When it comes to creating or reforming sales operations, the phrase “outsourcing Inside Sales teams” seems to come up in many high-level conversations. For many organizations, it makes sense to outsource some or even all of their sales functions. If your business is among them, the decision to outsource may have been easy, but the specific process of doing so presents some challenges.
However, understanding what you need to outsource and why it’s a crucial step to making sure the transition is smooth and effective. Here are some guidelines to consider.
1. Make the business case for outsourcing
It’s not hard to demonstrate the cost savings associated with outsourcing Inside Sales teams, and for many companies, that’s enough to make the case. But the decision only makes as much sense as the business model allows. Sure, you can achieve lower costs with outsourcing, but might you lose something else along the way? For instance, if your sales force is an integral part of your business value, then it might not make as much sense to outsource as it would for a company that aims to sell products that do not require continuing service.
But don’t forget that it isn’t an either-or proposition; if you decide to outsource, you have other options besides outsourcing everything or nothing. Many companies have found a great middle ground, outsourcing lead generation, lead qualification, and initial sales, but keeping account management and a continuing sales/service relationship in-house.
2. Set goals for the team
Once you decide that outsourcing your Inside Sales is the right decision, it’s important to know what you want those teams to achieve. These goals will guide the entire selection and sales process. Your goal might be focused on increasing revenue, gaining market share, launching new products or services, or improving return on investment (ROI). Whatever the goal, it will influence the kind of Request for Proposal (RFP) you create. It will also determine the kind of sales organization you need, as well as the type of sales force. Some goals require telemarketers, while others require more face-to-face contact with seasoned sales reps. Your goals will also determine the benchmarks you set and the performance goals you set, not to mention the type of reports you require from your newly-hired sales organization.
3. Define your expectations
After deciding what you want from your sales organization, it’s important to communicate that to potential vendors. Whether you submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) or simply contact the organizations that interest you, make sure you have a clear, detailed presentation of your goals, requirements, and expectations. This will reduce any chance of miscommunication between your company and the sales organization. It also ensures that the companies that approach you can truly deliver what you need. Remember, the more you discuss up front, the less chance of a nasty surprise later.
4. Partner with organizations that bring value to the relationship
You’ve set your goals and expectations, but a great way to narrow your search is to look for things you hadn’t thought of before. A sales organization bidding for your business will often come up with a strategic selling point that goes beyond the scope of your RFP but nonetheless presents additional benefit to you. For example, you might have created a set of requirements that didn’t include local expertise. A sales organization that offers knowledge of their area can tout their knowledge of the local market and their ability to penetrate it. Suddenly, you may have access to a brand new market. Or perhaps they have expertise in a particular industry that’s new to your company; they would know how to introduce your products or services to it, giving you a whole new customer base.
5. Put training programs in place
Outsourcing Inside Sales teams is ultimately a long and complex process, and training is an example of that. Even the most seasoned sales professional isn’t completely familiar with the nuances of your specific business or products. So you need to have some kind of training program in place. Ideally, you already have something in place for your internal salespeople, but if not, use your list of requirements to figure out what your outsourced teams need to know. Lots of companies still rely on handbooks and in-house training sessions, but don’t forget about e-learning strategies. They can be delivered to multiple locations, and they can save your executives the cost and time of traveling.
6. Outsource only where it makes sense
When most people think about outsourcing Inside Sales teams, they assume it’s an all-or nothing scenario. Either every person and function is moved off-site, or nothing is moved. Similarly, it’s assumed that everything is outsourced to the same organization. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are many different types of sales teams, ranging from lead generation and lead qualifying, to telemarketing and more direct selling. While a lot of sales organizations promote themselves as full-service, you might find that some functions should stay on premise. You might get more value from moving your lead generation department and account managers might be more effective if they are in-house.
One organization can’t always deliver everything what you want. When choosing an organization, look at ALL their services and decide if they have the right resources for your business. One organization might have a fantastic sales team that can meet face-to-face with your customers, but maybe their telemarketing side isn’t quite as strong. It would be entirely appropriate (if you want) to move your direct sales team to one location and your telemarketing staff somewhere else.
7. Keep the lines of communication open
The relationship between a company and its outsourced sales team is only as effective as the communications between them. Once you select a sales organization, it’s important to stay in constant contact. No matter how solid the terms are in the beginning, things can change along the way. Personnel can change, markets can change, and your own business strategy can change. To meet these changes, you need to keep the sales organization abreast of everything so they can adjust accordingly. Even if nothing changes at a high level, periodic contact is still important to make sure things continue going smoothly.
8. Set monitoring and reporting goals
One of the things you should establish during these frequent interactions is whether or not your outsourced sales team is reaching the goals you set. By having monitoring and reporting mechanisms in place, you can keep your sales team on track. How you set these mechanisms is up to you. For some companies, a quarterly report is sufficient, but for others a monthly or weekly status report might be necessary. You can request a full accounting of resources and sales figures, or simply ask for revenue sales. The right answer is what’s right for your business.
Outsourcing Inside Sales teams is an important decision. Your company can avoid unnecessary complications by spending time upfront to outline your requirements and expectations before jumping into the selection process.