Why do logistics providers struggle to generate winnable leads in Latin America? To begin with, most Latin American-owned firms continue to insource a lot of logistics functions, often wasting money and underperforming as a result. It can be a laborious task to convince them of the merits of outsourcing services beyond transportation. In fact, most companies take a long time to begin outsourcing warehousing, packaging, labelling, and customization for fear of losing control of their largest asset.
At the other end of the spectrum are the multinationals operating in Latin America, whose operations are more reliant on outsourced logistics than their legacy factories back home. As cogs in a global wheel of suppliers and customers, the Latin American subsidiary may not have the autonomy to choose its local 3PL provider. When they do, because of the degree to which their logistics are already outsourced, it becomes exceedingly challenging to convince them to unglue themselves from their existing 3PL supplier and try a new one.
So how does one generate leads from these two very different pools of prospects? The key is to develop a lead generation process that can be standardized and pushed down to a lower employee level, either internally or outsourced to a research firm. If lead generation is left in the hands of logistics salesmen, they will grow frustrated and disillusioned quickly because it is a very time- consuming process and frankly, it’s beneath their consultant-like skills.
A well designed lead generation process needs to accomplish a few objectives. These would be:
#1 Identify Prospects Correctly
Identifying logistics customer prospects among multinationals is pursued at two levels: one is to engage with very senior management, either through a relationship led by the 3PL sales team or a thought leadership event that facilitates a one-on-one discussion and demonstrates the 3PL’s capabilities.
The second approach is by surveying the multinational’s logistics buying team, in search of an unmet need or a level of dissatisfaction with their incumbent 3PL so that the door may open for a pilot test with your firm’s services. It is a matter of timing and thus an ongoing lead generation process is key.
In terms of prospecting among Latin American firms, one has to recognize that they divide into several categories. A few approach logistics much like multinationals, fully outsourcing. Most outsource only a portion of their entire logistics spend and therefore probing for opportunity requires the interviewer to ask questions that not only profile the firm’s logistics operations but also bring to light the missed opportunities resulting from choosing to insource non-core activities.
Another element not to be overlooked is the prospect lists one is using for this type of research. In Latin America, prospect lists are often poorly researched and rather incomplete.
#2 Define the Parameters of a Viable Lead
To train and put into action an effective lead generation team (insourced or outsourced), a 3PL has to define what a viable lead looks like by defining key parameters such as:
- Logistics spend — too small may prove unprofitable to service; too large and your firm risks being disqualified a potential vendor.
- Knowing the logistics services they outsource today — is there an opportunity to lure the prospect into outsourcing additional, value added services?
- Where is the decision maker? If it is a global position based in another country, it may not be viable to become a vendor.
- The prospects level of satisfaction with existing vendors — this may well define where the opening is found.
#3 Break the Pattern
Sometimes, a sales team knows very well who they should target…so well that they ignore other types of prospects that they could convert into viable customers. To think out of the box, it is helpful to:
- Study the sorts of clients that competitors service
- Brainstorm with consultants and peers who have successfully managed lead generation programs themselves
- Design the prospect interview process to accommodate unforeseen company profiles as long as they fit the requirements you’ve established to identify a viable lead.
#4 Organize the Process
A lead generation program is only as good as the follow-up process of the sales team. The sales team needs to be intimately involved in designing the sales lead generation process so that they are motivated to follow up leads as they are produced. There also needs to be regular communication between the researchers who first interviewed the prospects and the salesman following up the lead.
Like passing the baton in a relay, the transition must be seamless. Ahead of time, it should be determined how leads will be followed up. Some need immediate attention, others require an educative approach, still others require a vendor application to be filed.
#5 Budget Enough Time—and People
Most sales managers underestimate the amount of time it takes to design and execute a lead generation process. That is why their first instinct is to task the same salesmen with generating their own leads. Once a 3PL comes to terms with the amount of work involved, they warm to the idea of outsourcing the process to a 3rd party supplier.
This is a non-core process that does not require the artistry of a salesman, but rather the scientific process of a disciplined market research firm. There is an additional advantage to using a 3rd party research firm – their consultants can often draw out of the prospect a more critical and thorough perception of the competition and of the 3PL client than the 3PLs sales team ever could. 3rd party objectivity is a powerful asset to the lead generation process.
How AMI Can Help
Americas Market Intelligence (AMI) has executed 3PL lead generation in the past. Our calculations show that clients who have entrusted us with their outsourced lead generation have yielded returns on investment from that spend of more than 1,000%.
Latin America continues to be a growing 3PL market because only a fraction of the addressable logistics market is presently outsourced. Exploiting that opportunity, requires planning, leadership and a little help from a firm like ours.
Contact us to find out how we can help your LatAm logistics company generate a flood of new, qualified leads.