How to Start Your Own Logistics Company: Sales Planning Guide

Creating a solid sales plan is perhaps the most important and vital step towards the success when figuring out how to start your own logistics company. Your sales plan and marketing strategy work together to form a blueprint that acts as a guide to keep your business on track. Once completed, a sales plan should outline your business’s goals, how you’ll pursue them, what you need to get there and a forecast of some potential obstacles. There are a handful of components to consider when developing your sales plan, so we’ve outlined an easy to follow sales planning guide to get you started.

Market Research

Always start with data. An effective sales plan relies heavily on your market analysis and research. Without data, you are essentially operating blind. Gather information on the following:

Customer Audience/ Market Segments

If you haven’t defined your audience already, this should be your very first plan of action. It is impossible to build a successful sales or marketing strategy without knowing exactly who your target audience is. In marketing, this is called your buyers persona. Gather as much information as you can about your customers.

Start with the following questions and build on from there

– Who are your customers?

– Where are your customers located?

– What tools/platforms do they use?

– What is the biggest issue they are facing right now?

Market Size

Is the market growing?
What is the market size?
What share of the market are you getting?

Industry Trends & Changes

Next, you need to get a firm understanding of the growth and trends within your industry or niche. The logistics industry is changing at a rapid rate and it’s important that you consider emerging trends and how they could impact your sales goals.

In the past 10 years, for instance, supply chain management has drastically changed. With people shopping more and more online, eCommerce has challenged the traditional models of supply chains and logistics. Companies like Amazon have pushed the expansion of same-day delivery and product visibility. With logistics innovation continually pushing the envelope, you need to consider how your niche will fit in with these emerging trends.

Competitor Research

This is an obvious one. It’s imperative that you have a good understanding of your competition – especially in the supply chain industry. A thorough competitive analysis can give you a lot of insight on your own products, pricing, and even marketing copy. Learn from your competitor’s mistakes. Start by answering the following questions.

  • What are your competitive advantages?
  • What makes your business different?
  • Do your competitors offer something that you don’t?
  • How do your competitor’s rates compare to yours?

Once you’ve gathered some information and feel you have a better grasp on the competition, complete a SWOT analysis.

Strengths: What does your business offer that your competition does not? Essentially, how are you better?

Weakness: What does your competition do better than you?

Opportunity: Highlight something outside your business that can lead to a strength or improvement.

Threats: What external factors pose a threat to your business? This is something that is beyond your control.

Sales Planning

Once you’ve compiled your market research, you can start developing your sales plan. A sales plan is comprised of six basic components.

1. Goals

A good rule of thumb is to ensure every goal is “SMART”. That is, each goal is specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time bound.

2. Target

This is where your buyer personas come in. Your sales plan needs to consider your audience at every step of the planning process.

3. Strategy

What are you going to offer your customers? What is your strategy to capture their attention and convert them into a customer?

4. Tools, Tactics & Messaging

This portion of your sales plan defines exactly how you will be reaching your target audience. What online channels will you be using? What specific messages will you be conveying?

5. Timeline

With so much going on it’s easy to forget to attach every action to a timeline. Specify when, what time, and how frequently, you will be doing each activity.

6. Measurement/KPIs

Always, always measure and track your results. This will help you to create an even stronger sales and marketing strategy in the future.

Simple Sales Plan Chart:
simple sales planning chart

As mentioned, the supply chain industry is constantly evolving and so should your sales and marketing plan. Your sales plan should evolve in tandem with your business. Remember to consistently make edits, set new goals and improve upon your strategy.

Start a Logistics Company: The Science of Cold Calling

Your sales team might know everything there is to know about your company and what you offer your customers. But let’s face it, when you start a logistics company, generating new business requires cold calling. And there’s a science to cold calling that can be hard to master, especially in a market as competitive as third-party logistics.  Cold calling involves starting a new (and positive) relationship with someone within a few minutes, over the phone. The concept can be scary just to think about. But, as uncomfortable as cold calling may seem, it can be an integral part of your outbound sales strategy.

Making a science out of cold calling and using the tactic successfully to acquire new customers can be done. Here’s how you can get started down the right path.

Start a Logistics Company: Start with a Plan or Even a Script

Not only will starting with a plan calm your nerves, it will also give you a better idea of where you want the conversation to go. Who are you going to be speaking with? What do you know about the person you are calling? Map out how you want the conversation to go before placing the phone call. What is the purpose of the call? What are you trying to accomplish? In addition to mapping out the goals of the call, it can be helpful to use a brief sales script if you are nervous. You basically have about 10 seconds to convince the person on the other end of the phone that you’re worth their time. What might that script look like? Here are several examples to take a look at. 

Work Towards Decision Makers, but You Don’t Have To Start at The Top

To add customers and begin moving freight for new people, you will eventually need to reach decision makers. The trouble is, every other freight broker on the planet knows this, and is trying to reach them too. Decision makers may be especially adept at avoiding your calls. If you keep calling and you only reach the dock manager, does that mean you should give up all hope? Of course not! You can still reach the decision maker, but you just have to know how to work your way past the person guarding the gate. It’s important to remember that everybody, no matter what their job title, wants to feel respected and appreciated. If you think the gate keeper isn’t important, odds are they can feel that in the way you speak with them. 

Rather than simply asking to be connected to the decision maker, invest time in establishing a rapport with the gatekeeper. Make small talk. Be charming. Ask them how their day is going. Let’s be honest; working in the shipping department isn’t the most exciting job in the world. What makes the job enjoyable is the people they get to work with. Focus on being someone who’s enjoyable to talk to. If you can put a smile on the gatekeeper’s face with a joke, or some friendly banter, you don’t guarantee access to the decision maker. But you’ll definitely improve your chances over time. When you start a logistics company, you’re responsible for making everyone feel like the most important person in the room.

Ask The Right Questions, But Ask Permission First.

You can make all the calls you want, but you have to remember, just because you start a logistics company doesn’t mean people owe you anything. You could start a call by firing off a quick round of questions. But more often than not, your call is interrupting someone else’s day. When you’re starting out, this will also be someone with whom you have little to no relationship with. Once you do get on the phone with a live human, don’t immediately launch into the value proposition. Introduce yourself, then ask if they have 28 seconds to hear why you’re calling. Why 28 seconds? Well for one, you should time your value proposition and two, it makes the engagement feel like a very low commitment. Who doesn’t have 28 seconds to spare?

Once your prospect has given you permission to proceed, you can make your value proposition, followed by some pointed questions that will help you determine if the prospect is a good fit or not. Asking questions allows you to learn about your prospect’s business, their pain points and their needs.  

In addition to asking questions, think about ways in which you can actually add something of value during the call. Is there a unique industry trend you have some perspective on? See if an issue like self-driving trucks is a topic that sparks some debate.

Leverage Social Media to Engage Key Contacts

Connecting and networking with contacts via social media before calling can greatly improve your chances of the prospect not only speaking to you, but also listening to what you have to say. In a recent study from Vorsight, the study found that if the person you are calling is in a common LinkedIn group you are 70 percent more likely to get to speak with them on a cold call. Some pre-call research before you actually get on the phone can give you a small but needed leg up when it comes to showing the prospect that you’ve done your homework. 

Take Notes & Keep Records in a CRM

Although it can be difficult to take notes during the phone call, make it a point to jot down some key differentiators about the call once you’ve hung up. Logging diligent call notes after the call is essential. If it is a short call, do it right away. With the amount of calls you’ll be making, keeping all the key details straight in your head will be nearly impossible. This will also give you an opportunity to reflect on the phone call. What could you have done differently? What went well? How could you have prepared more thoroughly? When you start a logistics company, you want your team to grow. And as your team grows, diligent call notes will help new sales reps pick up where you left off.

Establish a Connection & Mention Referrals

When you start a logistics company, successful sales calling will come from your ability to make a connect with your prospect quickly. Mentioning referrals can help immensely in getting your prospects more interested. Do some research, check to see if you have a common connection via social media. LinkedIn is an excellent resource to see referrals and common similarities. Even a subtle similarity, like having a friend from the same hometown, for instance, can be useful when you’re trying to establish a connection. Even the dock manager can be a referral, as long as you treated them well when you first talked to them.

Cold calling is actionable, strategic and highly effective in many instances.  By implementing these strategies and remaining consistent, the more effective your sales tactic will be.

How to find freight shippers: 3 Keys to Expanding Your Logistics Business

Wondering how to find freight shippers? It’s a question as old as the industry itself. You have your feet (or wheels in this business) under you, and feel like you have several clients where you’re moving enough steady freight to at least sleep through the night. Or, maybe it’s the opposite. You’re shipping only very niche freight, say produce, from a specific region of the country. Either way, your business could benefit greatly from expanding beyond what you’re currently doing. Expanding your logistics business is definitely possible. You just have to be smart about how you do it. How? Here are three keys that explain how to find freight shippers.

How to find freight shippers: hire pros who know the industry

Logistics is a relationships business. Whether you’re on the customer side or the carrier side, an experienced professionals relationships are what can allow someone to flourish or flounder. But when you bring in someone with a track record of success in a particular niche, this can be a win-win situation. But, you should base some of the compensation on performance. Let’s say you’ve made steady inroads with the dry van full truckload market. You see opportunity to capture more freight from an existing customer who does a lot of LTL work. This could be the perfect opportunity to grow business with a current customer while expanding into a separate niche all together. Spend some time on LinkedIn to see if you can find people with LTL experience. Maybe even people who are running their own small operation. Would they be swayed to join your team with the promise of being able to do even more? Maybe they’re growing tired of being a small-time operation and would enjoy a change of scenery. Regardless, look for professionals who can come in and leverage their existing relationships to help you expand your business. This is essential when learning how to find freight shippers.

Start a new business so support your existing one.

You know you need to grow your client base in one mode of transportation. You also know you have to grow important relationships within one organization. This may be an opportunity to serve different customer needs. If you start as a straight 3PL, have you thought about creating a separate asset-based division to handle short runs within a large metro area? Adding assets to an otherwise entirely-brokered fleet could help you manage questions from future customers who want to know you have some of your own trucks who could handle freight for you. Would it be possible to consolidate services with a fulfillment business, or a corrugate manufacturer? What related services could you offer key clients that would see you as more of a single-source provider?

Protect Your Reputation at all Costs

In order to create opportunities to expand, focus on building the best reputation possible. Ask customers whom you’ve done great work for to post a review on Glassdoor or LinkedIn. Putting positive customer feedback in places where future partners and customers can see it will grease the wheels for your own success, since much of the background checking into your credibility will be done unbeknownst to you. No matter how big of an industry you’re in, and the transportation industry is surprisingly not that big. Starting a business isn’t supposed to be a smooth ride, particularly not in the early days. If you’re in the freight brokerage business, you have to remember that it’s a volume business. You have to move a lot of freight to make a lot of money. So, it’s going to take several years to move a lot of freight, or build up a large enough customer base to move a lot of freight. This also means you need to accept that there will be times where you need to tighten the belt, reduce costs and feel stress. So, don’t cut corners. Provide great service, every time. Over time, you’ll find that the golden rule will be your best margin protection. Good carriers will help you out. Customers will give you the benefit of the doubt. And your business will grow.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

4 Essential Freight Broker Sales Tips to Grow Revenue

If you’re going to make it as a freight broker, you’re going to have to develop your sales skills. Freight broker sales tips are everywhere, but we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best freight broker sales tips from around the internet so you don’t have to.

 

Cold Calling is about Process, Confidence and Commitment

Freight broker sales tips are wide ranging, but when it comes to growing a logistics company, you’re going to have to become good at cold calling. There’s just no way around it.

Process: First off, you need to have a script. Why? Because you need to manage how you talk to prospects and control the variables involved in selling. The script you follow will work. As you go, you can test a different variant of your script to see if it works better than the first version. You may also eventually develop a different style of script for people in different regions of the country. You may find that your cold open for a female in Alabama is different than how you start a conversation with a male in Massachusetts. The more variables in your process you can control, the faster you will find a process and style that works best for you.

Confidence: The problem with making cold calls isn’t that you’re annoying the person you’re calling. The problems start when you don’t present yourself and speak with confidence once someone does pick up the phone. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a draining process. But be regimented about the times of day you make calls, and be disciplined with the number of calls you make. Maybe you could improve if you had click-t0-call functionality as part of your CRM system?

HubSpot has a solid, free system to try. But, you want to be feeling confident, energetic but relaxed when making calls. If you are uncomfortable, that tension, that discomfort is going to come through in your tone, whether you realize it or not. So, set out a plan each day. Break your calling up into quarters. And remember, smile before you dial. Of all the freight broker sales tips you come across in your research, this one is probably the most important.

Focus on pulling out problems. Don’t sell anything unless explicitly asked.

When you do get a shipper on the phone, your mission is not the one call close. Unfortunately, just because you are cold calling does not mean you can use the Jordan Belfort penny stock pitch from The Wolf of Wall Street. (But, you should take note of the fact that he is enjoying himself while on the call.)

What you should do when you get someone on the phone is get your prospect talking, and hopefully talking about any problems or pain points they may be experiencing. This is how you learn about their business and learn about the opportunities you have to become a freight supplier that they value greatly. When you get a prospect to hit on something that’s not going quite right for them, ask more questions about that problem. You want to focus on digging deeper into that specific problem. The more you can uncover the pain, and even pain the prospect didn’t realize they were experiencing, the more opportunity you will find to become their pain relief, or problem solver.

Do your research before the call.

Want to really get a shipper’s attention? Do your research before the call. Yes, this takes time, but, if a shipper receives 100 calls a day, answers the phone 20 times, 10 people are friendly and five demonstrate that they know something about the shipper’s business, you can see who has moved to the front of the line pretty quickly.

If the prospect that you’re calling on makes a component that goes into some other finished product, well, what is the finished product? Are you calling on a muffler manufacturer in Sandusky OH? Those mufflers could very well be on their way to Detroit to be put into a car. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “but they have 1,001 freight brokers calling them for business.”. You’re right. BUT, you can apply this same logic to other industries. Use it to differentiate yourself through showing you are already familiar with their business.

Freight broker sales tips: know your own stats.

There is an off-chance that a prospect asks you specifically about your freight, your current customers and your capabilities. You need to be able to talk competently about your business. The best way to do this is to have everything tracked in your transportation management software. You will you be able to tell your prospect that you can see exactly where your freight is at all times. And you could even share impressive (hopefully) details around your on time delivery percentage over the last week or month. Maybe even mention how you have plenty of capacity in key areas where your prospect might need support. The data you track should be used as an asset. Particularly when it makes sense to demonstrate your abilities to a prospect.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.

Logistics Sales: 3 Shipper Objections to Overcome to Ship More Freight

Logistics sales can be a tough sales environment to thrive in. Any shipper you talk to is going to have reservations about giving a new person freight. Without a demonstrated history of successfully moving their freight, you’re going to have to be patient.

Logistics sales is about overcoming objections and quelling fears. But not all of shippers’ fears are different. You can focus on becoming a master and overcoming a few common objections, then watch your logistics sales soar.

Logistics sales: overcoming a shipper’s fear of change.

Your shippers have a seemingly simple job: ship freight out of the facility, on time. But the need for simple execution of this task, over and over, means shippers can be very fearful of disrupting the status quo. The shipper who you are trying to win business from probably has a slew of carriers just waiting for one of the incumbents to slip up and fall off. So, what are you, the new guy on the shippers radar, going to do to earn enough respect to capture your first load?

Overcoming logistics sales objection: fear

What you need to do in this logistics sales situation is demonstrate how you are similar to the prospect’s current needs. Have you already managed aligning 10 trucks into a 2 hour pickup window on a Sunday? Do you already have great carrier relationships in the Paducah Kentucky region and know you could cover any load even on two-hours notice? Bring these similarities to your prospects attention, either on the phone or in a series of successive follow-up emails.

With email open tracking being a common feature of marketing software tools today, you can even wait to place your follow up calls until you know your prospect has clicked to view your website. Once your prospect has become more familiar with how similar your service capabilities are, you can move towards strategically asking for the order, or, asking to ship a small amount of freight for them, to start.

Logistics sales: Overcoming perceived lack of “size of benefit”

You may have had a great, charming opening convo. Maybe you made a connection with them about how you are both Cubs fans. They’ve actually answered three of your follow up calls, and you feel like you could be on your way to becoming friends, maybe even making a sale because of it. But for some reason, the prospect has yet to place an order, and they seem evasive when it comes to any freight-related questions. The problem? They just don’t see enough of a benefit to need to make a change!

Overcoming logistics sales objection: size of benefit

The best course of action in this situation is to shift the conversation towards understanding the metrics behind the shipper’s business. But, do so by leveraging a case study that speaks to a large size of benefit. Were you able to help another customer cut 2 hours per day off of their loading time because of more efficient truck arrivals?

Did you save them thousands in overtime costs through this efficiency? Don’t think of size of benefit as, “size of cost savings”, because you don’t want to cut your own margins to try and pump up the “benefit” of being able to save them $50/load. Focus on building up the size of benefit through other things that don’t involve cutting your own price. A great way to quantify the size of your delivered benefit? Pull statistics from your freight broker software so that you can use real data in your pitch to get a new shipper to see the benefit in working with you.

A great way to communicate the size of benefit enacted is through case studies put together my your marketing team. Don’t have a marketing team? Consider paying a freelancer to come up with a great one-sheet or short pdf doc outlining the size of the benefit you created. Some good looking sales collateral can make a big difference when attempting to stand out from a crowd of other freight brokers.

 

Logistics sales: Overcoming the “ive been burned before” fear of failure

So, what happens when a load doesn’t get picked up or a load doesn’t get delivered? No, it’s just stressful phone calls for you and your team. Over on the shipper side, your client is having to answer questions. Tough questions from their boss. They may even be naming their new grey hairs after you. Shippers have been burned by brokers before. They may have already asked you, fairly early on in your relationship, “are you an asset-based carrier?”. You’ve probably even seen a few call notes in your logistics CRM system of past prospects who have indicated over the phone that they want: “NO BROKERS!!!!!!”. The fear of failure or fear of getting burned again is very real.

Overcoming logistics sales objection: fear of failure

Again, it comes down to you the freight broker being able to display a level of expertise and professionalism that leaves no room for a shipper to wonder wether you can handle their business or not. There’s a saying, “the proof is in the pudding”. While, that doesn’t mean you should starting sending pudding to your shippers (well, maybe not right away). Leverage the outcomes you’ve experienced with other clients. These are the reasons you have for a shipper to believe you won’t fail them. Unlike other brokers have in the past.

Be specific in your examples you provide of how you’ve succeeded for other shippers in the past. Does your prospect need refrigerated trucks early and often? Then you don’t want to drone on and on about how you can get low-boys and straight trucks all day every day. That’s not helping them. Which is not helping you.

If you can’t close a sale because you gave great examples of past success, don’t worry. You may have made the sale, but the shipper is just waiting for the right opportunity to test you out.

 

Manage your freight remotely. Complete visibility to your transportation supply chain is as close as your phone, tablet or computer. Freightflow freight broker software is the most easy-to-use freight broker software available today. The best part? It’s completely free to try. Don’t wait. Get started today with your no obligation, 100% free trial.