Sales—the ingredient for business growth. But as the buying process has digitized massively in the past decade, sales has become an area of complexity. Buyers now have access to a wealth of information online about potential suppliers.
There is no shortage of options for them, making it difficult for sellers to influence a buyer’s mind. Regardless of the niche, every business hits its limits after exhausting all opportunities to reach new markets or improve efficiency.
Besides, there are just too many moving parts for startups and bootstrapped companies to effectively build and drive a sales operations program independently—with their limited resources. It is undoubtedly a challenging position to be in.
But wait, what are sales operations? It refers to a set of business activities and processes that help sales reps to sell faster and better. Sales operations involve strategically implemented planning, engagement techniques, and sales tools for the job.
That is where outsourcing all or certain sales operations can breathe new life into the growth chart of struggling businesses. Quite interestingly, the concept of sales outsourcing is not new. It involves delegating a part of your sales process to a third-party specialist.
Outsourcing to a professional sales team with a higher caliber can help you add considerable value to your company—without burning a massive hole in your pocket. In this blog, we will study the benefits and risks of sales outsourcing and how you should implement it.
Table of Contents
- Functions that can be outsourced in sales
- Benefits of sales outsourcing
- Risks of sales outsourcing
- Things to consider when outsourcing sales
- Ready to outsource your sales?
Functions that can be outsourced in sales
Outsourcing can be like adding a whole new sales pipeline to your operations, giving you access to more growth opportunities. Since sales is an expansive function with a plethora of activities, there is also confusion about what can or cannot be outsourced. You will be surprised to learn the possibilities:
1. Product or market fit evaluation
If you want to enter a new market or sell a new product or service, you must conduct proper research. However, when your team is small or has limited competency or experience in that regard, outsourced sales specialists can swoop in and undertake product or market fit evaluation for you.
Research is an important task in this regard. They can help you realign your existing value proposition with market specifics by reaching out to real buyer personas and understanding their pain points and expectations.
2. Systematic lead generation
This is perhaps the most outsourced sales function. Depending on the complexity of your offering, the target segment, and the decided budget, you can define KPIs for generating leads and delegate the task to your outsourced sales team.
Moreover, there are different types of lead generation activities you can assign. For instance:
- Identifying and pre-qualifying target audience and real buyer personas according to your Ideal Customer Profile
- Cold calling and email prospecting
- Closing the sale
If your in-house sales team is brilliant at fetching leads and starting the initial conversations, but they do not get further than that, there is no harm in getting outsourced sales reps to nurture and follow up on those leads.
When growing your business, you must follow every lead until it is no longer deemed a potential client. What’s more, some outsourced sales reps also help in closing the deal. Talking to people and influencing them is their job. They have a ton of client experience, which helps leads move faster along the sales funnel.
If you are struggling to seal the deal, take the help of an outsourced sales team and see if you can take notes from them as they go about doing their job.
3. LinkedIn lead generation
LinkedIn is undoubtedly a powerful tool for sales prospecting. From connecting with cold audiences to nurturing existing clients, there is much to do on LinkedIn impactfully. If getting active on LinkedIn to drive higher sales is essential, then an outsourced sales team can build prospect lists based on the information you share regarding your ideal clients.
They can devise and execute a messaging sequence—from a connection request to engaging messages, ensuring the contacts are qualified and ready to move to the next level in the sales funnel.
4. Prospect list building
The outsourced sales team can also help fetch data sources and build your prospect database—qualified and ready for engagement that meets your criteria. That compels your in-house sales reps to resourcefully connect with only those who are inclined toward doing business with you.
5. Top-of-mind business awareness creation
As a result of targeted lead nurturing efforts (via content, cold calling, emails), outsourced sales teams can create awareness in the minds of your target audience. This obviously takes time.
However, they create awareness in such a way that whenever an issue comes up with their current service provider, your company will be the first option they think of when looking to switch.
6. Appointments scheduling
Getting your prospects to talk to you is a challenge in sales. But that is exactly what you need to ensure on an ongoing basis so that you can close more deals. If your in-house sales reps do not have the capacity or experience to get people to book a consultation with you, that is where your outsourced sales team enters the picture.
They can help you build a sales pipeline by scoring appointments with qualified prospective clients. Therefore, communicate your long-run goals about appointment setting and what an efficient appointment-setting program means to you.
Benefits of sales outsourcing
By joining hands with a third-party service provider to manage either part or whole of your sales operations, you have set a course for success. Adding to that, though, here are seven significant benefits that businesses, in general, seek to enjoy with sales outsourcing:
Rapid growth—although most welcomed—can be disastrous, resulting in significant drops in customer experience. However, sales outsourcing can help you minimize expansion risks by giving you the workforce and technological support you need.
2. Cost efficiency
If your startup is on a growth trajectory, increasing the top line, i.e., sales or revenues, and the bottom line, i.e., expenses, is critical. An ideal scenario is when you sell maximum offerings in a given period—without incurring many expenses. Unfortunately, building an in-house sales team with appropriate resources is a significant investment. Sales outsourcing helps you balance the top and bottom lines by augmenting sales capabilities (headcount, technologies, and techniques) at affordable rates.
3. Lack of expertise
Even if you have a decent-size in-house sales team, your sales reps may lack familiarity or expertise in dealing with ever-evolving market conditions or cutting-edge sales technologies. Such a lack of expertise can prove detrimental to business growth. Outsourcing the necessary talent with commendable skills and experience in these situations can be profitable.
5. Expanded market range
Your business could also think of scaling vertically—to other geographies and markets. When that is the case, getting up to speed with what the new intended audience expects from you can take time and resources you may not have access to immediately.
Moreover, the costs associated with a new market entry are substantial. A specialist outsourced sales team understands the geographies you are interested in and can help you grow faster. That invariably lowers your risk of failure.
6. Enhanced customer satisfaction
Outsourced sales teams have already tried and tested methodologies that can help produce better deliverables in a shorter period.
When you find yourself stretched to meet the growing expectations of your customer base, outsourcing your sales operations can relieve you of some pressure and ensure customer service does not get hampered—even when you are spinning many plates and your business is scaling rapidly.
7. Improved focus on core operations
The biggest advantage of outsourcing is that it allows you to minimize your workload immensely cost-effectively. You do not have to hire additional resources in hand to do a job like the lead generation that an outsourcing team can do for you. This leaves your existing sales reps to focus on other high-end activities, such as proposal-making, closing deals, or renewing contracts.
Risks of sales outsourcing
Despite the benefits, many businesses are still cautious and reluctant when it comes to putting faith in a third-party supplier. To outsource or not to outsource is a never-ending debate. It is understandable—surrendering any control of the business process, especially sales, can cause apprehension in your mind.
Outsourcing is risky. Moreover, it might not be an ideal option for the industry you operate in. So when should you not go for sales outsourcing? Let us study the risks of outsourcing.
1. When communication can be an issue
Communication barriers can be a concern in the case of offshore outsourcing. You could have an outsourced team working in India with your office on the west coast. In that case, there are scheduling issues to consider.
Of course, you can set core business hours, use practical project management tools, and define standardized formats for communication. But outsourcing may not be a great option if the location is a matter of great concern to you.
2. When the costs outweigh the benefits
Pricing is a significant factor in outsourcing. So, do not go for it if you think it will cost you a fortune. Investing massively with another company for your sales is indeed a scary thought.
What if you do not get the desired results? What if your data is not appropriately safeguarded? There could be a million questions going through your head. Ultimately, outsourcing is not ideal when the costs outweigh the benefits.
3. When sales functions need to be tweaked
Motivated and experienced sales reps serve as the backbone of the function. However, outsourcing will not work wonders for you if your sales processes are not defined and you have non-competent sales managers who fail to do follow-ups with emails and calls.
Therefore, ensure you have streamlined sales processes so that when the outsourced team gets you the leads, you have the workforce to handle the volume.
4. When there is concern about losing control
Since your outsourced sales team will be in direct contact with your prospects, you will always be concerned about whether they would be able to represent the true image of your company. Though an account manager supervises dedicated outsourced sales reps and liaises with you, you must have authority over the whole process.
5. When there is a lack of eexperience with remote teams
Managing a remote team sounds more complex in theory. And if you have never outsourced to a workforce that is not in-house, that could result in communication gaps between you and your outsourced team.
Therefore, you must have constant check-ins with them, provide regular guidance and feedback, and ensure transparent communication.
Things to consider when outsourcing sales
So you have decided to outsource your sales activities, which might be a brilliant decision for your business growth. Outsourcing sales is a proven way to boost revenues at a fraction of the in-house cost.
Regardless of the part of the sales process you want to outsource, finding the right partner is vital for success. After all, you want to ensure your sales activities are in good hands. Adding to that thought, here are ten things to consider while outsourcing for sales:
1. Data privacy
You will invariably be sharing a ton of sensitive information with your outsourced sales team. From financial information to client data—much may be shared with the outsourcing party so they can do their job. Besides, if you have partnered with a company in a different country, you need to be extra sure about their laws regulating data confidentiality and Intellectual Property.
Your outsourced sales team must comply with industry standards and deploy suitable control mechanisms. Signing an NDA is common practice in sales outsourcing. It is a contract that binds both parties in a confidential relationship—beneficial for handling business and project information.
2. Reporting processes
Outsourcing is as successful as the reporting processes in place. How would you gauge your performance if your outsourced sales team does not have a proper structure or function to report their activities?
To monitor their productivity and quality output, decide on the methodology and KPIs for tracking results and resolving issues beforehand. These performance metrics should evolve as your sales requirements expand or change.
In addition, determine the frequency of reporting and providing updates on activities. Ensure the reporting format matches your own.
3. Capabilities over costing
Sure, costing is a huge benefit of outsourcing, especially when your hands are tied and you want to get maximum benefits from your sales efforts. But remember to consider the capabilities more than the cost. When you are looking to outsource your sales, you must ensure your supplier is delivering to the best of their abilities, helping you keep your sales pipelines flowing.
Focusing too much on your expenses will make you miss out on getting all the best features for less than you would spend on an employee. Keep your eyes on the end goal.
4. Scalability and adaptability
Be sure your outsourced sales team is ready to jump on opportunities on your behalf and adapt to your growth trajectory—whether you are expanding to new geographies or markets. Their processes have to align with your business cycle. This is more than just being to extend the resources they bring to the table.
They should be able to flex their sales tactics and service offerings to meet unexpected demands. Plus, determine whether they can scale from a small team of ten to a team of 20 if the demand arises. Get case studies from them to see how they have scaled for other clients.
5. Area (And level) of expertise
One of the main reasons you would even think about outsourcing is that you have trouble gaining access to specific competencies locally and/or affordably. Sales outsourcing is only as successful as the team driving it.
There is no point if the outsourced team does not specialize in specific markets or techniques. Therefore, to ensure the company’s expertise meets your requirements, you must ask for market studies related to your objectives and clarity in the part of the sales funnel where the company is an expert.
6. Infrastructure and technology
Sales is not just about cold calling and emailing anymore. Having a robust IT infrastructure plays a substantial role in sales outsourcing. The software, hardware, and systems your outsourced sales team uses must be reliable and guarantee sufficient visibility over their activities.
Review the CRM and lead tracking solutions used. Ask if they can invest in project management tools specific to your business. Moreover, their technologies should easily integrate with yours and have a backup plan in case of any breakdown.
Sales outsourcing allows you to leapfrog any technological constraints due to limited budget and/or select in-house expertise and experience. Banking on your outsourced sales team’s tech prowess, you can deepen your roots in the existing markets, enabling you to fulfill enhancing your sales operations.
7. Business values and culture fit
Company culture is essential for a successful, long-term relationship with your outsourcing partner. At the end of the day, you want to work with like-minded people towards the same goal, sharing the same values and principles.
Enquire about their management practices. Are they agile or highly process-oriented? Look at your supplier’s behavior during the selection process. Do they ask relevant questions to you during data gathering? Can they meet response deadlines? Considering these questions is a good start.
8. Quality of outsourced resources
Is the right kind of talent handling your prospects? You must ensure your outsourced sales team has the skill level and inclination to hire the best people for the job. Ask your third-party supplier about their recruiting and onboarding processes and standards. Do they have specific training programs in place for new joiners? Review the KPIs they set and the framework they use for measuring employee quality.
9. Experience and market reputation
There is no substitute for experience when assessing the ability of a third-party specialist to lead your sales operations to success. Experience in solving business challenges similar to yours and the overall knowledge of sales techniques are critical factors in the selection process.
Whoever you choose must be able to provide proof of their competence in the guise of customer testimonials, case studies, and referrals. They should have been in the market long enough and be financially stable. Do your digging and look up employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and JobAdvisor.
10. In-house and outsourced sales teams alignment
The whole point of outsourcing is to reduce your burden and focus on other high-end activities. However, if your in-house team does not work well with the outsourced company (or vice-versa), that is a problem.
You must, therefore, ensure there is internal alignment between both teams. Decide KPIs, roles, and responsibilities, so everyone knows what they are doing and works towards a common objective.
Ready to outsource your sales?
Sales outsourcing has many benefits. But more importantly, getting the extra help you need will help you enhance your sales operations through a proven model. You can effectively focus on scaling your business by eliminating the stress of building your own processes, minimizing the hiring and technology costs, and simplifying your sales cycle.
As your company grows and your profit margins improve, recruiting a full-time in-house team becomes more feasible. Until then, take the help of outsourced sales experts to ramp the growth initiatives of your startup. Good luck!