13 Things to Look For When Hiring an Outsourced Sales Team

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably played the part of sales manager, marketing director, and salesperson. When you’re starting out, it’s important for you to fill as many roles as possible to save money. However, as your company grows, you may start looking for other ways to create an effective sales force.

navigating-sales-outsourcing-process

More commonly, companies are looking to hiring outsourced sales members to pad their bottom lines. Outsourcing your sales can be an effective way to grow your business – but there are a few caveats. If you’re looking to hire a sales outsourcing company, there are a number of tenets you should look for to maximize your chances for success. We’ll break down some of the most important aspects in your hiring search.

Industry Experience

It may seem like a no brainer, but industry experience is one of the most important qualifiers for your external sales force. Not all sales forces are created equal, so it’s important to ensure the outsourcing company you hire has experience with your particular product or service. To find the right outsourcing partner for your particular industry, consider contacting any professional organizations you’re affiliated with as a jumping off point.

A Proven Sales Process

Hiring the right kind of salespeople can steadily increase your margins. The wrong kind, however, can eat up your precious resources or erode your customer relationships. That’s why it’s equally important to consider sales outsourcing companies with a quantifiable and repeatable sales process. Are they aware of current best practices? How do they show it? A good sales team is borne of more than just a few training seminars. Does the company employ people who have real world experience?

One of the best ways you can assess this is by taking note of their correspondence with you. If their communication skills are anything short of excellent, it might be best to take your business elsewhere. Communication skills are the key to a successful sales negotiation, so why would you trust your business to anyone less than stellar?

Customized and Integrated Messaging

While it’s important for any outsourcing company to have a proven sales process, you also need to make sure they’re not of the chain letter variety. In other words, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a company that customizes their messaging specifically to your product or service. “Fill-in-the-blank” companies abound, but they aren’t capable of producing the hand-tailored service of a customized outsourcing solution.

Dedicated Sales Team 

Outsourcing salespeople is becoming more common in today’s market. Unlike internal hires, you don’t have to provide an external team with benefits or a salary, so you can afford more of them. However, this can make finding a truly dedicated team more difficult. When evaluating outsourcing companies, look at how long employees stay on average. If the company you’re considering has a high rate of turnover, it might not be able to work as effectively for you.

A Collaborative Cost Plus Model

The cost plus model is becoming hugely popular when it comes to outsourcing. In contrast to the fixed-cost model, a cost plus arrangement allows for more transparency between you and the company you’re turning to for outsourcing. It may require a little more work on your part, but it also ensures you have more control over the hiring process so you can select only the best candidates.

Useful Activity Metrics

When selecting an outsourcing company, it’s important to evaluate a company based on the sort of performance metrics they require. For example, a call center may give you activity metrics based solely on the number of cold calls it makes per day. This type of information may not be useful, especially if none of these calls lead to a sale. Seek out companies that use performance metrics that are actually useful and connected to your growth. That way, you’ll actually get what you’re paying for.

Intellectual Property Considerations

If you’re considering outsourcing your sales, the safety of your intellectual property should be of utmost importance. Your outsourcing provider should be able to readily provide you with non-disclosure agreements, employee confidentiality contracts, and any other specific project-related intellectual property provisions.

Project Management Methods

A good outsourcing company has project management protocols that allow for flexibility and scalability. In other words, the infrastructure of the company should be elastic enough to keep up with your demands.

A Good Cultural Fit

Even if you find a company that seems to meet all of your technical expectations, does it fit in with your company culture? If you’re an enterprise focused on an easy-going, hip atmosphere, you probably won’t find much success in hiring a stiff and regimented salesforce. Think of your target consumers, and assess whether your external sales staff is equipped to appeal to their sensibilities.

Established Relationship Protocols

Even though external staffing can save you money, potential conflict between your internal and external staff members is one of the biggest issues you may face. When evaluating an outsourcing company, ask what kind of conflict management protocols it has in place. Even relationships with the best intentions have their challenges, so make sure that your outsourcing company has a way of addressing these bumps in the road.

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Management of People

When you take the plunge and hire an outsourcing company, you’ll want to make sure the staffing agency is excellent at managing people. One of the benefits of outsourcing, after all, is that you get to do less managing yourself. But how do you know an outsourcing company has good management skills? Evaluating the quality of its hires and asking questions regarding some of these previous tenets, like its relationship protocols, should give you a good idea.

Superb Senior Project Leadership

Good senior project leadership differs from basic project management. For example, a senior project leader may be tasked with mentoring other personnel, providing performance metrics, identifying needs and providing training, and turning around projects when they experience glitches. These members are an integral part of a successful operation, so any outsourced project leadership should be flawless.

High Integrity

Any outsourcing company you hire should demonstrate high levels of integrity in every aspect of its business dealings with you. Proper outsourcing requires an immense amount of trust, so reliability and honesty are absolutely essential in any relationship.

How to Effectively Outsource Call Center Operations?

Inside any organization, be it large or small, hundreds, if not thousands, of people make hundreds of decisions each year. Only a few are strategic, such as those that involve commitment through investments like specific products and services, innovation, operations management and customer service. Within the “customer service” banner, you would see a mishmash of functions and processes ranging from call center operations management to client surveys and customer service representative training. To effectively outsource call center operations, a company must analyze its internal client service practices, identify risks and benefits of outsourcing, develop an outsourcing plan, select service providers and implement the outsourcing plan.

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Analyze Internal Customer Service Practices

Before implementing an outsourcing scheme, a company first must determine what its current practices are. Things to consider here include the client service staff hiring and termination practices, employee morale, training plans and customer surveys. Other elements a client service manager must heed are more amorphous, the kind of thing you cannot see but can feel if you do a quick investigation about the company’s brand position and find out that customers think they receive excellent or subpar service. In analyzing current internal practices, a business must give operational prominence to technology. In other words, it must use state-of-the-art software and equipment to track client feedback over time. In analyzing internal processes, an organization must heed things like client service delivery, best practices, global sourcing strategy and proper use of technology, says Mike McMenamin, an expert on call center operations outsourcing and a director at Information Services Group, a leading market intelligence firm.

Identify Risks and Benefits of Outsourcing

After poring over internal practices, a company must figure out the risks and benefits of call center operations outsourcing. Risks include operational inefficiency due to time zone difference as well as cultural divergence between clients and customer service representatives. Benefits run the gamut from lower salaries and overall reduced operational expenses to efficiency in processes as varied as customer delivery, response time and profitability tracking.

Develop an Outsourcing Plan

According to call center outsourcing connoisseurs Zeynep Aksin, Mor Armony and Vijay Mehrotra – all of whom are associated with New York University – an effective outsourcing plan must include things like forecasting, personnel scheduling, capacity planning and queuing. The last item is critical because that is how a business must strike the perfect balance between making customers wait for a few minutes and serve them as soon as possible.

Select Service Providers

Effectively outsourcing call center operations requires attention to detail, business savvy, an ear for cultural subtleties and a keen understanding of cross-border business practices. The last item explains why, for example, you would sometimes hear client service staff in a foreign country, say, India, speak impeccable English with an accent close to what you would perceive in Boston, Houston or Los Angeles. Besides cultural affinity, a company selects service providers based on criteria like financial solidity, regulatory compliance, reputation, market position and reputation.

Implement the Outsourcing Plan

After analyzing its internal practices, identifying its risks and benefits and selecting service providers, a company must implement its outsourcing plan. Noteworthy factors to include in the rollout range from staff training to interface integration to risk mitigation to service delivery to feedback tracking. Here the key goal is to make sure the company’s operations meddle nicely with the service provider’s processes, so that customers don’t feel like talking to someone at another company or that their calls are not handled in an effective and operationally efficient manner.

Last Word

For a business, the decision to outsource call center operations is as strategic as operational. The company needs to make sure its outsourcing strategy meshes perfectly with its client service standards, lest patrons not understand how and when to contact the company for general questions or specific inquiries. To implement an effective outsourcing program, the organization must figure out what it currently does, determine operational problems it is facing, select the right outsourcing company to fix internal issues, and save cash in the long term.

References

http://www.isg-one.com/knowledgecenter/whitepapers/private/papers/White_paper_-_A_Peak_Time_for_Contact_Center_Outsourcing.pdf

http://www.stern.nyu.edu/om/faculty/armony/research/Aksin.PDF

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Sales Force

This infographic examines the best ways to measure the effectiveness of a sales force in today’s business climate. It focuses on sales metrics that are manageable, and explores quantitative and other variables like profit, sales volume, and teamwork. It also highlights companies with strong sales forces and environments based on customer growth and retention, company recognition and reputation, and hiring compensation, sales training, and enablement.


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Top Line Sales Performance Infographic

One of the reasons our clients like top-line insights is because the approach is a fast and quantitative measurement of core proven revenue drivers and accelerators for growth. Some of the business benefits that our clients enjoy when using the top-line insights approach is:

1. Reducing risks by making better and faster decisions,
2. Maximizing the limited resources they have and
3. improving the velocity of the business – speed and direction to market.

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Real, Rapid and Lasting Results

Sales Outsourcing Pros utilizes proven processes and methodologies that have produced many years of successful results. Often, an outsourcing or co-sourcing initiative is the ideal choice for companies operating in complex B2B sales environments or very competitive markets that require superior sales competency.

While the benefits listed below alone more than justify the use of an experienced sales outsourcing company, Sales Outsourcing Pros brings the right strategy, processes, methodologies and experience to deliver other other distinct advantages as well. These include:

1. A Proven Performance Model: You have access to experienced sales teams that have outperformed all others working in a wide variety of sales models and industries time and time again, providing you with a much higher ROI on your sales and marketing investments, more speed, cash flow, reduced risk and sustainability.

2. Talented and Accountable Sales Staff: You can benefit from having a team that has been specifically selected for your particular industry and business environment.

3. Premier Sales Technology: Sales Outsourcing Pros will provide you with cutting-edge technology and sales tools customized to your company’s unique requirements.

4. Quick Market Deployment: As the industry sales process leader, Sales Outsourcing Pros can assist your company in the development and execution of a successful sales strategy and all the necessary sales and marketing processes prior to recruiting, training, and deploying a results-driven regional or national sales force.

Outsourcing Inside Sales Professionals

If you have an in-house sales team selling your products or services, but that sales team is less than effective or too costly and no longer makes sense, outsourcing your inside sales team becomes the only viable option for optimum success. Through the recruitment and deployment of experienced sales professionals with long track records of success, Sales Outsourcing Pros can boost your sales and cut your costs, helping you maximize your liquidity and return on investment.

Outsourcing Services for Immediate Impact

A proven outsourced sales provider, Sales Outsourcing Pros, can give your business a myriad of key services and profit-producing benefits. The following outsourced initiatives are just a few that will have an immediate impact on your company:

Market Research

In addition to providing you with expert analysis, Sales Outsourcing Pros and our experienced sales teams can also provide you with execution planning for your company’s marketing and sales functions. From project planning and financial modeling to diagnostics and logical sales solutions, we can handle all of your sales-related market research needs.

Sales Process

Sales Outsourcing Pros has market-leading intellectual properties and a large library of successful B2B sales processes and methods from which we can develop custom sales processes, execution planning, provide sales training and a variety of support tools. This will help boost your market share and increase the revenue derived from each client much faster than standard sales processes. This repeatedly results in our clients acquiring a higher rate of sales in a shorter period of time than their competitors. After developing and deploying a dynamic, tailored sales process, we will also provide sales and management training programs, best practice metrics and dashboards to ensure continued sales success.

Recruiting

Strategic recruitment is vital for the success of any company. Specialized sales professionals are the most personal and key link between a company’s products or services and its customers. In order to increase sales figures and maximize earnings potential, a highly skilled, knowledgeable, and aggressive sales team must be put in place. Through effective sales recruitment our specialized recruiters can ensure only the most skilled and qualified sales professionals become members of your team.

Lead Generation

Lead generation extends far beyond email and phone campaigns. While these two components of the lead generation triad are related and can leverage each other, particularly when social media is in he mix, there is an third element that is often undervalued and usually executed poorly. Prospects are searching the Web every single day with the intent to research and ultimately purchase products and services. As such, inbound Web leads are an essential part of any modern lead generation campaign. While you can plan targeted and efficient cold calling, social media or email blast campaigns, these time-tested strategies often require quite a wider net.

Comprehensive Sales Solutions

Sales Outsourcing Pros offers comprehensive sales solutions, serving all of your sales and marketing needs. From process development and deployment to sales team development and training, a highly productive sales force can be in on the ground for you in 60 days or less.

If sales is not the core competency of your business, a highly skilled and experienced “sales think tank” is absolutely imperative for your company’s short and long-term success. Sales is a difficult, specialized field. By outsourcing your sales needs to Sales Outsourcing Pros, your profits and ROI will soar to new heights.

Sales Outsourcing Definition

What is sales outsourcing, and how can it help you and your business?

This process involves hiring an external team to help you sell your goods or services. Companies engage in this practice for a variety of reasons, such as:

Rushing a product or service to market.

If you’ve been a student of “lean business,” you know that one of the keys to building a business is to get moving, ASAP. First, you create and test a minimum viable product; then you get feedback; and then you adjust your strategy based on that feedback. By outsourcing your sales processes to a competent partner, you can get things up and running faster.

Avoiding the hassle and headaches of building an internal sales force.

If your goal is to obtain an ROI, as soon as possible, to fund business activities, you want to avoid getting dragged down into the slow, laborious and expensive business of vetting, training, and improving an internal sales force. Going “out of house” lets you shortcut this process.

Using sales outsourcing to test new product or service inexpensively.

Perhaps you already have a sales force, in-house, but they’re busy with critical projects. But then you develop a new service or offer that you feel may resonate with your market. By cheaply and quickly outsourcing to an outside sales team, you can check the viability of this new concept or offer rapidly without distracting your sales team.

Distinguishing Between Marketing and Sales Outsourcing

Note the profound difference between sales outsourcing and marketing outsourcing. Sales can be easily outsourced; marketing, not so much! To understand why, let’s review definitions. Marketing is technically the process of bringing your clients to desire your services or products. Or, in the famous words of Peter Drucker, “the aim of marketing is to make sales superfluous.” Sales, meanwhile, is all about sealing the deal — making sure the value propositions work.

The point is that, if you do a really good job with your marketing — and you gin up genuine, passionate interest in what you have to offer — you will find it measurably easier to find a competent sales outsourcing team to close the deals you need to make to be profitable.

What Is Business Process Outsourcing?

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a strategy in which a third party vendor or provider manages one or more of your business’s systems for you.

Any business can be considered a system. It takes certain outputs from the world, puts them into a “machine” of sorts, and delivers outputs to provide customers with value and create profits.

That big system gets further subdivided into multiple subsystems (and subsystems of subsystems, and subsystems of those subsystems, and so forth). When you run a business, during the start-up phase, almost all systems are managed “in-house.” If you’re a solo entrepreneur, for instance, you do practically everything yourself, at first.

As you add more people to your team, you pass off system responsibilities to others. At some point in time, you may want to move systems outside of your business to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, free up the time of valuable employees, etc. That’s where business process outsourcing comes into play.

How BPO Works

First, you identify a process (or processes) that could be moved outside of your company. Next, locate partners or vendors who can handle the work for you. A simple example is payroll. During start-up phase, you or your secretary may handle payroll personally. Over time, however, you may want to hire a payroll company outside of your business.

What Systems Should You Outsource?

You can outsource diverse areas of your business, including:

  • Administration systems;
  • Financial systems;
  • R&D systems;
  • Customer management systems;
  • Call center systems;
  • Accounting systems;
  • And so forth!

Remember: you cannot (or at least you should not) outsource systems that make up your business’s core competencies. What does your company do best? What “value add” do you bring to market and to your customers? Do NOT outsource those processes — the ones that make your businesses special and that play to your strengths. Begin by outsourcing processes that need to get done, but which currently are distracting your team or slowing you down.

Process Maps

You might find it helpful to map out your systems using process maps — flowcharts and schematics that document what happens in a process. You (or anyone who owns that process) can document and adjust the maps, as needed, so that operations become standardized. By using process maps, measuring cycle time, holding process owners accountable for deliverables, and regularly tweaking/improving (and occasionally reengineering) your processes, your outsourcers can help you build a successful, sustainable business.

Outsourcing Pros and Cons

You’re intrigued by the idea of outsourcing business processes and systems to free up your company’s time, cut back on costs, and potentially scale your business. But you’d like a fresh, objective assessment of the cost and benefits.

First, let’s talk through the “pros.”

First and foremost, outsourcing strategically can slash your costs. Domestic talent in United States just costs more, for many reasons. Not all jobs can be outsourced, obviously. But you can offshore entry-level jobs, like data entry, transcription, and translation, to competent providers and teams around the globe. Another big “pro” is that outsourcing allows you to work on a more liberal schedule and frees you up from obligations to employees, such as paying for holidays, buying workers’ compensation insurance, managing people in-house, etc.

The proliferation of easy to use, web-based resources and fast data channels means you can communicate with your outsourcing teams in real time. Even though these companies are HQ’d internationally, they can participate in real time decision-making and project management.

Outsourced projects are also scalable in a way that traditional in-house projects are not. For instance, if you’ve got a big project on the docket, you can scale up. If you need to trim costs when projects lie fallow, you can scale down. Capacity is much more flexible.

The cons, however, are important to address.

First of all, you may butt up against cultural differences. This might not matter, when you’re doing something relatively simple, like data entry. But if you’re trying to manage projects or organize internal telecommunications, the lack of cultural familiarity can be an obstacle.

You also need to protect intellectual property and privacy — not just regarding your data but also regarding your customers’ data. You also face security concerns. Will your data – or your clients’ data – wind up in the wrong hands or be used to perpetrate fraud or other crimes? Any time you let an outside entity into your business processes, you must be mindful of these concerns.

Lastly, you could encounter process problems. For instance, the outsourcing team might have a hard time understanding, mapping, and following your processes – or amending them to meet your needs. Alternatively, the company may de-prioritize your projects, especially if you only give them business in a haphazard manner. When you really need services, the team might not be available, or they may only have a skeleton crew available to handle your account.

The bottom line is this: you need to do an internal company assessment to validate which types of processes might be best outsourced. Start slow and start small. Build trust. Then, once you’ve found a team that really understands of your business, scale up, systematically.

Outsourcing Statistics

Whether you’re just developing your business processes, and you’re still in the hurly-burly startup phase — or you’re trying to systematize your business to obtain more consistent, effective results — you’re strongly considering outsourcing some of your systems. But how common is this practice? What sectors outsource the most? What are the most common reasons for outsourcing?

Data on Outsourcing

According to Sourcing Line Computer Economics, in 2013, United States companies outsourced 2.6 million jobs. 36% of Chief Financial Officers admitted to using outsourcing in some capacity. Of those who did, 26% outsourced to India, while 18% did so to China.

The industry break down is also pretty telling. 12% of call/help centers outsourced, while 26% of distribution companies outsourced. Research and development (R&D) groups outsourced 38% of the time. IT services outsourced 43% of the time. Manufacturing outsourced 53% of the time!

The manufacturing sector’s heavy investment in outsourcing has sparked a legion of critics. Analysts argue the sector’s decision to, effectively, outsource en masse has “robbed” U.S. workers of good jobs at fair wages. Critics point to decimated cities in the industrial Midwest and Northwest, like Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh, as canaries in the coal mine. They say these cities’ problems showcase the perils of scaled outsourcing. Decades ago, these industrial centers thrived – Pittsburgh’s steel industry fueled construction, while Detroit’s automotive industry “got America moving.” But globalization, the web, and other changes disrupted those industries in a big way and made outsourcing much more economical for businesses.

The point is that outsourcing can be a double-edged sword, both for businesses and for society.

So why DO companies outsource? What do the statistics tell us?

According to the Sourcing Line Computer Economic survey, 44% of companies outsource to “reduce costs,” while 34% of companies do so to access IT resources that they do not have in house. 31% of companies outsource to liberate internal resources. 28% of companies use outsourcing to improve customer focus. 20% of companies aim to transform and/or reorganize. 15% of companies outsource to accelerate projects and tap into outside management expertise. And 9% of companies outsource to speed up time to enter a market.

Based on workforce, resources and skills, cost index, and other metrics, the survey measured the top 10 best countries for outsourcing. Here’s the list:

1. India
2. Indonesia
3. China
4. Bulgaria
5. Philippines
6. Jordan
7. Singapore
8. Thailand
9. Lithuania
10. Egypt