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12 Essential Questions to Ask Potential Shipping Clients

  • Chandler Magann

When bidding on a shipment or looking to add more companies to your client roster, the more you know about a prospect’s needs, goals and challenges, the better your chance of securing the contract. Here are 12 questions you should ask — and why — when speaking with a new prospect.

  1. Tell me about your business. Of course, you should do your own research about the business beforehand, but asking this question of a potential client will help you better understand his or her point of view about the business and its customers.
  2. What are your main responsibilities? Knowing what your contact does enables you to discover how your shipping company can best alleviate pain points and challenges.
  3. Where are you shipping right now? Gather as many details as you can about where, when, how and with whom the company is working.
  4. What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to your shipping needs? This question gives you an idea of any issues the potential client has had in the past and enables you to formulate a plan to help overcome them.
  5. What happens when [the biggest challenge] happens? Once you have the answer to number 4, asking this follow-up question will reveal what happens to your prospect when the problem isn’t overcome. You can then show the potential client how your business can come to the rescue.
  6. What are your main priorities while moving your freight? The answer isn’t always “delivering the shipment on time for the least amount of money.” It may be that the company often has considerable breakage en route. Maybe cargo loss is a key challenge. Again, knowing a prospect’s true priorities helps you better address them.
  7. What qualities do you look for in a great transportation partner? If the contact talks about scheduling and pricing, dig deeper. Perhaps the business is looking for a particular number of years of experience in their drivers. Maybe it needs delivery pickups at 3 a.m. on Sundays. Never assume it’s just about time and money.
  8. What do you like most about your current freight broker? Knowledge is power here. The answer may be that the current transportation provider offers a commission that you could never match. Although that would be a tough case for you, knowing this at least lets you stop the proceedings and not waste any more time. Or you may find out about something the client would like to have — and would be willing to pay more for — that the less-expensive broker can’t offer. Speaking of which …
  9. What would you change about your current freight broker? Again, if the answer to this question is something that you can provide, you’ve just put yourself in a great position.
  10. What are your criteria for bringing in a new freight broker? This enables you to better understand how difficult it may be to become the selected broker. Based on this, you can decide if it’s worth your while to pursue the business.
  11. How do you measure success with your freight broker? Understanding a company’s needs and pain points gives you even more information about how your brokerage can help them.
  12. How would I win your hypothetical Freight Broker of the Year award? The answer to this question provides insight into what makes this company happy. The more you know about the little things, the better you’ll be able to provide exceptional service.

Chandler Magann is the president of Next Exit Logistics, a freight-brokerage company specializing in oversize shipments. Visit to contact him.

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