How to Sell as a Freight Broker

Freight brokers understand that relationships are the key to their trade. In order to build relationships, one must master the art of intentional connections by creating opportunity on both sides of the industry. In this season, brokers are needed more than ever to bridge the gap amidst tense supply chain needs and high costs.

Supply Chain Quarterly reports that 74% of truck drivers anticipate rates will continue at their current pace, or rise further. With high rates and even high tension and bottlenecks, taking the time to master how to sell as a freight broker in 2022 may be the best thing a professional can do for their budding business. 

Overcoming 10 of the Core Shipper Objections

Regardless of the freight broker business model, all experience resistance during initial contacts with shippers. Some shippers truly have needs that cannot be met by a new partnership. However, by becoming familiar with the core objections from shippers, a prepared professional gains vital tools for grasping how to sell as a freight broker. These tools provide preemptive preparation to answer objections before they’re even shared. 

  1.  “Business is slow currently.” - As companies continue to recover from the pandemic or are stuck in waiting zones at ports, this thought line can be understandable. However, oftentimes this is more of a sign of resistance to the broker’s approach. Authentic questions, active listening and persistent follow up can remedy this.
  2. “We are content with our current broker.” - This objection is often where interaction with a prospect will stop. However, unless shippers have signed a non-compete clause, this is not a reason to get off the phone. Shipper's needs can be diverse, so it’s important for brokers to present the benefit of having a variety of connections that can fit a variety of present and later needs.
  3. “We’re happy with our carriers right now.” - Although this objection may be another legitimate reason to prevent current partnering, it does not avert the potential for future cooperation. This avenue of figuring out how to sell as a freight broker emphasizes networking. Consistent friendly interactions with this company reminds them of options for themselves, or fellow shipping companies that need help in the future. 
  4. “We have our own in-house fleet to ship our products.” - This is an additional obstacle that may prevent current business, but it does not prevent future business. If shippers want to expand their product reach or test out with available capacity in a volatile market, it’s important for them to know what brokers to reach for before their search browsers. 
  5. “We don’t work with brokers, we use asset-based carriers.” - This objection is heard most from global corporations with the requirement of minimal tender rejection and maximized availability. Asset-based carriers are trucking companies with larger fleets who own all of their equipment and employ drivers to be on the ready and interconnect for intermodal needs. Professionals who know how to sell as a freight broker can overcome this easily by connecting with asset-based carriers..
  6. “We only work with ___________ freight service.” - Companies who only utilize one carrier or broker show loyalty by declining other offers. Brokers can build relations with these prospects via education based connections, such as sharing tips on RFP strategies or how tech-heavy brokers troubleshoot common problems. Consistent communication and yet respect to their current loyalties can provide an open door downstream.
  7. “We only need parcel shipping.” - Brokers who have relationships with shared truckload specialized carriers can share a new avenue of goods transportation for clients with this obstacle. Even choosing to specialize ST can be beneficial for some learning how to sell as a freight broker. ST will not always replace this objection, but it’s a way for brokers to think outside the box. 
  8. “Our freight transportation is arranged by our customers.” - When confronted with this objection, brokers can offer to reach out to the customers to offer services that reduce time waiting for quotes, negotiating rates and vetting carriers. By offering a faster, smoother process the shippers may be willing to share customer information with prospective broking partners. Those customers then become a broker’s next hopeful client. 
  9. “Broker rates are too high for us.” - With trucking rates expected to continue to soar, it’s understandable that shippers are trying to avoid additional costs. Brokers should be prepared for this by explaining that because of their unique carrier relationships, they can often secure better rates. Mastering how to sell as a freight broker requires on hand examples of this.
  10.  “I don’t have time for this right now.” - This final objection is not industry specific. Flexibility partnered with a pester-free persistence can be the best way for new brokers to make a client out of a busy prospect. Additionally, brokers with the right tools can share about the benefits of digital freight matching which can put the ball in their court to deal with at their time. 

By taking time to get familiar with these objections, fewer of them become dead ends and more turn into committed clientele. 

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

When pursuing another business partnership, novice and experienced brokers alike have to deal with the gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are employees who receive all initial marketing and sales communication to screen the best options for their company. This role is designed to prevent company owners and leaders from wasting time listening to pitches that don’t coincide with their business plans. 

Although the title gatekeeper is likely not being used for people in this role, this employee is found at almost all major corporations. They may be paid under the title executive assistant, sales manager, or junior department member. Regardless of title, they are the first person a broker interacts with, and sometimes the last. Gatekeepers may brush off brokers attempting to make connections due to a lack of knowledge that can guide these preliminary business decisions. When practicing how to sell as a freight broker to gatekeepers, individuals benefit from considering this and more below.

Before the Pitch

When working with any company it’s important for brokers to first do their own research. Research can be started on the company’s own websites or through local news or industry sources. With this sales intelligence, brokers are able to prepare pitches that are personalized to the company or brand itself. This technique lends well into preparing multiple pitches that can address specific concerns, such as contract freight vs. spot freight rates or freight cost per mile predictions. By collecting company specific details and using those to infer what concerns they may have, brokers are better prepared for the actual time itself with gatekeepers. 

During the Pitch

As technology continues to expand, so do the options for meeting with gatekeepers. Flexibility is a large benefit whether meeting in person, on video or on the phone. In all of these scenarios, knowing how to sell as a freight broker means actively listening for vocal cues that imply resistance or curiosity. When in person or on video call, body language may even reveal a gatekeeper’s knowledge and influence. Their comfortability with prospective business partners plays in drastically to their choice of passing on options to decision makers.

Although it may feel as if the gatekeeper is in the way of the broker, brokers need to remember that the gatekeeper is their ally. Utilizing first names builds rapport and familiarity with these doorways to more business. When gatekeepers lack relevant knowledge, brokers should arrive ready to work with the current knowledge in a way that educates without belittling. Doing this while respecting their time by not trying to sell them on all of the details goes a long way. These pitches should be built upon clear, memorable, high level benefits and stats. 

Amidst the many things that are considered by those investigating how to sell as a freight broker, it’s important for prospective brokers to maintain flexibility. Sales can be likened to professional improv due to the eb and flow of natural conversation. Although brokers are selling a service, it’s important to recall that ultimately what companies will buy into is the broker themselves, because relationship is the name of the game while middlemanning the freight industry.

When Gatekeepers Are No Longer an Option

Some gatekeepers just won’t understand or take the time to hear about what is being offered to them. Experienced sales techniques applied by those who know how to sell as a freight broker utilize out of the box ideas such as calling outside of business hours. By calling before 8am or after 5pm, it’s possible that gatekeepers will be less busy. This technique can be utilized to even gain access from the top down, perhaps communicating first with a Vice President and then being asked to be transferred to sales. Networking within other departments can be an additional way to gain sales intelligence and rapport. 

Cold Calling a Shipper

Despite the advancement of technologies, cold calling is still an active and important step when learning how to sell as a freight broker. A cold call is the initial phone conversation with a potential lead that a broker has no current relationship with. Although cold calling is one of the oldest methods in sales, it can still be a daunting task for salespeople in all industries. Here are seven of the most vital tips to discern how to sell as a freight broker with cold calling: 

  1. Prepare for rejection. - To most companies, a broker’s cold call is as dreaded as a telemarketer checking about an expiring auto insurance warranty. By understanding this reality, brokers are able to detach themselves from the outcome of the call and more readily move onto the next one. 
  2. First impressions are everything. - The first few seconds of every call are the most important when bolstering how to sell as a freight broker. Salespeople who share clearly with integrity are more likely to get the next few seconds of air time. By beginning with buzz words, like “shipper of choice”,  brokers can reel in interest across shipping specialties.
  3. They don’t care what you know until they know that you care. - The primary reasons businesses interact with each other are to get something or to give something. Brokers who focus on delivering value instead of an immediate sale are able to relieve the pressure on themselves to perform. Delivering value means investing time bettering the shipping company which can include suggesting modern load boards or how to streamline their TMS. 
  4. Prepare a standard sales pitch that can be personalized for each contact. - Scripts can be helpful business tools when making call after call. However, in order to show shippers that they can do things a better way, brokers must be able to adjust to the specific verbage or examples that apply to that business. Shippers who transport hazmat certified pharmaceuticals have very different needs than clothing distributors and brokers should be prepared to address those needs.
  5. Most yes’s start out as no’s.- So what is the bridge between this change of mind? Oftentimes, it’s a freight broker’s ability to overcome understanding based obstacles. Professionals who pursue knowledge of how to sell as a freight broker benefit from spending time considering what the common objections are in their network, and then preemptively addressing them in new pitches.
  6. Start with one to two main advantages and broaden with the conversation. - People who are passionate about their product or service typically have a lot to say about it. However, when cold calling it’s important to hone in on some primary advantages to keep the conversation focused until they “bite the bait” and ask for more. 
  7. The greater the number of calls, the greater the chance for success.- In order to maximize the time available for cold calling, it’s important for brokers to streamline other areas of their business. This type of efficiency can be found by utilizing a quality TMS and digitizing the booking of loads when possible to minimize delays. 

It’s important to consider that frequent cold calling is characterized most in the early years of brokering. As freight brokers learn how to sell as a freight broker and build their book of business, attention can be moved to retention based customer service. Until then, prospective brokers must not grow weary cold calling by understanding the long term investment that these calls can represent.  

Brokers who are near shippers and distribution centers, can take this a step further to do door to door canvassing. This face to face version of cold calling can sometimes be a breath of fresh air for companies who are only receiving interactions virtually. However, the rejections can feel worse considering the extra time and gas that is taken when a pitch isn’t received, or even heard. Although this option can be intimidating, this avenue of practicing how to sell as a freight broker can be an opportunity for brokers to show face-to-face what a great middleman they would be for the shippers.

Be Prepared for New Business by Partnering with Newtrul

Because the world runs on materials that have to be transferred across town or across the globe, the broker industry isn’t going anywhere but up. Verified Market Research shared recently on this growth: “[The] US Freight Brokerage Market size was valued at USD 1.164 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 13.78 Billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 36.2% from 2021 to 2028.” Professionals who are researching how to sell as a freight broker need to consider what choices they need to make today to ensure they have margin for growing business in the coming years. Make booking your client’s loads easier than ever by starting a demo with Newtrul today.

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