Your book of business is your lifeline. In other words, the more robust your customer base, the stronger your business continuity. At LDI, we talk a lot about your book of business’s health, and that means evaluating all those customers.
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.
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!
When we are about to venture into new territory, we all wish we knew the right way to proceed or a roadmap that led us to a destination of success. In reality, it’s never that easy. If you’re starting out in the freight sales agent profession, calling on a prospect is not only a priority – it’s a necessity to establish and grow your freight broker business. And as a freight broker agent, you know that making effective sales calls is the difference between success and failure. You also know it’s not about getting prospects to just come on board. It’s about keeping them actively shipping with you, while offering them great service and the best prices.
So, wouldn’t it be great to know the freight broker’s secret to making a top class sales call? While it may seem simple, it most certainly is not easy. You will have to persevere through rejection and work hard day after day, bouncing back from the challenges of calling prospects. As once homeless then turned professional football player in the NFL and now motivational speaker, Eric Thomas says, “All roads that lead to success have to pass through Hard Work Boulevard at some point”.
85% of Your Financial Success
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85% of your financial success is due to your personality and your ability to lead, communicate and negotiate. Believe it or not, only 15% comes from technical knowledge. This is exactly the opposite of what the world tells you. We are told that the path to take is to go to school, get a degree and get the knowledge. Unfortunately, this only accounts for 15% of success! What the world doesn’t teach you is the other 85% – how to communicate, negotiate and lead. We are left to figure all that out by ourselves.
What You MUST Do When Making a Sales Call
Earning a prospect’s business by making them feel special and not just being the next name on a long list of sales prospects is the key to being a successful freight broker agent. You need to take the time to learn a bit about your prospect’s business/background, be well prepared before the call and always operate under the conviction that freight broker rock stars consistently do what average freight agents don’t or won’t.
Sales Call Information Sheet & Sales Call Script
To have a no-fail Sales Call, you need a no-fail Sales Call Information Sheet. A good habit to get into, is having a Sales Call Information Sheet that includes these important key details about the company/contact with whom you will be connecting:
- Company name
- Company phone number
- Company fax number
- Main contact name
- First contact name
- First contact date
- Products / Services
- Important information
- Email address
- Physical address
Why is this information so important to know, you ask? The answer is simple: because it’s these key details that will help you later construct a no-fail Sales Script*. And yes, it’s a given that information gathering is hard work but it will ALL be worth it when you plug your information into your Sales Script and become a top-producing, rock star freight agent.
It may sound basic but, in the freight broker business, perfecting your sales calls is the most important thing you’ll do in this profession. When you treat this part of your job with the importance it deserves, invest the amount of time that is necessary to obtain the information you need AND combine it with our no-fail Sales Information Sheet and our no-fail Sales Call Script, you will possess the weapons you need in your freight broker arsenal that will propel you and your freight broker business to accomplish what you had only ever dreamed of achieving!
If you have questions about this report or want more information about the industry’s most respected freight broker agent program, visit www.LogisticDynamics.com or call us today at 1-800-554-3734.
*For a great sample template of our no-fail Sales Call Script, please click here for the Free Report, “How to Be a Freight Broker Sales Call Rock Star”.
Just as there are recipes for success, there are recipes for failure. As a freight broker agent, you’ve done your homework and you’ve tested things during the course of your business that have helped you determine what works and what does not. For a freight broker agent, a typical day almost always involves having several balls in the air at once. And when things get busy or you get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of things, it’s all too easy to slip into low gear or take your eye off the prize. For instance, how many of you have lost sight of obtaining new contacts, emails or phone numbers? How many of you stopped building your contact list? Or only send emails rather than use the phone, if you DO make any contacts? Do you believe that your customers will stay loyal and always work with you? Do you only service the current customers that you have? Or maybe you’ve decided to coast and rest on the current flow of business that you have. These behaviors sound pretty harmless and might even be acceptable to you. But know this: If you continue on this path for your business, you are most definitely creating a Recipe for Failure.
The billionaire Charlie Munger has a strategy to discover how to be successful called “Inversion”. Basically, this strategy means that in order to figure out how to BE successful, you must first ask what it would take to be UNsuccessful. Freight broker agents can apply this principle to moving freight as well. So, according to Munger’s strategy, the following actionables would be a Freight Broker’s Recipe for Success:
- Obtain three new email contacts and three new phone numbers every day.
- Call 10 prospects every day.
- Add to your contact list every day.
- Use the telephone as much as possible rather than just sending emails.
- Be aware that your customers will eventually leave at some point, so prepare by adding to and diversifying your contact list.
Remember, this is a minimum. Following this Recipe for Success isn’t just for when you’re not doing as well or not moving as much freight as you would like. A successful freight broker would continue following this Recipe for Success even when they don’t have to. So when the down cycle comes, for example in December which is typically a slow month in the freight sales industry, you’ll be so well prepared with your large and prosperous contact list that you won’t feel any strain. It’s just like Sun Tzu said, “Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small”.
Ten calls a day and 3 new contacts a day is a minimum. Want to get ahead FASTER, then:
- Make more calls.
- Contact more new prospects.
- Diversify your contact list.
When you’re in a down cycle, it’s just as important to keep following this recipe. During these times, diversify your contact list. Just as you wouldn’t invest all your money in the stock market in just one stock or bond, don’t put all your hopes of moving freight on just a few prospects.
Getting three new contacts a day is increasing the investment you have in this industry. When you do this, the result is simple: you make more sales and achieve your goals faster, building an ongoing successful freight agent business.