Recently, we added a new customer after many months of discussions. On the surface, it looked like your typical sales process. There were meetings and phone calls, a few dinners, some power point slides…. One thing was different, though. One of our current customers participated in the entire sales effort.
And not because we asked him to.
A little background. Our current customer distributes dried fruits to Northeast retailers from our Collaborative Distribution Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Our prospective customer, which sells to these same Northeast retailers, wanted to discuss the benefits of distributing from Scranton, including participation in our collaborative distribution program. This program is designed to consolidate retailer orders of multiple CPG companies to ship in more economical full truckloads. The addition of this new customer to our program has the potential to save our current customer an additional 5%–10% percent off his outbound freight costs. Hence, his participation in the sales process.
This collaborative distribution approach is the next wave in supply chain efficiency. We need to reinvent the current model of product distribution to create more of a shared distribution infrastructure for products moving to the same retailers. But it occurred to me after this recent sales process that, with the increasing focus on collaborative strategies, maybe we need to reinvent the sales call, as well. It's certainly the first time we've managed a sales process and let our customer do the selling.
Maybe our job in 3PL sales in the future will be less about solving one company's logistics problems and more about bringing companies together to create solutions that are better, greener and more profitable for everyone. What do you think?