Like many high-tech companies, you’ve decided to invest in an inside sales team to surface new sales opportunities and qualify leads. And like many of those same companies, you’ve done the research on your options – outsourcing, insourcing, or a hybrid. You’ve decided to go down the outsourcing path in order to ramp up as quickly as possible.

The rest is easy, right?

Not so fast. You are now faced with a sea of outsourced inside sales firms, and selecting the wrong one can cost you time, money, and credibility. Here are 13 questions you should be asking as you conduct due diligence on your potential inside sales providers:

1. How does the provider handle recruitment?

Ask about the company’s philosophy and methods related to recruiting talent. When it comes to hiring, some companies favor hiring for potential over hiring for experience. Find out if your provider hires lifelong telemarketers or if it prefers recent college graduates. While youth may frighten some, the tradeoff is typically a more ambitious individual on the phone who does not come with any bad habits; the right inside sales firm can develop inexperienced talent into a rising star. If the company hires reps with experience, ask where those reps have worked before. While you’re at it, find out where reps go after they leave the inside sales firm. This will give you insight into whether the firm’s talent contains up-and-comers or telemarketing journeymen.

Make sure your partner will specifically recruit talent for your company too, if needed.

2. Once your potential partner gets good staff, how will it keep them?

Don’t forget to ask how your partner will keep good people once it lands them. Inside Sales typically sees a lot of churn. Is your partner going to embrace it or pretend it’s not happening? Your inside sales provider should have a strategy for managing turnover that is built into the company’s model, and should use a steep career trajectory as a growth plan for their staff. A good outsourced inside sales company should use career growth on the recruiting trail to magnetize high-caliber inside sales talent to their firm.

3. Can you hear calls, either live or recorded?

Your inside sales provider might have lots of cool technology, but if it doesn’t have this technology, how will you know what reps are saying and hearing on the phone? Listening to actual calls gives you unmatched transparency into the quality of both your inside sales rep and your message in the marketplace. Make sure you ask this question specifically before you sign up.

4. What type of training does your potential partner offer its inside sales reps?

An outsourced inside sales company that offers an ongoing sales training program, as opposed to a one-time event, will produce higher quality sales representatives. Not all training is created equal, however. Of course, you want the reps assigned to your account to be well versed on your company and its solutions, but you will reap even more significant benefits from reps who receive ongoing training on selling tactics, skills, and strategies from seasoned, successful leaders.

Also look at whether the company offers a mentorship program. These programs often lead to employees who learn faster and stay with their companies longer, which is key, as inside sales has a high turnover rate.

5. What kind of facility will the staff be working from?

The right environment plays a major role in the effectiveness and efficiency of inside sales reps, so make sure you understand the type of arrangement your inside sales partner provides. For instance, some companies rely exclusively on remote teams, and others only work with onsite teams. Do you care about that, or are you only concerned with results? Listen very carefully to responses about environment – if your partner can provide details on its environment and the role it plays in client success, it will likely continue to refine its sales environment as necessary.

6. Will you have a dedicated resource?

Ask pointed questions about who will be doing the work for you. Most companies will tell you that you will have a dedicated manager for one-to-one communication. That’s great and it should be the case. But who is doing the daily work for you? Do you have a dedicated inside sales rep or dedicated team of inside sales reps who know your company and work only for you, or could a different set of people be on the phones for you every day? Obviously, a dedicated team will make a huge difference in performance.

7. What are your options if you decide to bring the inside sales function in-house? Can you hire the sales rep you have been working with, or do you have to start from scratch?

Hiring directly from your inside sales provider may be off limits with some consulting companies. But doing so may make the most sense if you decide to ultimately insource your inside sales, or if an inside sales rep looks like a good candidate for one of your company’s other sales positions. After all, the reps you’ve been working with have already been trained to sell your product and you’ve enjoyed a front row seat to their performance. Even though you’re just getting started, it behooves you to consider your options for the future. What happens if things go better than expected and you’re blown away by the inside sales talent you work with?

8. How much management will you need to do yourself?

You shouldn’t have to devote hours and hours to managing your outsourced inside sales team. Your partner should have a strong manager who communicates with you on a regular schedule, say on a weekly basis, giving you time to focus on what you do best. Ask who your contact will be, and what kind of regular communication you will receive from him or her, including reports and meetings.

9. Can your partner ramp up quickly? And when can you expect to start seeing results?

Everyone is going to claim that they can ramp up quickly — after all, you’re likely dealing with a sales person who is incentivized to close deals. You need to dig a little deeper. Ask about the length of the ramp-up period, and the specific steps between signing a proposal and getting started. Better yet, inquire about the average time between getting started and seeing your first set of leads. While a reputable firm may not make any promises, if it has worked with enough clients that look like your company, it can probably offer an accurate timeframe.

10. What metrics/measurements will your partner use to gauge progress?

Your inside sales provider should be able to explain how it will measure and what it will be measuring, and perhaps even show you a sample report. Make sure that your goals and objectives match up with your partner’s goals and objectives, or things could get off to a rocky start. What metrics will your outsourced firm use to rate productivity? How will reps’ quotas and goals be set? Ask questions and make sure your partner has the answers, preferably backed up by data, client references, and case studies.

11. What type of technology does your potential partner use to maximize success?

In this era, technology should make an inside sales person’s job easier, not harder. Seemingly simple things like modern phone systems should not be overlooked. You’ll also want to ask questions about software – does your partner use the same CRM platform as your company? Will your provider work within your CRM platform or theirs? What about prospect databases?

12. Is your outsourced provider willing to remain flexible in terms of the engagement?

You may want to outsource your inside sales for the next six months, then begin to bring it in-house. Or maybe you want to run your own inside sales team, but you need someone to help with finding and training top talent. If the company you are speaking with really understands the inside sales space, it should be able to customize a solution that fits your specific needs.

13. Is your potential outsourced inside sales provider a specialist or a generalist?

If you’re looking for an inside sales firm to generate quality leads for your company, its representatives need to truly understand your industry. A company that works only in the B2B space, whose reps receive specialized training in a particular industry, like high tech, or a vertical, like health care, will be much more successful and knowledgeable than a company trying to sell everything to anyone and everyone — because selling multi-million dollar software solutions to the federal government is different than selling office supplies to a small business. Be wary if someone tells you they can sell everything to everyone.

Interested in seeing how outsourced inside sales can provide real results? Take a look at how we helped Salsa Labs grow, and how a unique solution is helping them plan for the future in our case study.