Here are my tips, from the customer’s perspective, on how to make sales in freight forwarding industry.
1.Be honest and sincere. International shippers are a hardened group, we like the free lunches, but we aren’t interested in schmooze. We don’t have time for it, we need results.
2.Come to a sales meeting with something interesting and relevant to say. I always appreciate sales reps who keep me abreast of industry news and changes. Knowledge is important in this industry, if you frequently tell me things I didn’t know, I will start paying some serious attention to you.
3.Know my business. If you can’t be bothered to learn about me as a customer, why should I be bothered to give you any of my freight?
4.Don’t disappear when things get ugly. When your company screws up my freight (and it will) I need you to help me get things on track, not avoid my calls or, worse, lie about the problem. Standing by me when the you-know-what hits the fan and helping me make it right will earn you more business, not less because you’re showing me your true colors.
5.Make sure I meet the air and ocean freight managers–these are the people in the trenches who will be handling my freight. They are more important than you are, so facilitating that relationship will help you close a sale. (By the way, are you treating the air and freight managers like gold? They are the ones who make you look good, just FYI.)
6.Don’t ditch me once the sale is made. You don’t have to come by as often but you’d better stay in touch or I’ll think you’re insincere. Even an email is fine. Just be sure I hear from you every once in a while.
7.Make sure my first few shipments go well. Baby sit my freight, make me feel like I’m getting the white glove treatment. Establish a foundation of superior customer service that will allow me to justify giving you more freight.
8.Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Freight forwarding is a small world. Your reputation will follow you wherever you go, whatever you do. Lying and other unsavory business practices may seem like a good idea in the moment, but they create long term damage to your credibility. Sales success depends on your credibility.
9.Don’t work for crappy freight companies. As soon as you can, get out and go work with a company that has a decent rep and a good staff.
10.Keep learning. Get as much experience and certifications as you can. Don’t stop growing as a professional. The more you know, the more valuable you are to your customers.