Learning and mastering the art, the science and the “skill at feel” needed to start achieving any kind of success as a transportation professional in this highly competitive industry requires concerted effort, proper training and lots and lots of practice; and then failing repeatedly and learning from those failed attempts is how a FREIGHT NINJA is forged, as it pertains to prospecting and new business development.
Of course, not everyone is easily able to grasp the concept of due process. Some wholeheartedly believe that just because they have a shiny new truck with lots of chrome and bright sparkly lights that somehow, they are automatically entitled to nothing less than $3 per mile. And then there are those that just aren’t in a position to be able to spend any appreciable length of time in order to learn what it takes to achieve success as a salesperson in the freight transportation game – for those people, there are load boards.
For the intelligent few that are willing to put in just a little effort to learn a new strategy to connect directly with shippers in a unique and effective way but unfortunately have limited resources and time with no access to ongoing mentorship, here’s a step-by-step formula for getting in front of and selling your transportation services to shippers, effortlessly.
This is a tried and tested blueprint effective even for those with little to no experience in freight/transportation sales. No guess work required. Simply copy and paste and most will experience success like never before. Here are the steps:
Compile hit list of shippers – be as specific as possible. Choose 1 niche and ONLY 1 niche to begin with. For example, you might consider cabinet makers, automotive parts, trade show booth manufacturers, etc. A great place to start gathering info on shippers is your local chamber of commerce.
Cold call shippers – when they answer, DO NOT...DO NOT..DO NOT...ask to be redirected to shipping/receiving, or to the decision maker or the traffic manager or talk about the weather or the bloody NFL game results from last Saturday, or some other BS. Get straight to the point. You're not calling to make friends or "build a relationship" or some other useless tactic. You're calling to make money. That's all. That's it. Most people will screw this up because of prior “bad programming” – resist the urge to talk shop. Get STRAIGHT to the point!
Once on the phone, treat the person on the other end of the line as THE person you need to talk to. Treat him/her as if they are the sole decision maker. Treat them as if they are neither a “gate keeper” nor a switchboard. Treat them like they are there to help you get results. And this, they will do if you stick to the game plan.
DO NOT address them using a title such as Sir, Ma’am, Mr., Mrs., Miss, etc.; instead, address them with just their first name and first name ONLY; regardless of who it is you speak with.
Next, after you’ve introduced yourself succinctly, incorporate the following into your dialogue: "..does your company accept ideas from outside of your organization..?".
9 out of 10 won't have a clue about WTF this means. That's fine. Let them ask you what you mean. Just reiterate when the do, as follows:
"I have an idea I want to submit to your company. Do you know who I should address it to?" - at this point they will either transfer you to someone they think will be able to help (because they themselves don’t understand you thus far) or they'll just offer you an email. If you get the email, great. If not, rinse and repeat with the person they transfer you to. Once you have an email, ALWAYS remember to ask if they have an "ops" email that you should include and CC into your idea submission. Operations emails are typically received by everyone on the team that's in charge of their logistics. If not, a single email will suffice.
Now, instead of following up with some spammy email that screams ME! ME! ME! look at ME!!!!, what you're instead going to send them is a very simple one liner-email.
nice chatting earlier. Here's the link to my idea for your company.
This link will be a Loom link. If you're not familiar with Loom yet, get familiarized asap.
This link that Bob clicks on will launch a short video of your beautiful face talking to the camera with a small presentation showing in the background. And this presentation is a short couple of ideas on how this shipper might be able to improve upon their efficiency or whatever and be more profitable as a result of working with you; be creative here. And the only way to do that is to have a thorough understanding of your target niche market. Think of this as your company sales letter on steroids. Record it once in under a minute or two on your cellphone or in front of your laptop camera and now you have a powerful tool that you can use over and over again. The video length should ideally be less than 60 seconds. Just remember to talk specifics only.
But if you really don't have a way to improve a shipper's life then you're wasting your time and the shipper’s time and nobody will care about you. If you honestly don't have a unique, novel solution then why are you in this business? However, if you can truly find a way to show them what you can do for them in a no-nonsense kind of way, you'll have a customer for a very long time. Show them that you’re a LOGISTICIAN, a problem solver, a trouble shooter. But if you come across like the typical cry-baby whiner that won’t move his truck for less than $3 per mile because you’re completely disconnected from reality, well then, I’m afraid your days are numbered. Sorry.
The more specific you can get with your solution the quicker you'll get them on board. For example, instead of saying that you can move their freight because you “got trucks in their area”, (just like everyone else), you might want to consider being super specific. For example: "..with our scheduled nightly runs from Dallas to Los Angeles, I'll be able to cover your [FILL IN THE BLANK] at approximately [FILL IN THE BLANK] on Mondays, and.." - be creative and be specific. Get the picture?
The idea is to be effective and efficient. Just remember, professionals solve problems; they are troubleshooters. Professionals offer solutions and as a result, get recommended to others through word of mouth. Cry babies with a sense of entitlement remain parked In Laredo, TX for days on end because no one wants to work with them. Please don’t be that guy.
After an hour of sending this one-liner email, follow up with another short message, assuming they haven’t reached out to you in response already, as follows:
hope you and your team have had a chance to consider my message and what it means for your bottom line. If you can see that this could prove beneficial for you, let's talk.
Do any of these meeting times work for you?
0800 0830 0900 (<- set up a free account with Calendly to embed these into your email. Provide 3 options only, all before noon).
Let me know what time works best for you and I'll reach out to you at that time.
Just these 5 simple steps alone will skyrocket your email open rate and engagement with your prospects.
Once you have this down pat, you can then start scaling exponentially.
Note: if you utilize software like MailChimp and focus on just 1 niche at the beginning, you’ll be able to reach hundreds of key decision makers this way with minimal effort. Video links have a tendency to get shared, in case you haven’t noticed. Start taking advantage of this by adopting this new strategy asap.
I don’t recommend this but I know many that achieve success even without the initial cold call. You might be tempted to skip step 2 altogether and just cold email the shipper – you can and it works. But a quick phone call just before sending the video link email will skyrocket your email open rate and ultimately, the growth of your book of business.
I't's our hope that this post provides encouragement for you to take action now and to illustrate that connecting with future customers can be easy, rather straightforward and doesn’t have to be daunting. This is a tried and tested methodology that simply works.
If you’re willing to implement this strategy and need some clarification along the way then let’s have an open conversation so that we may be able to guide you as best as we can.
P.S remember to click on the messenger button on the bottom-right hand side of your screen to get more information on how you can do away with cold calling altogether and have shippers approach you instead.