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Finding the Right Outsourced Sales Solutions Provider

Author: Gretel Digo

Posted: November 11, 2015

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If you are considering outsourcing your sales activities, finding the right outsourced sales solutions provider is one of the most critical decisions you need to make to ensure a successful campaign.  Like any other outsourcing engagement, it’s important to evaluate your sales and marketing needs, manpower, and resources.  A detailed and honest analysis of your capabilities to achieve current and future goals determines which functions, if any, can be better performed by an outside expert.  Asking the right questions from the start minimizes risk and increases the chances of a sales outsourcing project that delivers value over time. 

Assessment of Sales Force Capabilities

Begin by evaluating your internal sales processes and sales force needs.  Criteria like cost, process efficiency, and time determine the potential for outsourcing a position.  For example, if you are looking to fill a telesales representative role, ask the following questions:

  • How many telesales representatives do you have?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of each telesales rep?
  • Do current sales positions support current and long-term business goals?
  • What opportunities or issues can your identify?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your sales force and strategy?

Next, evaluate the qualitative aspects of your sales team, like attitudes, work ethic, ability to meet performance targets, commitment to the job, and potential for promotion.  Determine whether full/partial outsourcing of sales roles can be beneficial to the business, and which jobs can be outsourced immediately or in the future.

Assessment of Sales Methods and Channels

There are many ways to sell products and services to customers: field sales (door-to-door, business-to-business or B2B, channel partner selling), inside sales (telesales, virtual sales, offshore sales reps), retail sales (events, kiosks), reselling (merchandising, affiliates), and others.  Evaluate your current sales methods and channels, and determine whether they are sufficient to meet current and future goals.

Assessment of Sales Solutions Providers

Once you have made a case for outsourcing, it’s time to find the right sales solutions provider.  The following criteria can further narrow down the choices and help you make a decision:

Recruitment Process

Ask about the company’s methods of recruiting sales and telesales representatives, and find out if their methods fit your sales goals.  Do they hire based on potential or experience? Do they prefer more recent graduates to professionals with 1-5+ years of experience? Ask how they manage turnover and how they keep top-performing reps motivated.  Ideally, career growth options for talented reps should be built into the provider’s turnover management strategy.

Infrastructure and Technology

High-speed internet connectivity and having the right sales tools are a must for any sales solutions provider.  For companies in your shortlist, it’s best to visit the firm’s office (or ask for a virtual tour) to assess the work environment and tech capabilities.  It’s also good to listen to actual calls between sales reps and customers.  Can you hear the conversation clearly? What about the duration and quality of calls?

Experience

Consider the company’s experience, services provided, and success stories/case studies.  Does the company specialize in a particular vertical or are they a general solutions provider? Look for a company that customizes their solutions to each client and will be able to recruit specific talent that you need. 

The Case for Outsourced Sales

Sales outsourcing is a powerful tool to drive profitability and reduce costs, but it may not be the right decision for everyone.  The case for outsourced sales must be made through an honest evaluation of the company’s sales strategy, sales force, and resources dedicated to these activities. 

Certain situations are better suited to sales outsourcing than others: 

  1. Current resources cannot support ramping up the sales force or hiring full-time sales staff.
  2. One of the top reasons for sales outsourcing is cost control.  Some companies (usually startups and small businesses) lack the resources to hire senior-level or executive sales talent full-time or even for short-term projects.  Outsourcing in this case is a sound alternative to internal recruitment.  The third party handles recruitment, screening, training and support of sales personnel, and it also provides necessary infrastructure and technology (such as the latest databases, CRM and analytics tools).  Flexible solutions allow companies working with very tight budgets to hire only the people they need when they need it.

  3. Certain sales roles can be better performed by an experienced third party.
  4. Consider your business culture and experience performing specific sales roles.  Maybe your revenues and the number of clients have been stuck at the same level for some time, or customer satisfaction and engagement is declining or not improving.  Is your sales team hitting performance targets? Are they motivated and committed to the job? For example, CEOs and business owners may not have much experience managing a sales team.  An experienced third party can provide management and oversight services so that senior executives can devote their time and resources to creating and improving products or other core activities.

  5. The company is expanding into an unfamiliar market or a market that is difficult to access.
  6. If the company has led a market for some time, and it is expanding into an unfamiliar vertical, the transition can take time.  This raises the risk of a competitor capturing shares in the new market while the company builds its sales capabilities.  A sales solution provider can reduce this risk significantly.  An example is a manufacturer selling CRM software to healthcare insurance companies for the first time.  Because the market is new, the company’s contacts database is nonexistent, and it has little insight into the industry and competitors.  Working with vendor specializing in selling healthcare insurance software can build a high-quality leads database and design a market entry strategy to increase revenues very quickly. 

Other Drivers for Outsourcing Telesales and Sales

Besides situational drivers, the company’s sales strategy, business model, availability of talent, sales expertise, and sales process can also help CEOs and business decide when to outsource.

Sales Strategy

Sales strategy is a company’s plan of selling products/services and increasing profits.  In a nutshell, it answers the questions of what to sell to whom, where, at what price, and how.  Sales strategy involves identifying the best sales opportunities, planning territories, generating high-quality leads, improving conversion, and improving customer retention.  The right time to outsource may depend on your unique sales strategy.  If your strategy fails to create value for customers, the company, and your sales team, as shown by poor quality leads, stagnant or declining revenues, and less than ideal customer satisfaction, outsourcing sales strategy to a third party is a good option. 

Sales Outsourcing Business Model

Sales outsourcing can be done on a project basis or for a particular sales task.  It can also be done through a full outsourcing or integrated outsourcing model.  Companies more often outsource a part of their sales activities rather than the entire process, but end-to-end sales process outsourcing is gaining ground among larger businesses.  Depending on your current sales model, you may need the help of an external specialist.  For example, you may be struggling to sell a product through an unfamiliar sales channel, like affiliate selling, but you are reluctant to commit to a full sales outsourcing contract.  The solution is working with service provider that specializes in affiliate sales on a project or short-term basis.

Availability of Talent

When to outsource depends on whether you are able to find, hire, and support the necessary sales talent in-house.  Many companies find that this process is simply too expensive and time-consuming.  In urban centers where salaries are higher, finding topnotch sales staff can be harder.  If you’ve tried and failed to match talent to role, and you need to fill the position right away, sales outsourcing is the perfect solution.  Local and offshore service providers have deep networks and industry partnerships that allow them to reduce time-to-fill drastically and jumpstart your project.  Instead of several months, an outsourcing vendor can help you fill a sales manager or telesales rep position in a week.

Required Sales Expertise

Highly-skilled sales reps outperform average sales reps not only in quality lead generation and revenues, but also in many other aspects.  To them, sales is not merely work that pays the bills; sales is something that they are passionate about, and it shows.  Even if you have enough sales and telesales reps, if they are constantly underperforming or their level of commitment is low, outsourcing sales to a firm who does a better job can be the right choice.  Look for a service provider that has extensive experience selling products similar to yours and with a proven sales track record.  To maintain quality, ask for a detailed sales projection and use them as benchmarks.  Also make sure that the sales firm is not representing companies that compete with your products. 

Getting Started on Sales Outsourcing in the Philippines

Learn more about outsourced staff leasing and the Philippines as an outsourcing destination.


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