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How to qualify the best freight leads

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Freight Sales Pro Tip #1
How to qualify the best freight leads

Freight sales is part of the business to business repeat service space. Successful sales in this sector requires a unique methodology. Sales and marketing professionals with experience in other sectors are often unaware of the unique approach, cadences and messaging required to achieve the best freight sales results.

It is important to understand the “Why” before learning about the “What” and “How”. If interested, please read on…

The freight, logistics and transportation industry is saturated and highly competitive. Decision makers (referred to as traffic managers from this point forward in the article) have 6 to 10 new sales reps per week engaging them. Traffic managers do not need to search for a new service provider because the sales reps are continuously finding and engaging them. This is the reason so many marketing managers become frustrated with sales reps not following up on leads that their websites and social media accounts produce. The bulk of people searching for freight service providers on the internet or social media fall into three categories. The first is the shipper with bad credit and all of their service providers have cut them off. The second is the startup with no volume or credit. The third are individuals looking to move personal effects once or twice. Sales reps looking for repeat shippers will not waste their time on leads of this nature.

Traffic managers are often wear several hats. In addition to selecting freight service providers, these managers are often tasked with managing a dock, warehouse or facility. This means that sales reps, other than freight sales, are also competing for their attention.

It is common for sales reps to purchase data lists or to subscribe to websites that compile, store and display contact data that the sales rep use to search, filter, identify and download leads that fit their target customer profile. The great part of these data sources is that they make searching for prospects easy. The reality of these data sources is that the information is can be incorrect, outdated, purposely deceiving and sold to most / all of your competitors. Executives, managers and key contacts on these lists are so overwhelmed with sales calls and unsolicited emails that they often provide a legitimate email address that goes directly to spam and a phone number or extension that routes to an unmonitored voicemail box. The data list providers are sophisticated enough to test the validity of the data received, but there is no way for them to know if the data provided to them is purposely aimed at reducing interruptions by sales reps. The managers only give their direct email and phone information to people that have earned their respect or that they want to work with.

A very high percentage of sales reps take the path of least resistance when it comes to qualifying new leads. These reps send unsolicited emails (SPAM) to the email addresses provided by the data sources. The bulk of the emails appear to be opened but nothing comes from the open. The “open” result is registered when the email server receives the email, opens it to scan and then to routes the message to the trash folder. Worst case scenario is when the email server is setup to mark the sender as a spammer which automatically rejects or deletes all future emails from that sender or domain.

Now that we’ve written about the “Why” and the “What”, we finally come to the reason you’re reading this article. To learn “How to qualify the best freight leads.”

Where to find the best lead sources. If you are fortunate enough to have access to past shipping data, this is, by far, the best source of leads. If you are working for a freight service provider such as a freight broker, trucking company or agency this data is found in the company’s TMS (transportation management system). When a shipment is booked into a TMS, there will be at least two parties, the shipper and the receiver. Occasionally, a third party (often a broker) will be listed as well. The best leads are former paying parties (could be the shipper, consignee or broker) that haven’t recently shipped. Best practice is to agree with leadership on what defines a “lost customer” in the TMS. A common definition is based upon the last date the paying party booked a shipment. Six months is a safe timeframe. Next, download all shippers that are identified as paying parties that haven’t shipped in 6 months or more. These can reconsidered “warm leads”. When that data list has been cold called and exhausted, the next set of data are the non-paying parties in the database. Download that data and start dialing. These are warmer and much better than any purchased data lists that are being called by every sales rep on the planet. When that data is exhausted, best practice is to join an industry specific organization (for your target customer) that has trade shows and events. You may need to join as an affiliate to attain access to access to membership lists. This type of investment traditionally yields a stronger ROI than that of data list that are sold to all of your competitors.

Today’s successful sales rep manually makes a cold calls to the company phone number, not the direct line or extension listed on data lists. Of course there is rejection, wrong numbers, the cranky receptionist / watch dog, etc, but that is part of the job. The successful sales rep anticipates these challenges and has developed the mindset to use them as motivation.

Similar to sports, cold calling is a learned skill that becomes more successful over time with volume. The top professional athletes are tenacious and practice the basics daily. The same applies to freight sales. The pros have developed best practices, styles and proven approaches over decades of trying and measuring. The successful sales rep is very well compensated, highly respected and is a critical part of the success of any company.

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