Let's say you have a startup. Let's say you are considering outsourcing your sales. If you are - stay tuned, this blog post is for you.
To Outsource, or Not To Outsource... That is the question. Let me walk you through 5 Minefields to Avoid while considering an agency to outsource your sales functions to.
5 Minefields to Avoid in choosing an Outsourced Sales Agency to fulfill your sales functions
Let's dive right in! I don't want to waste any time and dance around the topic. I want to help you better understand the potential minefields that are present when considering outsourcing your sales functions.
Now, what makes me a credible source for Outsourced Sales? Well, we deal with clients from all over the United States with a 6-man/woman team, and we focus on professional services, speaking with C-suite individuals about relevant business topics.
1. Training and Improvement
Training should be the number one concern when determining the best fit for an outsourced sales solution. You will want to ask questions about their training process.
Are they doing daily training, daily role playing, working on rebuttals and objections that are more frequent to help the sales reps address those early and transition to the next portion of the process.
If they aren't training on a daily basis, the probability of success is really low.
Determine how involved the sales manager is going to be while managing the team, and if it is just a single rep, find out how they plan to train on a daily basis to improve upon their previous attempts.
Learn more about their training process on a daily basis to ensure they're progressing and improving, which will increase the probability of success with your project.
2. Sales and Transactions
Please be aware of the process and how they conduct business on your behalf.
While the goal is sales and transactions, they may not be the best fit for your business and reputation.
In my experience, and I'm sure you get some really poor cold calls or social media messages in your inbox.
You can see just how poor some of the outreach truly can be, and how harmful it can be on a company's reputation.
I have used outsourced sales reps in the past, and the majority of them lacked any serious training in sales; whether it is question-based selling, value-centric selling or even having truly beneficial business conversations.
You will want to make sure you have a balance between Sales and Transactions, as well as professionalism and reputation.
They are the face of your business and should represent you, your brand, and your company culture.
Is that a pushy sales process, a poor customer experience, or a caring sales process that focuses on the prospect versus the transaction.
Put a heavy emphasis on the methodology.
Be aware of the "It's-a-numbers-game" sales reps/organizations.
These companies are going to "turn and burn" massive amounts of contacts while leaving the prospects with a poor taste in their mouth, as well as burning through your retainer with little to no results.
I like to recommend a multi-touch, multi-medium approach. Here is why. We all know someone who has 1,000+ emails unread in their inbox. We all know someone with a full inbox. We also know someone who doesn't go on LinkedIn but once a month.
This is why a multi-touch, multi-medium approach is best used. You can reach them on multiple platforms, ensuring a connection is made through an eventual outreach attempt. Cold calling alone will not produce great results as 87% of calls go to voicemail, 76% of emails go unread, and social platforms aren't already managed.
4. Printing Money
Please take this advice with a grain of salt. I want to make this point very clear. The average sales cycles last 12 weeks before a prospect makes a buying decision.
If you're not in this for the long-haul, giving it enough time to produce results, don't outsource your sales. If you're doing this for 30 days, don't do it. If you're doing it for 60 days, expect to see minimal results. Obviously, you'll want to see a pipeline built, conversations held, and needs analyzed.
In just 30 or 60 days, you will not be "printing money", rather you'll be able to see the pipeline filling up with prospects that are both, prequalified and interested in what you have to offer.
In 11 years of sales, I will say this. The one-call-close is a myth. Here is why. Nobody benefits from a one-call-close. Let's say you do close the sale on the first call/outreach attempt. The chances and probability of buyers remorse are going to be very high. The chances of needs getting met, are very low.
2 years ago, I took a corporate sales job. I was a Senior Account Executive and worked with a team of Account Executives and Account Managers. 4 months into the job, I was exceeding quota using my experience, knowledge and expertise. I have zero contracts unwind.
During my fourth month, a hot shot sales rep walks in and closes multiple deals and exceeds quota, exceeds bonuses and any other incentives. He was actually sent home for the week because the compensation plan couldn't award him any more money - weird, I know.
Here is what happened. 6 of those 11 deals did unwind. The sales process was not followed, and it was based on a one-call-close scenario. Those bonuses weren't paid and the installs never happened.
5. Product Knowledge
This is an apparent challenge that most companies realize early-on. A contracted and outsourced organization can never know as much as you and your in-house employees will ever know. Unless they are specialized in your area, they will require a ramp up time to learn your product, your services, and solutions to fully navigate sales conversations and avoid the objection minefield.
It is very easy to spot an inexperienced sales rep and brush them off. Once you realize they don't know much about what they are selling, the prospect begins to feel like the rest of the company may be in the same position - focused on their portfolio and not the prospect.
In order to truly have a value-centric sales conversation, you should be able to do 4 things.
a. Provide Insights: This is information beyond the obvious, information that isn't on the brochure or website. They want real, reliable and relevant information pertaining to their current business challenge.
b. Navigate Alternatives: Helping a prospect navigate alternatives, requires industry knowledge and competitor awareness. If your outsourced organization isn't familiar with your industry, how can they truly help navigate alternatives?
c. Avoid Minefields: Again, how they an outsourced agency truly help avoid minefields if they're unaware of service contracts, product features and benefits, risk aversion, or installation and training ramp up times?
d. Justify the Purchase: This is a much more fluid conversation to have, but they have to achieve the first three components of a value-centric sales conversation. Now, we can talk numbers, price, expenses, productivity, market share and use baseline metrics to create measurable scenarios that justify the purchase.
In reviewing organizations to outsource your sales functions to, please consider these 5 minefields to avoid. Outsourced Sales can be a great solution to launching efficiently, remaining agile, flexible and lean, while having a scale-able and optimized sales process.
Curtis DeCora specializes in Business Development and Tribal Economic Development roles. Equipped with 10 years of experience in corporate sales, door-to-door sales, and outsourced sales - helping small businesses increase their sales and increase productivity.