If you’re new to the world of logistics careers, it can seem like many of the characteristics, skills, and requirements to be a successful logistics salesman overlap with other roles in the industry. Many of our own team members come from backgrounds outside the realm of logistics but found the right fit within our company to expand on their existing skillset while assisting customers and businesses with moving freight around the country.
We sat down with one of our seasoned sales reps, Dan Stanke, to learn more about his personal experience working for First Call Logistics — including advice for individuals who might be considering jobs in an industry in serious need of additional talent to return supply chains back to pre-pandemic performance.
How Dan Arrived in a Logistics Career
Dan started working in logistics as one of the hard-working guys loading trucks to put himself through school. “I worked nights loading and unloading trucks to pay for rent and tuition at college,” Stanke said. “I never imagined it would lead to a career; it was just a great night job to have in school.”
After completing a degree in sociology, Stanke attended Wisconsin’s law enforcement academy and took a job as a deputy sheriff for five years.
“I didn’t see myself doing that long term,” Stanke said. “I had a friend that was working at a trucking company in Wisconsin, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come to interview with us?’ I thought I might get put in compliance and safety or something like that, but they said, ‘You don’t stop talking—we think we want to put you on some of our carrier sales side.’ They gave me a few days and a phone with a list of stuff they wanted me to do and said, ‘Let’s see what you can do.’”
Working his way through different roles, Dan eventually purchased his own semi-truck and started a trucking business. With hands-on experience working in different logistics roles, both as a broker and as a small business owner, he learned the intricacies of each step in the supply chain management process, as well as the requisite skills needed to build successful partnerships.
“I thrived at it. I enjoyed it. I worked my way through different processes — truck dispatch, account management, brokerage, a whole variety of different things — and I learned to soak up as much as I could. That eventually progressed into sales, talking to as many people as you can to get dedicated freight or freight that you’re going to have every day that you can plan a whole network of trucks around.”
What Does the Sales Role Look Like in the Logistics Industry?
“Day-to-day I make sure I maintain a connection with my current accounts, making sure their freight needs are taken care of, and then new opportunities they might have,” Stanke said.
While previously required to travel extensively, COVID-19 introduced a need for forging and maintaining remote partnerships.
“I’m still prospecting for new business, trying to be a problem-solver for people to make their jobs easier. I think that’s a big part of it — pitching yourself as a solution to a problem. As a logistics salesman, your job is to help people.”
Establishing Mutually Beneficial Partnerships in Logistics
Logistics is about managing several moving parts at once. That could mean changing market conditions, more challenging shipping requests, inclement weather, and dozens of other variables which may affect rates and driver interest. According to Stanke, the skills required to manage all these shifting factors all stem from clear and open communication.
“Be honest, be reliable, and be available,” Stanke says. “It sounds cliche, but the best ability is availability — if you can be there when someone has a problem they’re trying to solve, that goes a long way. Persistence in sales is also definitely big. I remember as a kid my dad always said three Ps can get you through life: being polite, persistent, and persuasive, and that directly connects to sales. You might not catch someone on some days, but if you’re persistent and persuasive enough, and you’re polite from the get-go, you should be able to get your foot in the door.”
What Dan Finds Most Rewarding About His Career in Logistics
While admittedly not much of a puzzle enthusiast growing up, Stanke now relishes cracking difficult problems and beating previous rates and shipping times.
“The problem-solving aspect is very enjoyable,” Stanke says. “There will still be times you want to pull your hair out, but if you can get through it, and you can solve those problems you’ll think, ‘Wow…that was kind of fun. I’m glad I could be a part of getting this from A to B.’”
Not only is solving a difficult puzzle satisfying — but it also benefits customers through cheaper rates and more efficient routes for drivers.
“When everything comes together as planned, it’s so great. Being able to help customers in that aspect is just as rewarding. If you have that motivation to be a problem-solver and help people, you get enjoyment out of it.”
Why Choose First Call for a Logistics Career?
Through each of his many roles within the industry, Stanke has acquired knowledge and skills to form strong relationships with businesses all over the country. Now in his current sales role and with First Call Logistics transitioning to a hybrid work model, Stanke can focus on maintaining strong relationships and refining his problem-solving process.
“First Call gets that hybrid approach,” Stanke says. “So much of it is remote meetings now where you can talk on Teams or Zoom and build that connection and interact with people, and I enjoy it a lot. Now I can be a lot more adaptable in terms of freight that I’m looking for — freight that’s good for us, good for the drivers we use, and good for the contractors that haul for us.”
Make Your Career GO! at First Call Logistics
Want to build a career somewhere you can make a real impact? Consider joining the team at First Call Logistics. As a fast-growing 3PL, we’re expanding our footprint and hiring for multiple roles. To learn more about our open opportunities, visit our careers page and apply today!