They came up with about six criteria and targeted the company’s sales and marketing efforts accordingly. Setting clear targets for new sales opportunities changed and transformed the business, said Brandon Arnold, vice president of truckload operations for Austin, Texas-based Intelligent Logistics, a 3PL specializing in dry van, flatbed and freight forwarding.
The company shortened its sales cycle by two weeks, and Intelligent Logistics saw profitability and team positivity increase from a winning culture.
As freight heated up in 2021, many shippers have been offering shorter-term contracts. Few contracts last longer than one year, and most are six months or less—with some micro contracts lasting only a few weeks.
Arnold introduced Cargo Chief during a July 27 TIA Lunch & Learn Webinar, Qualifying Shippers to Close Deals Faster. Cargo Chief is a web-based software provider that helps transportation companies identify opportunities to book more freight and consistently move more loads.
Freight mix is one of the most important criteria that 3PLs should be using to qualify customers. Prospective customers should have freight that fits a 3PLs carrier networks in terms of commodities, length of hauls and regions. Pricing and the technology capabilities of customers are also important considerations.
Intelligent Logistics prefers working with customers that use electronic data interchange (EDI), said Arnold, so the company can automatically respond to rate requests and communicate more efficiently.
Strategies discussed in the webinar can help 3PLs compress the sales cycle by using technology to better track their sales activities, and to procure capacity and build relationships of trust more efficiently.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems benefit 3PLs by assisting with the process of qualifying sales leads and tracking interactions to identify bottlenecks and close deals more quickly.
After deals are closed, the onboarding process must be seamless and meet customer expectations at all levels. The most important onboarding process involves the back office to prevent errors in billing and other areas that could spoil relationships early on.
In addition to using a CRM system, Intelligent Logistics utilizes Microsoft Power BI to monitor key metrics in sales and onboarding. The company tracks how long it takes to close deals and monitors important sales activities such as call logs.
The software also helps with tracking important customer behaviors, such as changes in load bookings and revenue.
“If a client moves loads week after week and then tails off, we need to identify that,” he said. “We want to see that happening in real-time.”
3PLs can use various “add-on” tools for transportation management software (TMS) systems to automate capacity procurement more intelligently and consistently book more freight with their customers.
For capacity procurement, 3PLs can take advantage of the fact that many drivers now prefer to interact through mobile apps. For efficiency, many shippers prefer to visit a 3PLs website or use real-time integrations with their TMS systems to obtain instant quotes and book loads. Some may like email or phone calls as well. To maximize transaction speed, your technology should cover every angle.
3PLs can also use capacity procurement tools that identify where they already have good coverage on specific lanes to help close deals faster. Monitoring carrier-to-load ratios for each lane could reveal both sales and cost-saving opportunities. For example, if a 3PL runs a lane 30 times a month using 30 different carriers, it could save significant time and money by doing the same loads with five other carriers.
Putting the right marketing strategies and technologies in place can assist 3PLs with the most crucial process to close deals—building trust with customers and carriers. The foundation for trust is built on expertise, knowledge, and service levels.
When plans go awry, such as when a carrier falls off a load commitment at the last minute, 3PLs can strengthen their brand with customers by doing whatever possible to cover the load while proactively communicating the status.
3PLs that showcase a strong line of communication with carriers in their networks can show customers they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their commitments, which will undoubtedly help close the next deal.