When it comes to negotiating freight rates, your goal is always to negotiate the best possible rate. Although most of us aren’t as skilled and at ease with the process as the freight agents, we still want to get it done in a timely manner.

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This is where an old quote from the late John Wayne comes into play. I have a few favorite quotes from the famous actor, but this one really applies to calling freight brokers and negotiating the rate. “Talk low, talk slow, talk less.” Let’s take a closer look at these three suggestions from the duke.

Talk Low

Truck drivers deal with a lot of noise, and we’re skilled at talking over it. Most of our voices will go louder and higher than our normal conversational tone. But we can easily fix this.

  • Remove the background noise or get away from it.
  • Park and shut off your truck.
  • Warm up your voice by talking before you call. Seriously! It only takes a minute.
  • Find that tone of confidence and stay in the zone.
  • Don’t talk in a single tone, or a monotone. Just keep the pitch in a natural range, the lower t0 middle range of your voice.

Remember, talking low doesn’t mean talking quiet. Speak in a normal conversational volume level.

Talk Slow

You have a lot going on. It’s easy to get fired up and just rattle off what’s on your mind. Show some confidence and slow down when you speak.

This is especially important when one of you in the conversation is using English as a second language. Everyone would prefer to be heard the first time instead of asking someone to repeat what they just said.

How fast or slow you talk might not be the same with every call, but here are 3 steps to remember.

  1. Pay attention to the speed of the person you’re talking to. Are they slow or fast? Is there the possibility of an accent or language barrier?
  2. When you can, match their speed of speech, or stay a bit below it.
  3. Do your best to NOT speak at a faster rate than the person on the other end of the phone.

When combined with the next step, I find speaking just at a slightly lower pace very effective. It demonstrates both authority and respect for their time.

Talk Less

You can make a couple of assumptions every time you call on a posted truckload.

  1. The 10 calls the broker took before you were all truckers who wouldn’t shut up. Every word spoken outside of the actual discussion of the load was a waste of that agent’s time.
  2. Those same 10 callers asked questions the broker probably already answered. They just didn’t listen to what was said because they were too focused on what to say next.

By talking less, you show respect for their time. When you demonstrate respect for another person’s time, you’re also demonstrating your ability to control your time. That earns respect and trust.

Just say what needs to be said. Talking less also prevents you from putting your foot in your mouth. Tell them you just got your truck back from the shop… Again! Now they’re wondering if that truck is dependable.

What If You Hate Your Voice?

Nearly everyone is unhappy with their voice. I’m always working on mine.

Your voice is a tool, just like your time and your talent as an independent owner operator. Like all talents, it’s something you can work on and improve over time.

Here are 2 tips to change the way you look at and your my voice.

  1. You don’t have the voice you were born with. You have the voice you learned and emulated as a small child. For many of us, that would be our mother.
  2. You can change and control your voice. You don’t need expensive voice lessons. But you  do need a few tips to point you in the right direction.

As for tips, check out Roger Love on YouTube. Not just his own videos, but his guest appearances on other shows and podcasts. You’ll find some great tips and tricks to take control of how you sound.

Here’s a link to one of my favorites, a TEDx talk. The Tedx talks are just shorter versions of TED Talks, and they’re great stuff. You’ll also find a few great interviews with Roger Love in your podcast player.


Talk low, talk slow and talk less. Since you’re sitting behind the wheel a great deal of the time, learn how to use your voice to express authority and professionalism. It will change your world.