Small Business Sales Outsourcing 101
Sales Outsourcing Basics
Small businesses have some unique challenges when it comes to outsourcing their sales. They may lack the budget of larger corporations, or need only a few sales people. However, they also have some advantages. Smaller companies tend to be more flexible and adaptable. Change and innovation that might be complicated to implement in a large company can often happen smoothly in a smaller company.
Small businesses come to sales outsourcing for a variety of reasons. Some have experienced a drop-off in sales due to market changes, and want to get back on track. Others are having difficulty hiring and retaining productive sales representatives. Still others are start-ups wanting to hit the market aggressively and impress investors.
Is your small business thinking about sales outsourcing? Here are some things to keep in mind:
Why do you need sales outsourcing?
Before you can begin to determine whether sales outsourcing is a good move, or what type of outsourcing you need, you should be sure to clearly understand your company's current challenges. Are you a start-up in the funding phase? It might make sense to go to an outsourcing company and get a quote for a full, turn-key outsourcing function so you can build it into your model before presenting your pro formas to investors.
If your company is experiencing a drop-off in sales because your old tried-and-true methods of getting customers aren't working any more, sales outsourcing may be the answer. Perhaps your old distribution channels are drying up, and you want to see if direct sales will work to promote your product to new audiences.
Another reason companies explore sales outsourcing is because they have tried hiring an internal sales team, and it has not worked. Sometimes they are unable to maintain headcount because they can't find enough quality candidates or their sales representatives keep quitting. At other times, companies find themselves unable to provide the intensive training and management needed to maintain a productive sales team.
Some companies find that their sales department is not functioning properly because they have not yet done the necessary groundwork of setting up viable sales analytics, defining the sales process and integrating it with their fulfillment system, designing an appropriate sales compensation plan, and developing a training and management system for their sales team.
If you are unsure of exactly what in your sales department is derailing your sales efforts, a free consultation with a sales outsourcing company can help you diagnose the problem, as well as understand potential solutions.
What portion of your sales function needs help?
Typically, a sales outsourcing company will first help you determine where your sales efforts are breaking down. There are several potential problem areas.
If your company has a hard time finding enough qualified candidates for open sales positions, you may want to look into outsourcing your recruiting. Here at Netpique sales outsourcing, for example, we run an efficient recruiting machine, and can supply your company with a consistent flow of qualified candidates, either for an initial sales team hire, or to maintain headcount on an ongoing basis.
Job Design and Compensation
Before you begin recruiting, however, it's worth looking at your compensation plan and whether it makes sense for your industry. You should know whether your Total Targeted Compensation (TTC) is competitive in your area, and if the balance between your fixed and variable compensation makes sense. A sales outsourcing company can also help you determine what types of qualifications you should look for in potential recruits, and how to write job descriptions that attract promising candidates.
Are you keeping track of the right sales analytics? Do your analytics allow you to track program level performance against Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)? Good analytics should help you keep track of what's going on in your pipeline, as well as make accurate sales forecasts based on concrete data.
Do you have a training manual that incorporates both product training and sales skills so that your training and brand representation will remain consistent? Are you conducting regular (at least weekly) sales meetings to train your sales team and keep them motivated? Sales training is overwhelming for many companies, because it involves both a significant time commitment, both upfront, and then on an ongoing basis.
Do your sales managers have all the tools they need to conduct effective training sessions, control the sales process, and manage their teams for maximum performance? A sales outsourcing company can help you develop a sales process flow, choose and integrate a CRM, manage internal communications, and interface between the sales department and the rest of your company.
While sales analytics provide program-level assessment, assessing performance at the individual sales executive level is just as important. Do you have processes in place to not only identify under-performing sales representatives, but use appropriate interventions to help them improve?
A final area where small businesses sometimes have trouble is in integrating concluded sales into the fulfillment system. A sales outsourcing company can help you build a sales administration system that will ensure the validity of each sale, implement quality control procedures, and seamlessly integrate your sales function with your fulfillment system.
Full Outsourced Sales
While some companies may want to work within their existing sales structure by strengthening one or more of the areas above, many small businesses find that outsourcing their complete sales function is the best option for them. A sales outsourcing company can provide your small business with what amounts to an instant sales department, providing you with organic growth and freeing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
If you'd like to talk about the possibility of outsourcing part or all of your sales function, we invite you to take advantage of a free consultation with Netpique sales outsourcing.