Using a Hired Gun (Outsourcing Sales)

Outsourcing, you have heard the word used repeatedly in your work environment, but outsourcing sales is a new concept starting to catch on. At a certain point in your business career, you will need to evaluate your business's growth goals and directions. As you do this, you may discover the need to bring in a hired gun. What does a hired gun do? They are a sales force for hire that can be implemented into a situation to drive up revenue quickly and efficiently.

As your company develops and the need to increase revenue grows, you are faced with a common dilemma, how do we expand our business? Most business models call for the growth to be delivered internally. However in todays fast paced, results driven world, internal development can be more costly than outsourcing the process. Today you can focus in on your core competency and outsource the rest of your business. Through outsourcing you have the capabilities to compete with businesses that may be both larger and more dominant in your industry. From traditional outsourcing such as telemarketing, IT structure and travel to more recent department outsourcings, such as accounting, human resources, and sales and marketing, your path to success can be widened.

Sales and Marketing outsourcing has a become a recent business trend that allows a company to add a sales department in a relatively short time frame(6-8 weeks), all without the high cost of recruiting, training, and retaining a sales force. Companies have traditionally hired a sales manager, who then recruited a sales force. That sales force is built and divided into 3 levels:
  • Your senior sales staff, those with plenty of industry experience who command high salaries, big commission payouts and loyalty (which lasts until one of those previous items disappear, i.e. loss of commissions)
  • Your mid level sales, whose salaries are lower and whose sales are not as consistent as senior sales. This level tends to have swings in sales depending on outside factors (i.e. economics, slower learning curves, lack of industry contacts, and trust levels of clients)
  • Your entry-level sales that have low salaries, lots of enthusiasm, but are just learning the sales process. You tend to lose clients during the learning curve process as customers' patience are running thin when they need to teach new rookies the tricks of the trade.
Companies can now look at their sales process and decide should it remain internal or can it be outsourced. An internal sales force has its obvious advantages:
  • It is self controlled, meaning they are your employees so directional changes, product enhancement, productivity are all closely held and directed
  • Loyalty to the company is easy to establish
  • Commission plans can be adjusted easily
  • Long term employees with vast company experience are common
Outsourcing also has its distinctive advantages:
  • A sales force can be established in a relatively short time frame
  • Seasoned representatives can be utilized for their expertise without the expertise price attached
  • Lower start up costs and monthly expenditures
  • Industry experience is more easily obtainable and retained
  • Programs can be concluded quickly and painlessly
  • Non performance becomes an easy issue to deal with
A company executive must be comfortable with the outsourcing process. A very close controlling management style that can even impede a seasoned representative to succeed, would not survive the outsourcing process. Countless managers are afraid to let their sales run outside their scope (even seasoned representatives) which can be detrimental to the company. Only a strong company leader with the trust of the sales process should attempt outsourcing sales. You must be able to trust your outsourced sales company to deliver your goals. You will need to have established a comfort level with your outsourcer to provide your clients with the best service and salesmanship. Goals will need to be established and monitored regardless if your sales remain internal, or are outsourced.

Focus in on a sales outsourcing firm that allows you to review key strategies and results. Remember in sales you must focus in on all aspects of the deal.

Where are you in the sales cycle?
How far are you from closing the deal?
What is the relationship with your largest clients?
Where are you in your financial goals vs. your sales objectives?
Are your sales objectives in line with your business plans?
Is your sales path achievable in your desired timeframe?
Are your sales rewards in line with your sales goals?

Each of these questions should be asked of your sales leader and their team (internal or outsourced) on a regular basis. Once you have your answers you can then determine your strategy and goals. Now may be the time to evaluate your company's focus and explore the concept of outsourcing your sales process. An evaluation may prove to be the key to revealing how to grow your company to the next level.

Steve Ruderman has been in the Sales and Financial Services arena for over 20 years. He has been a top performing leader of both national and regional sales teams, and is currently the National Sales Advisor for the NFCC. Steve also runs his own company, Executive Level Sales Outsourcing Services, , a high level sales outsourcing company dedicated to developing highly productive sales forces.