Finding New Shippers: Secrets Revealed

Tim Higham

It’s a proven fact that the right sales team, with the right tools, can sell. SELLING is how the biggest brokerages of the past two decades became worth billions, and their founders became rich; they simply convinced new shippers to give them freight...again and again and again. But what were their “sales secrets” on that journey to billions? How did they turn one salesperson into one hundred or more, each with compounding high levels of success? 

It’s a proven fact that the right sales team, with the right tools, can sell. SELLING is how the biggest brokerages of the past two decades became worth billions, and their founders became rich; they simply convinced new shippers to give them freight...again and again and again

But what were their “sales secrets” on that journey to billions? How did they turn one salesperson into one hundred or more, each with compounding high levels of success? 

In the competitive landscape of third-party logistics, the difference between surviving and thriving often hinges on one thing: the ability to secure brand-new shippers. For every freight broker, it's the Holy Grail of success. So, how do you tap into this El Dorado of opportunities? 

For the first time, leading CEOs, CROs, and Sales Managers gave ShipperCRM a glimpse into what separated their massive success stories from those that failed, and we’ve decided to outline them here for you. So, if YOU want to succeed at selling to shippers, take a few notes from these proven leaders. 

First, You Need An A+ Sales Team 

Not everyone can sell. Not everyone wants to sell. There are even people you probably don’t even want to sell. 

These proven leaders told ShipperCRM the following about building a sales team: 

  1. Successful salespeople might only be 1 in every 50 people. So, take the time to find the sharks that are hungry and show them where the food is. 
  2. Expect high turnover until you get the recipe right. Don’t be afraid of hitting the eject button quickly on those that aren’t a good fit. 
  3. Put the proven winners TOGETHER and let them compete with each other
  4. Incentivize them for closing new deals. Incentivize them for not losing current customers. Incentivize them for growing within existing customers. INCENTIVIZE!!! 
  5. The best salespeople specialize in particular freight types, modes, or locations. They become EXPERTS, which leads to inherent trust when they speak to the shippers they target. 

You Need Leads. GREAT Leads. 

  1. There is nothing more demoralizing than giving your sales team bad, stale, or old leads. Bad leads drive them away. Great leads make them stay – and thus, they succeed
  2. Don’t buy cheap lead lists. 99.9% of lead lists you can buy online are bad, old, and over-called. Buying them will waste your money, and worse, will waste the money you pay your people to call them. So, INVEST in accurate leads and shipper background data if you want to see real sales success. 
  3. Don’t skimp on investing in good leads. It’s better to pay $100 for 100 solid, verified, and receptive leads that will generate you five new shippers doing 50 extra loads each per month than it is to pay $100 for 10,000 bad (and old) leads that generate zero new customers and zero extra loads. Again, INVEST in quality, not quantity. 

Cultivating a REAL Research Strategy 

While the above traditional methods (i.e. a great team paired with great leads) are extremely effective, you must also integrate a proactive research strategy to offer you a significant edge in the competitive landscape. This involves actively scouting the market, analyzing shifts in global commerce, and identifying potential shippers before they even recognize their own needs (remember nearshoring? If not, then you’re 2 years too late already). 

In other words, your sales team needs to engage in the following – and YOU need to give them the resources to do it; 

  1. Reading Industry Reports & Publications Don’t just skim; DIG. Between the lines of these reports lie hidden gems about new market players and expanding giants. This isn't just reading; it's INVESTIGATIVE homework. 
  2. Engaging with Startup Environments Startups are like sponges – soaking up resources as they grow. Especially those in e-commerce. So, why wait for them to become big? Connect EARLY. By the time they’re making waves, they’ll be shipping with you. 
  3. Feedback Loop with Existing Clients 

Tapping into your existing clientele can be a goldmine of referrals and leads. Get chatty. Get friendly. You’ll be surprised at the doors a casual coffee chat can open. Referrals? They’re right there, waiting to be tapped. 

  1. Follow Economic Forums 

A community’s local chambers of commerce and economic forums discuss regional growth, upcoming industrial projects, and infrastructure developments. Stay ALERT. Listening in on these discussions can give you a heads-up about potential areas of shipping demand. 

A Shipper's Mindset - Decode It 

Here's the trick. If you want to find new shippers, then think like one. Dive into their psyche. It's not just about moving goods; it's about TRUST. It's about RELIABILITY. Understand their world, and they’ll let you in. 

  1. Relationships Over Transactions Shippers don't just look for someone to transport their goods; they look for partners. Build a reputation for reliability and consistency, and you'll find shippers coming to you. It’s a partnership built up over time, not an instantaneous transaction. Shippers rarely give $100,000+ shipments to people until some trust is built. That takes time. 
  2. Offer More. Be More. Got trucks? Great. So does everyone else. Today’s shippers need the whole package – insights, expertise, flexibility, storage, and tech-based solutions. Be the SOLUTION, and shippers will flock to you. 

Networking: The Lifeline To Opportunities 

In the 3PL industry, your network is your net worth. Each handshake, tweet, or message? That could be your next big ticket. 

  1. Who Are Your Existing Customers’ Customers and Vendors? 

Ask your shippers who they buy from or sell to and ask for a warm introduction. If you’re doing a good job for them already, then your customer will be happy to recommend you to those in their network that THEY do business with. 

  1. Industry Gatherings Yeah, there are speeches and panel debates. But the REAL game? It's in the corridors. It's that random coffee chat. It's the spontaneous dinner invite. THAT'S where you rub shoulders with the big shots. 
  2. Online Ecosystems 

LinkedIn. Forums. These aren't just sites; they're OPPORTUNITY hubs. Chip in, debate, share wisdom. Engage. Do it right, and you won’t just grow your network; you’ll EXPLODE it. 

Sales Tech Tools (& Shipper Data): A Game-Changer 

In the modern age, technology is your sword and your shield. Wielding the right tools can amplify your quest for new shippers. 

  1. A CRM System Designed Specifically For Brokers and Carriers Forget the generic systems; the world of freight demands specialized CRM tools. You aren’t selling a $10,000 product via a one-time sales process. You’re selling a perpetual revenue stream that can grow over time with each shipper you onboard. Systems like ShipperCRM provide invaluable databases of VERIFIED shippers, VERIFIED contacts, VERIFIED phone numbers, and VERIFIED email addresses for your team – along with all the research you need to target the shippers that FIT your carriers' equipment and expertise. With the right CRM, you're not just contacting; you're connecting
  2. Data Analytics Data is the oil of the 21st century. Tools that offer insights into shipping trends, peak demand times, and route efficiencies can give you the edge. More data equals better service. You wouldn’t call for Christmas tree freight in January or call so you can better your team’s success rates. 
  3. Embracing Predictive AI 

Old tech reacts. The future? It PREDICTS. Imagine knowing a shipper’s next move before even they do. They're here, and they're reshaping the industry. For example, wouldn’t it be great to call on a business that’s about to divest itself from its parent company…and thus will need comprehensive new shipping solutions in the coming weeks or months? Yes, you would! 

Sales Skills That Set Your Team Apart 

Technology alone won't cut it; these proven experts tell us that your team will need the elemental sales skills to match. 

  1. Sales Training Specific to 3PLs and Brokers General sales techniques are fine, but 3PL-specific sales training, like what you might find in the "Freight Sales University," can elevate your pitch when your team is calling on shippers. 
  2. Unquenchable Curiosity 

The freight world is in flux, with constantly emerging new norms, tech marvels, and global trends. Encourage your team to be a sponge - absorb, learn, and adapt. Let them be creative – and create new logistics solutions they can sell. 

  1. Tuning into Emotional Frequencies 

Every shipper behind the corporate veil is a human. Recognizing emotions, addressing concerns, and resonating with their feelings will forge bonds stronger than any contract. People do business with people they like. Period. 

All of the successful CEOs and CROs that ShipperCRM spoke to told them that the quest for new shippers isn't about secret potions or arcane rituals - it's a blend of understanding, networking, state-of-the-art tech tools, great prospecting leads, a solid team, and a mastery of essential skills. So, by immersing your team in this successful blend, they’ll acquire new shippers and forge alliances that stand the test of time. 

Remember, it’s less about simple acquisition - and more about connection. If you can resonate, you can rule. Embrace this mantra, and the Holy Grail of sales success will be within your reach. It’s worked for others, and it will work for you and your team. 

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