Why should a freight broker use CRM software?

CRM, or customer relationship management, software is helpful in the fast-paced environment that freight brokers live in.

The frustrating part for brokers and salespeople when it comes to CRM? Data entry. Many salespeople also feel it's strictly to comply to management.

If you are a broker that is focused on growing sales and building new shipper relationships, you are going to look at getting a list of shippers and contacts at the shippers to reach out to about the logistics services you provide.

For those that have been a broker and cold called: you will get a lot of no pick ups, you will get a lot of no answers, you will be sent to voicemail a lot, and you will get a ton of rejection.

You have to be sharp, you have to be persistent, you have to be able to convey the value that you can provide as a broker in a short period of time. It's a challenge, but it can be a highly rewarding one if done correctly.

Some brokers make up to 75+ dials within a given day. In a week that is over 300 calls, so with this large list it is very easy to forget which shipper is who. CRM software helps keep your contacts organized with their job title, it allows you to document your notes from previous conversations, and it helps you set reminders to follow-up.

Let's dive into the different ways that CRM software can elevate your game as a freight broker.

Keep track of shippers, contacts, and notes

If you already have a list of shippers and contacts in a spreadsheet, CRMs allow you to import these into the system to start making contact and lead management so much easier.

CRM makes it easier to access shippers by searching. It's more helpful to track the date and time stamps of when you or another broker reached out to a shipper contact, as well as any notes for what happened.

Notes and details seem small, but it is one of the most important things for your memory and to provide a better experience to a shipper to continue progressing the sale.

If you have to ask the same questions you asked last time, they will get frustrated and hang up on you, and you have wasted your time and their time. Log your notes!

Why forget the detail you collected on a 20 minute call that you won't remember a month from now? Don't waste those 20 minutes.

Capture info and data based on the services you provide

Adding the relevant data fields you need to your CRM helps brokers. It guides them in the sales process because if you have blank data fields, it probably means you did not ask the shipper that specific question to qualify.

Most importantly, it helps with reporting. For custom data fields to capture, this is information such as:

Equipment types, spot and/or contracted freight, seasonality, common lanes, competition (other brokers/carriers), lead time, and more. You can get as creative as needed with your business.

Manage your pipeline

Top brokerages will manage the potential opportunities through pipeline management. This outlines the stage of the buyer's journey for a shipper to get to the point where they move their first shipment with you as the broker.

Pipeline management helps give salespeople a better frame of mind to understand what the next step they should take in the sales process is with a shipper.

It also helps brokers and management forecast new potential shippers. I have found in my experience that for every 5 shippers you think are going to close in a given time period, one of those actually will. Timelines get pushed back, contacts get busy, paperwork gets stuck with accounting, and you get randomly ghosted.

Add more opportunities to your pipeline to protect the health of your continued business.

Build segmented reports for targeted outreach

One of the most valuable parts of CRM software is the ability to build custom and segmented reports. Here's an example.

Let's say you are a broker that is really strong running lanes out of the Southeast region, and in particular you have the strongest relationships with flatbed hotshot carriers.

CRM allows you to run reports for shippers within a given state, city, or zip, and if you add custom fields like Salesdash has for equipment types (dry vans, flatbeds, reefers, etc.) then you can run reports on these shippers too.

You can get VERY creative and targeted with this based on the services you provide and the level of customization you make to your CRM.

Add automations, add more time back to your day

Leads may come from different areas like Facebook ads, Google ads, your website, etc.

CRMs integrate with these platforms to be able to have these leads go directly into your CRM system. Salesdash integrates with Zapier to allow you to connect any apps that you use to create actions in your CRM.

You can schedule emails to go out, you can build email sequences, you can build follow-up sequences, and more.

Simplify and speed up sales outreach

Many CRMs will integrate with top email and calendar platforms like Google and Outlook. This allows you to send emails directly from your CRM to a contact at the shipper, and some systems let you know when the recipient has engaged with your email.

There's no need to focus on people not engaging with your outreach.

Email templates with personalization can be created for the emails that you find yourself sending with the same or very similar messaging. Personalization adds the "Hey {John}," and other data fields.

Team selling & organization

If you are on a team, tracking leads and shippers in your spreadsheets gets time consuming fast. You will start asking who is contacting who, what do you know about what shipper, when was the last time you reached out to them, and it's harder to find and segment the information.

CRM makes it simpler to be able to search a shipper by name, website, or phone number. They can prevent one of your brokers from reaching out to a shipper that one of your other brokers is actively talking to, to prevent any unprofessionalism or a display of disorganization.

You can assign accounts to other brokers in your system, you can assign tasks, and you can see their notes from previous conversations. If you own a brokerage, one of your broker's may eventually leave, and your CRM is the database that allows the gained knowledge to be stored for your team forever (instead of in their head).

One strong best practice is to have your team review the notes of the shippers you closed and brought on as partners, so this way you can see what worked well in the progression of the sale and try to replicate this with other prospects.


All of the top brokerages leverage software for the organization of their shippers and carriers. Some software is all-in-one, others focus and specializes in specific areas.

When you are looking at selecting software for your brokerage, it's important to make sure the software makes sense to your brokers. If you are the owner or manager, sure, the reporting could be really nice, but it means nothing if the brokers don't use the system correctly. You may just end up with a ton of false data.

Take the time to go through a demo with you and your team. Make sure the software aligns well to your sales process. Ensure the software is customizable to the services that you provide to shippers.

Most importantly, keep your activity high and keep putting freight on the board!

About the Author

Josh Lyles is the founder of Salesdash CRM, which helps logistics companies and freight brokers manage their sales process to grow shipper sales. Josh is a former sales advisor and head of sales. He has worked at New Balance, Tesla, KeepTruckin/Motive, and SiLo.

Josh helped his teams in freight onboard over 180+ shippers within a two year period, leading his organizations in new shipper onboarding.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn here.

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