Skip to Content

Category Archives: Broker Tips

Selling Logistics in a Digital World

Selling Logistics in a Digital WorldShippers Want Real-Time Access to Information, Not Brochures

Technology and automation are not only helping today’s logistics companies gain momentum in their operations, they are also changing the way freight forwarders and brokers sell their services. Selling successfully in today’s digital world takes a new mindset. Clients want to know just as much about how they’ll access information as they do about how you’ll move their freight.

The logistics industry is going through a generational change. Many of the mid-range operators are family-owned companies, and now the owners’ tech savvy kids are primed to take that business to the next level. Regardless of ownership, all are having to very quickly figure out the best ways to sell their services in this technology-driven world.

Online technologies and modern work practices are changing the sales process. Logistics service providers need to realize that the days of wining and dining their prospects and leaving them with brochures and logo-covered notepads is over.

It should not come as a surprise that many of today’s decision makers are often younger and more educated than their predecessors. What the younger generation might lack in operational experience they more than make up for with their understanding of the power of technology – an understanding that hinges on the expectation that everything can be automated and everything can be available from an app on their phone.

First Impressions Have Gone Digital

Importers and exporters now have a multitude of fast and intuitive ways to learn about the services available to them. A salesperson is no longer their only source of information.

Before you get a foot in the door, or even know the door is there, potential customers can check your website to find out what you do and how you do it. They can read up on your team from online profiles. And the posts your company makes on its social media channels gives these customers an idea of what’s on your mind today and how your followers are responding. Whether you know it or not, these snapshot images are helping people decide whether to contact you or take your call.

Now imagine what they think if you don’t use any of it. Will they even be aware your company is an option for them?

Your investment in these online marketing tools is quite different from the production of the traditional set-and-forget corporate brochure. A digital presence should be constantly updated to show your firm’s understanding of and involvement in industry issues. It’s become a priority and a sign of professionalism that supports sales activities and reflects your operational capabilities.

The Modern Prospect’s Priority List

Nights and weekends no longer seem different from weekdays when you’re expected to be available 24/7 not just for clients, but for company teleconferences around the world. When you add the direct emails that require your action and the indirect, for-your-information ones you’ve been copied on, it’s easy to see why everyone is so busy these days.

Salespeople should not be surprised to learn they’re very low on a prospect’s priority list. Cold calling and spontaneous emails simply don’t cut through anymore. In my experience, sending a text seems to generate the fastest responses.

When the Sale Is More Pull Than Push

Tech savvy prospects who are short on time will appreciate the kind of self-directed support service they can turn to for fast answers that resolve issues. They expect to access an online chat, to drill into a forum, or to read customer testimonials, all at whatever time suits them.

Personal, face-to-face contact – at least in the initial stages of relationship building – is largely gone. Even as sales are converted, the ongoing relationship requirements are being defined more and more by the availability of different forms of information.

Click or Swipe for More Data

Car advertisements assume buyers know the vehicle has an engine and some wheels, so they focus on selling the technology and trim packages that come with the essential parts. Just like they’re buying a car, your prospects assume you can move their freight at the right price. What they really want to know about is your tracking and reporting capabilities. Before they buy, they want to see how flexible you are in putting all that together, in the format they want, when they want it. Clients are demanding quicker and easier access to data now more than ever because their ultimate buying decision will be based on its speed and accuracy.

The way you’re selling is changing, and with the expansion of technology into the provision of customer service, the things you’re selling are also evolving.

Delivering the Promise

The thing that hasn’t changed is fulfilling the promises you made during the sales presentation. Behind the polished website, the full customer experience has to be integrated into back-end systems.

Selling successfully in today’s digital world takes a new mindset. Sell streamlined access to information, not the fact that you move freight. The fact that you can do the fastest customs entry won’t help when your client can’t see it in real time through a customer portal.

The Personal Touch Still Matters

People are surrounded by information, not all of it accurate. There’s a huge list of options that they don’t have time to filter. That’s why the person-to-person element in the sales process is still the ultimate differentiator. Highly professional salespeople with deep product and industry knowledge are a breath of fresh air, and direct customer referrals are often the proof that closes the deal.

Ten years ago everyone said SME freight forwarders would be forced out of business by the big guys. But because they’re selling personalized service and niche expertise, SMEs are doing just fine. A large portion of their success is no doubt due to reorienting their sales approach in this digital world.

 

0 0 Continue Reading →

Free Load Boards for Truckers

integrations-loadboards

Many new truckers start their businesses by looking for loads on line. Load boards have advantages because they let you find loads quickly and effectively. It’s an easy way to get the business rolling. Since new truckers often have tight budgets, using a free service is a good way to get some loads and save some money.

Most of these boards include TL and LTL loads. Most boards are updated regularly as shippers post loads for containerized, reefer, flatbed, and dry box freight.

Free load boards

Here is a list of free load boards. As far as we could tell, none of these load boards charges a fee for its services at the time of this writing:

  1. Trulos
  2. DSSLN
  3. Refer a Truck
  4. Live Loads
  5. Load Up
  6. Freight Finder
  7. Landstar
  8. Check Freight Broker

Load boards that have free trial memberships

Additionally, we are including a list of load board that offer free trial memberships. They allow you to try the service for free, for a limited time, and determine if they are a good fit for your trucking business.

  1. Direct Freight
  2. Getloaded
  3. Truckers Edge
  4. 123 Loadboard
  5. Dat
  6. Load Lift
  7. Loadmatch
  8. Load Solutions

Are free load boards worth it?

Many owner-operators ask themselves if load boards are worth it for truckers. This question is difficult to answer. Load boards certainly have some value as a tool to get your business started and get things moving. They are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

However, they are not the best tools for finding truck loads in the long term, especially high-paying loads. Furthermore, many free boards don’t have some useful features that are included in paid boards. Remember that you get exactly what you pay for.

One alternative to consider is signing up for free trials on a few paid boards. Compare them against the value that you get from free boards and determine which one is best for you and your business.

Keep in mind that most free boards get their loads through a sharing service. Therefore, there is often overlap, as many load boards post the same loads. You will find that loads for popular lanes are extremely competitive and pay very little.

On the other hand, a number of paid boards get loads that are exclusive to their service. There is less competition for these loads because fewer truckers use paid boards. However, keep in mind that all loads from load boards are very competitive.

0 0 Continue Reading →

How to Get High-Paying Freight Loads

High-Paying Freight Loads

The most important job for any broker, owner-operator, or small fleet owner is finding the best-paying freight loads to haul. For many, this task is the most difficult part of owning a trucking company. Unfortunately, many truckers and owner-operators go out of business because they don’t know how to find good loads.

Don’t make this mistake

Most new truckers make the mistake of getting loads by relying solely on load boards or by jumping from broker to broker. While some load boards can help you if you are just getting started, they usually provide low-paying loads. And most seasoned owner-operators will tell you that jumping from broker to broker won’t help grow your trucking company either and is a road to nowhere.

What type of client do you want?

Before you start looking for high-paying loads, define the type of client you want. Many owner-operators skip this step – assuming that it is unnecessary. They know a good load or client when they see one, so why bother writing it down?

Knowing your target client gives you a clear perspective on what you want. More importantly, it helps you develop a plan to find them. This step is critical and takes only a few minutes.

Here is how some truckers define their ideal client. Obviously, add or remove items to suit your needs:

  1. A large, established shipper
  2. Pays well
  3. Pays on time
  4. Has a good reputation
  5. Gives you loads regularly
  6. Provides shipments that match the lanes you want to drive

 

Obviously, no client is ever truly perfect, but you should be able to find clients who are very good. And that is how you grow a trucking company and make it successful in the long term.

How to find shippers who pay well

Now that you know who your perfect shipper is, you need to find them. One tried-and-true way is to look for clients through industry associations with local chapters in your area. By the way, we are not talking about trucking associations. There are no clients there. We are referring to industry associations that your ideal clients belong to.

For example, if you are interested in working for grocery stores, consider the National Grocers Association. If you want to move cars, you may consider organizations like the National Automobile Dealers Association, your local automobile dealers association, or the American International Automobile Dealers. You get the point. There are many industry organizations with local chapters.

By the way, you don’t necessarily need to join these organizations. You just want a list of their local members. Some organizations provide the list only if you become a member. But many organizations have publicly available lists with names, contact numbers, and email addresses.

Once you have the list of prospects, the real work begins.

Now it’s time to do what most of your competition hates doing: you have to sell. Period. There is no other way around it. Call prospective clients and speak to the person in charge of shipping. Try to set up a meeting. If that attempt fails, send them a letter. Your objective is to determine how they select the carriers they work with and get on that list.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Not a chance. But here is why you have a good chance of success: while your competitors are chasing loads using load boards, you are doing the hard work and securing prime clients to give you high-paying freight loads.

The US Government moves tons of freight

By the way, don’t neglect moving freight for the US government. The government can be a great client who provides regular work and reliable payments. Getting government contracts is not easy, but it can be worth the effort.

For example, consider pulling freight for the US Postal Service. As long as people send mail, you will have work. Alternatively, find a way to get on the GSA list or look for opportunities to move military freight. Note that military freight may require special clearances, but some truckers claim that it pays well. A good place to start is FedBizOps.

New clients can affect your cash flow

One problem of growing a trucking company is that clients often pay their freight bills in 30 to 60 days. This delay can create a cash flow problem because your company must pay all delivery expenses and then wait for a month or two for payment. You can improve your cash flow and avoid this issue by financing your freight bills.

0 0 Continue Reading →

5 Tips for Freight Brokers Looking For New Customers

Finding FreightIt can be a challenging job for freight brokers to build a steady stream of shippers, especially for those who are new in the industry. There are many stories of new, enthusiastic brokers whose excitement disappeared in just a few months of customer searches while securing hardly one or two shippers.

Finding customers is always a daunting task, no matter which industry you belong to. Freight brokerages are no exception to this. The type of services they offer may vary from other businesses, but the ways to find new customers, shippers in this case, is the same as in any other industry – with persistence and a devotion to excellence.

Following are some proven tips on how to find shippers who can bring in new business:

1. Target a Specific Niche

Before you start practicing as a freight broker in the truck shipping industry, it is vital to identify your niche. Once you know who your prospects are, you will better be able to build your expertise for this specific niche. Focus on a particular market will enable you to best fit your customers’ needs, build strong market reputation, and stand out in the crowd.

 

2. Make Use of the Internet

Once you know who your targeted audience is, the job of finding the potential customers amongst all prospects will become a lot easier for you. One of the best ways to conduct your search is through the internet. Most of the brokers these days use the internet to find shippers and carriers in their niche.

If you are an experienced freight broker or a well-established brokerage firm, you naturally have a good exposure in the industry, and you perhaps know who are the leading shippers and carriers in your industry.

However, if that is not the case with you, there are many websites over the internet that features a complete database of all top suppliers and shippers in the country. There are several directories that even allow you to see the website URL of the respective companies and let you connect with them via email.

 

3. Be Visible on Freight Boards

Both free and paid freight boards are available out there. To get a membership on these boards, you simply need to register your company name with them. There are a large number of shippers who look out for carriers on such boards.

Free freight boards allow you to surf their database without paying a single dime. Paid boards, though, offer incentives such as a credit score – perhaps the most reliable way to confirm if a carrier or shipper is legitimate.

 

4. Cold Calling Still Works!

Most freight brokers have cold feet for this tactic. But there is nothing like getting one potential customers at least out of 100 calls made to different shippers.

Often the successful callers have two traits in common: first they know why they are making a call before they call, and secondly they do comprehensive research about the company or individual they are calling.

While it’s rare to get through on the first call, one should not get discouraged. Gradually with time, you will come to know what works and what doesn’t. And this way you will be able to find techniques that will help you gain new shippers easily.

 

5. Make Your Presence Known Online & Offline

For creating an online presence, you can take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google-Plus and LinkedIn. And for an offline presence, it is recommended that you participate in local events, exhibitions, seminars, etc. in your trade. Staying active and ensuring on-time top-quality services to your customers at the same time will certainly gain you a loyal customer-base.

0 0 Continue Reading →