Part of being a successful freight broker is having a strong book of business. While it’s great to begin your freight brokerage with one good customer, don’t rely on their business alone for very long. If one customer makes up at least 10% of your revenue, it’s time to find new customers.
Finding new shipping customers is not easy, we know. It involves a lot of cold calling, which can be a chore in itself (but happily a cold calling script was in your LDI Freight Agent Program Welcome Package, so fall back on that if you’re dreading to pick up the phone).
Get in the Right Mindset
Be ready to get prospects to talk about themselves when you get them on the phone. Do not ask “so what do you do?” Your value proposition is you know their industry, so you already know what they do, but you don’t know their current problem, and you want to hear about it. Ask prodding questions. This means have the prospect’s information handy to talk about: where they’re located, their industry, and what they’ve been doing lately.
For instance, if you want to transport produce, find farms and ask them specifically if they’re suffering from any bottlenecks during specific crops harvest seasons. Are their pumpkins getting shipped in time for fall festivities? Do they have to store oranges longer due to the driver shortage which pushes back fresh harvests? Maybe, maybe not, but you’ll prompt the prospects to start talking about the problems they’re facing, and hopefully those are problems you can solve.
Now you have an idea of some prodding questions to ask. Jot down a list of them right now. As you start to search for new shippers, keep notes: the regions they ship to, the tonnage they expect, permit hassles, etc. Record info to ask smart questions, and get the conversation rolling immediately.
Here are some freight broker secrets to find new shippers and figure out what they’re up to:
Don’t get distracted! It’s easy to get lost in the feed, but use social media with purpose to find new customers. You have expertise in specific niches, so search for those.
LinkedIn is arguably the easiest social media to navigate when it comes to searching industries. You can search for manufacturing companies specifically within your niche. Whether you want to ship pipes for construction companies or automobiles for auctioneers, you can search through LinkedIn. You can also gather a lot of information about the business, such as the names of employees who work there, a company bio, and see what the company posts about.
Facebook also has a good business presence, so this is the next best scouting ground for potential customers. You can typically get a phone number, website, company bio, and hours of operation via a Facebook Business page. Companies might even be better about posting actual pictures or events they’re involved in on this platform rather than LinkedIn. If a local tree farm has seasonal festivals, you can ask about the success of those before asking how they ship their trees saplings.
Instagram and Pinterest
This is good for those really deep niches. If you’re interested in shipping partial or LTL, Instagram and Pinterest are great for finding crafty individuals looking to ship across the States. Whether it’s custom furniture or printed tees, artists use these two platforms the most to share their visually stunning content. While these accounts may or may not have a business page, it’s possible to direct message (DM) the account to start a dialog. Since Instagram and Pinterest are based on personal interaction, you can initiate a warm conversation rather than a cold sales pitch. Don’t start a DM with “If you need shipping services call me at…” That won’t fly on those platforms as account holders can block you as spam.
These are by no means the only social media platforms, but they are good places to start. Once you’ve delved into the world of scouting through these social media channels, you can expand your search into other platforms.
A quick search online will go far. Companies that take themselves seriously will have a website presence, however they might not be amazing at optimizing their keywords. Scroll through several pages of search results. If you have regular lanes, search for customers in and around your destinations to decrease your carrier’s likelihood of a deadhead return.
Visit your prospects websites. Websites will almost always have the contact information so you can get a phone number. Get a feel for what they do and what they might need. Sometimes you might even find partners they work with, and then you have even more prospects to explore.
Use Google Maps to search the physical areas of where you might have a regular drop off or pick up. While a company might not have a social media or web page, they will usually claim their business address on Google so visitors can easily find them on a map. If they look like they fit your niche, call them up to let them know you’re in their area a lot and would be interested in offering them your brokering services.
Every industry has some kind of association tied to it, so find out what yours are and see if getting involved would be worth the investment. If being in that industry has made you a logistic expert in shipping that product, you’ll have more to talk about when prospecting new customers. When you’re an outsider that has a strong understanding of the industry, insiders are more willing (and excited) to work with you.
Ask For Referrals
In today’s age, referrals and testimonies are important. Ask your existing customers if they’d be willing to tell colleagues about you. Feel free to even make an offer, such as you’ll knock a percentage off their next shipping cost if the referral works with you. Let them know you have more resources to take on new clients, and be certain to not let your existing customers feel like they aren’t the most important person in your book of business.
What are some other means of finding customers that have worked for you? Tell us in the comments!
For more help with your business development, contact us at LDI today.