Recently, I was interviewed by my friend and colleague, Dustin Mattison. Dustin is a supply chain expert who blogs about logistics and supply chain topics for Kinaxis.

Transcripts from the Interview:

It’s been several months since we did our last interview. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on a 3PL sales platform. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?

Sure. First off, thanks again, Dustin. I spent most of my career in automotive. I was an engineer, and then I worked as a program manager in Asia. Eventually, I moved into some consulting, doing a lot of lean and supply chain work. I found myself being the general manager of a nonasset-based 3PL here in Michigan, where I live. Starting about a year ago, I started working with third-party logistics companies, transportation guys, logistics guys, helping them improve their sales through lead generation and some innovative sales strategies. I’ve been calling it a 3PL sales platform.

That’s interesting. The last time we talked, you were a general manager of a third-party logistics provider. Can you talk more about what you’re up to now?

While I was working as the GM of a 3PL, I was responsible for sales, and I had made some pretty good sales myself, but it was mostly through personal contacts I had made over a lifetime. When I tried to get my sales guys to be successful, I was not successful. I take responsibility for that; I wasn’t able to give them a process that worked. I started realizing it wasn’t necessarily a sales problem; it was a lead-generation problem. It was also not having a message in the market that made sense, that anybody knew about. There’s so much competition out there; you have to find a way to stick out; you have to find a way to gain that favorable attention and build your credibility while connecting with people.

What a 3PL sales platform is what I created with the logistics of logistics. It takes a little while, but what it is a combination of Web presence, content marketing, which is what we’re doing today—you’re a content marketer—content distribution, and a way to capture leads and start nurturing those leads from marketing leads and the sales leads and, ultimately, into more sales.

While you’re doing all this, you want to build your credibility, you want to get more leads, better-quality leads, and, ultimately, more closed sales. There’s still a big chunk of our market that says these are leads when all they are is a list of companies you bought. Somebody on Google says this is a sales lead. That’s not a sales lead; that’s just a name from Google. Sales leads are somebody you’ve reached out to, marketing leads, or somebody reached out to you and said, “I’m interested. Tell me more.” That’s what I’ve been up to.

What has changed? Why would 3PLs need to spend this time and money to create a 3PL sales platform?

The whole market has changed. The Internet has forever changed us as buyers and consumers. One time, there weren’t nearly as many options. Now, there are so many options out there. There’s a proliferation of new companies, new technologies, new services, and it grows every day. The Internet has really spurred on that growth. It’s hard to get your message out through this clutter. The world is busy and loud, and your message doesn’t get through.

Cold calling doesn’t work for most people, not to the extent that you want it to work. Sure, if you make a hundred phone calls a day, at some point you’re going to get through to people, but it’s not a sustainable way; mostly, what you end up doing is talking to voice mails all day. Also, with so many people doing it, it’s hard to stick out; it’s hard to make anything other than a price-driven sale, which is a problem.

I would also say our consumers—and this is for all of us—they’re very distracted. They’re getting lots of messages. They’re better-informed, also. No longer do we need the sales guy to come to our office and explain what’s going on in the industry. Now, shippers, consumers of all sorts, are online, looking for experts. And they find them. And that’s who they want to work with. They’re much more in control of the sales process. In fact, there is no more sales process; there’s a buying process, and the sales process had better align to it. What’s changed is the shipper and our business.

Can you talk about the benefits of a 3PL sales platform?

What we’re talking about here is a way to communicate with your market, communicate your expertise to that market. You want to be known as an expert; you want to be known as credible. People don’t want to be sold by a sales guy; they want to seek out an expert and buy from them. What a sales platform does is, it’s like a political platform in that it gets you noticed and gets your message out and lets you communicate and hopefully build a two-way communication platform between you and your customer.

I’d say the direct benefit is visibility. Again, cutting through that crowded market and actually being seen and being heard. You want to build a two-way communication with your market, and you communicate by being seen as an expert. Sharing your expertise across multiple channels; it’ll make you more credible, and that will lead to more sales.

Another thing we’re trying to do with the sales platform—a lot of people have done it; you’ve done it—we’re looking to build a tribe. It sounds a little trite these days, but you want to develop a following that respects your expertise, that thinks you’re credible, that might want to work with you. If you were to say, “I have a list of a thousand people who follow me, and they follow me because they enjoy my content, my articles, my Webinars, my e-books, or videos,” you’re going to do a lot better in the marketplace than somebody who doesn’t do that.

Ultimately, why do we want a 3PL sales platform? To sell. We all want to sell. People who build a sales platform are seen as more credible; they’re seen as experts; they get more, better-quality leads because the people came to them; and, ultimately, they can sell more.

Thanks, Joe, for sharing your views today on the 3PL sales platform that you’ve developed.

Thank you, Dustin, thank you very much for having me.

Sell More Transportation and Logistics Services
I work exclusively with transportation and logistics companies who want to increase their sales. If you interested, please contact me at 517.375.0631 or [email protected]