Some important take aways from my recent meetings and calls with senior executives at some of the leading 3pls in the Middle East relating to commercial activity and talent.
1. Many of them are finding it challenging to identify and hire sales professionals with enough in-depth overall supply chain knowledge and experience who can create and sell end to end supply chain solutions to their clients.
2. A lot of 3pls are struggling to find suitable freight sales professionals with a good enough track record of being able to back themselves and consistently bring the revenues for freight sales in the region
The first point about supply chain solutions is an ongoing challenge for everyone as many of the people with the level of operational supply chain experience that’s needed don’t have the sales experience or know how (a major skill in itself!) that’s needed to be able successfully sell SC solutions to end users (as they are coming from more operational backgrounds and simply haven’t been exposed to sales).
Those that have the sales ability and experience are commanding very high salaries as they have usually already reached to a senior management level leading the supply chain function for companies in their career to-date (those are the people you need if you could afford them!)
With regards to the second point about freight sales I asked some of the employers what’s more important, the ability to sell and having a proven track record of sales?
Or having the knowledge of freight forwarding?
Most answered that’s it’s easier to teach someone about freight forwarding, the hardest part is having the sales ability in the first place !
So what are the possible solutions?
To get suitable supply chain professionals onboard from client side to logistics service provider then in my view its either a case of upping the budgets for salaries to get the senior people (which is probably not an option in the current market for most 3pls) or alternatively start creating dedicated screening, on boarding and training programs that run on an ongoing basis to first identify potential sales ability amongst mid career supply chain professionals and then ensure they have the tools and ongoing support they need to be successful.
Their are many mid career SC professionals in the market currently who are looking for a move, I am sure a few of them would make excellent SC solutions sellers!
In other words start building talent pools / talent communities and taking a proactive approach to “develop” talent for these types of roles.
For the more transactional high volume / high activity driven sales functions perhaps it’s time to look for experienced sales professionals from other sectors and teach them about the Logistics industry?
Is anyone else experiencing similar challenges, do you agree or disagree?
For my contacts outside the Middle East is this a similar story in your regions?
Any other thoughts or ideas to share?