No business can grow without sales.
Earlier sales strategists escalated a mantra, which was called ABC (always be closing). Where the main tactic was hard-selling; unfortunately, this method does not work anymore.
Connectivity created massive possibilities for Logistics businesses to get new prospects every day from all over the world. It has created opportunities to connect different supply chains and create more value for the customer. Finally, there are many ways to create unique value propositions to your clients and stay ahead of your competition.
Though only a few companies are using out all the possibilities provided, most organizations decide to do their business in the old way. Instead of or prosperity, they choose to struggle every day.
We need not forget that today’s customers are smarter than ever before. Outdated methods like hard-selling, referral-based Growth, cold calling without a strategy, and doing business with few customers don’t work anymore.
In the Logistics sector, competition is ever-growing. A company from Thailand can steal your client in Europe. Furthermore, new logistics platforms are being created every day, which threatens the existence of traditional intermediaries.
Foreword thinking Logistics providers need to develop new sales, marketing, and customer relationship strategies, to cut through the noise and reach the customer.
The new sales mantra should transform to CBS (customer based selling), where the main hero is your customer. And the main goal is to create value for the hero.
Although the implementation of those strategies isn’t as easy as it sounds, companies need to think not only about a single strategy. Instead, companies need to align sales, inbound marketing, and customer relationship strategies, as this is the only sustainable way for Growth.
Logistics companies need to start thinking about the customer’s journey, from prospecting till closing. After all, a positive buying experience is essential as never before.
Therefore, companies need to apply custom-oriented practices during the lifetime of the customer.
Yes, there is plenty of new processes involved.
But without this new approach, Companies eventually will lose the competition. And Covid-19 is confirming this thesis, as undiversified businesses are struggling.
The only way to diversify your business is?
Adding new qualified leads to your pipeline every month and converting them. Companies can achieve this by combining sales and marketing activities.
I know that many traditional businesses will try to fight this idea to the end. Those traditional approach companies are hiring sales or logistics managers who will be trying to sell their services by cold calling and, in most cases, without any luck. And those companies believe that marketing is an unnecessary expense.
Some companies understand that alignment is needed, but they do not how to start.
And of course, many companies understand the need for change and are implementing needed solutions.
If you would ask me why some logistics providers are avoiding implementing sales development and marketing strategies?
I would say that they do not measure the sales KPI (conversion rates, lead count, Old/new customer ratio, customers lifetime value, customer acquisition costs, etc.). Because otherwise, the new reality should be crystal clear.
This guide will introduce Logistics service providers with a model for aligning sales, marketing, and customer relationship strategies. And we will provide wit evidence that this is the right way to be taken.
UNDERSTANDING THE PRESENT SITUATION
There are three significant opinions found within sales and marketing professionals today:
- The best way to generate leads is to use outbound marketing strategies only.
- The best way to generate leads is to use inbound marketing strategies together with traditional sales tactics.
- And purely sales approach, without any marketing activities included.
Although many professionals are saying that email and phone marketing is dead and the best way to generate leads is with inbound marketing activities only (blog, webinars, video sales letter, etc.). We believe that the fastest results can be achieved, combining sales and marketing activities. Furthermore, to win it in this new world, a customer relationship management strategy should be applied as well.
Before we start will start to discuss the alignment of strategies, it’s essential to understand how Logistics organizations are selling their services today.
Marketing and sales
As strange as it might sound but most small or medium-sized Forwarders doesn’t have a pure sales or marketing department. In those organizations, the same manager is responsible for: prospecting, lead generation, marketing activities, email marketing, invoice issuing, finding right haulers, solving issues, and much more. You can see the model below.
And there are companies which have split their sales activities.
In such a case, one side is responsible for generating leads and the other side for closing. Most likely, SDR will be responsible for marketing and customer relationship management activities in this model.
The neuroscience studies have revealed to us that humans can do one activity at a time; multitasking creates mistakes. It’s crystal clear that one employee isn’t able to perform all tasks correctly.
And we need not forget that only 3% of customers are ready to buy at the time when you are pitching, look at the Chet Holmes study below.
What does it say to us?
If you do not follow up on your prospects in a proper manner, you are leaving 97% possible customers on the table for your competition to pick up.
And then, we have a second compelling study from Microsoft, which is stating that at least 12 interaction points with a prospect is needed until a customer is born.
The same study reveals that 89% of salespeople give up after four attempts to connect.
And it’s not a surprise as it’s hard to perform this count of interactions with only sales activities. Furthermore, overwhelmed managers do not have the time needed to nurture they’ r client’s appropriately.
In the end sales and marketing is a game of numbers, leaders need to stop for a moment and think if your company isn’t doing the sales and marketing thing properly, you are sabotaging the potential Growth.
The customer relationships department is rarely found at any Logistics business, excluding technological solutions providers.
And we do not believe that this department is needed for small service providers, as there are other solutions which can be applied. However, it’s vital to understand that this is one of the most crucial parts when creating a competitive advantage. Furthermore, this part is becoming so complicated that companies need to find ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.
To better understand this new trend, we need to look at how the consumer journey changed during this decade.
As we can see from the picture below, the new consumer Journey map has evolved together with the technologies. The Old model was seen in a world where the connectivity was low. The new model was found in the super fast and connected world.
Customers today demand convenience and speed, they prefer to deal with socially aware and trustworthy partners.
Having in mind the longer customer journey, if you will not have a customer relationship strategy and responsible employees, you will not be able to interact with him at all stages.
How does this model look today? How do customers search, decide to buy, and te recommend your services to others? It’s explained in the picture below.
The five A’s of the customer path: Awareness, Appeal, Ask, Act, Advocate, can be transformed into a more straight word model: Awareness, Findability, Reputation, Conversion, and Advocacy.
Today customers before making a buying decision firstly will learn about your service, then check your company website, look for referrals among friends or on the internet, meet with you and only then decide either to buy or to turn down your offer.
And solely after the service will be provided, they will sum up all the touching points, walk through the quality of your service provided at each stage, and chose to come back and to refer your services or will forget you and move on.
Your goal is to drive your customer from Awareness to Advocacy. Companies can achieve this by creating influence at the Own, other, and outer stages (The O3 model). The “Outer” comes from external sources; it’s related to advertising and other marketing communications. The “other” is related to the referrals which come from your friends, customers, community, internet other sources. And the “own” influence comes from within oneself. It’s a result of past experiences and interactions with several brands, individual preferences.
The main goal of your company is to identify your self and leverage your customer’s experience at each touching point. Customer relationships make sure that those interactions went smoothly and within the guidelines of your communications plan.
HOW DOES THE IDEAL MODEL LOOK?
There are few significant wrong perceptions found at Logistics service providers related to marketing, sales, and customer relationship strategies:
- They do not believe that marketing and customer relationship strategies are needed.
- They believe that one employer can do all the tasks.
- They think that those strategies are related to substantial marketing budgets.
- They are implementing the same tactics as with consumer goods.
- They think that they have those strategies, but do not get any results.
- They think that it’s hard and expensive to implement.
Let’s quickly walk through all those perceptions. Later this will help to create the perfect model.
They do not believe that marketing and customer relationship strategies are needed
We have already provided a vast amount of evidence in the first half of the paper that your customers have changed; therefore, you need to adjust accordingly.
They believe that one employer can do all the tasks
It would be great if you would find one employee to understand all those disciplines and perform all tasks alone. Nevertheless, they are hard to find, as there is only a handful of few in the world. To better illustrate the complexity, let’s look at the picture below.
As you can see, there are plenty of functions involved in each activity; it’s hardly possible for a one-person show to achieve tangible results.
They think that those strategies are related to substantial advertisement budgets
For most logistics service providers, there is no need to spend money on advertisements.
There are exceptions with technological service providers, which need to grow their network fast; they can achieve better results with paid Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin advertisement.
If you are not a technology provider, your investments need to be allocated to content and marketing-friendly website creation. And you will need to spend a few dollars monthly on technology, which helps automate and track your marketing activities.
They are implementing the same tactics as with the consumer goods
Marketing logistics it’s not the same as marketing consumer goods; if you are doing so, then you are simply throwing out your money.
The only activity you need to bother with is creating content for your customers to build awareness and brand yourself as a trusted advisor.
They think that they have those strategies, but do not get any results
There is a vast difference between having and believing that you have. A good strategy needs to be well documented, agreed with personnel, and measurable. If you have such a system in your operations, and if it doesn’t perform as thought, you should be able to identify underperforming parts and to modify or change them.
If your policies don’t fit into the above criteria, then your company has only initiatives, not strategies.
They think that it’s hard and expensive to implement
Yes, it is true. It’s tough to implement needed procedures, and it will require some investments in the initial stage. Although you need to ask yourself, what is the price if you will stick with the old view? In most cases, the price is the shut down of your business.
The only sustainable way for a logistics business is Growth. If your organization isn’t growing, it means she is declining. Sadly, most organizations stick with the old way and sabotage growth.
We have great news for you as it’s not so hard an expensive as you may think.
The technologies needed for your operations are not as expensive as they were before; most of them are cloud-based and paid monthly.
Furthermore, most of the marketing and sales development tasks can be outsourced to third parties, saving your company loads of funds.
If you do not know how to document, implement, and execute those strategies, there is plenty of free and paid consultation for you.
If you would like to read our article about the trends shaping the logistics industry, you can read our report by pressing the link:
How to build an aligned model into your operations?
The main idea of the alignment is to make sure that responsible employees adequately cover all the revenue-generating activities.
Mos initiatives in the organization fail because of bad execution. We know plenty of ides which doesn’t evolve from the initial stage.
At the simplest level, the process alignment could be started as per the road map bellow.
The project starts from the awareness phase, where firstly, companies understand the need and benefits of creating and aligning sales, marketing, and customer relationship programs. Firstly, companies need to create a baseline, vision, and to set goals.
Secondly, organizations need to understand the situation they are going to change profoundly. It’s essential to draw your existing process maps; otherwise, there is a chance that you get lost in the following stages.
Thirdly, you need to start the baseline for change management, as employes’ resistance will appear. Therefore, it’s essential to identify the barriers, issues, and find ways to eliminate them. If you aren’t starting from scratch, start talking with your team and get the buy-in or at least hear out objections and deal with them later.
It’s highly recommended to include your team in all processes to avoid sabotage in the future.
In the second phase, companies need to design the project and the structure required to achieve the goals.
Now organizations need to draw a project framework, create a plan, draw process maps, and create a structure.
It’s essential to create a clear roadmap with a time table when the processes will be built, and who will be responsible for the implementation.
To succeed, you will have you need to have KPIs to measure the progress. Furthermore, companies need to set goals fr the team to follow. Having a technology right technology at hand will help to regulate the achievements.
Secondly, it’s imperative to create communication and governance structure.
Implement and test
When all processes are set to go, companies need to implement those processes. They need to hire a team and manage the transitional period. We all know that during the transition, there will be few drawbacks. You may even see a short time revenue shrinkage. Don’t worry; you need to focus on the long run.
In this phase, there may be some blocking from the old team members. The resistance should be eliminated in the design phase by involving your team. Nevertheless, every organization has employees who will sabotage any idea, just for fun. My advice is to remove the poison from your organization at once.
And lastly, there will be errors in the beginning. Mistakes aren’t a bad thing as they encourage us to improve ourselves. The main idea is to identify the mistakes, learn on them, eliminate and improve processes.
Optimization is the most crucial part of your project. The continuous improvement processes are built into your organization’s DNA at this phase.
The main goal is to measure your KPI’s against the original business case and set up benchmarks for improvements. The analysis of present and future situations need to appear over and over again.
Companies can create even more value if they involve all department’s in this stage.
In most Logistics organizations, you can find a never-ending fight between sales, marketing, logistics departments. Most of the day, you will see employees arguing and blaming each other for lousy pricing, delays, on horrible quality, on the inability to deliver the needed outcomes, and much more.
Leaders can build a continuous improvement program by implementing a constructive problem-solving process.
If all those departments will not only argue but also discuss how they could help each other in solving issues, a service excellence program will be born.
Therefore I recommend companies to stipulate such interactions and set up such communications into the companies culture.
In this phase real alignment processes begin to find a place in your operations.
Thank you for reading.