Most start-ups hit points when they know they need to make their already lean operations even more efficient. Start-up culture says to grow fast and create a rapidly producing sales team, but for some sales cycles it becomes a burden to maintain the pipeline and continue to invest despite uncertainty.
At this point it’s time to evaluate whether it continues to make sense to handle lead generation and sales in-house, or whether those functions are sapping resources that could be better allocated to the core business mission.
There are strong arguments in favor of bringing in an outsourced sales partner, but also several legitimate concerns. Perform due diligence while looking for a sales partner to alleviate the following concerns:
Concern #1: You’ll Lose Control Of Your Brand’s Representatives
When you manage your own inside sales department, you manage hiring and training the sales staff, so you know who’s on the phones and you know what they’re saying. This provides a significant amount of control over how your sales reps function as your brand’s representatives.
A good outsourced sales partner’s business model is built on providing highly qualified sales representatives. It will provide initial training, ensuring the reps speaking on your behalf understand your brand DNA and make brand promotion a priority.
A good partner will also emphasize ongoing training, so all of the sales reps it fields on your behalf remain current on both the specifics of your products and services and the brand message you want delivered. Ask about potential partners’ training programs when you’re vetting them.
Concern #2: You Won’t Hear The Voice Of The Customer
Properly done, both lead-generation and sales calls serve as a way to engage with prospects and customers, providing invaluable information about how you’re doing and what you could do better. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are understandably concerned they’ll lose touch with their customers if they outsource sales.
In fact, a good partner will gather both quantitative and qualitative data for you. When researching outsourced sales partners, ask how they funnel that data to you. Some provide direct access to the reps serving as your sales ambassadors; others allow you to sit in on the weekly or monthly meetings the sales managers hold about your account.
Whether through direct contact or summary reports, a good partner will make sure you get the valuable insights that emerge from customer interactions.
Concern #3: System Integration and CRM Administration Will Fail
Your customer relationship management (CRM) program is absolutely fundamental to your business operations, so it only makes sense to be concerned about issues around compatibility, such as integrating systems, arranging for hand-offs and minimizing friction between systems.
If your partner doesn’t have a strong tech/IT team, your team would have to do the work, so research what support your partner has on its end. In addition, you need to be confident that your partner’s employees have been properly trained in the system you prefer.
Any partner you’re considering should have full expertise in the major CRM platforms, including Salesforce, Silverpop, and SugarCRM. Your partner may prefer a proprietary or standardized system, but should be open to your needs.
In addition, your partner should be able to provide you with the data it has collected in a format that you can load directly into your systems, not just as summary versions presented in spreadsheet form.
Outsourcing lead generation and sales is a major step. Don’t ignore your concerns: Do the research necessary to find a partner that is willing to address them to your satisfaction.
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