One sure fire way to make sure you get the most out of your network
I have said in many posts and in person to network members that networks take time to grow into and to become profitable. I have discussed at length how attendance at network events and meetings is required for your efforts to properly bear fruit. Yet there is another step in this process which will guarantee long-term success. And you have to marry yourself, to commit yourself to this idea in order to prosper within the group. If you follow this rule and incorporate it within your company culture you will see the benefits. What is this magic wand?
Put 50% of all your new business in the hands of your network partners.
I know and realize that the companies you have been working with up until this time have helped to build your company and to get them where they are today. I know that they are old friends as well. However, to make a network membership work everyone has to put in. If you want fruit you first have to plant a seed. If you want to build a house you need to lay a foundation. The reason I say to give 50% of all new business to network members is so that you can continue to work with old partners but you will over time give a substantial amount of business to new partners. And with the 50% of new business commitment from other members of the group it means that everyone will share in all of the new business the network partnership takes in. It is the key to opening new markets for you.
How might you give 50% of new business to your network partners? I knew that question would be coming to mind. There are a few quick ways to do this and one bonus way:
- Make sure that 50% or more of your quotes go to new network partners. There are some tweaks that you can use here. For instance, markets where you have no agents can get 100% of the new quotes. Some places for whatever reason you cannot get agents you are completely satisfied with. Let the new agents quote against those. Sometimes totally new accounts might be better suited to the skill sets and personnel at a new company.
- Make sure that 50% or more of your sales leads to to new network partners. The parameters for this point could match fairly closely with that of the quotes. But if you get a good idea of the services offered by the newer and older partners you can better compare where you need to send the sales leads. If the services offered are similar and all other things being the same, then consider to send this to the new partner. Why? You are paying to be in a network with them and they are paying to be in a network with you. You won’t get very far in grabbing new business when you are holding your own business back. I’d also like to remind you to never send a single sales lead to more than one agent. You will lose them both when they find out.
- Make sure that 50% or more of your new free hand business or simple consignments go to new network partners. Actually, this should be easy to do well over 50% of the time. Though there may be no cash earned on the other side, or at best they might get some handling fees out of the business, a smart agent will follow up with the consignee and create their own sales leads. They will also note that you are trying to do some business with you and they could well reciprocate. Maybe no profit share now, but profit share in the future. With time it comes. If you do adopt this policy though you will definitely need to make sure that your operations staff are in the loop. They are creatures of habit and if they aren’t given new instructions they will simply continue to use old agents to consign new shipments to.
And one bonus way to get business to your new partners…
Make the old partners deserve to keep their business. Do a survey to find out where your services could be improved but haven’t been or where your rates aren’t up to snuff. You can then check these against new network partners’ offerings and if it makes sense then give the new partners a try. Again, I realize that some accounts are sensitive so you cannot simply make changes. You will need to let the old agents have a chance to fix their ways and with any agent changes you will need to consider the wishes and desires of your current clients. Yet I still believe that if you asked your sales and operations staff to run down current accounts I believe you could easily find a list of places to move your cargo pretty much right away.
If you make this commitment to give 50% of your new business to new network partners you will find that you will gain reciprocity and goodwill within the network itself. Your cargo and business will earn interest on your investment. You will also find cargo profit multipliers because you will see that your new partners will have new services and skill sets that might not have been found in your old partners. You will find that your company will have new geographical and commercial markets opened to them. And best of all, you will have awakened other agents to the fact that you are a serious partner who they should work with.
Gary Dale Cearley is the Managing Director of Advanced International Networks Ltd. (AIN), one of the fastest growing and most dynamic business-to-business networking organizations in the world. AIN’s networks include AerOceaNetwork (AON), XLProjects Network (XLP), AiO Logistics Network (Ai0). Gary Dale has been in many facets of international freight forwarding for more than two decades from operations to sales to the owner of the first 100% foreign owned freight forwarding company licensed in Vietnam. The companies that he has been involved with have been both generalists and specialists. He has also worked from large European and Asian multinationals (Danzas and Hankyu Express) as well has small start up forwarders. For the past ten years Gary Dale has owned and operated AIN. He has lived in several major cities in four different countries and he is multilingual. Currently Gary Dale runs the AIN operation from Bangkok, Thailand, but travels the world over. Gary Dale welcomes all sorts of interactions. If you have questions or comments about anything Gary Dale has written here you may contact him directly by e-mail.