• Why the Great Freight Recession Hasn't Ended Yet
  • Getting Ahead with a Specialized Logistics CRM Technology
  • What Do Freight Brokers Need from a CRM?
  • How a Logistics CRM Can Help Freight Brokers in a Competitive Market



    Freight brokers are facing the brutal reality of the "great freight recession," and it’s not just some news headline. Trucks are flooding the market, competing for the same shipments. Rates are dropping, profits are shrinking, and it feels like a constant battle to stay afloat.

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    This isn't some future worry. It's been slamming the brakes for logistics businesses since COVID-19, and it seems like there's no end in sight. Every deal feels like a desperate fight for survival in the industry.

    But why is this happening, and why does it seem like there's no light at the end of the tunnel? How can freight brokers like you continue to secure more deals in this highly competitive industry?

    In this article, we aim to explore why the great freight recession has persisted for so long. We’ll also tackle how a CRM can give you a competitive advantage in winning more deals.

    In the next section, we will examine first the underlying causes of the persistence of the great freight recession.

    Why the Great Freight Recession Hasn't Ended Yet

    The current freight recession is characterized by low demand for transportation services, a high supply of trucks, and tight margins within the industry. While there are some positive signs, a full recovery is likely to take some time.

    One of the reasons for this extended recession is that there has been a lackluster domestic GDP in the US economy creating an environment of excess truck capacity. Unfortunately, many trucking companies have fallen due to this brutal market, however, there are still far more trucks than there is freight.

    During the good times before the recession, trucking companies built up reserves. These reserves have helped them stay afloat during the recession but are likely running out.

    Also, freight rates are still near all-time lows, making it challenging for companies to generate more revenue. With such low rates, you might struggle to keep up with the expenses.

    When the economy fully recovers, shipping levels will return to a healthier level, however the jury is still out as to when this will occur.

    Now, what’s the next best move for freight brokers?

    Getting Ahead with a Specialized Logistics CRM Technology

    Being competitive and reliable is important in this industry. But what really makes a difference is having the right tools. Imagine having a CRM made just for the freight brokerage industry, one that fits your needs and helps you manage your clients better, now and in the future.

    In a crowded market, everyone is chasing the same business. Now, how can you make sure that you can secure business with your clients?

    Since it’s a tough market out there, having a CRM that gets the industry is a must. It's not just about keeping track of contacts; it's about running sales smoothly, managing customer communications, call cycles, and quoting quickly and competitively.

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    While some struggle with clunky CRMs (generic CRMs), you should use one designed specifically for transportation service providers. A specialized CRM gives you more control over your clients and prospects, allowing you to manage existing relationships while strategically targeting new ones.

    With a logistics CRM, freight brokers can get ahead using data from the systems, making smart decisions, and staying on top. You’re not just keeping up; you’re also leading in the industry.

    What Do Freight Brokers Need from a CRM?

    So, what specific features within a logistics CRM can empower freight brokers to overcome the great freight recession?

    Freight brokers operate in a transactional world. During an economic downturn, it's even more critical to have the right tools to manage customer relationships and navigate market fluctuations.

    Built-in Quoting Tool for Accurate Quotes

    Not all customers require the same level of rates. While some may lock in consistent rates for your shipments, others demand quotes based on the immediate market conditions for time-sensitive needs.

    The volume of rate quotations can become a nightmare to manage when each salesperson uses different communication channels and applications. This approach makes it incredibly difficult to maintain a consistent overview and ensure everyone is working with the same information.

    While HubSpot, Salesforce, and Pipedrive are powerful CRM solutions, they don't cater to the specific needs of the logistics industry, making it challenging to access real-time market data and historical rate information.

    This is why a built-in quoting tool is important. It eliminates the need for manual calculations and data entry. It allows freight brokers to generate accurate and professional quotes in minutes, saving time especially when dealing with multiple inquiries simultaneously.

    Logistics Reports with Detailed Performance Insights

    With a logistics CRM, you can easily compare your current performance to previous months, providing a clear picture of your progress in key areas like revenue, gross profit, and gross margins.

    Let’s say you want to check your customer service representative’s performance. All you would need to do is look at their detailed performance report. This would give you complete visibility of their calls, emails, and meetings and allow you to compare them to a previous period. The report is in summary form; you can even drill down into the specific activity.

    For your salespeople who heavily use CRM, you can also check their activities - calls, emails, and meetings. You can identify the impact of their performance on the revenue, gross margin, and shipment count per customer.

    The best thing about these logistics sales reports is that you do not need to wait a whole month to see the data. Your logistics CRM can offer real-time insights, which is beneficial for quick decision-making. Without running any reports, you can track where your salespeople stand at various levels. You can view performance at different levels - company, branch, salesperson, customer service, or operations level.

    Logistics Dashboard for Monitoring Activities

    You would want to drill down into all the activities of your sales and customer service representatives. Generic CRMs don’t have the ability to pull all these data in one place.

    A logistics CRM can get you an overview of all these activities. For instance, everyone in the customer service and sales team is assigned their own tasks. You can get a glimpse of their productivity through the dashboard.

    Here’s the thing, a logistics dashboard does not merely show your activities such as scheduled meetings and calls. It provides specific company data such as the last shipment made, last quote awarded, and frequency of shipment - no need to open different tabs to get specific data. This data uncovers all business opportunities in the company.

    Sales Pipeline to Increase Market Reach

    When freight brokers use a sales pipeline, you must remember that you deal with leads, existing customers, and everything in between.

    In today’s market, finding new customers has become increasingly difficult, so an effective pipeline with key data related to the freight industry and your customers is critical for success. For every 100 leads contacted, there is a 2 % return for positive results. All of the large 3PLs operate with a proprietary CRM and they are not sharing their systems with their competition. A logistics CRM will provide a competitive edge to grow and maintain your business.

    If you can effectively manage your existing accounts and grow your customer base, you will dramatically increase your success. Imagine if you had to use a generic CRM (Salesforce or Pipedrive), you need to adapt the CRM to the industry's demands and endure costly modifications to accept data from your TMS.

    The challenge lies in the fact that you are already competing with many brokers and trucking companies to secure deals. Any CRM can provide a sales pipeline, but a logistics CRM ensures that freight brokers maintain and grow a healthy customer base.

    In the industry’s state today, with freight brokers reducing freight rates to stay in the customer’s door, the best thing to do is to have your pipeline filled with qualified leads and convert them into customers with effective sales techniques and excellent access to all of your customer’s data.

    How a Logistics CRM Can Help Freight Brokers in a Competitive Market

    The freight brokerage industry is facing a challenging period, but it's not an insurmountable obstacle. During these times of extreme competitiveness, you need technology that will give you an advantage against competitors. A logistics CRM will bring more customers in and maintain your existing customers.

    The essence of a logistics CRM lies not just in its ability to produce competitive quotes but in its ability to give you the power to have all customer data at the tip of your fingers. This provides you with the competitive edge you need to grow your business.

    To learn how a specialized logistics CRM can help freight brokers gain a competitive advantage in freight sales, explore further here.

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    Hector Sunol Information Technology Expert

    Hector is IFS’s co-founder and CEO, with over 21 years of experience leading and managing companies and IT operations for large and mid-size businesses. Hector is also the co-founder and CEO of Cyzerg, a technology company specializing in innovating software solutions for warehouses and DCs. Before IFS and Cyzerg, Hector was senior director of technical operations, overseeing an e-commerce website with more than one million monthly transactions.