Freight brokers are in a unique position as self-employed business owners. They not only carry immense purchasing power from potential carriers, but it is also their job to sell the carriers’ services to complete the routes that they are selling. However, if you are looking to be a freight broker, you may not know how to get the leads you need to grow your business. How do these other freight brokers figure it out?How do freight brokers find leads to provide their services? Freight brokers can attain leads for their freight broking business through various means. They also need to understand their prospects’ products to focus on the correct niche as well as paying attention to their competition.

Some of the methods to find leads and shippers are:

  • Understand that the leads for a freight broker surround you everywhere.
  • Examine your previous purchases and compare where they were shipped from.
  • Pay attention to your competition. Nearly 70% of everything we use is transported by carrier service.
  • Use MacRae’s Blue Book and other shippers lists to find potential leads.
  • Use USDA business listings to locate businesses such as farms that sell produce, livestock, poultry, and raise cattle.
  • Use Google and other search engines like Bing to get a satellite view of businesses.
  • Cold calling to shippers

When looking to start a business of any kind, it is essential to have leads at your disposal to begin the sales process. If you don’t have leads to follow up on, you cannot sell your services or product, no matter how good you are at what you do. If you are looking to take your freight broker business to the next level or just getting started and need to learn how to find potential customers, this guide is for you.

As a Freight Broker, You Need to Understand Leads are Everywhere

Think about a typical day in your life. You may be sitting in your office, sipping coffee at Starbucks, filling up your car at the gas station, going to the store to pick up groceries, or even hitting the highway to drive and visit family. If you pay attention, you will notice that everywhere you look, there are trucks moving freight and companies needing freight moved.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a freight broker, IT service professional, or even an insurance agent, when it comes to sales and offering a service or product to potential customers, many people in the sales profession completely over complicate the concept of finding and vetting leads. When looking at all everything around you and all these companies to do business, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • In the freight brokerage business, there is no such thing as a bad lead. The majority of companies that you come across needs to have products shipped from point A to point B and are always looking for companies that can get their products there. Even if they don’t need freight moved at the moment, logistics change daily, and tomorrow could be a different story.
  • Don’t overthink when reaching out to companies that you come across. You can’t grow your book of business if you don’t take the time to take a chance and contact the prospect list that you are building. No calls and no appointments mean your business isn’t connecting freight with carriers, and that does not make you a freight broker. It just makes you broke.
  • As a freight broker, you need to have an understanding of your prospect’s business. You need to be able to identify from research or questioning, who manufactures their products, what do they need to be shipped, where they come from, and how many different products do they sell. If you can find out the answers to these questions, a lead can very easily become a client.

How Your Purchase History Can Help You Find Leads

When freight brokers are having a hard time finding leads, they can easily become overwhelmed and develop negative feelings towards their profession. That is common in any sales profession where you are required to find your customers and develop your book of business by yourself. When you are struggling to find leads by conventional means, that means it is time to get creative.

Looking at your receipts can turn out to be fruitful in providing you with potential leads to grow your freight broker business. When you order a product, whether it is from Amazon or anywhere else, you can use those same receipts to develop a list of potential contacts for the services that you offer.

It also will give you a better idea as to how these companies work together to get products from the manufacturer to the distribution centers, finally to your home. Here is what we discovered when reviewing our purchase history online:

  • For the particular product that we ordered, it was originally manufactured in China, and that was where the product was going to be shipped from before coming to the United States.
  • The product spent some time at the location that is was going to be coming from before being sent to the United States via airplane.
  • Upon reaching US soil, the product was moved to another distribution center by one of Amazon’s semi-trucks.
  • After being through processing again at that location for a couple of days, the product was transported by semi yet again to another distribution location. However, this time it was within the city of its final destination.
  • On the last day, the product was brought by an independent contract courier to the door for us to sign off on for the delivery.

Do you know what we were able to learn from that receipt other than it took three and a half weeks for the product to arrive? We learned that Amazon needs carriers. The individual who delivered the package to its final destination was not an Amazon employee. He was not wearing an Amazon shirt or driving an Amazon truck. He was an independent owner/operator working with Amazon.

Now that we are armed with this information, we can use this to our advantage to begin our research to find out where Amazon may need to be connected with carriers to continue getting products out to their customers. See? A receipt can teach you a lot if you pay attention.

Learn to Study and Pay Attention to the Competition

When we tell you to study and pay attention to the competition, we don’t necessarily mean your competition. We’re talking about the competition of the carriers and shippers in the logistics industry you are attempting to service. When it comes to the logistics business, every product that gets shipped from one place to another has a competitor or two within that same niche.

Let’s say take a sports equipment manufacturer like Wilson, for example. Wilson is a brand that nearly everyone has heard of; it doesn’t matter if it is football, soccer, basketball, tennis, or even golf. They make balls and other equipment to service these sports within their company. Even though they have an enormous market share and dominate the sports industry, they still quite a bit of competition.

Studying a company and their competition will open up a whole new segment of potential buyers of your freight broker business, and this is where a tool like MorningStar Financial and (if you can afford it, Duns & Bradstreet business leads) can help you to look into a business and discover their biggest competitors, their annual revenue, even the type of technology that they are currently using.

Tools like this can provide you with a great advantage over the freight brokers that you are competing with if you learn to analyze and use the data that you have gathered correctly. Technology is an amazing thing, and knowing how to harness it can do your freight broker business wonders.

How Using MacRae’s Blue Book and Other Shippers Lists Can Help You Find Potential Leads For Your Freight Broker Business

MacRae’s Blue Book and other shippers list can be so valuable to you as a freight broker, that if you know what you are doing, it can turn out to be a gold mine of leads to provide your business with the surge of financial income that we all want.

The thing that makes MacRae’s Blue Book such a useful tool for generating leads is the fact that it provides detailed information on the manufacturing companies listed within the directory. You can identify and locate your ideal manufacturing lead by:

  • The types of products the company manufactures
  • The information provided regarding the manufacturing company
  • The freight rates that the company offers

To give you a better idea as to how this is particularly useful, we are going to provide you with a breakdown of these points and how they benefit you, as a freight broker, to get the most out of this method of lead generation.

The Types of Products the Company Manufactures

Think about a product that you are particularly passionate about. It could be some exercise equipment, a health product, horses, Doritos, whatever floats your boat. It doesn’t matter. The point is to make sure that you are knowledgeable about is, and it is something that can get you excited.

In business and sales of all types, including freight broking, you must focus on things that incite a feeling of passion. It has to be something that you like, are knowledgeable about, and can hold your attention. It is your job at this point to present yourself as an expert in this niche and be able to understand what needs to be done to service the needs of the client in this niche.

On the other hand, you could be a bit of a generalist. While it is still very possible to build your business and drive an income from this approach, it may not yield the results that you need or are looking to achieve. You may be speaking to a prospect about taking on a route to match with a carrier, but as a generalist, you can give only general answers and can’t provide expertise and unique solutions to their problem.

When it comes to talking to leads, you want to be as precise with your pitches as a well-trained sniper, knowing everything you need to know about a manufacturer to send proposals with pinpoint accuracy. This is significantly better and more fruitful than the “shotgun approach,” where you’re all over the place.

The Information Provided About the Manufacturing Company

Having information about the manufacturing company beyond the types of products that the company manufactures is also extremely beneficial to the freight broker who is on the hunt for prospects. Knowing how long the manufacturer has been in business, the number of employees that they have on staff, and the amount of revenue the manufacturer generates are all important to freight brokers.

When you know how long the manufacturer has been in business, you can determine two things. First, you should be able to determine the health and stability of the business. The longer the manufacturer has been operating, the better, in this case. If you manage to get this business as a client and perform well with servicing their needs, you should be able to have them as a client for a very long time to come.

In reverse, it is not necessarily a bad thing if the company is a bit newer. If they have a great product and have a lot of capital to work with based upon their financial health, this prospect could also turn into a lifelong client as well. Your priority, in this case, is to ensure the healthy growth of your business and theirs as well to ensure that you have consistent loads and routes coming in from them.

The number of employees on staff is also important to you. Let’s say that they manufacture a great product and financial strength. The only problem they have is that they are struggling to maintain their truckloads that need to go out due to the lack of drivers available on staff. Reaching these companies can be a great resource to freight brokers by helping this with this lack of staff by outsourcing.

The Freight Rates Offered By the Company

The freight rates offered by the manufacturers are going to be important for you to figure out what the company is going to be willing to pay a freight broker to have their loads picked up by a carrier. When it comes to looking at the freight rates offered by a manufacturer, try to keep two things in mind when deciding whether or not you want to contact this prospect.

  1. How much money are you willing to accept to connect shippers to carriers? As a freight broker, you are in the unique position of buying and selling to generate a profit. While you may sell your freight broking services to a manufacturer, you will need to accept the cost that the carrier requests to have the loads going out. This is negotiating and a different subject altogether.
  1. How much are you willing to pay a carrier to run the route for the manufacturer? This is directly tied to the amount of money you will are willing to accept for your services. That is because a portion of what you are getting paid needs to go to the carrier. By better understanding what rates the shipper is willing to pay, the easier it is to discover the type of clients you want.

When you are first starting as a freight broker, you are going to have to realize that you may have to accept freight rates that you aren’t particularly excited about; this is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be in your best interest to do so until you feel that you are more capable of handling larger accounts and routes.

The best way to monetize on this is to connect these companies with smaller carrier companies who are looking to grow their business and build a name for themselves. It also allows you to start good working relationships as well with these carriers. As you grow and become more adept at your profession and they grow in business and notoriety due to your efforts, the easier it is to connect loads to them.

Using USDA Business Listings to Locate Businesses That Need Freight Brokers

Nearly seventy percent of everything that we receive in this country gets shipped from another location. That includes everything from toys, shoes, and even the food we buy at the grocery store. Using USDA business listings is a great way to connect your freight broking business with farming businesses.

The great thing about using the USDA business listings to find farming businesses is the fact that farms produce something that everyone needs. That need, obviously, is going to be food. No matter who you are, you still need to eat something. With that said, this type of business can greatly benefit from the services of a freight broker as they are always going to need someone to ship their produce.

What makes this even more valuable to you as a freight broker, is the out of season produce that is still in high demand, like tomatoes and avocados, which people like to eat all year round. Depending on the location that they need to get shipped from, you may be looking at finding farming companies that are will to pay higher freight costs because they are getting paid more for their out of season produce.

Use Google and Other Search Engines Like Bing to Get a Satellite View of Businesses

Google and other search engines can be a great tool in helping you to identify what businesses could benefit from the services of a freight broker. Aside from that, you will be surprised to learn how many manufacturers and general shippers may occupy a particular area as well. If you got this far, you might think, “All of this other information made sense, but how does a satellite view of businesses help me?”

Well, our confused freight broking friend, this is where you learn a bit more about being creative, and a satellite view of businesses can tell you a lot about the companies that you are looking to service. First off, one of the major and possibly the most important benefit is that it gives you the ability to determine whether or not a company has a docking area within the business.

If you don’t think that something as simple as a docking area is important, friend, you are in the wrong business. If a business has a dock, that means that they ship and receive products. Which, in turn, means that the company can benefit from the use of a freight broker.

Furthermore, it gives you the necessary information to begin researching that business to determine what kind of products that they carry or manufacture. Most importantly, it provides you with the ability also to learn how exactly they ship and receive their products. Turns out staring at buildings with the help of thousands and satellites and google is useful.

Using Cold Calling to Generate Leads

If you have ever come across a book on sales and lead generation and take the time to read it instead of glancing through it for a magical answer, you will find that the subject of cold calling for lead generation and sales typically has an entire chapter dedicated to the subject. This is because it does not matter how much technology is out there right now; one of the best ways to find clients is to call them.

When working on generating leads for your freight broker business, it is important that you get over the fear of rejection and speaking to strangers on the phone. Sales of all types is a numbers game, and if you don’t reach out to businesses by calling them and getting over hearing “no,” you may never hear “yes.”

To give you a bit more confidence when it comes to making cold calls to businesses; here are some guidelines of what you should do to ensure that you can get the most out of your sales calls:

  1. Research your prospects before calling them. It is important to make sure that you know as much as possible about your prospect before you begin making calls. It makes it easier to tailor your sales pitch to their company and their individual needs. The more you know coming into the call, the better results you will get going into your cold calling.
  1. Don’t look at it as cold calling. Instead, think of it as a warm conversation: Calling prospects can be intimidating to freight brokers and other sales professionals alike. With this in mind, it is best to look at it as a warm conversation with another individual. Focus less on selling and focus more on having a certain amount of conversations a day.
  1. Identify the decision-maker before you call. One thing that can be extremely stressful for a freight broker is not knowing who is the best point of contact is before reaching out to a company. When you know who it is that you need to talk to get things moving and receive a purchasing decision, knowing who to talk to will make starting the call easier when you do.
  1. Develop a call script. While it is important to make sure that you tailor the call towards the business that you are going to be reaching out to, it is important to make sure that you have a script put together with the words that you plan to say to your prospects. Adjust it as necessary for the business but have it on hand for a guideline.

Above all, it is important to enter the conversation with confidence. Always assume the sale when you reach out to prospects and make sure that you have a script together so that you aren’t stumbling over your words. As long as you have done your research, are diligent in your calling efforts and take the time to listen to your prospect on the phone, you will begin to see results from your cold calling efforts.

In Conclusion

When looking for leads to fuel your freight broker business, it is important to make sure that you take the time to observe all of these options for finding leads in for your business. Everywhere we look, there are leads.

Your purchase history can give you the information you need to identify everything you need to know about potential shippers, the various technological options including load boards, and overcoming the fear of cold calling can give you all the tools you need for your freight broker business to grow and be successful. Thanks for reading; get out there and start hustling!

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.