TORONTO, Ont. — Requests for proposals (RFPs), maligned by many motor carriers, are something the industry will have to get accustomed to, according to panelists at today’s Ontario Trucking Association convention.
Participating in a panel discussion on How The Sales Game Has Changed, Lance Norman, vice-president of Apps Transport Group, acknowledged “It’s an RFP world. In the last 12 months, our company has done 87 bids and it’s not going away. It’s likely going to continue to be the primary method of sales going forward.”
Speaking on the same panel, Daryl Clancy, vice-president of sales with Challenger Motor Freight said his company completed 13 RFPs that day alone.
Another trend seems to be the increased emphasis on technology during sales conversations with customers.
“It seems that every new sale now has some IT, electronic or EDI component that’s going to be on the carrier to absorb that cost,” Norman said. “It’s ironic that transportation solutions are becoming more complex and more customized, but buyers are not willing to pay more than one-size-fits-all rates.”
Another trend Norman noticed is that distance to decision-makers – both geographically and figuratively – is widening.
“It’s hard to get in front of the ultimate decision-makers,” Norman said. “The net result is less subjectivity in carrier qualification and the selection process and more objectivity in that process, and nothing is more objective than rates.”
Challenger’s Clancy noted 3PLs and 4PLs are becoming more prominent as well, creating additional challenges for carriers.
“It’s a 3PL and 4PL world and they have global initiatives and in a lot of cases, Canada is just a port,” he said.
Of all the trends discussed during the session, few, if any, make life simpler for transportation providers. Adjusting to new realities will require carriers to offer even great levels of service.
“Almost every customer we have has key performance indicators and scorecards that measure us,” Norman said. “I think where we can get better is in measuring ourselves. Am I picking your freight up? Am I delivering it on time? Am I not smashing it up and am I sending you the proper freight invoices? We need to measure ourselves better. Know what you do well, focus on it and then be able to prove it.”
It’s easy to say you’re the best carrier in the country, Norman pointed out, but keep in mind that any shipper has heard the same from every carrier it has talked to on any given day.
“Can you prove that?” he asked. “I think that is something we need to get better at. Know what you’re good at, focus in on it, measure it and be able to prove you are the best at it.”