How 3PLs Can Spot Hidden Demand by Uncovering Silent Buyers

4 minutes
Jan 25, 2023
Planning & ForecastingPredictive Analytics

The 3PL industry is predicted to grow substantially over the next decade. Capturing increased demand is critical for companies within the industry and doing so requires uncovering the anonymous activity buyers are performing.

professional looking at a GTM strategy

The third-party logistics industry (3PL) is predicted to grow 8% annually for the next several years.

Surging demand creates a lot of growth potential for logistics companies. But for every business that is ready to enter a 3PL relationship, many still aren’t.

How do you know which accounts are likely to purchase so you aren’t wasting marketing dollars and precious time chasing mirages when you could be targeting real opportunities? Keep reading to find out.

Potential Buyers Are Avoiding You (and Everybody Else)

Logistics buyers stay silent by avoiding hand-raising activities. For instance, of the thousands of prospects who visit a B2B seller’s website, only about 3% will ever fill out the form. Because buyers do so much research anonymously, sellers miss out on the chance to influence the other 97% of the most promising prospects — those who were interested enough to visit your site.

The problem is much larger for logistics sellers when you consider all of the potential buyers who don’t visit your site, either because they don’t know about your services or their research has already led them to a competitor.

Missed opportunities are endemic. BCG Consulting estimates B2B sellers lose $2 trillion annually due to a mix of missed opportunities and inefficiency. Determining the right accounts to engage can be a crapshoot unless you have a way to gather intent data.

Tech Helps You Win This Game of Hide-And-Seek

Intent data are the digital footprints created when logistics buying teams conduct online research, such as:

  • Keyword research
  • Researching solutions and potential providers on trusted review websites
  • Anonymously researching your own site

None of those activities will necessarily trigger any traditional alerts about a buyer interested in your company. But account-based marketing platforms can:

  • Actively track those activities
  • Match the signals to accounts, and
  • Reveal which buyers are performing those activities

KBX Logistics provides a great example of the positive impact:

“Within three weeks of turning on 6sense’s ABM solution, a sales rep let me know he booked a meeting with a very large beverage company. He found out they were about to launch a bid process. We were able to get invited into the process, and were able to win some business,” said Chris Kein, Head of National Business Development at KBX Logistics. “We probably wouldn’t have known that was going on [without 6sense] unless we got lucky. Seeing that work right away was super valuable.”

Spend Less, Win More

By definition, your ideal-customer profile (ICP) includes businesses that are an optimal fit for your services. But a static definition of your ICP doesn’t take into account real-time information about your buyers.

Logistics operations are affected by seasonality, fluctuating consumer demand, shifting costs, and more. Intent data helps you focus your efforts by identifying the accounts actively searching for solutions.

When you know which accounts are in-market, you can:

  • Boost ROI on ad spend through sharper audience targeting
  • Prioritize outreach
  • Reach buyers earlier in the process, when you have the best opportunity to shape thinking and influence decisions

6sense Helps 3PL Companies Understand Buyer Motivations

Intent data does more than tell you who is likely to buy. It can also tell you why. Within the capabilities of 6sense’s ABM  offering, it works like this:

You set up keywords customers would use to learn about your business offerings. This typically includes branded keywords like your company’s name and the names of competitors — as well as generic keywords like the services you offer and closely related terms.

A screenshot of the 6sense platform that reveals the number of searches for both branded and generic keywords.

When customers research one of those topics, a buying signal is captured and associated with their account. In addition to letting you know that a company has started a research journey, the platform shows you:

  • Which topics they care about
  • Which competitors they may be researching, and
  • What relevant content they are consuming on your site and others

An account detail page in 6sense shows a prospect’s firmographic data, as well as the research they have conducted. You can use tabs like “Activities,” “Scoring Trend,” and “Persona Map” to drill deeper into the prospect account and plan outreach.

Alerts also help you know precisely when an account has moved from “warm” to “hot.” When buying signals are detected, your sellers can be alerted through Slack, email, or other tools they use. This helps sellers engage with buyers as soon as possible — increasing their chances of closing a deal.


3PL companies offer a lot of advantages to the businesses they serve, and demand is surging. 3PLs that make efficient use of their marketing and sales teams and budgets are in a great position to grow. In-market intelligence can help you turn more of your time and efforts into money.