The range of exciting opportunities available in the field of logistics and supply chain management is extraordinarily broad. Maximizing a company’s ability to make, sell, and distribute products efficiently is at the core of every successful business model — and those who excel in these areas are expected to be increasingly valuable commodities in the years ahead.
One of the most critical roles in all of supply chain management is the carrier sales rep or carrier account manager. When a business seeks out a 3PL firm to manage its distribution network and other crucial supply chain services, it often falls on the carrier sales rep to forge connections between shippers and carriers that account for the business’ logistical and financial needs. Expertly negotiating these connections can lead to lucrative careers in a field already experiencing significant growth and increasing demand.
Here’s an overview of carrier sales roles, what skills typically translate to success in carrier sales, and how this important function fits into the complex system of supply chain management.
Common Responsibilities of a 3PL Carrier Sales Rep
The key element of almost every carrier sales role involves brokering deals between suppliers and carriers. These deals are rarely one-size-fits-all and need to be tailored to each unique situation as it arises. Succeeding as an intermediary between businesses manufacturing goods and the transportation of those goods to various destinations (often carrying the title “freight broker”) requires an intimate understanding of all available transportation networks, a keen ability to identify the most efficient path to delivery, and the relationship-building skills necessary to negotiate advantageous deals within those networks to successfully transport freight in the most cost-effective manner.
Carrier sales roles are continually taking stock of existing shipping activities to uncover more optimal methods of transport, and additional avenues to save their clients time and money in the shipping process. This analysis includes properly vetting carriers to ensure high-quality partnerships are being established with carriers that a business can trust to be reliable. Before any freight even leaves a loading dock, freight brokers should be aware of a carrier’s performance history, areas of expertise, and any potential dangers that may threaten the on-time delivery of a shipment.
Common duties of a freight sales broker also include managing the tracking and reporting processes for shipping once these deals are finalized. From start to finish, freight brokers oversee the deals they’ve organized to ensure smooth operation. A career in carrier sales typically pays a base salary plus commission on each new successful deal signed.
How to Know You’re a Good Fit for a Career in Carrier Sales
The field of logistics attracts individuals from all kinds of backgrounds. While there isn’t one set path to becoming a carrier sales rep or seeking out a 3PL career, there are a handful of traits commonly held by those successful in the field. These are just a few of the key attributes that can help get your career as a logistician off the ground:
Relationship-building: It’s critical for those working in carrier sales to build personal relationships with carriers, both to establish optimal rates when closing deals and to understand how to pivot when circumstances change or things go wrong. The relationship between brokers and carriers must be a mutually beneficial partnership, and a high level of service and attention to so-called “soft skills” helps deepen these partnerships and establish a stronger measure of trust in future dealings.
Adaptability & Flexibility: Even the best-laid plans can go awry — natural disasters, global pandemics, and other unforeseen circumstances will inevitably threaten to disrupt the supply chain at some point. The ability to adapt to these changing circumstances, roll with potential negative developments, and provide alternative solutions is an invaluable quality every business is desperate to acquire. Flexibility when problems arise and determination to see a job through to the end will give a major boost to anyone’s budding logistics career.
Time Management: Carrier sales reps must be able to put their understanding of the supply chain network into practice to assure timely delivery. They also need to stay updated on active shipments and deals still in the works, which means being extremely intentional with how they spend their time each day. This role is all about negotiating deals, routes, and processes for maximum efficiency — to do that, a rep’s daily workflow needs to represent that efficiency to avoid letting important details fall through the cracks.
Negotiation: As a carrier sales rep, bringing together two sides of a deal in ways that work for both shippers and carriers requires a certain level of business acumen. Negotiating pricing and terms with a carrier requires a balance of relationship-building soft skills and a strict understanding of the parameters and timelines that work best for your business. Good carrier sales reps know how to cultivate close partnerships that allow more candid, direct discussions when it comes time to execute a deal.
Resilience: Brokers with strong analytical minds might be able to mitigate some of the potential pitfalls of logistical operations, but accidents will inevitably occur. It’s up to good salespeople to remain optimistic and proactive, even when disaster strikes. There is simply no substitute for carrier sales reps who stick with a difficult task until it is complete with a positive attitude.
Ready for a New Challenge? Make Your Career GO! at First Call Logistics
Are you looking for a new challenge? Want to build a career somewhere you can make a real impact? Consider joining the team at First Call Logistics. As a fast-growing 3PL, we’re expanding our footprint and hiring for multiple roles. To learn more about our open opportunities, visit our careers page and apply today!