Effective 3PL sales strategies and processes are necessary to increase your customer base. But often, businesses focus on their existing customers. However, you don’t grow your company without adding new customers to the existing customer base. You need to add new customers while retaining the existing ones.
This article will describe some of the 3PL sales strategies & processes that’ll help you grow your customer base. Part 1 of this article will focus on the sales pipeline. And part 2 will discuss essential sales pipeline metrics that you should monitor.
But first, let’s understand the concept of customer acquisition and customer attrition.
Customer acquisition is the sales process & strategies that 3PLs use to compel leads into buying your products/services. The process also focuses on turning them into new customers. On the other hand, customer attrition, also known as customer churn or customer turnover, refers to the loss of clients. Ensuring a higher ratio of customer acquisition over customer attrition is fundamental to the sustainable growth of your company. For example, if you add twenty new customers per month and lose three, you have a favorable ratio.
According to a study by Statista in 2021, 74% of 3PL services providers find it challenging to add new customers and retain them.
Now that you have understood the concept of customer acquisition and customer attrition. Let’s closely look at how a well-defined and easily traceable sales pipeline is at the heart of an effective 3PL sales strategy.
An essential 3PL sales strategy is to define and implement a sales pipeline. It helps you consistently track and manage your leads as they move across different sales stages. A sales pipeline enables you to attain a complete view of the sales funnel. It lets you keep track of the momentum of each lead/customer as they move through the 3PL sales process. Here are some of the stages that you should have in your sales pipeline:
This stage consists of sales leads. A sales lead refers to the contact information (data) of a person/business with the potential of becoming a buyer. The information includes but is not limited to a contact’s name, company name, email address, phone number, etc. You can obtain sales leads through word of mouth, your website, tradeshows, social media, etc. You can also simply search for companies in Google that are within your target market.
However, not every lead is ideal for your business. You need to develop specific qualification criteria to filter them. It includes the factors that your best customers have in common, such as particular revenue ranges, headcount, industry, etc. When a sales lead doesn’t match the qualification criteria, it automatically becomes a non-qualified lead. But, when a sales lead fits the qualification criteria, it becomes a qualified lead.
Remember, you should avoid the temptation of moving non-qualifying leads. Many companies can’t avoid this temptation. They end up wasting a significant number of resources and efforts by focusing on the wrong leads. Remember, only qualified leads can move to the next stage in your sales pipeline: Qualified Lead.
This stage holds your qualified leads, the contacts that passed your qualification criteria. These are the leads that you should focus on and target with marketing & sales campaigns. These campaigns include cold calling, email blasts, inbound marketing, etc. At this point, the objective should be to engage them and establish a relationship of trust and value.
As the relationship evolves, your qualified lead understands the value you bring to the table. It is just a matter of time until they request a quote or allow you to do business with them. Your qualified lead automatically becomes a prospect when they request a quote. Now it is ready to move to the next stage in the sales pipeline.
This stage contains your prospects, the qualified leads that have received a quote from your company. Prospect is one of the most critical stages of your 3PL sales process. It defines who becomes a customer and who doesn’t (growth). Remember, every salesperson is different. So, you must ensure that you have sales professionals with proven experience in closing deals at this stage.
When prospects sign a quote, they move to the next stage – new customers. If they reject your quote, you can keep them in the prospect stage. It allows you to see if they can give you a second opportunity. You can also create a new stage called “nurturing.” At this stage, you could try to build and strengthen the relationship & trust with that prospect.
This stage consists of new customers or organizations that have not previously done business with you. However, they have made an initial purchase. The new customer stage of the 3PL sales strategy is critical. It is because your new customers are testing the waters. You still need to earn their loyalty and trust. If they find your services unsatisfactory, they will do business with you once and take their business elsewhere next time.
Remember, your existing customers are essential, and you should never take them for granted. However, you must also keep a tremendous focus on your new customers to build loyalty and trust. After your new customer has repeated business with you for at least one year (which might vary from company to company), you can move them to the next stage: the customer stage.
We recommend that a customer moves to this stage (customer stage) once they have done business with you on multiple occasions and for at least one year. At this point, you have gained their trust and loyalty. However, you should also remember to never take a customer for granted and always be proactive.
The new customer and customer stages provide all the accounts your customer service team needs to focus on. A best practice is that when a customer enters any of these stages (new customer or customer), call or meeting cycles are implemented and systemized. It allows you to stay in touch with these customers and proactively address their needs.
The lost customer stage contains all customers that are no longer doing business with you. We recommend moving customers to this stage when they have not done business with you for at least one year. It is important to understand that the criteria vary from business to business.
It is painful to admit that you have lost a customer. Recognizing a customer as a loss makes you realize that you might have a problem that needs to be addressed. At this stage, customers’ notes, emails, interactions, pricing levels, etc., should be carefully reviewed. It helps you understand why they might have caused the customer to stop doing business with you. This is where keeping records and historical information becomes invaluable.
As this article shows, having a well-defined sales pipeline is critical for effectively executing 3PL sales strategies and processes. Adopting the abovementioned procedures and best practices can help you expand your customer base and reduce customer attrition. A sales pipeline enables you to attain a complete view of the sales funnel. It lets you keep track of the momentum of each lead or customer as they move through the 3PL sales process.
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