As a freight broker, you are the bridge between companies who need to ship goods (shippers) and the motor carriers who can transport those shipments via commercial trucks. That means you have a long to-do list each and every day, yet you still need to make time for cultivating new customer relationships. Things move quickly in the transportation business and one of your primary targets as a successful freight broker is finding shippers to add to your book of business. Of course, not every contact will be a qualified lead, which is why you have to be strategic about finding shippers, narrowing your focus to make your search as efficient as possible.
Check out these top 10 tips for brokers for finding shippers, including old school and not-so-old-school methods.
Providing real-time GPS pings to your shippers every five minutes is at the top of this list because it’s directly related to one of the most effective ways for finding shippers: referrals! When you can provide location updates to your shippers every five minutes, it increases the likelihood that they will remain your customers and raises your profile in the shipper community (and is a great lead-in to number two on this list).
When you meet or surpass your current customers’ expectations around tracking and fulfillment of their truckload capacity needs, you increase the chances that your customers will refer new business to you. That’s why it’s so important to treat your current customers like gold and use technology that helps you meet or even exceed their expectations. Choosing the right types of real-time technology to use in your operations and referrals from current customers may even become your primary method for finding shippers.
In the simplest terms, a warm call is a phone call with a prospect with whom you’ve had some prior contact. Perhaps you were introduced via LinkedIn via mutual connection or met at a lunchtime networking event. To make warm calls part of your strategy for finding shippers, you must have a system in place for establishing that initial connection, whether it’s through face to face contact, email or a social media platform. It’s also a good idea to prepare yourself for the warm call by researching the prospect beforehand.
According to some estimates, it can cost five times more to acquire a customer than to retain one, which is why a loyalty program should be on your radar. However, nearly 60 percent of B2B customers reported in a PwC survey that they have never had an experience with a brand that made them feel special. A customer loyalty program can help you reduce your spend on business development and strengthen your relationships with existing customers. Offering discounts for repeat shipments, incentives for successful referrals and other perks can go a long way in creating that positive experience for your shippers.
Orphaned accounts are those accounts where your main point of contact has resigned, retired or gone to work for another company. Signs of orphaned accounts can be undeliverable emails or no responses to messages and phone calls. You can harvest these orphaned accounts with a little research. Start by checking LinkedIn to see if there is someone new in the position and introducing yourself to that person. You also may want to see if your former contact is working with a new company that could be a prospective customer.
Businesses are used to be solicited via email or phone, so direct mail can serve as a slightly different avenue for finding shippers. Most direct mail marketing companies can provide you with industry-specific targeted mailing lists to use for your direct mail campaigns. Printers also often can help you design your direct mail piece to be eye-catching and engaging if you don’t have a marketing team or graphic designer in-house.
Cold calls still work for finding shippers! In contrast with warm calls, cold calls are when you call a prospective customer with whom you haven’t had previous contact. When making cold calls, be sure to highlight the services that can help each respective prospective customer, but also make sure you do some listening. Listening and noting the prospective customer’s pain points can help you when and if you follow up with the contact in the future.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to reinvent in the wheel with your strategy for finding shippers. If you’ve established or want to establish a niche working with a particular type of shipment or customer, look at your current customers’ competitors. Since you’re already familiar with that type of customer, you can provide examples of real-world results that you’ve already achieved within that niche when speaking to your customers’ competition.
Another effective approach to finding shippers is to use industry directories to find detailed info about prospective customers. One well-known source for shipper lists is MacRAE’s Blue Book, a buyers’ guide that includes more than 1 million verified industrial companies. You can access the blue book online and search by industry sector in a matter of seconds.
When expanding your customer base, you want to leverage all of your relationships to your advantage, including your carrier relationships. Consider talking to your trusted carriers about their other customers and whether any of them might be a good fit for your brokerage and the services you offer. Referrals from carriers can be a good source for warm calls and building relationships with new shipper customers.
Once you’ve found shipper customers, discover “Three Ways To Become a Broker of Choice Among Shippers.”