Choosing to outsource any aspect of the operations of your business is a major decision, and this is especially true for something as vital as sales. Many companies rush into this process headfirst, without understanding the challenges that they are likely to face. This can lead to growing pains, which require extra time and money to overcome, making the entire process more difficult than it needs to be. If you are considering using outsourced talent to augment or replace your sales team, it is important to understand the path that lies ahead so that you are as prepared as possible to make your outsourcing move a success.
Talent and Target Expectations
The number-one challenge faced during any outsourcing process is a mismatch between the expectations of the client (that's you!) and the actual skills and talents of the outsourced team. When you hire an outside team to perform sales, it is understandable that you enter into the contract with certain expectations, but mismatched expectations are a two-way street.
It is important to establish sales targets or other goals early on during the contract process before moving forward with any particular company. This allows the company that you are negotiating with to understand your expectations and determine whether they are realistic for their team. If not, this allows you to bail out of the process early on and locate an outsourcing company more suitable to your needs.
Language or Cultural Barriers
These problems will commonly crop up when dealing with companies located in other countries. Although they may have the skills you need, it may be difficult to fully realize the advantages of those skills if cultural or language issues are constantly getting in the way. This is, once again, an issue of expectations, and it is a challenge that is easy to overcome early in the process.
When working with any outsourcing company, you must be willing to consider both your needs and the needs of potential clients that your outside sales team will be contacting. Are cultural barriers likely to come between them and sales? Will it make closing difficult? Perhaps more importantly, will it make it difficult for your on-site marketing or other employees to work with the team that you've chosen? Be sure to carefully consider these potential problems up front so that you aren't dealing with them after a contract has been signed.
A related but slightly more subtle potential issue is one of time zones. Will the team that you are hiring be working in a drastically different time zone? If so, how will you handle communication? This is a problem that can be overcome, but it requires forethought and planning. Be prepared to determine a schedule that works for both your company and the sales team that you will be working with.
Perhaps the greatest misconception with outsourcing is that it allows for completely hands-off management. This has never been the case, and it is important to remember that when you outsource your sales efforts, you are also outsourcing a part of your company's brand identity. Your sales team represents your company, and this means that a certain amount of hands-on management to integrate the processes of your remote team with your own on-site processes will be necessary.
While this can be challenging, it should be viewed as an opportunity more than as an obstacle. By working directly with the team that you hire, you will be able to ensure that they properly represent your company and brand to potential clients. More so than anything else, having a plan in place to see this integration through will help to guarantee that your outsourced sales team can function properly and effectively.