As we discussed in previous articles, there are hundreds of freight forwarders in the USA alone. Some are globally recognized, some are locally strong and others who are small start up local providers.

While we all agree that the size of the freight forwarder may not be the main factor in landing a customer, there are some customers that conduct business based on the popularity of the freight forwarder. But in the logistics world, we will find many factors that make a freight forwarder more successful than others despite their size and global reach.

Let us examine the major factors in the success of a freight forwarder:

1. Knowledgeable and friendly inside and outside sales staff
2. Flexible operation
3. Truth in service offering 
4. Competitive pricing

In this article, I’m going to address the critical role that an inside sales representative play in the success of a freight forwarder.

Inside sales representatives are the voices of knowledge while the outside sales representatives are the face of knowledge. Freight forwarders are likely to pay more attention to outside sales with regards to compensation and job perks. I believe that the inside sales role is very critical to the success of the outside sales force and the company at large. 

Inside sales conduct cold calls to qualify customers and pass those qualifications on to the outside sales to follow up and ultimately close the deal. How critical is that role? 

Customers who take the cold call and provide information to the inside sales representative are on the market for:

• Better provider
• Better service 
• Better deal

A knowledgeable inside sales representative will identify the needs of that customer and subsequently furnish the outside sales representative with the keys to winning that customer. 

The Art of Cold Calling:

In a seminar I gave to a group of inside sales of a major freight forwarder, I outlined the steps to a successful cold call that will benefit both, inside and outside sales and ultimately benefit the freight forwarder.

What is a cold call?

Think of it as a blind date: 

• A person you never met before 
• A person you need to get his or her attention
• A person you would like to get to know
• A person with which you want to create a relationship

How do you pass the gate keeper?

• The receptionist is a busy person that knows 90% of the people by name but may not know 5% of what they do.
• Asking the right questions would help the receptionist direct you to the right person.
• Never ask for the shipping department. You may end up speaking with Joe the label licker.
• Ask to speak to the head of the logistics or Shipping department.

Have a smiley voice:

• Keep a pleasant and smiley voice at all times
• Remember that you will not get a second chance to make a first impression.

Speak the language of the customer you’re calling:

• Understand the customer’s business before calling
• Ask the qualifying questions that require engaging answers

Remember to thank the customer for his or her time:

• Remember, no matter how little the information you collected, the customer took the time to give it you. Thank the customer for the time.
• Never end a call without gaining the customer’s approval for a visit by the outside sales representative. You may actually need to give the name of that representative out to make sure the connection has been made