Tiffany has experienced the joy and freedom of running her own brokerage her own way because she partnered with a 3PL who believes in her. What are you waiting for? Partner with LDI today!
LDI’s freight agent program is very much hands off, but we want our agents to succeed. When we see their overall margins are down, we’ll step in to help increase margins.
We suspect you’re looking to accomplish a few things by joining a 3PL’s Freight Agent Program. Whatever your reasons, a competent and responsive agent-based brokerage is key to help your freight brokerage grow.
Interested in becoming a freight broker? Before you jump into brokering freight, brokers and other industry experts agree these are the must-do tasks before you set out on your own.
You’re taking the leap from being someone’s employee to brokering on your own. So what should you expect when switching from an employer’s Form W-2 to a Form 1099?
Whether business or personal, starting a new relationship with someone has its challenges. When it comes to freight brokers contacting new prospects and building a new relationship, it may seem daunting if not overwhelming. What do you say to your new contact? How often should you be in touch with a new prospect? How do you know if you are making the right choices moving forward or setting yourself up for failure?
Here are 6 lead generation tips to help freight brokers obtain quality leads:
1. EVERY DAY, obtain THREE new business contacts (and call them): FACT – As with most any industry, you will lose business for one reason or another. These new contacts will help to replace business that you will eventually lose or business that will never get off the ground (like the dreaded 1-shipment only customer). Some customers will not have any loads for 6 months or a year and then recontact you. Others will fall through for other reasons, so it’s important that you continually seek and pursue new prospects.
2. Do your research BEFORE you make the call: Cold calling people without doing any research tells them you did not consider the call important enough. The key here is to understand that it is not about you – it is all about them. Make sure the conversation is about them, not you. Use sales intelligence to turn a cold call into a warm call. Sales Intelligence refers to technologies and practices for collection of information to help sales people keep up to date with clients and prospects. Use Google and other search engines to gather relevant information (i.e. articles featuring the company and/or executives, recent awards or recognitions, and company locations).
To get information on your prospect’s company, begin by calling their sales department. Salespeople are great individuals to talk to when you want to know everything about a company and where it’s going. You can gain a great deal of knowledge from salespeople, so use that opportunity to ask them questions about what they do and how they do it. Ask them what lanes they ship, or what states they operate in.
3. Build a relationship: Establish rapport with your contact and foster a connection. It’s no secret – people are more likely to buy from a friend than from someone they view as a salesperson. This can be difficult to achieve at first when making cold calls. One way freight brokers can establish rapport is to start the conversation based on the lane they are running or the weight they are moving. This is great information to use to help make that initial connection with prospects. You will naturally learn how to build rapport as you learn the ins and outs of their business and the individual him or herself. Try to think of the process as being on a football team: you start as a freshman and build your skills through training and practice.
5. Take ACTION and follow through: You’ll build proficiency through ACTION. The process will get easier and you will get better at connecting, but you have to put in the time and effort.
Recently, I had the opportunity of getting a little face-time with one of LDi’s top freight broker agents. During our conversation, he shared with me his struggles on building his presence on social media and with Facebook in particular. His main concern at the time was how he could grow his Facebook freight broker business page fan base. As LDi’s Marketing Manager, I was more than happy to share with him my social media expertise and offer in-depth insight and suggestions that he found to be valuable. It was then that it occurred to me that this information, as simple as it seemed to me with my background, was not so obvious to him and that it could be beneficial to ALL freight broker agents facing this very same struggle.
I’ll admit that this article might seem like a departure from more “traditional” methods for growing a freight broker business such as: turning cold calls into warm calls, finding new customers or retaining current ones, etc. But, I assure you that social media, once considered a novel alternative by businesses, is now a mainstream growth tool for your business and that you’re missing out on additional business opportunities if you are not fully embracing and exploring all avenues with regards to social media. To go a step further, if you have an established social media presence you may not be doing enough to truly reap the benefits that it offers. More specifically, I believe freight brokers should be utilizing Facebook equally if not more so than LinkedIn to grow their freight broker business and here’s my thoughts on why: first, in the professional world, the general consensus is that LinkedIn is the ‘god of prospecting and connecting’ when it comes to businesses or business professionals…when the truth is that sales and growing your business is a numbers game and numbers are all about reach and exposure. And if you’re talking reach and exposure, no other social media network even comes close to Facebook. For those of you, and I’m sure there’s quite a few, that are saying, “But Facebook is a SOCIAL network!” That’s absolutely true. But, the number of people that are on Facebook and using it daily are astounding! Whereas on LinkedIn, very much considered the powerhouse of lead generation, user numbers are considerably less and they are not on LinkedIn daily. And, now I can hear those same individuals saying, “But we need to connect with businesses”. Also true. But we don’t sell to a business – we sell to a person.
My second reason, is any individual looking to sell a product or offer a service can’t ignore the TRUE determinant of why prospects become customers and customers stay loyal to you…and that’s RELATIONSHIPS. And I’m not talking about a ‘business relationship’ where you call, they have a need and you deliver a solution. That’s just logistics and if that’s your only approach you’ll spend more time trying to drum up new business and the rest of the time wondering why you can’t keep your customers. I’m talking about a personal relationship where you have put in the effort since day one with them. Getting to know your prospect/customer as a person, relating to their concerns, building trust and deepening that connection to the point where they aren’t just a business contact anymore – they are now a loyal customer that trusts your word, depends on you to service their needs and would not even consider sending their business elsewhere. There will even be days, once that level of comfort is firmly established, that your customer will give you a quick call, state their need and know you’ll just ‘handle it’. But chances are you also know their favorite hobby, if they’re married, have children or just bought a new house – all because you’ve built a personal relationship with them. And what social network is known, used for and deemed appropriate for building personal relationships and connecting on a personal level? That’s right – FACEBOOK!
- More than 467 million people use LinkedIn BUT there are more than 1.6 BILLION users on Facebook DAILY!
- More than 3 people sign up every second on LinkedIn BUT more than 8 people per second are added on Facebook!
- An average user spends 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month BUT an average user spends 21 minutes on Facebook a DAY!
That’s impressive! Now that I’ve addressed the why and offered some facts, I’d like to share how a freight broker can begin leveraging Facebook as a POWERFUL tool to grow their business* even if they just created a Facebook business page TODAY! For those of you that have already been working with your Facebook business page, I’m confident that even you will benefit from some of these suggestions, keeping in mind I’m assuming nothing of your social networking abilities or depth in your current progress, so I’m starting with the basics:
- Create a Facebook business page
- Obviously! This is easily done from your personal page by looking to the upper right corner of your screen and clicking on the white downward arrow. In the drop down menu, select ‘Create Page’.
- Optimize your Facebook business page
- It’s important that BEFORE you decide to just create a business page for yourself that you research other users on Facebook, similar to you, that have created a business page and that you take the time to carefully review all the elements that went into their page (banner image, photos, bio, videos, everything). It’s always best to emulate the best instead of winging it or starting from scratch.
- Link your Facebook business page to your personal profile
- This is a great way to alert your personal contacts that you have a business page and hopefully drive them there and Like your business page. The more connections the better and those connections will hopefully help to share your business page content that could mean the potential for new or more business opportunities.
- To do this, start from your personal page and look on the left-hand side under ‘Intro’. Click on edit and start typing in the name of your business page. When you see it pop up, click on it to add it. Now it has become a link that people visiting your personal page can click on that will take them directly to your business page!
- Put a Facebook Fan Box on your website/blog
- Now that you’ve made your FB business page, don’t stop there! You need to promote your page every chance you get – be it on your website, in your blog, at your place of business, on your company literature, etc. Spread the word, again, it’s all about REACH and EXPOSURE.
- Take advantage of your personal Facebook account
- Whatever you post on your business page, you can also post on your personal page – that’s the beauty of Facebook and its lenient nature and flexibility.
- Content is KING
- Even if this is Facebook and interaction is very social and laid back, you should always post with being mindful to the “Big R’s” of social media:
- Relative: relative refers to the content you are posting for your audience. ALWAYS think of your target audience FIRST before you post anything! You wouldn’t post a smoothie recipe on a jewelry store page. SPEAK to your SPECIFIC audience. Your Fans should find your page informative, helpful, interesting and appealing. Remember that this is your attempt at promoting your business side so you should project yourself as an expert, thought leader, educator and above all else, a professional.
- Relevant: to attract and keep your Fans, you must post information that is always relevant. Keep topics current, keep your page fresh and you can even have fun with it by posting an industry article, a podcast of yours or (thanks to Facebook!) a funny meme about the transportation/logistics industry, etc. – and never, never, ever post anything questionable or offensive (I can’t stress this enough).
- Reputable: whatever you post, that’s your image and whatever information you put out there, it needs to be accurate and easily verifiable.
- Reciprocate: like any other social media network, content is shared. As much as you’d like your Fans to share your posts, you should make the same effort to regularly share some of your Fans posts as well. It can’t be a one-way street if you expect to continue having loyal Fans.
- Responsive: Engagement is key. Just as you will invite comments and interaction from your Fans, you must make the effort to respond to their comments and stay constantly engaged with them. Answer questions, stay on top of your notifications, reply to comments and do it all in a timely manner! That’s just basic social media etiquette.
- Results: Make sure to regularly check your Insights tab to gain valuable information/feedback on best time to post for your Fans, which of your efforts saw more engagement – was it a video? A meme? A posed question where they needed to select a response? An industry article? And harness that information to streamline your future efforts for better engagement by appealing more to your Fans.
- Even if this is Facebook and interaction is very social and laid back, you should always post with being mindful to the “Big R’s” of social media:
- Post on Weekends
- With being the biggest social network out there, people aren’t just on it during work hours. They are on evenings AND weekends too! So, post anytime you want – if it’s good content (see #7).
- Invites, Likes and Fans
- Now that you’ve created a business page, you need FANS! Luckily there are SEVERAL ways to gain Likes:
- Invite your friends from your personal page. Again, it’s all about reach and exposure and this one’s quick and easy.
- From your personal page, join groups relative to your business page. For instance, freight brokers might search for groups using some of these words: truck, trucks, trucking, freight, freight broker, shipping, logistics and so on. Once you join or are accepted into some groups, you are now free to post content to their page. Make sure you don’t do anything to get yourself kicked from the group such as over-posting or bad content. The rule is, if you’re unsure – DON’T POST!
- Make another established freight broker/trucking contact an admin to your business page. This is another quick and easy way to have access to their connections and invite them to your page as well!
- Now that you’ve created a business page, you need FANS! Luckily there are SEVERAL ways to gain Likes:
- Create a Group
- Not only can you add Fans to a group by promoting it on your personal and business pages but others on FB will be searching for groups to join that they are interested in and join your group all on their own! How easy is that???
- Also, since you created the group, you set the tone for the page and content. This is the next best thing to prequalifying your prospects! Even though not all group members might be a hot prospect, at least they are more targeted and easily accessible to you.
- Check Yourself
- Just a word of warning as you venture into Facebook territory and begin marketing your professional self and your business. In the past, what might have been viewed as acceptable to your personal connections on your personal page (trash talk, slang, off color or inappropriate jokes/references, etc.) will now be potentially viewed and judged by anyone that connects to your business page. So, it might be wise to examine the content on your personal page (videos, posts, images, content) to make sure there is nothing that might offend or turn away potential prospects or current customers.
Let the above methods serve as a jumping off point for any freight broker looking to create a Facebook business page or have already done so but not sure how to proceed in optimizing it’s use. For those that found this information to be too basic and you’re looking to deepen your leveraging efforts with your Facebook business page even more, I invite you to obtain a copy of our free report, “Advanced Facebook Leveraging for Freight Brokers”.
If you have any additional suggestions on how to leverage a Facebook business page to help grow fan base and ultimately business opportunities, we’d love hear them! So, please feel free to comment on this or any of LDi’s blog posts or suggest future article topics and thanks for reading!
*Please keep in mind that this only serves as a general gauge and not all freight brokers will reach the same level of achievement, results or success when utilizing a Facebook business page to gain more customers or grow their business.
For many, Thanksgiving means a time when we gather with family and friends over a meal fit for a king, catch up on others’ lives, maybe enjoy a nap and splurge on some football. It’s also a great time to break away from our busy routine and pause to reflect on what we should be thankful for in our own lives such as good health, great family/friends, being safe and living free.
As a freight broker agent, you have even MORE reasons to be thankful and now’s a great time to take pause and recognize all the things that should make you thankful and grateful you chose this challenging yet highly-rewarding profession.
Among the MANY reasons, here are my top 10 reasons to be thankful as a freight broker:
1. YOU LIVE IN AMERICA – From day to day, we lose sight of this monumental advantage. This alone should make every freight broker agent thankful that they have the right to own and operate their own business as well as enjoy other fundamental rights awarded to you as an American citizen such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
2. CREATING A FAMILY BUSINESS – As a successful freight broker, you’ve now turned a solid, lucrative endeavor into a family business where you can create employment for the business professionals in your family circle. What’s more, you have the flexibility to find the positions that are best suited to fit everyone. Perhaps they don’t care much for working in a dispatching position but love finding new customers or carriers or vice versa. It can be a win-win situation when everyone finds what they enjoy most and where they fit in best and you benefit from a stronger business structure with happy, productive employees. And, many years from now, the business that you and your family helped build can serve as an established legacy and priceless asset to be managed for generations to come.
3. LOW START UP AND OVERHEAD COSTS – As a rule, it typically costs around $3,500 to launch into becoming a freight broker agent. These costs include everything from training, licensing and equipping your office with everything needed to function successfully as a freight broker agent (phones, computer, desk, files, supplies, etc.). From there, it’s not uncommon for a freight broker that started their career in a spare room or garage to outgrow their surroundings and need to expand into an offsite office that is five times larger! Also, if you are working your freight broker business on your own AND work from home, you are already saving money on overhead costs. You have the advantage over other business owners by not needing to pay or paying very little for expenses such as building costs, utilities and employees.
4. NO COMMUTING – Most people would agree that working from home and making good money would be nothing short of a dream job. So, be thankful…you are living the dream! You have the luxury of sitting at your computer in comfy pajamas, enjoying lunch in your own home (and probably saving HUGE on that aspect alone), and never being concerned about traffic issues, bad weather or putting added miles and additional wear and tear onto your vehicle.
5. A PROFITABLE INDUSTRY – As reported by Michael Curry from My Carrier Resources, there were 13,565 licensed freight brokers in the US at the beginning of 2014 and that figure has climbed to 15,203 in January of 2015. That level of growth for one year is impressive to say the least and it continues to grow! This not only indicates that freight brokering is a profitable industry but also illustrates freight broker agents are in high demand. The freight broker industry has proven to be a great opportunity for inexperienced individuals, new graduates and other business professionals with little exposure or experience in the logistics industry that are seeking a reliable and rewarding career path.
6. TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) – As a freight broker, you can be thankful for all they do for the logistics and freight brokerage community that include programs like TIA Watchdog, TIA Certified and TIA Political Advocacy.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET – With access to websites like www.internettruckstop.com, www.getloaded.com, and the comprehensive search ability of Google, you have powerful resources at your fingertips that freely offer up valuable insight and information to put you leaps ahead of your competition and help you do your job more thoroughly and efficiently. Helping you to quickly research new customers, gather intel, source carriers and finding the exact go-to person, are just some examples of attainable knowledge that will help you build and develop long-term relationships with your customers and vendors. Additionally, social media sites like www.linkedin.com, www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, and www.youtube.com practically eliminate the need for cold calling and keep you informed on real-time information.*
8. SMARTPHONES AND WI-FI – It has become the running joke that no matter the need…there’s an app for that! And, it’s true! Thanks to smartphones and their ability to get more done, fast. Today, there are countless apps available to help freight brokers run, manage and track their freight brokerage activities from virtually anywhere. No longer do you need to be chained to your desk to check your email, make/receive phone calls or complete tasks.
Here are just some of the amazing apps available to freight brokers that save valuable time and provide convenience: ITS Broker, Get Loaded, MyRadar, Evernote, Google Maps, and of course, LDi AgentMate; an app that keeps our freight brokers connected and in control of their freight 24/7 with features that allow you to create/cover/dispatch/deliver loads, post/edit/delete/view open postings, validate carriers, view customer information, post to 50+ load boards in seconds, and email rate confirmations instantly to name a few.** There’s an advantage to most everything with technology but, most of all, the real benefit is enjoying extra time for yourself and your family.
9. BEING YOUR OWN BOSS – Every entrepreneur and freight broker agent gets to enjoy the freedom of making their own decisions and flexibility to create your own schedule. You get to determine your salary/raises, when you take the day off, where/when/how you conduct your business, and are the sole determining factor of how successful you want your freight brokerage to be. Whether you want to make enough to live comfortably or live a lavish life…the sky’s the limit!
10. CUSTOMERS AND CARRIER PARTNERS – Freight brokers and freight agents should never forget that their loyal customers and carrier partners are the life-blood of their business and should be thanked regularly. It takes very little effort and cost to offer a heartfelt thank you, send a pizza for lunch, mail a thank you note (with a copy to their superior), and remember their birthday or give a holiday gift.
11. BONUS – LDI AS A RESOURCE – Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention www.LogisticDynamics.com. Not only do we provide high-value content in our blog but amazing information resources for freight brokers with our free reports, pre-recorded webinars and educational videos. Many talented individuals at LDi invested their time, valuable insight and seasoned expertise to create these pieces geared specifically for helping freight brokers be more successful and grow their business.***
When you take on an attitude of gratitude, you will find more contentment in all areas of your life. And, hands down, gratitude will always trump a bad attitude. Thanksgiving seems to put us in the mood to be thankful and appreciate all the things we are grateful for, but what a difference it would mean for us all if everyone instilled this way of thinking throughout the year.
What are you thankful for as a freight broker? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.
* For more details on how to find information and engage prospects in ways you never thought possible, view our free pre-recorded webinar, “Work Smarter Not Harder – How to Win More Freight Without Cold Calling”, featuring well-known presenters Sam Richter, author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling and Art Sobczak, author of Smart Calling that will demonstrate how knowledge itself is not power, but the USE of that knowledge is and show you specifically how to plug that information into the Smart Calling process that thousands are using to open up new accounts!
** View a demo of LDi AgentMate, an app that keeps our freight brokers connected and in control of their freight 24/7, and experience the freedom and power of real-time instant information access anytime, anywhere, all in the palm of your hand.
*** Visit LDi’s Resource Page for access to webinars, videos and free reports geared specifically for freight brokers and freight agents that want to keep current in the industry and help increase their income TODAY!
Before we get to the how, let’s address the why. So, why would you want to be a champion freight broker for carriers? The answer to that is the easy part; because freight brokerage operations that take the time to build solid, long-lasting relationships with motor carriers are the MOST stable and successful ones in the business. But, an achievement of that magnitude doesn’t come without it’s challenges and certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
As for the how…it’s a process that, when done right, involves investing the time and attention needed to create and establish a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. Taking the time to get to know your carriers, understand their needs and keeping an open dialogue with shared growth in mind will go a long way in building and strengthening carrier relationships.
And just like any champion, there’s the external and the internal preparation that will help you to nurture new carrier relationships as well as continue to effectively anchor your ongoing carrier relationships for years to come. For example, it doesn’t matter how powerful your punches are or how fast you are on your feet if your head and heart aren’t in the right place…and vice versa. So, first, let’s deal with the external:
Get Carrier Intel – Take the time to gather intelligence from the carrier. The best way to find out their wants, desires and needs is to ASK! Here’s some examples of some key questions:
- Where do they prefer to run?
- How many trucks do they have?
- What lanes do they need help with? What other lanes?
- What lanes are they most/least interested in?
- Was the last load they ran a regular lane? Can you make this lane a weekly run for them?
- Is their business expanding? If yes, how so?
- What can you do to help them grow their business?
Also, inform them of what you’re currently working on and future upcoming loads you will have. These are great questions to not only learn more about the carrier but is a great starting point to help you solidify relationships with your carriers.
Follow Through on Promises – Strong relationships forged in TRUST are built on KEPT promises. During your relationship, there will come a time when you need a favor from a carrier, such as a lower paying load than they’d normally accept. To get them to take the load, you might promise them a better price on the next load. If and when you do that, make SURE you honor your word and do just that. After they deliver the load, continue to follow through and ask if everything went well and if there were any issues, they need to be addressed immediately. On another note, if the carrier mentions that they liked that lane, you could work it out so it’s a repeating route for them. Driving truck is a job that demands respect and, as their livelihood, your word to them and honoring your promises mean everything. That, and paying them quickly and consistently will help them value their relationship with you more and help pave the way for future business.
Share The Growth – While your transportation business grows, your carrier’s business should grow as well and will help to solidify a stronger relationship with your carriers. Be mindful not to drop your dependable carriers for ones willing to work cheaper. This usually ends up with you accepting a lower level of service that does not meet the standards you have set for your core carrier base across the board. Don’t be afraid to inform your carriers of pricing adjustments due to market conditions or other factors. Hopefully they will respect your honesty and appreciate your transparency.
Get Equipped – In today’s world and becoming more so in the transportation industry, technology remains at the forefront. Your freight broker business should be no different. Gone are the days when a freight broker equipped with a little technology could run with the pack. Today’s freight broker needs to have access to a Transportation Management System (TMS) that not only helps grow his business but updates to keep current with the needs of the ever changing industry.
Every TMS is different and it’s imperative that the TMS you use has the available tools that will help you to run your business as smoothly and efficiently as possible. By using the latest technologies in its proprietary custom TMS, LDi Freight, LDi has the advantage to match carriers and shippers faster than other third-party logistics options. Here are just some of the tools available in LDi Freight that bring real-time technology to our freight broker agents when sourcing carriers:
- DAT Matches – Any load posted to the DAT is set with an alarm which will be raised when DAT finds a matching carrier in their system. LDi Freight allows the user to see if a load has matches and see the corresponding carriers.
- Available Trucks –Displays trucks from multiple sources:
- Trucks posted by carriers through our carrier portal website
- LDi Loads that are delivering for any agent
- Available trucks manually posted by agents
- LDi Load History –Searches historical LDi loads for carriers that have delivered a similar load for us before and might be likely candidates to handle a current load.
- Carrier Smart Search –Aggregates possible carriers from multiple sources:
- Trucks posted to the DAT
- Trucks posted to Internet Truckstop
- Carriers set up with LDi who operate within the pickup or drop location of a load
- Carriers who have run a similar load for LDi before
- Trucks that are delivering a current LDi load soon
- Trucks posted to the Carrier Portal website
- Trucks posted to the LDi Available Trucks screen by agents
Regarding quoting/pricing, LDi has DAT RateView and ITS RateMate products integrated directly into LDi Freight to provide our agents with assistance in quoting their loads and seeing historical pricing trends.
LDi also has multiple mobile applications that allow an individual to always stay connected. Whether it be our mobile TMS, LDi AgentMate or our mobile carrier app, LDi CarrierMate – designed to connect our carrier base directly to our TMS. LDi is and has always been the leader in technology and we will continue to adapt and be ahead of the industry so YOU can stay ahead of the competition!
Communicate Like a Partner – Asking your carrier questions, especially when it’s the first call you make to them is vital…but listening is critical! Carriers will appreciate you asking questions but if you want to make a great impression, you must remember the details of your conversation. Whether you talk about their latest vacation, a family celebration or recent weather occurrence, make sure you take notes and refer to them during follow up calls to keep building the bond and continue growing the relationship. Relatable conversation will always be more well received than launching into a generic inquiry. But know the difference. It’s not about prying into their private or personal lives. It’s about relating to them by being genuinely invested in them as an individual and not just a means to an end.
Be Trustworthy, Be Loyal – As loads become available, remember to reach out to your core carrier group and award freight methodically. And as you continue to do this, it will help to build trust and loyalty. And if there comes a time that they’re unable to cover the load, they may start to refer you to another reliable carrier and this will help to build your carrier network. Also, don’t just reach out to them for business needs alone. Make sure you touch them repeatedly throughout the year during non-business times as well. Small gestures such as sending a pizza to say thanks, a birthday card or gifts during holidays and occasions are very inexpensive ways to appreciate your carrier and make you a freight broker champion in their eyes!
Transparency Rules – A freight broker with fair procurement practices is a freight broker of choice for carriers. This means conducting transparent business practices at all times. For instance, when rates change, explain to your carriers why. If pricing becomes a concern, voice it to them. They may be flexible. When you are upfront with them and communicate the reason behind the rate change, such as weather, seasonal changes, fuel cost or other factors, it allows an open dialogue between you both instead of a conversation that could have been mutually uncomfortable. Whenever possible (and it’s always possible), be honest and ethical when doing business. There is no substitute for either and once trust is broken, the relationship will never be the same, so don’t go there.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Yep. But worth it? Absolutely! And in the spirit of perseverance, I’m reminded of the words from the infamous Rocky Balboa, “Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up”. So, time to put on your gloves, get in the ring, dig deep and go those extra rounds…and do what it TAKES to be a champion freight broker for carriers.
If you have any additional suggestions on how to be a champion freight broker for carriers, we’d love hear them! So, please feel free to comment on this or any of LDi’s blog posts or suggest future article topics and thanks for reading!
If you’re a freight broker or freight agent, negotiating is an everyday occurrence for your freight broker business. And it’s not for the faint of heart – Negotiating is tough work! But, over time, it helps you develop skills and strategies to build credibility and deepen trust between you and your customers and carriers.
In the logistics industry, freight brokers and freight agents hold a very unique position in the fact that they are both a buyer AND seller of transportation. Which means, in many ways, that they are in direct conflict with one another and here’s why: When freight brokers sell to customers, the goal is to sell your services at thehighest price possible, while offering customer’s good VALUE for their money. When freight brokers buy transportation, the objective is to secure the lowest PRICE possible without compromising the level of service we need. The difference between the two is how freight brokers and freight agents make money.
Because negotiating is inevitable as a freight broker agent, it’s imperative to build better relationships with both your customers and carriers while not forgetting to focus on selling thevalue you bring to the table first! When you focus on these two components, you will lessen your negotiating time and increase your profits.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself to get a better indication on how much negotiating you’ll need to do with your customer:
- How will the other person benefit as a result from buying from you?
- Do you know your value proposition to the other party?
- How high up in the company is the person you are dealing with?
- How are you perceived by them?
- What is the urgency of the other party?
- How strong of a relationship have you developed with the other party?
Having a firm grip on the above answers ahead of time will help you be prepared with the responses you’ll need to enter into negotiations intelligently and with confidence. In addition, I’ve included some valid points your customer or carrier may have when negotiating and insight on how to better address and/or combat their concerns:
- You have not proven your value beyond the competition.
- Do Your Homework: Technology has allowed consumers access to more information than ever on pricing and competitors. In order to sell on value – not price – as important as confidence and rapport are, you need to do your homework on your potential client. This will be the first step you take in order to establish if they’re a good candidate to meet your price needs so you aren’t wasting your time talking to individuals only interested in the cheapest option.
- Leverage Your Strengths and Experience: Before you reach out to ANY potential customer or carrier, your mind-set needs to be rock-solid and you better be ready to unleash ALL your company’s strengths and unshakeable reasons why you stand out from your competition. Don’t be like a deer caught in headlights when they start firing questions off to you. If that happens, you’ll never truly be able to win back their full confidence or trust in you and will have started the relationship off on shaky ground. Take a moment with your potential client to share the history of your company to show solid roots and have success stories or customer testimonials at the ready (bonus points if your testimonials/case studies solved issues or addressed concerns similar to your potential client).
- Confidence Is Always King: When stressing the importance of value as compared to your competitors, you should not get into price negotiations. This would be the time to mention the advantages only YOUR business can bring to the table (i.e. 24/7 customer support, online customer portals, technological advantages, etc.). NEVER take things personally and let emotions get involved during negotiations and never bad mouth your competitors.
- You have failed to differentiate yourself from your competition.
- Know Yourself and Know Your Value: You have to be able to list (firmly and capably) your businesses strengths and know them inside and out. You must be able to succinctly communicate what sets you apart from your competition and, therefore, are capable of commanding a higher price. Here are three ways that can help you differentiate yourself and act on IMMEDIATELY:
1) Sell Yourself – It’s common knowledge that when dealing with a person when purchasing a service or product, most times they aren’t just buying what you have to sell…they’re buying the value in YOU! It’s the connection the customer feels with the seller, how they can relate to them, how they feel understood and comfortable by choosing to go with you. So, sell yourself! Be confident in yourself, find that common ground with them, be relatable and be informative. Now’s the time to show off all those years of experience and abilities you’ve acquired, all the knowledge you’ve retained that have made you the seasoned freight broker you are today that allows your business to run smoothly and efficiently. It’s these details and your passion for what you do that, in their eyes, will give you the edge over others and impress upon them why you are better than the rest. Customers revel in the fact that they are doing business with the best of the best. You just have to convince them that you are and then FOLLOW THROUGH! But, don’t be cocky or arrogant – remember, they have MANY others with whom they could do business.
2) Ask Questions…Then LISTEN: Most don’t take the time to ask questions, let alone listen to what their client have to say. Take the time, before-hand, to research your potential customer to have the background information you need in order to ask the right questions. Nobody likes their time wasted and no potential customer will feel important when you ask them questions that show you didn’t do your homework on their business and that’s a deal-killer right off the bat! What better impression to make on a potential client than to demonstrate being pro-active in your information gathering and establishing yourself as a leader in the industry by asking insightful questions.
3) Be Solution-Oriented: When customers are looking for a solution to the problem, they don’t want to hear about all the great things your company can do or care about your flashy company literature. They need a solution and that MUST be your focus if you expect to gain their business. Listen thoroughly to understand the full extent of their need then address that need/concern/issue specifically and satisfactorily. Mention another customer with a similar situation that you’ve helped and what specific actions you took to overcome that obstacle/concern.
- You have failed to build trust or provide a viable solution:
- If you want to build trust and credibility with your customers, and hold on to them for life, follow these 10 important tips (courtesy of Walter Rogers, salesforce):
1) Avoid selling a solution that isn’t in the customer’s best interest. Sometimes you just don’t have the right solution at the right price. If that is the case, it is always best to be honest with the customer, instead of proposing something which you know will not fully deliver the outcome the customer is looking for.
2) Never misrepresent the features, advantages and benefits of a product or service. Customers don’t want a product or solution that only comes close to meeting their needs, or that usually functions properly. Give them the whole, unvarnished truth, and let them decide if the proposed solution will work for them.
3) Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Some sales professionals find it very difficult to say no to the customer about anything. Telling the customer that a certain solution with specific features and benefits will be delivered by a specific deadline, when you know you can’t deliver, is a recipe for disaster.
4) Accepting or offering bribes or gifts is always unethical. There are perhaps no brighter ethical line sales professionals must not cross than the one prohibiting off-the-books inducements.
5) Keep pricing consistent to all departments within the same company. You will poison the relationship and kill the account if the discrepancy is ever discovered.
6) When problems develop after the sale, don’t make excuses and don’t place blame; fix the problem. You are the face of the company; it is your duty as a sales professional to deliver on the promise you made.
7) Don’t withhold bad news. If you think the customer will be upset when you tell them the bad news, just imagine how much more upset they will be when they find out you knew the bad news three weeks ago and hid it from them.
8) If and when you must speak of the competition, be respectful at all times. Some sales professionals seem to think that “trash-talking” the competition will make their own products and services look better. Usually, it only makes them look petty and immature in the eyes of the customer.
9) Always honor the relationships that other sales professionals on your team have with their accounts. Stealing accounts from your team members is just that–stealing.
10) And finally: make promises and keep them. Above all, you must do what you say, when you said you would do it. This one skill alone will put you head and shoulders above your competition.
- Your price is still too high or asked you to reduce your price or match a competitor:
- First off, this may be a red flag. Some individuals are only focused on garnering the lower price – period. Most times, these individuals end up being problem customers and a drain on you and your business. It might be best to just decide to cut bait and move on and save yourself the headache. But, don’t instantly jump to this conclusion. Ask more questions, get a better feel for their needs and flexibility (if any). Sometimes people are just very busy or need to tend to other things and want to cut through the process. Be patient, get more information then make an informed decision.
- For all other times, be empathetic to their concerns and let them know you understand their situation. This brings you over to their side and helps them feel understood and diminishes any feelings they may have that their concern is silly or unjustified. Moving forward, you will need to ask more questions and deal with each objection they have to relieve their apprehension. You need to properly and fully address each objection before moving forward on price. If they don’t feel comfortable in doing business with you, negotiating price is pointless. If you still cannot agree on price, you need to explain why your service is still the better value. Remember to specify to them that, in the long run, choosing to pay a higher price will ultimately provide them with the value they seek (i.e. goods delivered on-time and in good condition). Help them to understand that by choosing you, it will not only make things easier and more stress-free for them, but will reflect positively on their position and make them look better to their superiors.
- Find out what the customer values most when doing business. If you provide the same value as a competitor, then price becomes the only definitive difference. Use this opportunity to impress upon them what only YOU can bring to the table and establish these factors as anchors and testimony to your superior value and thus obvious choice for selecting you.
When a freight broker or any business professional is faced with the negotiation process they must realize from the onset that it’s all really about relationships and selling value every step of the way. Once that mindset is established, you will dramatically cut down on having to negotiate to win business. However, when you are forced to negotiate, you can refer to LDi’s Free Report, “11 No-Fail Negotiation Tactics for Freight Brokers”, a power-house list of critical negotiation tactics geared specifically to overcome objections.
If you have any additional suggestions on winning negotiating techniques, we’d love to hear them! So, please feel free to comment on this or any of LDi’s blog posts or suggest future article topics and thanks for reading!