Sales outsourcing is the process of subcontracting an organization's sales activities to a third party. Businesses work with outside firms to fill sales staff positions, develop and execute sales campaigns, and build a dedicated sales team around a new product or marketing program. Offshore sales outsourcing providers may rely on an inside sales model that allows external sales staff to work for the client from anywhere in the world, while local providers may combine virtual sales services and field sales representation.
Sales outsourcing depends on a third party to provide the services of a dedicated external sales force. The external sales personnel become part of the internal team and are assigned to specific sales campaigns. They perform many roles within the organization that may include marketing, telemarketing and management. External sales staff and sales representatives may utilize various promotional techniques on behalf of the client, including business-to-consumer (B2C) sales and business-to-business (B2B) sales.
Most companies already outsource a part of their sales and marketing functions, and a significant percentage are planning to outsource these services. Most firms outsource only some sales activities, while others outsource an entire sales process, such as sales conversion or the process of identifying qualified leads and turning them into sold accounts.
Sales business process outsourcing is the transfer of responsibility for an entire process to a third party. Services include recruitment of sales staff, campaign development, analytics, and customer relationship management. Many established vendors now offer end-to-end sales and marketing solutions, becoming strategic partners with clients instead of merely providing a service.
The Internet and third platform technologies like big data and social business have transformed the way organizations sell their products and services. More companies are using sales business process outsourcing to reach their target audience, identify buying behavior patterns, and increase conversion while keeping costs low. The real benefit of sales business proves outsourcing to businesses is total value, and not simply cost savings.
Why Outsource Sales Activities for your Businesses?
Companies traditionally use sales outsourcing when they wish to sell a new product or expand into new markets and locations. Startups that want to concentrate their resources on core activities may also outsource sales. Intense competition is driving companies to increase outsourcing of sales functions to outside firms that have the expertise, technology and tools to improve competitive advantage. Sales outsourcing providers address challenges that businesses face, such as identification and conversion of qualified leads, outside sales staff that take a long time to contribute to business goals, operational inefficiencies, and increasing costs.
Top reasons for outsourcing sales include:
Lower cost of sales. Businesses are always looking for ways to increase profits. An effective way to achieve this goal is sales outsourcing, which increases sales while reducing costs. Outsourcing your sales force to an experienced third party means lower overhead and labor cost, standardized sales costs using commission rates, and increased sales coverage. The vendor is responsible for building, training and supporting outside sales personnel -- something that requires considerable investment when done in-house.
Improved market coverage. Skilled sales personnel can be better at getting to your current and potential customers than in-house staff. For example, an inside sales force takes market coverage from local to global. Businesses can access markets and verticals that were previously unavailable. Service providers also provide sales solutions that complement your field sales strategy.
Improved speed to market. An outside expert has deep industry knowledge and experience to provide sales services at the right time and place. They can recruit top sales professionals very quickly to get your sales team up and running within tight timelines.
Improved customer satisfaction and retention. An outsourced sales team can improve customer satisfaction and retention by establishing regular contact with customers, identifying customer satisfaction baselines, and implementing improvements through continuous monitoring and reporting.
Outsourced Sales Solutions
An outsourcing sales provider is responsible for building an external sales force with skills and competencies that matches the unique needs of an organization. A manufacturer may outsource only direct or channel selling activities, while a startup or small business may outsource all sales functions to be able to grow the company. Almost all sales activities can be outsourced, from low-level, transactional tasks like sales call centers to higher value, strategic solutions. Commonly outsourced sales services include:
Sales Lead Generation and Qualification
Lead generation is the solicitation of inquiries from potential customers. It is the first step of the sales process. Lead generation can be done online and using traditional methods like trade shows. Leads can either be good or bad-quality; good quality leads are more likely to buy the product or service. Sales lead qualification refers to activities that evaluate the readiness and ability of a lead to be converted into a buyer. Third parties may provide skilled sales professionals to evaluate leads using direct mail, telemarketing and other methods, or handle the entire process of sales lead generation and qualification. An outside firm whose core business is lead generation and qualification can significantly increase the quality of leads and number of conversions.
Strategic Sales Planning
Strategic sales planning is the development and execution of a business sales/marketing plan based on accurate data from market research and analytics. Outsourced sales planning can help businesses better allocate sales resources and execute strategies that grow the customer base. Service providers offering strategic planning provide sales forecasting, quota planning, territory planning, and commission planning. They also provide market research data, software and tools for identifying the best sales opportunities for specific products and services.
Sales management is the management of local, external and virtual sales team members, with the goal of increasing productivity and quality. Many business owners and CEOs find that they are not the best managers of in-house or external sales teams or that their team need better direction, so they outsource the service to a third party. Small businesses that can't justify the cost of hiring full-time sales managers may also outsource sales management to service providers. Another reason for outsourcing sales management is to improve the performance of niche segments and sectors that are difficult to reach.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management is a system that manages all company interactions with existing and potential customers. The right CRM strategy allows companies to focus on and improve their relationship with individual customers. CRM requires the right technology for organizing and automating sales and marketing activities, as well as customer and IT support. Third parties may provide CRM software or CRM staff that has experience with common CRM tools (like Salesforce). The provider may also take responsibility for the company's entire CRM process, from planning to execution to monitoring.
Product Launch Campaigns
Market research firms report that 75 percent of new consumer products in the U.S. fail to reach $7.5 million during the first year. Most product launches fail, and it is very difficult to get customers to buy something new. The right product launch campaign is crucial to driving sales, and companies can develop an appropriate product launch strategy by working with an experienced and objective third party. Vendors provide market research, sales channels education, launch campaign testing, and execution services.
Sales Staff Recruitment
The service provider is responsible for finding, screening, evaluating and hiring sales professionals to fill open positions and augment in-house sales teams during peak times. They can also be integrated into internal teams to cover long-term absences. External sales staff can be temporary, permanent, part-time or full time.
Some offshore providers specialize in inside sales solutions, working with clients and building an inside sales organization on their behalf. Inside sales works on the premise of a sales team that is usually located in another area or country. Offshore sales staff can access untapped markets to provide additional revenue streams while reducing dependence on costly field sales staff. Offshore sales professionals also provide online reporting of sales results and campaign ROI data. Offshore sales expertise is typically comparable to local sales expertise, allowing the offshore team to be integrated with the in-house sales team seamlessly.
Outside Sales or Field Sales
Outside sales or field sales refer to person-to-person selling methods like door-to-door sales and business to business (B2B) sales for products and services intended for other businesses. Third parties provide the services of experienced field sales professionals to see customers in person by appointment or through cold-calling. Field sales reps present the product and close sales at the customer's residence or office. Hiring full-time field sales professionals can be expensive, and service providers relieve the cost burden by providing field staff on a temporary or contract basis.
Transactional Sales Services
In addition to higher value sales functions, outsourcing vendors also provide transactional, back office services to support internal and external sales teams. Commonly outsourced sales support services include virtual offices, customer service, technical support/IT help desk, and administrative support.
End-to-End Sales Solutions
Comprehensive sales solutions encompass all aspects of selling, from development to sales fulfillment. End-to-end solutions vary with the needs of a business, but they often include sourcing and hiring sales professionals, training, CRM deployment, sales management, reporting, and infrastructure services (telephone connectivity, computers, hardware, software, Internet connectivity, and facilities). End-to-end sales outsourcing are often employed by large organizations that already have a working relationship with the vendor. The sales outsourcing engagement includes implementation and risk mitigation planning.
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