It is not uncommon to see small and mid-size logistics companies struggle with business growth. In many cases, these problems are associated with poor lead generation, lack of sales predictability and low sales conversion rates - converting leads into customers.
In our previous article, we discussed some of the common sales problems these logistics businesses face. In this article, we share marketing and sales strategies they can use to increase sales predictability, consistently produce leads, and convert those leads into customers.
Let’s discuss them.
1) Increase Sales Predictability
The first step is to put in place a sales process that is repeatable, scalable and measurable. A well-defined and executed sales process increases accountability across sales reps, decreases loss of sales opportunities, and increases revenue generation. This is an example of a basic sales process.
- Lead Generation: This is where inbound and/or outbound sales and marketing strategies (more about this below) are used to collect information about potential customers (i.e. leads). Some information you might collect includes: name, email address, phone number, job title, company name, etc.
- Lead Qualification: This is where leads collected in step 1 are reviewed to see if they are a fit for the target customer profile. This step also evaluates leads' readiness, willingness, and ability to make (or influence) a buying decision.
- Need Assessment: Here sales reps or advisors identify the needs of the customer and match those needs to a product or service offered by the company.
- Proposal & Negotiation: In this stage, a formal customer proposal is presented and negotiated, if required.
- Close & Deliver: In this final step the deal is closed and the service delivered as previously negotiated.
Having a defined process for sales is the best way grow your business. A recent survey by Harvard Business Review shows an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.
2) Generate Leads Consistently
For a business to grow in revenues consistently it must have a sales and/or marketing strategy in place that generates a steady flow of leads. Some examples of sales and marketing strategies you could try include:
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound lead generation is the strategy of attracting leads by producing and sharing information that draws customers to the company’s website - also known as Inbound Marketing.
Logistic companies can implement inbound marketing for lead generation through: Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media.
• Content Marketing is the strategy of producing relevant and valuable content (i.e. blogs, ebooks, videos, etc.) that attracts a clearly-defined target audience to the company website. The key here is “valuable and relevant content."
• Search Engine Optimization is a method of structuring content on your website to increase rank for specific keywords in organic search results. This will ensure your website shows in the results when potential customers search for words relevant to your business like Freight Forwarding Services or 3PL.
- • Social Media Marketing is the process of gaining website traffic through social networks by promoting valuable content, information, and offers while encouraging readers to share it with others.
Outbound Lead Generation
In contrast with inbound, outbound lead generation is about reaching out to the customer without the customer having expressed interest in the company and its services.
Logistics sales departments can implement outbound lead generation through: Cold Calling, Direct Sales and Events.
• Cold Calling is a widely used approach of making unsolicited calls to qualified leads to sell services or set sales appointments.
• Direct Sales is another traditional approach where a sales rep visits the potential customer in person and briefly presents the company to a decision maker or an influencer.
• Events are a strategy used in B2B (business-to-business) companies to capture leads and generate sales. For the most part, events are used by companies to present, display, and educate prospects about the company’s services.
Implementing at least one of these strategies will boost logistics sales and spur revenue growth, but a combination of both will put the business in high gear. Below is an example of a combined inbound/outbound marketing process.
Source: Modern Marketing Partners
3) Increase Sales Conversions
Now that we have covered strategies to consistently generate sales leads, the next challenge is to convert the maximum number of leads into customers. Here are three approaches to increase leads conversion rates.
Lead qualification is the process of reviewing, selecting and prioritizing leads that are more likely and ready to do business. Not all leads are equal and not all leads are ready to buy which is why it is critical that you are qualifying leads.
As part of this process the company needs to identify who their desired customers are using demographic information like:
• Industry Type
• Company Size
• Company Revenue
• Decision Makers
Then identify where the lead is in the buyer’s journey. To learn more about the Buyer’s journey, watch this video.
Brand credibility is one of the most important psychological factors that transfers leads and prospects into customers. Their impression of the company’s ability to deliver service and the company’s reputation have a direct impact on lead-to-customer conversion rates.
One of the most important aspects of establishing brand creditability is to define (and live by) the mission, vision, and core values of the business. Once these foundations are in place, the company can tell the world through their website, social networks, and PR campaigns.
Establishing a business differentiator is another critical aspect. If a competitor has creditability well-established and can offer the same service(s) at a competitive price, the new potential customer will not think twice about taking their business there.
To avoid this, logistics companies should avoid serving every market segment. One idea could be to focus the business on a very specific segment (i.e. one country, cargo type, or industry), become the best in that segment, then amplify this differentiator.
As we’ve seen, real opportunities exist for supply chain and logistics companies that are willing to go the extra mile and get serious about sales and marketing. Organizations that do so, can potentially increase revenue by 18 – 28 percent. Focusing on establishing a solid marketing process that consistently generates leads and a sales method that converts those leads into customers is the best way to ensure your organization's future success.