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.
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.
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.
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.
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.