Tips for Freight Brokers to Develop Shipper Relationships & Gain Their Business

Kevin HillFreight Market Blog

It is often difficult for freight brokers to get in front of shippers to let them know about their services. One of the main reasons is that freight brokerage is a highly competitive industry with little clear differentiation between individual freight brokers and the freight brokerages they work for. In this article, the FreightWaves team will provide tips for freight brokers to develop stronger relationships with shippers to grow freight under management.

Think Strategically and Nurture Shipper Relationships

To get on, and then to stay on shippers’ radars, you need to deliver a compelling message that is memorable. This is important because more often than not freight brokers do not close high value accounts with one call. It takes time and a clear value proposition to win the trust needed to be invited into the bidding process for requests for quotes (RFQs) and requests for pricing (RFPs) that are needed to win the big accounts. 

Creating a compelling and sticky story that shippers remember long after you’ve delivered it is not easy, however. It takes time and practice to craft the perfect message that conveys all the benefits you can provide. 

5 Tips for Freight Brokers to Create a Sticky Shipper Story

As we lay out these tips for freight brokers to develop strong shipper relationships, there is a proven formula to follow to create sticky ideas though. Fortunately, brothers Chip and Dan Heath detailed this formula in their best-selling book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck.  

They identified that the stickiest ideas all had at least one of the following five tips for freight brokers or any salesperson who wants to develop a strong story for your approach in gaining new business by nurturing relationships. It is essential to include as many of these five tips for freight brokers in your message.  By doing this you will be at the top of the list of participants when it comes time to bid on the next RFQ or RFP.  

#1 Simple – Remember the old saying “I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time”? Simplicity and brevity take more time and skill to craft than long and detailed messages. Battle plans are built around the “commander’s intent.” It usually consists of a single sentence and is simple enough that thousands of soldiers can follow. Try boiling down your presentation into one sentence. It is harder than it sounds, but it will pay off in the end. 

#2 Curiosity – Like any good story your message should draw in your audience. Curiosity is the best hook to use in these tips for freight brokers. So, use curiosity with shippers’ to create the urge for them to learn more about what you have to offer. The best hook breaks your prospect’s existing assumptions of what they are expecting to hear you say. This must be followed quickly by your insights and solutions, or this surprise element will turn into frustration and lost for good. 

#3 Concrete – The language we use in transportation and logistics is often abstract and filled with jargon. Eliminate it all, though, and use plain and understandable language in your message. Of all the tips for freight brokers provided here, using plain language may be the lowest hanging fruit. Words like quality, solutions, robust, core competency, etc. mean different things to different people. Replace jargon with vivid illustrations of your process of communicating with customers, covering loads, and tracking shipments. Describe in vivid detail how you’ve helped customers in the past so shippers can understand what they can expect of you. The best way to practice your new plain language message is on friends and family who do not have the first clue about how freight and logistics work. 

#4 Credible – Whenever possible use testimonials. Your current customers can tell your story a hundred times better than you can tell it on your own. If you cannot use testimonials, then remember to tell a simple, concrete story with plenty of detail and examples. The more details you include, the more vivid the narrative, the more memorable your message becomes. Practice your stories over and over. As you become more comfortable with your delivery, you can start adding details with each practice round. By the time you are delivering it in your presentation your narratives will naturally grab your prospect’s imagination. 

#5 Emotional – Everyone remembers stories and ideas where they become emotionally invested. Very few people remember a series of numbers and stats. How do you make numbers memorable? For better or worse most people are self-interested and are emotionally attached to their problems. In this fifth of the tips for freight brokers to develop a story that attracts shippers, you can craft your message to paint a picture of what is in it for the shipper. This will connect your message to the shipper’s problems much more than a presentation based solely on return on investment (ROI) or a cost-benefit analysis. Be sure to spell out what is in it for the shipper at the beginning and keep this theme going throughout all of your interactions with each shipper. 

How SONAR aids brokers in winning business

FreightWaves SONAR provides the fastest freight market data in the world, across all major modes of traffic. 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 has 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 sales on the popular FreightWaves sales show, Put That Coffee Down