Doing sales in logistics involves a huge amount of time and activities to do for an average sales rep. You have to be aware of everything that’s happening around your business: get in touch with the clients to get new bookings, research your competition, ensure high-quality support for your customers and high level of customer satisfaction.
At the same time, you have to follow up on the daily sales: prepare freight quotes for the potential clients and renew the current offers for your loyal customers.
The quoting and the follow-up parts are the least creative and the least inspiring activities for the sales reps. They eat a lot of time due to the manual nature of the process.
Another drawback of the quoting process is that the quote acceptance ratio in shipping is about 10% maximum among the freight forwarding companies around the world. That does not motivate salespeople to jump on every rate inquiry they receive during the workday, as the chance of winning the business is too low compared to the time they would spend on quoting and follow-ups.
The most common (and also very logical) approach to the problem in the industry is to put the freight rates online.
Online Freight Rates = Self-Service?
This would be by far the most transparent and efficient solution for both, customer and the service provider. Online rates are already used successfully in the parcel or airline business.
However, there is one major drawback to this concept: clients do not buy online rates for ocean freight. Freight rates published on the online platforms are considered to be the base tariff rates, higher than those received as an individual quote from the freight forwarder.
Customers around the world request ocean freight quote via email (or via phone call) because they believe that this way they will get the best ‘very special’ freight rate tailored to their specific shipment in question.
Putting the rates online will not make the sales job easier: the amount of rate requests incoming via phone or email will not decrease. Moreover, someone will have to spend extra time on maintaining those online rates at the relevant levels.
Automated Freight Quotes
Let’s look at the smart and simple ways to improve and automate quoting freight rates that really work.
90% of the quotes in container shipping are replicated. If your client is shipping 40’HC from Shanghai to Hamburg, chances are that they will continue requesting the rate for the same corridor regularly.
Replicate the previously sent quotes. The basis of the quote layout will remain the same. Just don’t forget to change the quote validity dates and the freight rate.
- BATCH YOUR ACTIONS
Group similar tasks and use templates as much as possible. This way you can save time and reduce the number of manual errors.
For example, you can prepare one quote template with Far East import promo rates and one promo email template. Use marketing automation tools to distribute your promo rates as a batch action. Make distribution lists based on your client segmentation. Reuse your templates slightly changing the content every time, try to add the ‘human touch’ to your message to make it stand out. Professional and personalized quote sent on a regular basis will increase your chances of converting the customer from potential to active.
- TRACK & FOLLOW UP
Marketing Automation tools allow you to track your emails and see if and when your client opened the email with the quote. Some tools even track the amount of time the client spent on each page of your offer.
For example, once you know that your quote has been opened by the customer, it is best to call them and follow up right away – you will get their immediate feedback.
Statistics is a powerful tool to drive change. Gather as much data about your commercial process as possible. This way you will define the areas with the highest ‘waste’ level. If you can measure it, you can manage it.
For example, if you know that the client doesn’t open your emails, there is no need to keep sending the offers to them.
Sales Automation Software for Logistics
Have you ever considered using modern software to automate your sales? Even as a small or medium-sized freight forwarder, you can apply the right software solution and increase your sales productivity without increasing the headcount. When your business is driven by efficiency, it is directly related to your company’s bottom line: time is money, and the faster competitor wins the customer.
Quotiss is a practical software solution for freight forwarders, which automates all kinds of freight quotes in a smart and simple way.
Sign up for the free trial now – go digital today.