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Sales Strategy: Planning for 3PL Success

Third-party logistics (3PL) involves a lot of variables and covers a lot of ground, but as complicated as 3PL can be, ...


Third-party logistics (3PL) involves a lot of variables and covers a lot of ground, but as complicated as 3PL can be, it exists to simplify logistics operations across business and industry. 3PL’s combination of complexity, simplicity, and variability creates a unique sales environment — one that requires expert knowledge, thorough planning, and processes for continuous improvement.

3PL fulfillment

When any and everything is available for purchase online, order fulfillment can quickly become overwhelming. As a 3PL provider, your business is poised to relieve the burdens of order processing, inventory management, warehousing, shipping, other fulfillment-related services, and any custom combination thereof. You know how to handle all the products and services you manage, but with everything that goes into third-party logistics outsourcing, conveying the benefits of your business to potential clients can be a challenge.

How can your sales team ensure prospects understand the depth of service and convenience you provide? Show them how your 3PL services are the best fit for their logistics needs with the following strategies:

  • Clarify client goals and priorities. Ask questions to determine precisely what your prospects hope to achieve with a 3PL service. Do they want to standardize shipping times, improve inventory management, scale logistics and shipping operations, find more cost-effective solutions, or all of the above? Demonstrate understanding of client goals and priorities by helping your prospects develop a shortlist of the logistics outcomes they want and need.
  • Create a custom client action plan. Use client goals to create a custom action plan that includes project parameters, deadlines, budget constraints, and other critical business measures. Get specific on fulfillment requirements, shipping frequency, warehousing needs, inventory and returns management, shipping deadlines, order cutoff dates, and other client priorities. Outline the basics and provide details that show how your service meets a potential client’s needs and expectations.
  • Match service-level expectations. Develop a service-level agreement (SLA) to define client expectations for each service you will provide them. These agreements implement the standards of service for each logistics operation, including order turnaround, warehousing, and fulfillment.
  • Explain key functions and capabilities. Assure prospects of your company’s ability to accommodate their specific needs for capacity, technology, transportation, and service adaptability. Discuss each client’s future growth plans and highlight your ability to scale your services to support their current and future logistics needs.
  • Prioritize clarity and communication. Effective communication is the cornerstone of an effective supply chain, so set and meet clear expectations early in your client relationships. Establish a consistent point of contact for addressing client questions, and emphasize your company’s timeline for responding to urgent requests. Use your client’s custom action plan to define communication strategies for specific services, including processes for communicating supplier delays, customer service concerns, and emergency contact protocols.

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3PL marketing

Third-party logistics is a growth industry, but with many players pursuing the same customers, it’s also highly competitive. As a 3PL service provider, your company needs smart strategies to stay ahead of competitors. Overcoming 3PL marketing barriers is essential to supporting a successful sales strategy.

Start by refining your market position to appeal to prospects in the segment you want to occupy. Examine your company’s logistics strengths and weaknesses. How can you drive value for specific market segments? Position yourself to provide focused expertise. Engage with target markets with marketing content directed at resolving the problems you solve well. Produce articles, videos, blog posts, and eBooks addressing your prospects' biggest challenges and offering value with detailed solutions.

Consider to what extent your organization has integrated sales and marketing functions. Large companies are often marketing driven, but in many B2B sectors, like 3PL, marketing is less likely to drive business strategy. 3PLs benefit from a tighter integration of sales and marketing, and sales results are better when the two functions align on target markets and prospects. An integrated plan encourages your company’s focus on specific services and prospects for increased sales team productivity and overall ROI.

3PL management platforms

In third-party logistics, the best prospects are the clients you already serve. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms offer a comprehensive method for aligning expectations, processes, and resources to generate increased, predictable revenue via streamlined sales processes and lead generation and increased collaboration among sales, marketing, and other business operations.

Use a CRM to support sales team activity with features for:

  • Customer data management. Every CRM system begins with data management. Start with clean customer data so the later stages of service implementation, sales management, and upgrade or scaling activity are already streamlined for efficiency and productivity.
  • Implementation of sales processes. Ultimately, your CRM will help sales representatives work more effectively. It can identify and manage opportunities, track progress towards closing deals, and manage workflows that combine various sales activities into efficient workflows.
  • Relevant targeted marketing. Your CRM keeps your marketing messaging relevant by segmenting your contacts and sending targeted messages; modifying dynamic content in messages for more specific relevance; and sending automated, personalized messages based on CRM data and contact actions.

Finally, support your 3PL sales team with a comprehensive commission management solution. A clear connection between sales activity and rep compensation helps your sales team determine their most effective and efficient sales approach in the complex world of 3PL sales. When every stakeholder has access to relevant compensation and performance data, your company can find the right motivators to drive 3PL success.

Schedule a demo of your commission management solution today at SalesVista.com.

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