Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Freight Forwarders: Here Are 3 Keys To Attracting More Business

It's rough sailing in the seas of logistics right now, especially if you're a freight forwarder.

With carriers raising their rates, it become less profitable to import or export products. That makes it harder than ever for you to get new business. And if you're like most freight forwarders, you might not be taking full advantage of what you have to attract new clients.

There are several incredibly easy methods of making sure you are maximizing your lead generation and client list.

Here are three of them:

Secret # 1: Don't Just Focus On Price

Now, you know that many of your prospects come to you because you can get them the best rates on shipping.

And that's important.

But you offer something much greater than being able to save them money: Your expert experience from years of handling freight.

You know just how valuable that is when it comes to making sure everything goes smoothly.

  • Whether it's getting shipments through customs in days instead of weeks...
  • Whether it's making sure that freight going across the water is totally secure and insured from the worst threats, without breaking the bank...
  • Whether it's negotiating with carriers to save your clients time and money they didn't even know was on the table...

That experience matters. And you NEED to sell THAT to your prospects.

So next time you're talking about your services, explain exactly how you can help your clients outside of just getting them the best rates. In fact, you should put a price on your expertise whenever you can. You can even market that that initial conversation with a prospect as a free consultation.

You'll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Secret #2: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

How many times have you gotten business simply because you happened to talk to the right person at the right time?

Freight is seasonal. And a client who needs something moved today might have another job for you in a few months. But only if you talk to them about it.

So communicate.

DON'T ASSUME that if your past clients and prospects need freight moved, they'll automatically think of you. You need to remind them. Constantly. And it doesn't need to be a hard-sell.

Send them holiday cards or e-mails. When you read a particular article online or in the newspaper that relates to them, mention it to them. Keep track of what they're doing on LinkedIn and congratulate them on milestones.

If you keep it up, we guarantee that you will hear that sentence: "Great to hear from you, do you happen to handle...."

Secret #3: Get More Leads With Automatic Online Quotes

In the modern day, your website is the face of your business. So it's not surprising that most freight forwarders today get a vast majority of their business through their online presence.

Now, most websites have something like a "contact us" page. The prospect fills out their information and sends it. Then you reply with a quote and engage with the prospect.

But there's a problem with this method: They just want a quote. And they don't want to wait hours or days for it.

One method of drastically increasing the number of inquiries you receive is to use an online form that will automatically quote rates. Your customer can then book the shipment right there, on the spot. There is no delay from extra phone calls and waiting for someone to get back to them. 

Rate management software like Catapult International's QMS and QMSlite products are cost effective tools that enable you to offer real time quoting from your website. 

Growing sales is often a matter of eliminating friction from the selling process - and the "back and forth" of quoting creates a lot of that friction. Aside from the other benefits of a rate management solution, online quoting maybe the best way to improve sales for your business.

It enables you to capture all those people who are reluctant to talk to someone just to get a quote. More importantly, it's a feature that your competitors most likely won't have.

A recent survey of forwarders shows that less than 25% of your competition has this capability.

The question was posed to a group of forwarders about their process for how they get quotes to customers. The goal was to find out how many companies were taking advantage of the available technology. The four responses included:

Customer calls you on the phone: 22%

Customer send you an email and you email back: 44%

Form on your site and you email back: 11%

Instant quote on your site - no waiting: 23%

This may be the competitive edge your business is looking for.

There are hundreds of other methods of getting leads.

But there is a saying that comes to mind:

"Choose just three ways of getting clients, and do them well," said a great marketer. "You will have all the business you can handle."