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In line with the economic downturn of the last several years, companies have further pared back their in-house logistics and transportation staffs. Those who remain have new responsibilities that force them to juggle multiple tasks, and are "very aware of time constraints," says Weaver. The result is an acceleration of the decade-long trend toward outsourcing to independent logistics providers.
For a service provider, it becomes more difficult to access the individual within a customer organization who has responsibility for overseeing the relationship. "They're more aware that their time [is] limited," says Weaver. "It's worth your time as a transportation sales professional to practice more what you want to say when you get them on the phone [or get] in front of them."
Companies in search of logistics partners are becoming more careful about their choices. The prospective provider would be well-advised to have in hand detailed information about the company, to be delivered both electronically and in person.
In addition, companies are looking to outsource a greater variety of services, requiring a more flexible and creative approach by service providers. "It's not just a one-directional interest," Weaver says. "They want to know what else you can do to save them time and money. You should have those things in mind when you walk in. See how you can make their job less of a strain on them."
Topics to keep in mind include the option of electronic billing, and the impact of volatile fuel prices over the life of the contract. A focus on value-added services can help the logistics service provider to increase its profits in a traditionally margin-challenged business, says Weaver.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, inventory management, inventory control, 3PL, global logistics, transportation management, logistics outsourcing, logistics services, supply chain services, sourcing solutions
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