Many companies have struggled to grow logistics sales and optimize their sales process. Use the seven tips in this list to sell more in less time, empower your sales team, and make potential and current clients happy.
Sales in logistics can prove difficult to scale for small or growing companies who rely on long-term, account-based, business-to-business revenue streams. But it doesn’t take enterprise-level market penetration or a globally recognized brand to boost sales in logistics services and kickstart real business growth.
Many of the challenges faced by growing logistics companies are actually within your control. You can take action to fix things like marketing/sales misalignment, a poorly defined value offer, lack of sales resources, or inefficient internal sales processes. In this piece, we’ll share seven actionable strategies you can deploy to improve sales in logistics, freight, and transportation.
How to Boost Sales in Logistics in 7 Steps
1. Define a Formal Sales Process
A loosely defined — or undefined — sales process is the #1 obstacle to success in logistics sales. Research from HBR has shown that companies with a formally defined sales process experience 18% more revenue growth than companies that don’t.
First, subdivide your sales pipeline into its constituent parts (stages):
- Lead Generation
- Lead Scoring & Qualification
- Assessment of Needs
- Proposal / RFP
- Closing & Delivery
Next, define a unified set of strategies and processes your company will use within each stage.
- Lead Gen — An efficient marketing machine is key to lead generation, but so are outbound sales strategies such as cold calling (of qualified leads) and attendance at the industry events or trade shows that will be frequented by potential clients. Decide what info you’ll need to collect and record across all lead profiles for proper scoring, evaluation, and touchpoint targeting. Most logistics businesses will care about name and contact info (email, phone, etc.), but also consider things like the lead’s role in their company or how/where they heard about your company. Automation platforms work wonders in both reducing the data entry burden and leveraging Big Data to your advantage here.
- Lead Scoring & Qualification — Not every lead you collect will prove valuable. This stage is essential to separating the strong/hot opportunities from those that are either less likely to convert or a poor fit for your company. Decide upon a list of traits your logistics business values in a lead, and review your collected leads to evaluate how they match up with your ideal customer profile. Score them, then pursue the top rated leads first. The basic framework should take BANT into consideration (budget, authority, needs, and timeline). Does the lead have the budget to buy, the authority to make a decision, a need for your service, and the intent to make a purchase soon? If you can check all four boxes, that’s a hot lead.
- Assessment of Needs — Have your reps engage with customers to identify their needs and which precise logistics service (or service package) will offer the best match. This is also the time to offer the leads sales collateral specific to those services to educate them on your offerings and answer any lingering questions about their options.
- Proposal / RFP — A logistics sales proposal isn’t something to just email and wait. Make sure you have a formal presentation where you can explain your proposal, take questions, and negotiate the terms (if necessary) for a revised final version.
- Closing & Delivery — Once the contract is signed and the deal is closed, it’s time to make a smooth handoff to customer service and get to work fulfilling the terms of the agreement. Make sure that you are able to deliver your logistics services exactly as negotiated, and that everyone is on the same page as the sales team on what that will entail.
This is just an overview of sales process fundamentals — your own process will likely differ, have intermediate steps, and contain a lot more information (technology used, where to store information, who’s responsible for what, etc.). If the sales process you create is repeatable, measurable, and scalable, you’ll be able to keep your reps accountable and maximize every opportunity.
2. Start Inbound Marketing
Many smaller logistics companies will either leave brand awareness and outreach up to leadership (who are busy with other priorities) or keep a skeleton crew in marketing (often a single employee). The problem with this is leads don’t appear on their own, and marketing is the best possible way to pull opportunities into your logistics sales funnel. A steady flow of inbound leads, however, is a self-sustaining resource once you have all of the inbound marketing machinery in place. It takes less work when the logistics leads are coming to you.
Inbound is largely (but not entirely) about magnetizing potential customers to you through the internet by producing and sharing messages and online content that will draw their interest. It takes a few things to succeed:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — In the 2020s, your website is your best salesperson. 67% (or more!) of the buyer’s journey now takes place online through buyer-controlled internet research, generally using search engines like Google. You want to appear high up in search results. Make sure your website is optimized with relevant keywords for logistics and freight sales prospects (such as cargo hauling, freight companies, or logistics transportation services) and also structured to convert visitors (with contact forms and calls to action). SEO doesn’t take much investment, but pays huge dividends for sales in logistics.
- Content Marketing — Host quality web content on your website through a logistics business blog, detailed service subpages, and an FAQ section. Also try gating high-value downloadable assets — such as eBooks, case studies, eBooks, webinars, and white papers — behind a contact form. Leads are most willing to exchange personal information for these types of content.
- Thought Leadership — Your brand’s credibility is paramount to sales success. Submitting valuable thought leadership content to major industry publications or websites (in addition to hosting it on your own site and social networks) is one way to establish a brand reputation as a knowledgeable and trusted expert in your field. Your sales reps are better positioned to answer questions and assist prospects when your brand’s inherent credibility starts them off on the right foot.
- Social Marketing — Social media is a major channel for staying active in your industry, but also for generating sales in logistics, freight, and transportation. LinkedIn brings in 80.33% of B2B leads from social media, so you should definitely consider using this platform for sharing inbound content. However, it’s also perfect for connecting with potential prospects through industry-relevant groups or with efficient and powerful tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
3. Update Sales Enablement Resources
On average, a B2B salesperson spends 440 hours each year searching for the right content to share with customers. Why? Research shows that many of the sales assets available to reps are either hard to find, outdated, or irrelevant to the needs of the customer. In fact, 90% of B2B sales reps don’t even use existing sales materials for these reasons.
All those hours are wasted time that would be better spent selling logistics. Arm your reps with up-to-date sales enablement resources (such as print collateral, shareable online assets, sales decks, sell sheets) in an easy to access location, and you’ll empower them to close more deals, faster.
You could also consider a secure social networking platform tuned specifically to the needs of your sales department. Social sales platforms help reps to collect and organize information, share assets, discuss prospects, and keep the pipeline on track. Unlike consumer social networks, these platforms often feature added abilities to integrate with external market research, internal resource systems, and real-time customer analytics. Accenture recommends them for businesses in the logistics industry for benefits ranging from eliminating functional silos to helping logistics providers adapt to a changing digital sales environment.
4. Book Trade Shows (or Other Events) For Lead Capture
Trade shows have long been critical to logistics and freight sales generation. Consider attending events that the suppliers, retailers or other business verticals you prefer to work with will be interested in. EventTrack research has shown that live experiences give 74% of attendees a more positive impression of your brand, and 87% of event attendees will eventually buy a brand’s product after going to an event.
This is a time not only to talk with foot traffic at your booth and network in the halls, but to capture quality logistics leads that you’ll engage after the event with lead nurturing materials and follow-up calls. Events are the best tactic for generating qualified top-of-funnel leads out of all B2B tactics, according to DemandGen research.
5. Set Up a Sales Automation Platform
Sales automation powers up the logistics leads database in your CRM with conveniences that expand the capacity of your sales team, save time, and enable more personalized contact with prospects. Research from Aberdeen has shown that marketing & sales automation boosts sales performance across a variety of metrics:
- 107% better lead conversion rate
- 40% greater average deal size
- 20% team higher attainment of quotas
- 17% better forecast accuracy
Few channels will benefit more from automation than email. Efficient automation of lead nurturing campaigns, segmented workflows, and personalized sales sequences contributes mightily to the legendary ROI of email: $44 for every $1 spent!
6. Differentiate Your Logistics Business Niche
It’s hard to compete as a generalist, when potential customers can easily find a specialized company with more focused expertise in their vertical at a comparable price. You can position yourself more strongly in the market by establishing a clear differentiator from other logistics companies that operate in your region. Rather than serving any and every segment of the market, select a segment that best suits your business or has led to more success in the past. This could mean specializing in a particular region, type of cargo, industry, or size of company.
Once you’ve identified your best possible niche based on data and past opportunities, strive to become the best logistics business in that niche and emphasize your specialized expertise with inbound logistics leads and current clients.
7. Offer More Complete Services Than the Competition
A logistics company that manages the whole process (no third parties involved) makes life easy for the client. In fact, one of the primary reasons that companies will contract with a logistics service is to avoid needing to set up all of these stages on their own.
If you have the ability to offer complete seller management or bundled services that include things like purchasing, inventory management, or inbound shipping as a comprehensive, one-piece package, the Houston Chronicle suggests that this will take a lot of stress off of the client’s shoulders and lead to a positive impact on sales in logistics. Combine a full-service offering with demonstrated specialization in your particular market segment and you’ve got the makings of a real value proposition.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled!
The sales world has evolved rapidly in the last decade, and this will only continue. Stay on top of current trends and technologies that can streamline your sales pipeline, improve your closing strategy, or make more sense of sales analytics. A proactive approach separates the best from the rest!