Outsourcing has been in vogue for quite some time, organizations want to focus on core competencies and thus outsource non-core tasks. Over the last two decades, the outsourcing industry has matured ensuring professional solutions for most tasks are available from vendors around the globe.
Many tasks within an organization lend themselves naturally to outsourcing, making it easy to outsource and manage. But, some areas require detailed analysis before an outsourcing decision can be taken. One such area in the B2B space is sales outsourcing. If done the right way it can enhance an organization's market penetration capabilities substantially.
Let us start with defining what sales outsourcing is all about – Sales outsourcing is when a business delegates parts of the Sales Process to outside individuals or agencies.
Sales outsourcing is often done because of the following reasons:
a) Special skills – Some parts of the sales process require expertise that is not available in-house, a prime example is lead-generation.
b) Scalability – expanding the footprint of the organization, this is often done for new product launch campaigns
c) Cost efficiencies – removing non-revenue generating activities from the sales team’s deliverables can increase returns
Sales outsourcing can be a transformation in certain cases. Typical triggers for outsourcing parts of the sales process include the following:
a) A transformation of the sales process, examples include the adoption of new approaches like moving to account-based selling.
b) New product launches requiring a different selling skill, one that the existing sales team is not apt at.
c) Expanding the business footprint, either a new segment or geography.
d) Augmenting the existing sales team or improving the total sales result by supporting the existing team.
Here we would like to highlight 4 sales functions that can be outsourced but are not often discussed or shall we say not normally thought of. The surprising part is that several capabilities are available through outside individuals or agencies as “expertise-as-a-service” for sales outsourcing. I bet not many of you have searched for them yet.
Product/Market fit analysis
If the objective is to expand into new geographies/countries, one often tries to ride on the success received in local markets. This is not a certainty – one still has to establish a product/market fit before expanding into new countries.
The product/market fit is established by realigning existing value propositions with the specific market by interacting with real buyers (from the identified TG) within the ideal customer profiles. The questions one tries to answer include:
a) What is the competition, especially if a dominant one is entrenched
b) What customer pain the product/service will solve
c) How is the pain point currently managed – internal and external solutions with the potential buyers
d) Will the product fit the selected market
Sales model identification for success
Each market and product has a way of selling, sometimes direct sales works, whereas in other places a channel is better suited. The challenge here is that the preferred sales model in your home market may not work at all in a new market. A proven process may be futile given the different culture and buyer behavior of the new markets.
This kind of exercise often helps answer the following questions:
a) Which sales model will be successful in your chosen market
b) How can the business generate predictable revenues
c) Optimization of sales-related investments
This is the most outsourced function in sales by far. It is also a mature outsourcing service offered by multiple organizations. Lead generation is offered in many forms, including – Sales development services, Inbound lead generation, Outbound lead generation and Sourcing services.
Sales closure or sales execution
The standard model for sales is to outsource lead generation and then give qualified leads to the sales team to close. This can be achieved through inside sales or field sales. There are cases where even sales closures are outsourced. It is most relevant when the markets are at different locations as compared to the organization thus making it difficult to have the required team size in the field. The other major reason is when the market speaks a different language.
Be careful when trying to outsource sales – some approaches are a trap. The underlining rule is to outsource to a partner who understands the function you are outsourcing better than you do. As part of the engagement understand the key KPIs that the partner will drive, these should match with your business requirements. When you outsource for the right reasons and engage a capable partner, sales outsourcing can deliver incremental results for the organization.