Freight Broker Sales: Direct and indirect prospecting

Kevin HillFreight Market Blog

It’s often difficult to identify who you should speak with at a company when you are prospecting for new business through freight broker sales. Freight can be controlled by a variety of departments. Sometimes there is only one decision-maker. Other times, however, there are multiple decision-makers that span multiple departments. 

How do you find the right person? There is no one method for finding the right person; it will always be a process of trial and error. While this can be frustrating for some freight brokers, the best freight brokers make this process work for them. That’s why we have separated prospecting into two distinct methods. The direct method occurs when you go straight to the freight department. Then there is the indirect method – when you have the right conversations with all the wrong people. 

Direct prospecting for Freight Broker Sales

Shipping/Logistics department

Getting through to the shipping, logistics or transportation department is straight to the point. For companies that have a dedicated transportation department it’s safe to assume it is where the inbound and outbound freight is controlled. The most common titles in this department are transportation manager, vice president or director of logistics or logistics analyst.  

Operations/Procurement

In many companies, there isn’t an official shipping and logistics department. When conducting freight broker sales efforts to these companies it often makes sense to seek out individuals in operations or procurement to find out who the best person is to talk to about freight. The key decision-makers typically have titles like operations manager, vice president or director of operations, and/or head of operations. 

Indirect prospecting 

Often in freight broker sales it also pays to contact other departments at companies to find the right person to speak with about freight. The added benefit to this indirect approach is that you can learn quite a bit about a company’s freight needs by speaking with leaders outside of the department that handles the day-to-day freight movement. These include struggles that other parts of the business have with their current transportation providers. These are often varied and include invoicing issues, on-time delivery percentages, as well as rates. You can use this valuable business intelligence to build value and frame how your services are different from the status quo. 

Here are three useful departments in freight broker sales to contact to gather inside information and begin gaining buy-in before you contact the freight decision-makers. 

Executives

The key benefit of reaching out to C-level executives as your first point of contact is that if you can get their buy-in then it makes the sales process exponentially easier and faster. As you might expect if your C-level bosses ask you to take a meeting with a vendor you take it much more seriously than normal. This also reduces the risk to a transportation or operations manager giving you a shot –  because his/her superiors have given them the stamp of approval to give you that shot. 

Sales/Marketing

Speaking with a fellow salesperson for your prospect is always a good idea. Getting useful business intelligence out of nearly all other departments can be like pulling teeth. Not so with the sales department though. Most salespeople will usually give you all the information you need – especially if there are issues with the current transportation providers. Nothing annoys a salesperson like complaints from customers about late or damaged deliveries. If you can win a salesperson over during freight broker sales calls, then a simple request will usually get you the name of who makes the freight decisions.

Accounting

Contacting the accounting department can be challenging. It’s often difficult to learn information from accountants since the financials are highly sensitive information for all companies. So, be careful to stay away from questions regarding the actual financials. The accounting department is full of valuable intelligence, however, on current freight rates. More importantly, accounting departments can offer information on billing issues with current transportation providers. Often mistakes and delays in invoicing can have high indirect costs in time spent resolving errors and disputes. 

All of these tidbits of information are the gold nuggets you need when you create a solution that not only solves the freight departments issues, but issues that span the entire company. 

How SONAR aids those seeking how to be a successful freight broker

FreightWaves SONAR provides the fastest freight market data in the world across all major modes of traffic – guiding those who are seeking how to be a successful freight broker. The SONAR platform is the only freight forecasting and analytics platform that offers real-time freight market intelligence-driven off actual freight contract tenders. 

SONAR contains proprietary data that comes from actual load tenders, electronic logging devices and transportation management systems, along with dozens of third-party global freight and logistics-related index providers like TCA Benchmarking, Freightos, ACT, Drewry and DTN.

Whether you’re working from the office or from home, SONAR can provide you the data and intelligence you need to stay ahead of your competitors. 

Find out more about FreightWaves SONAR for brokers. You can find more information on freight brokerage and carrier sales tips on the popular FreightWaves sales show, Put That Coffee Down.