What you need to know about needs
If you have ever been in a relationship of any sort, you know relationships take work. You need to take the time to know your partner: what do they like? What makes them tick? Working with a carrier or a third party logistics (3PL) provider is no different. Each transportation company has their own priorities, such as: desirable routes or improved cash flow; most importantly priorities are constantly changing and they are for the most part different for each company. Does your partner need to make a name for themselves? Are they running empty and need freight back. Do they need to breach a new market?
Abraham Harold Maslow is best known for his “Hierarchy of Needs” theory. In summary, his theory suggest that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire the secondary or higher level of needs. Maslow was talking about individuals but I believe the theory can also be applied to companies. Companies must first focus on how to stay in business (basic need) before they start thinking about who they are doing business with (security) and thinking about their reputation or their share of the market. Knowing your carrier or 3PL needs will help you time your proposals so you can get the best result.
Part of a successful relationship is also knowing your own needs. Do you need industry specific equipment? Is delivery time important to you? You may want to pay the lowest price but you need it to be right for you and your customers. It is important to distinguish the needs from the wants and decide accordingly. Moreover, it is imperative that you help your customers differentiate between their needs and wants by asking leading questions, what have some of your main problems been this quarter? What do you regularly struggle with? If you could change one thing about your current provider what would it be?
Lastly, don’t forget that needs change. It may take a week or a year to find your partner’s needs, but you should not relax once you obtain your first lead. Keep in mind that customers that feel like they are only working on a transactional basis with your company will make it harder to reach the level of knowledge required to establish a successful long term relationship. Once the relationship has been established it is advisable to maintain a constant and effective monitoring of performance and customer feedback to be able to adjust accordingly in a timely manner.