likely would get the following answers:

·      No one wants to work anymore; they want to get paid, that’s it.

·      The younger generation chooses the carrier of influencer instead of logistics.

·      I can’t find the right people and do not want to hire just anyone.

·      You can easily get something quickly, but finding those who can get the result is problematic.

And, of course, in some cases, those answers are legit, but on the other hand, we see many companies that have everything in place and crush the results year after year and grow at an impressive pace. So if the above were true, we wouldn’t hear the following stories.

Therefore, we believe that the shortage is mainly happening because of three reasons:

1.      Errors in the hiring procedures. Many organizations don’t have a process for hiring the most appropriate personnel to fit into their culture and the service they sell. Without that, they usually get overqualified candidates or those who lack the qualities required for the services they sell. In any case, it leads to bad results or constantly leaving/firing new arrivals.

2.      No processes that allow any level of employee to join the sales team and scale. Getting an experienced employee with their books of business is a dream situation for any business. But filling all needed positions with experienced ones is problematic in most cases. Therefore, If there aren’t processes that help the newcomer to succeed or only the best out of the best can succeed, then there is a big chance that a sales organization will not meet the sales quota, and the attrition rate will be high.

3.      No control and training. Nevertheless, many management theories say you must coach employees now, but control is outdated. We still believe that both things are essential. Getting an employee, providing them with a phone and a computer, and instructing them to smile and dial will not deliver the results your organization seeks. And lack of control will conclude in too many hours spent on activities that do not generate income. Such situations create many misunderstandings, resulting in leaving or firing employees and broken sales plans.

We could talk about other things like culture and employers’ branding, but those are just cherries on the top; if your organization can deal with the three issues above, the problem of sales employee shortage and underperforming teams will prevail.

sales employees shortage

How to fix this situation?

To fix the employee shortage issues, organizations mostly have two options, making existing sales teams more efficient. In such a way, they can achieve more with less. And the second way is to make it easy for newcomers to succeed within the shortest time possible, even for those with little experience in the field.

Of course, the process is extensive, but we will provide a few fast fixes to make your existing team and the hiring process more efficient.

1.      Hire and fire fast

Today’s hiring process, especially if you outsource this service, is complicated, including many meeting rounds and psychological tests. Still, many new hires who pass the complex tests do not fit the organization’s culture. Therefore, we recommend not overcomplicating this process. Talking about sales, you need to ensure that the candidate has the required grid, is not afraid of calling, has time management skills, and is open-minded. And most importantly that they fit into selling logistics services, which tends to have long sales cycles, where building trust is critical, and the only potent way to separate yourself from the competition is knowledge about the industry, supply chain, competitors, etc. Being clear about what to expect, and having the proper set of questions, usually separates the ones who can be good fits.

Another recommendation is to hire employees a few months before the tender season, which is needed for onboarding. In such a way, you will get faster feedback.

And lastly, if you see that the new candidate lacks the qualities required, you need to say goodbye without delays; 4-6 months is enough to understand if the person can sell logistics services.

2.      What gets measured gets done

If an organization doesn’t have a clear and documented sales process, it’s becoming hard to guide employees. It’s also almost impossible to track if the employee is doing what you have agreed. And lastly, employees usually feel uncertain if their actions are good or bad. Creating a best-fitting sales process allows organizations to dissolve illusions, develop structures, and guide employees more efficiently. You can read more about building the sales process here.

3.      Be super clear when setting up goals and tasks

Creating a clear plan for employees, which leads to success, is super important. Organizations should provide them with a top list of potentials they need to follow, inform them about critical segments, how many visits they need during a month, and how and when to do a follow-up. We understand that many sales employees want to do things as they wish, and some, of course, succeed in doing so. But generally, we see that the results are mediocre if there is no plan. And if there are two types of employees, ones that follow the plan and others that don’t, this doesn’t provide good results in the long run.

4.      Provide needed tools

Many tools can improve sales employees’ efficiency; here we are talking about Sales enablement tools, Power dialers, LinkedIn Sales navigators, and databases. Getting all the needed tech can sum up to 500 EUR + per month, but it will free up to 40 hours a month, which could be spent on money-generating activities.

5.      Coach and Train

Logistics services sales are challenging as the competition is harsh, and getting the sales often means building relationships with many stakeholders. For this to happen, your sales managers must build business acumen, be motivated, and understand how to sell more efficiently. The best way to achieve this is to provide your employees with sales, negotiation, general supply chain, and logistics management training and do this constantly.

Organizations can form inner coaching hubs, but we also recommend hiring outside help because, in such a way, you will get a fresh perspective. When looking for training partners, look for those organizations with experience in Logistics because, in such a way, your organization will get more value.

6.      Reflect together with the team

The worst thing leaders can do is fire employees out of thin air. Instead, leaders must focus on reflecting with teams, learning why things aren’t happening as they should, and providing guidance. Only then, if nothing happens, the hard decision should be made. And during the reflection sessions, do not forget to say good words when the employee is doing well, this is as important as the bonus.

To sum up, organization leaders must put much skin in the game to solve labor shortage issues. Moreover, they also need to look at the hiring process as an investment; sometimes, it works out, and sometimes not. The critical thing here is to create strategies that make you win more often than lose.

If this article is read by a #logisticscompanies representative looking for ways to scale their organization and needs help building the proper sales process, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will perform a full audit, create, and document the new approach, choose the best-fitting tools for its execution, and train your team to get more customers.

About the author:

Thomas Ananjevas is a supply chain professional with 15 years of experience purchasing and selling Logistic services and building supply chains from scratch. He founded a consulting, training, and marketing company that works exclusively with the logistics industry. Thomas is helping logistics companies implement the necessary changes to ensure business growth and continuity. You can schedule a time to talk with Thomas about possible synergies by clicking here.

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