In our industry, every day we receive several leads from a variety of sources. As sales people, do you think we should consider all leads as “quality leads“? Wouldn’t it be better if we first set the criterias that qualify a “good prospect” in our industry? Just like you should read the nutrition label before adding food products to your shopping cart, you should read up on a company before qualifying it as a prospect.

Here are some of the important prospect criterias for the Logistics Industry:

  • How long the company has been around
  • What is commodity they import or export
  • How is their financial status
  • Whether they prefer to work with ocean carriers directly or NVO’S
  • How long have they been working with their current vendor
  • What are their expectations from a potential NVO? Rates or service or both?

Nowadays, we are all using marketing programs that generate leads for us. We all know how it is. All that info we could only dream of having access to before, we know have access to via importexport databases. Not only is it available but its also accurate. There are also many online advertising programs where we can find leads. Let’s not forget what the latest social media platforms offer us now. Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook etc are all great lead networks if used efficiently. Don’t get too excited, because just like any other good thing in life, this one also has unfortunate side effects. Don’t let the marketing tools fool you because theoretically although those leads may seem to have lots of potential, in business reality it may turn out to be completely different. My words are strictely for sales professionals who love what they do and who serve the logistics industry. Let’s not attempt to approach leads without analyzing them because we have no right to waste the prospects’ time, as well as our own time. It’s sort of like what health magazines say:

“Make sure you read the nutrition facts before you put that piece of chocolate in your mouth!”

I am sure you will all agree that based on the opportunity presented, we should all first focus on qualifying the prospects. Let’s start with profiling the contact  person to find out out what type of decision maker they are: Straight forward and outspoken type would be very clear about what they need to tell you. “Give me a good ocean rate and I will book with you tomorrow”. Open minded ones won’t have any fear to hear anything new. “I know ISF has started just a few days ago but I want to know all the details so send me that email otherwise I dont have time for you”. There is also the action or result oriented type who make decisions faster, so you need to come up with fast solutions and offers: “I gave you the port pairs, the volume and what we need so if you want to see a result it’s all up to how fast you get back to me. You decide.”

Then lets check the prospects’ organizational structure. After analysing their profile lets think: As a sales person, do we have any products that will be a better logistics deal than what they have in place? What value can we add, tangible or intangible? Remember to reasearch their challenges. When your prospect starts opening up about their current shipping structure, you need to come up with solutions to help them to get over their daily complications. After checking their financial needs and budget, as a sales person you should also check on the urgency of their needs. Some of them may need you as a trustable service provider “now”, some “later” or “never” so we need to decide whether to push the gas pedal or jump on the break pedal.

Don’t get greedy, and “eat the whole bar”! Analyze each piece, see if it its a good fit for your company and if you can be a good fit for them. Focus on quality over quantity, as every nutritionist would tell you – as am I telling you to approach your sales practices. No matter what a company’s business profile is and what size budget they have, we have a big responsibility when approaching new prospects. That is: “We can not waste their time and our time”. We can only ask for their trust first and a relationship after wards. It all depends on us to make that turn to a long term or a short term business relationship, but we all know that at the end of the day what matters is the quality of the relationship .