You can find many sales advice on the web. Some are great, some average, others poor. There is another trait that you can notice within those pieces of advice, as in most cases, they are all general. Therefore, it’s pretty hard to adjust to concrete companies’ situations. I will save you some time and introduce a few ways that work exceptionally well at generating new customers for any logistics provider (with some minor adjustments). This method is tested and generates excellent conversion rates, but I warn you that it takes time, dedication, and deep knowledge about your industry and customers.
Moreover, as with all other services sales, if your service or service experience is poor, then nothing will work in the long run. Therefore, sales and marketing strategies need to go together with excellent services and extraordinary service experience (more on this you can find here).
How different are logistics services sales compared to other services sales?
First, it’s essential to understand the main characteristics of logistics services sales. Logistics services fit the B2B sales category. It’s an expensive service. Some cases (like 3Pl/4PL) involve many moving service parts. The decision to switch to another service provider is rarely made (excluding spot sales), and the cost of a mistake can sum in too many thousands or millions.
Moreover, in most cases, the decision-makers on the shipper’s side are in the “C “or at least “V “level. They are old wolves serving in the logistics procurement arena for many years. Those decision-makers are super busy and often break nuts to inexperienced sales managers. Finally, if talking about demographics, the decision-makers can be related to Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers generations.
Therefore logistics organizations can’t use tactics to sell low-value transactional services – calling and selling your service straightforward. No customer will reward you with their goods if they will not trust you and be sure that you will not make mistakes.
Moreover, as the decision-makers are pretty severe, you can’t use some hype, spray and pray tactics for selling your services. Those guys need to be sure that they are dealing with a severe sales manager and a serious company that can deliver their promises.
In addition, as logistics is an enormous industry, it’s also essential to understand your customer’s buying journey. For example, trucking services have a shorter buying journey and more straightforward sales process than 3PL or 4 PL services. The sales process length and difficulty are based on your service’s moving parts count and complexity. So if your organization is using the wrong process, it can serve as a limiting growth potential factor. And today, with the abundance of information, it’s easy to choose the wrong path.
Organizations can’t also use comprehensive marketing outreach tactics to get new customers like consumer goods or other transactional services. Because in logistics sales, trust plays a crucial role. Moreover, it’s tough to target someone in the buying window already who has no long-term obligations. Of course, when working on branding initiatives, prominent companies need to use broad outreach tactics. But again, they need to understand that it’s pretty hard to reach shippers that will be interested in your particular service. For example, if you use ad’s just to put your service offer on social media or Industry journals, you may reach a vast audience that is not good for your business. Only AdWords or SEO can actually work for a logistics business. But again, you need to consider whether the quantity is essential for you or the quality is more significant. As with Google, you can get many price shoppers looking for a lower price instead of long-term cooperation.
And as the logistics sales cycle is quite long in most cases, companies that do not have a long-term sales developement strategy are leaving many funds on the table for their competition. Therefore, logistics businesses need to have both short and long-term sales strategies implemented into their new business developement process.
Which sales&marketing strategies to use for selling logistics services?
Before going into the bushes, I would like to repeat two critical points from above. First, to get new customers, you need to understand that getting customers in logistics is related to two main traits: Building trust and dealing with experienced decision-makers. Therefore logistics businesses need to combine the proper marketing with the right sales tactics to reach customers. Moreover, the best results are achieved when organizations align both processes. If you look at any logistics growth organization, growing 50-1000% per year, they all have implemented and aligned sales processes and separated new business development. They also have worked on creating the best service experience, but this is not the topic of this article, so that you can find more about it here.
The right marketing strategy can help logistics businesses shorten sales cycles, identify leads in the buying window, differentiate from the competition, and prolong customers’ lifetime value.
A good marketing strategy consists of competitor analysis, identifying differentiators, and creating a strategy for marketing those key differentiators, alignment with sales, lead generation process, long-term drip campaign, and existing customers retention process. Organizations can find all those traits in two popular marketing strategies, and I recommend using those in your logistics business. Those strategies are called Account-based marketing and Industry based marketing.
With those approaches, you will either approach concrete accounts or industries. In such a way, you will not spread your marketing budget into the air, but you will have an excellent measurable strategy that gets you results faster. Because with this strategy, you will create content that highly resonates with your prospects, putting you in front of your competition.
Moreover, you will create a community around your brand, which builds trust. Eventually, your prospects will start thinking, hell, this company knows me and my business better than I do, and they create so much value for my organization, Let’s start working with them. And your existing customers will start thinking, hell, the time I signed the contract with this company was the best day ever – I will never switch to anybody else.
It is precisely what today’s procurement organizations are looking for from service providers. They are exhausted from the add count they see, exhausted from service providers that do not create any value, and finally, exhausted from straightforward sellers. They need to see the value, and you can’t create value with comprehensive strategies.
The sales process is the second part of a successful new business generation process. Today, many businesses are being tricked into believing that you just need to do marketing (inbound, social), and the customers will flood your business (a.k.a. customers do not want to talk to salespeople, they reach out when they need your services). But, of course, those in sales know that this is a complete b..s.
It is precisely what today’s procurement organizations need and are looking for from service providers. They are exhausted from the add count they see, exhausted from service providers that do not create any value, and finally, exhausted from straightforward sellers. They need to see the value, and you can’t create value with comprehensive strategies.
In reality, logistics organizations need to put more effort into getting new high-worth customers. For this to happen, they need to combine marketing touches with sales touches and have long-term drip strategies for following up with the leads and prospects. Moreover, they need to create value with each touch. Finally, it would help if organizations used all available technology (CRM, analytics tools, databases, Linkedin, automation tools, etc.) to align those processes properly to get better than average results.
This is all for this week, we touched on the fundamentals, and I will come back with the second part, following the Logistics newsletter parts.
In conclusion, I want to add that I’ve seen many new business developement failures in my life (including my own), and those are often related to wrong sales or marketing processes. But unfortunately, I’ve also seen many organizations that do not have a new business generation process, serving few key customers. Or are entirely hooked on spot sales and cannot find the balance between spot and long-term customers.
Success is found when you find the right balance within the sales and marketing process.
If your organization is looking for ways to create a killer new business developement process, please arrange a call with me; I can help you with that. We are working exceptionally with the logistics industry. Therefore, we know how to align your process and find balance. For example, what fits a small freight forwarder will never work for a big logistics company and vice versa. Or what works for a traditional logistics company will never work for a logistics SaaS business.
Hit the link below and arrange a call; I promise we will save you a lot of time, money, and lost revenues.
About the Author:
Tomas Ananjevas is a supply chain professional with 15 years of experience purchasing and selling Logistic’s services and building a supply chain from scratch. He founded a consulting, training, and staffing company that works exclusively with the logistics industry. Tomas is currently helping logistics companies implement the necessary changes that ensure business growth and continuity. You can arrange a time to talk with tomas by clicking here.