The often lucrative transportation and logistics industry attracts a host of ambitious players seeking a stake.
But far too often companies go years spinning their wheels, so to speak, putting in twice the effort but achieving only incremental success. Frustration grows as efforts to scale and build a customer base appear futile.
It’s not that these companies aren’t doing sales; the founders are giving their best pitches. But word-of-mouth networking can get you only so far. Plus, it’s hard enough to juggle brokering duties, let alone back-office, sales and marketing roles too. If this sounds familiar, now is the time for a fresh look at how you invest your energy and effort.
More and more logistics providers are acknowledging their internal constraints and turning to Lean Solutions Group, a provider of staffing, back-office logistics, sales and marketing solutions, for help in attaining scalable growth.
“There are many companies that have struggled to figure out sales; they often haven’t thought through the process or worked through what they need to be successful,” said Trey Griggs, vice president of Lean Sales at Lean Solutions Group. In fact, many businesses put sales at the bottom of their priority list, he observed.
“We see a lot of companies with fragmented sales efforts, and that’s where Lean Sales fills the gaps,” Griggs said.
Griggs noted that many companies don’t have a sales process or a leads list and aren’t using customer relationship management (CRM) technology. He’s even come across sales teams operating without scripts or a strategy in place to help customers through the buying process.
“At Lean Sales, we provide access to incredible sales professionals, and we partner with our clients to share best practices in order to assist in putting together a world-class sales organization and sales playbook consistent with what they’re looking to accomplish,” Griggs said.
Lean Sales excels at lead generation, making connections in every way imaginable. Its services include hiring, back-office and CRM administrative work, data research, as well as KPI metrics and reporting.
Lean Solutions Group, formerly Lean Staffing Solutions, utilizes the process of nearshoring — a concept quite literally foreign to the transportation and logistics industry.
Lean’s nearshoring service transfers various aspects of a company’s back-office services and other facets of the business to satellite offices in Colombia. Unlike outsourcing, in which a business hires a foreign company to accomplish its goals, nearshore teams are full-fledged employees of the company stateside.
In just three to five weeks, a U.S.-based brokerage can set up shop in South America with a personalized office space housing a team dedicated to its brand.
Why Colombia? Griggs pointed to the untapped potential of the country’s young, ambitious workforce. Many in the younger generations in Colombia are bilingual and eagerly embrace American values and culture.
Griggs noted that the country operates within the same time zone as the central U.S. (Eastern /Central time zones), so its Assigned Service Providers’ office hours coincide with those of U.S.-based employees. In addition, Colombia is only a three-hour flight from Miami, and Lean encourages its clients to visit their teams to build camaraderie and culture.
“Our clients receive great employees that are excited to work with U.S.-based companies,” Griggs said. “They understand the opportunity and love the culture at Lean Sales, which is unique in Colombia.”
Griggs pointed out another important benefit to nearshoring with Lean as well: It takes on the hiring duties and associated costs.
“With our model, employee costs become vendor expenses, because Lean technically does the hiring in Colombia; we’re the ones paying Colombian payroll taxes and other benefits,” Griggs said. “Lean takes the headache out of hiring; our clients save on expenses that they often don’t realize they have when hiring staff.”
Accumulating over 2,000 active employees in just eight years, Lean has established four product lines: Lean Staffing, Lean Tech, Lean Sales and Lean Marketing. Its sales, staffing and tech solutions take the majority of the spotlight, but it’s Lean Marketing that helps logistics companies shine brightest.
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of any business, but its implementation is often an afterthought, which is a serious impediment for many transportation and logistics companies.
“Many companies know they should be doing some social media. However, they don’t realize that it needs to include really solid content behind it that’s industry-related,” said Lean Vice President of Marketing Gena Mann. “They may not even know that they should be utilizing marketing as a means to tell their story to share what makes them different from their competitors.”
Mann’s clients often come to her with practically nonexistent marketing resources. She added that the average marketing department has one to two staff members. But the problem isn’t necessarily the lack of team members or that they’re not putting out content across social media channels. Rather, Mann explains, it boils down to the quality of content shared.
Director of Lean Marketing Ryan Mann agrees, making the case that social media content and search engine optimization are great tools, but that’s just what they are — tools. The only thing that truly matters in marketing is the brand that’s conveyed.
“We want to clearly communicate our clients’ strengths: the strengths of what they do, the strengths of what they offer. We want to showcase their differentiators,” Ryan Mann said. “Everybody has unique perspectives, so sharing them, their strengths and expertise will ultimately reach customers with aligned values and mindsets.”
Lean offers both staffing and project-based marketing solutions for its customers. A team of marketing coordinators and graphic designers can be employed similarly to its Colombian staffing model. Although many of its projects are executed in South America, quality assurance is done by Lean’s U.S.-based team to ensure that deliverables will resonate with American audiences.
Gena Mann added that Lean’s marketing model typically results in a 50% reduction in overhead compared with traditional U.S.-based marketing firms, not to mention the savings in hiring due to its flat-fee model.
“Marketing is the differentiator between you, and your competitors in the transportation industry,” Gena Mann said. “Many brokers offer the same services, so the only way to differentiate yourself is through marketing.”