The Fundamentals That Power This Team’s Remote Sales Success
In his nearly 13 years at Echo Global Logistics, Trevor Kierczynski has witnessed swings in the logistics market.
But, according to the senior account director, the pandemic catapulted the industry into unfamiliar territory.
“Every day seems like a roller coaster,” Kierczynski said. “You don’t know what rates are going to be because the market is so volatile. We’ve never seen such a sharp rate increase like we have right now.”
As Kierczynski, National Account Manager Elizabeth Rapacz and Client Sales Representative Antoine Oda told Built In Chicago, successfully servicing customers remotely demands frank communication and a cohesive, we’re-in-this-together mentality to overcome industry turbulence.
On top of that, there’s the transition to remote work — an arrangement that Kierczynski might not have been previously sold on. But his team’s output over the last year catalyzed an attitudinal shift.
“If you were to ask me if we could have been in this industry in a remote environment, I would have thought you were crazy,” Kierczynski said. “I would have thought that people have to be near each other in a big stock brokerage-type office where people can communicate. It’s a huge testament to Echo and our people.”
Foundational to remote success, according to the team, was the experience and authority of tenured teammates, particularly in steering new hires. Oda — who joined the team last summer and visited the office only once before working from home — singled out thorough training, ongoing coaching and a welcoming environment for helping him get situated at Echo.
“There’s quite a few of us who are doing pretty well right now,” Oda, one of a handful of newcomers brought aboard in 2020, said. “That’s a testament to the training, as well as the teams that we were placed on.”
Below, the trio shared how they pushed forward in a year where unpredictability reigned.
Echo Global Logistics at a Glance
- Molson Coors, Newell Brands and Dave & Buster’s are among the 35,000-plus clients of Echo, which celebrated its 15th anniversary last year.
- COVID-19 relief efforts include managing shipping for Echo client Purely Elizabeth’s granola bar donation to the Food Bank For New York City.
- 2020 marked the firm’s fourth consecutive top ranking in Inbound Logistics Readers’ Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards.
To start, how has COVID-19 affected your clients and your industry?
Kierczynski: One of the biggest challenges we’ve experienced is market volatility in terms of trucking capacity. We’ve seen huge volatility in helping our customers move freight. There’s definitely a lack of capacity in terms of trucks right now. Our customers have been feeling an impact.
Oda: The market has been very volatile. Customers are trying to figure out better ways to move shipments more cost-effectively. It’s changing every month, so everyone’s trying to figure it out as we go along.
Rapacz: Around May and June of last year, things started picking up for me. The rate for moving something in 2019 was completely different than what it was in 2020 — and that price difference is difficult to explain to your customers.
Teamwork and communication are more important than ever.”
How do those effects impact your teams?
Oda: We look out for each other and give each other a heads-up on certain situations, whether it’s the rate, the capacity in a particular area, etc. There are other variables, like weather and things of that nature, that add to the issues we already faced during the pandemic. Teamwork and communication are more important than ever. That’s how we get through it.
Kierczynski: We’re finding creative ways to find capacity — like asking customers for flexibility — that we weren’t comfortable doing in the past. Everybody is working together because everybody really understands the situation that we’re in.
Rapacz: Asking for more flexibility with your customers is important. It’s not just us going through this; it’s also our customers. We have to explain to customers that prices might be crazy today, but if they have more flexibility, prices may go down next week. Having that communication with them is key for a good relationship.
Relationship-building is essential in sales. What have you learned about building those remotely?
Rapacz: To me, the most important thing is to be transparent and reliable with customers. If an issue is going on, they’re going to respect you a lot more if you address it right away, rather than waiting until it’s too late to resolve. This has really helped me build some strong relationships.
Oda: I tell my customers that I’m available to them 24/7. I try to address their questions as fast as possible. Working from home, I try to be there for them; I think that helps with credibility, not just for myself, but Echo as a whole. I think that’s one of the positives about to this situation — always having access and being available to your customers.
Kierczynski: I’ll call my customers to see how things are going, and maybe try not to talk about freight for five or 10 minutes. I’ll do that a lot with my team as well. It’s important to find some time just to talk about what’s going on in their life. It’s helped build relationships on both sides of the aisle.
Senior reps have stepped up big time to train, mentor and guide new people.”
What do you think the team at Echo is doing well to get newcomers acclimated to the company remotely?
Oda: My class was the first to start working in a completely remote setting. Management and my teammates always made sure to answer any questions I had. Additionally, I shadowed a different teammate every day so I could build relationships and learn the business. Echo did a great job presenting all of this to those who had never been in the actual office.
Kierczynski: My senior reps have stepped up big time to train, mentor and guide the new people we’ve brought in. They’ve helped them seamlessly transition to Echo, so we haven’t felt like there’s been any let-up. I think it’s a testament that Echo hires the right people, and they trust us to get the job done.
Rapacz: Our manager really focuses on shadowing every rep on the team and setting up time every day to shadow a new person just to get tips on what works for them, what doesn’t work for them, how to generate leads and more. That helps new team members coming in understand that there’s no one set way to be successful in this industry.
How does mentorship from senior-level colleagues still come through remotely?
Rapacz: I have a mentee right now. There’s always communication. That really helps the relationship because he knows he can always rely on me. I always stress to him that no question is a stupid question.
Oda: Anytime I have a question, my mentor will show me exactly how to maneuver through certain situations. Even though we’re not together in the office, my mentor is always available to help anytime I have a question. I don’t feel that working remotely is hindering my success.
Kierczynski: Senior leadership always makes themselves available via video calls. It shows that we’re all in this together and finding different ways to stay sharp. I’ve urged my team to do the same — to reach out to newer teammates to let them know that they’re doing a great job and so forth. I think that resonates a ton with everybody, no matter what level you’re at.