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On-Demand Webinar

How Freight Forwarders Can Win More Bids in 2023


FTA, Neolink, & Logixboard

About this logistics webinar

On Thursday, February 23rd, we hosted our webinar “How Freight Forwarders Are Winning More Bids in 2023,” where we rounded up some freight forwarding experts to talk about sales enablement in today’s landscape.

Our VP of Marketing Shaila Ortega and SVP of Revenue Jimmy Speyer sat down with FTA’s Sal Malici and Neolink’s Sean Crook to dive into hot topics including:

  • Challenges forwarders are facing in the industry
    How to invest in learning and development for your team
  • Common objections forwarders are hearing from shippers
  • Actionable takeaways for forwarders to compete

What are the current challenges that freight forwarders are facing today?

As we move further out of COVID-era volatility and rate hikes, a lot of forwarders are hopeful that the industry has returned to normal. However, experts say that the environment hasn’t necessarily changed. Rather, we’re just dealing with a different set of variables.

Our panel listed out some trends they’ve been seeing in the environment, including:

  • High customer expectations
  • Low unemployment rates making it more difficult to hire qualified candidates
  • Inflationary pressures leading some forwarders to bulk up inventory and others to prioritize just-in-time by running leaner supply chains
  • Shipment volumes declining with the rise of blank sailings
  • Shipping lines turning to slow steaming in response to sustainability initiatives, further increasing delays
  • Talks in the US about onshoring vs. offshoring, increasing investment in warehousing
Competing in the new age of logistics technology

As forwarders pivot to respond to today’s challenges, Sean Crook pointed out that many companies aren’t using their resources to their full potential. “The industry has got incredibly talented and brilliant people,” he said. “But one of the things that the industry hasn’t done very well is really adapt to new technology as quickly as some other industries.”

Beyond simply implementing new solutions, forwarders also need to adjust their business and people models to complement their tech stack.

How to invest in learning and development for your team

Neolink director Sean Crook outlined his organization’s early commitment to change management as they adopted new technology. “We always felt like visibility and tech and digital was going to come eventually, but we really invested heavily on the back end straight away,” he said. “And that influenced our development plans and that training for everybody that came in.”

Crook acknowledged that digital innovation can spark “difficult conversations” for many businesses as some roles become fully automated. However, he sees this as an opportunity for organizations that put in the work to prepare.

At Neolink, offloading manual tasks to automated software has enabled the customer operations team to take more responsibility. After streamlining most of their day-to-day processes, they now have autonomy to learn more about customers and supply chain trends.

Common objections freight forwarders are hearing from shippers

Perceived commoditization of freight forwarding

Despite the rise of differentiation in the freight forwarding industry, experts observe that many shippers continue to view forwarders as interchangeable. Crook theorized that this perception can make customers hesitant to collaborate closely with their forwarding partners. That’s why his team makes an effort to sit down with shippers to show them the benefits of opening up.

“We know that if we have customers working with us in the way that we want them to be working with us so that they can achieve 20 to 30% efficiency gains ahead of the marketplace that we’ve seen.”
– Sean Crook
Breakdown of trust in recent years

The pandemic was a tough time in the supply chain industry– particularly for shippers. In addition to rising freight rates and declining reliability, shippers were also finding it difficult to reach providers.

Sal Malici from the Freight & Trade Alliance asserted that an opportunistic focus on profitability has compromised some long-term relationships. “I thought, ‘People will remember this,” he said. “I think I was correct back then… and I think it’s going to be a very interesting year ahead.”

Crook pointed out that in the current landscape, forwarders can stand out by offering the promise of transparency. He recalled a conversation with a customer about the expectation of visibility in their relationship. “I’m not going to judge you when everything’s going well,” they said. “When the difficult conversations and the challenges come up, I want to know about those problems at the right time so that we can make the choices that we need.”

Fear of trying something new

As logistics experts note the acceleration of digitization across the industry, many are also finding segments of shippers who are resistant to change. Milici said that he’s heard from some shippers that they’d prefer to stick with what’s worked in the past. However, Crook asserted that in a new environment, that logic doesn’t always hold up.

“I completely disagree with everybody that says we’re back to a supply chain normality,” said Crook. “If you’re in this environment, right now, you can’t operate like you were before COVID. Your supply chain will not perform in the same way it did in 2018-2019.”

Actionable takeaways to win more bids in 2023

To help prepare forwarders for the year ahead, the panel suggested some key tips to employ in your sales strategies:

  • Understand who your ideal customer is
  • Keep your promises
  • Prioritize transparency by showing proof of your pricing
  • Focus on where you add value; you can’t win business on price alone
  • Equip your sales team to explain what you’re selling


Meet your hosts

Jimmy Speyer
SVP of Sales and Marketing at Logixboard
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Sean Crook
Director at Neolink
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Sal Milici
General Manager of Trade & Policy Operations at FTA
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Shaila Ortega
VP of Marketing at Logixboard
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More than 200 global freight forwarders rely on Logixboard to help them win more business and boost customer satisfaction.

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