At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across all industries had to turn to technology in order to continue day-to-day business. Meetings took place over video calls, conversations moved to email, office space became living rooms and office equipment was inaccessible. Generating leads and prospecting became more difficult since people didn’t have access to their office phones.
Varstar Alliance, based in both the U.S. and Canada, is a freight brokerage dedicated to ensuring all cargo is taken care of from start to finish. Like other companies in the logistics industry, Varstar pivoted toward technology during the pandemic.
“Cold calling in general is yielding less of a return. We were seeing around a 5% to 10% return on time and investment in terms of cold calls before the pandemic. Now we’re seeing 1% to 2%,” said Emanuel Patrascu, logistics and sales manager at Varstar Alliance. “We’ve now started to rely heavily on social media and emails as our main strategy of making the initial point of contact and maintaining the relationship.”
Patrascu believes that making a presence on social media helps establish a relationship with prospects before ever doing business with them, thus yielding more success than a standard cold call.
“We want to connect first while actively engaging prospects. We want to form some familiarity between us and the prospects we are reaching out to before we reach out initially,” Patrascu said. “Before, with a cold call, you were just a phone number on the screen.”
The Varstar sales team uses tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator to engage with potential customers. Patrascu also believes that having a name and a profile photo to associate with the name brings a new level of connection that is missing with cold calls. Using social media tools gives life to the “phone number on the screen.”
“It bridges the gap of the unknown. It allows for greater transparency between us and the customers you want to reach out to,” Patrascu said. “We found that we now have a 50% to 60% success rate in terms of getting that initial point of contact using this strategy.”
Through the dedicated engagement, Patrascu has noticed that when a Varstar team member does reach out to make a sales pitch, many already know what Varstar is, allowing more time for the team member to talk about the customer’s needs and how Varstar can help.
Leadership at Varstar also believes in the importance of properly equipping the team members in order for them to feel empowered and enjoy their work.
“Building prospects starts with [internal] support. We support our agents and team members — from the top down. Our administrators are always reaching out to make sure that the team has the right equipment and software and that they are satisfied,” Patrascu said. “We also have a no-shame policy. If one of the team members needs help, we come together and help.”