9 Misconceptions About Sales Outsourcing
If you've been thinking about outsourcing your company's sales function, you may have come across a few of these common misconceptions about what sales outsourcing is. Don't worry, you're not the first person to have misconceptions about sales outsourcing, since there is a lot of disinformation about there about what it is (and what it isn't).
But don't let unfounded fears or misunderstandings get in the way of what could be a great opportunity for your company. Here are the most common misconceptions people tend to have about sales outsourcing, and why you don't have to believe them.
#1 It's only for big companies.
While it's true that big companies, especially in fields like energy and telecom, have had enormous success with outsourcing their sales, that doesn't mean that outsourcing can't reap big dividends for smaller companies. In fact, sales outsourcing can be an excellent alternative for small and medium companies that would rather focus their internal resources on core aspects of their business.
Engaging a sales outsourcing company can give your small company access to the experience, know-how, and sales management talent of a much larger organization, effectively giving you an "instant sales department." You skip the investment and learning curve of operating an internal sales function, and enjoy the benefits of a company that specializes in sales.
#2 It's only for small companies.
Ironically, we hear both of these objections. As we just discussed above, sales outsourcing can be a great thing for a company too small to want to devote the energy and resources required to build a successful sales team. The same reasoning can apply to a large company's decision to outsource sales. Sometimes it just makes sense to focus on core competencies and leave sales to the sales experts.
However, for large enterprises, it's rarely an either/or choice. Large companies often maintain an internal sales force while simultaneously outsourcing the sales of a certain product or initiative. Outsourcing can be an effective way to conduct test marketing, quickly penetrate new markets, or begin selling a new product without taking focus off current initiatives.
#3 Outsourcing? Isn't that something to do with moving to China?
The idea of "outsourcing jobs" overseas has gotten a deservedly bad name in political circles. However, outsourcing sales has nothing to do with moving your factory to China. A sales outsourcing company is simply a partner you engage to sell your product, just like your accountant does your taxes. These companies are usually domestic businesses that hire local talent. If your company wants to focus on selling within the United States, you should certainly choose a U.S.-based sales outsourcing company.
Our company, Netpique, for example, is a U.S. company with sales teams across the United States. For each new campaign, we recruit an experienced sales manager, and then hire qualified sales representatives in the area where they'll be selling. Obviously, no jobs go overseas, and you get top-notch talent across the country.
#4 That doesn't work in my industry.
While there are some industries that traditionally employ the strategy of sales outsourcing, the concept is continually making inroads into new industries and markets. Here at Netpique, we have worked with companies in industries as diverse as logistics, internet technology, communications, medical technology, energy, manufacturing, business services, retail, advertising, and hospitality.
Sales outsourcing may not be the "in" thing in your industry, but even so, it may be time to talk to a consultant about whether it could work for your company. If few companies in your industry use sales outsourcing, it may be a distinct competitive advantage for you to adopt it first.
#5 It's too expensive.
Sales reps can be expensive, whether you hire them directly or as part of an outsourcing package. It's all about the ROI. Most sales outsourcing companies will give you a free consultation and detailed proposal to help you determine whether their services are a good fit for your company. Take advantage of it! The only way to know if sales outsourcing will make sense for your particular situation is to compare the outsourcing proposal and projected return to your company's internal alternative.
Keep in mind as you compare that sales outsourcing packages tend to be very comprehensive. When doing your calculations and comparisons, be sure to tally up all your sales-related expenses, including salaries, commissions, benefits, and taxes for sales reps. Your expense list should also include sales training, recruiting, background checks and drug screenings, travel and incentives, and account management costs. This is on top of the fixed costs, like internet connectivity and office hardware, rent, equipment and supplies, IT support, and CRM software.
Once you add up both the obvious and hidden expenses of running a sales team, outsourcing it often begins to make financial sense. An additional benefit of outsourcing the sales function is that the outsourcing company takes responsibility for maintaining headcount, as well as absorbing regulatory and reporting costs. The result is that your sales costs become predictable and manageable.
#6 I'll lose control of my brand.
This is one of the most common objections we hear. You've worked hard to build your brand, and the thought of allowing another company to influence how your brand is perceived is understandably nerve-wracking. If proper brand representation is a concern (and it is for most reputable companies), you should make sure you go with an outsourcing company that hires sales representatives who are dedicated to your campaign, not off selling somebody else's products in their spare time.
Some sales outsourcing companies engage their sales representatives as 1099 independent contractors with minimal oversight and training. They hire them on a strict commission basis and their personnel department is like a revolving door. This lack of training and oversight can wreak havoc with your brand image. Opt instead for a company that hires their reps as W-2 employees with a base salary as well as commissions, and a robust training program. Here at Netpique, we write a training manual specifically for your company, and keep track of our reps by holding regular meetings, ride-alongs, and training sessions, ensuring that we represent your brand to your high standards, and ours.
#7 I need sales reps with specific training and experience.
This is actually a great reason to outsource your sales. Any reputable sales outsourcing company will have extensive hiring resources and an efficient recruiting process in place, enabling them to quickly tap into the pool of local sales talent and find the sales managers and representatives that are the best fit for your company's needs.
Here at Netpique, we are experienced in hiring from many different industries, and know how to hire reps with very specific skill sets. When a company is quickly expanding into a new area, our ability to "parachute" trained sales representatives from existing campaigns into new markets can also be invaluable.
#8 I don't want a call center.
Call centers are just one way to outsource sales. If your product sells better face-to-face, look for a sales outsourcing company that specializes in in-market representation. Many companies, including Netpique, provide a complete outsourcing solution for companies that need sales reps for feet-on-the-streets campaigns.
#9 My product is too complicated.
If you have a complex product or need a more consultative sales approach, your sales team needs some serious skills and training whether you choose to outsource or not. We have several clients who came to us after their own efforts at building this type of sales team proved unsuccessful.
An outsourced sales team can be a good solution to the problem of a complex product, because outsourcing companies are experts at finding quality candidates and providing in-depth training. Again, the importance of finding a company that uses the W-2 model rather than the 1099 model cannot be overemphasized. Many companies find that the extra support and resources offered by a sales outsourcing company make a big positive difference in their ability to effectively articulate the value of their product to potential customers.
Are you ready to explore outsourcing your sales? Call today to review your options and see if sales outsourcing is right for your company.