Clear Lines: How to get the best out of the relationship with your outsourced sales team
By and large, business people are a resourceful bunch. After all, to get to the stage where they are successfully trading, they need to be adept with corporate tax and business regulations, employment law, logistics, customer service, marketing, ICT, and endless record-keeping. And that’s still only scratching the surface.
There are though, some business functions, that even the most proficient leaders will accept are just too important to DIY. Take sales for example. That monosyllabic word which is often quite nonchalantly bandied around, is in fact the difference between a company falling behind on arrears, paying staff on time, or even being in business at all. It is the key to greater market share, growth, and compelling financial return. Understandably, it is something many leaders would rather entrust to companies whose sole purpose is the cultivation of qualified leads and completed transactions.
The benefits of outsourcing your sales is not something we’re going to explore here. They are arguably too numerous to even adequately cover in one piece. Instead, we’re going to look at how you can maximise the relationship with your sales company, now you’ve made the sensible decision to appoint one…
If a salesperson has reached the stage in their career that they’ve successfully set up and established their own company, you can be pretty confident they know what they’re talking about. They also have the added impetus that failing to deliver for just one client, can have consequences that impact on their own reputation and their own commercial success.
This combination of skill, knowledge and pressure to deliver means that your contact will likely challenge you on issues pertaining to your approach, your expectations and even your product or service. Do not take these challenges personally.
This tough line of questioning is designed solely to produce the best outcomes possible, so engage accordingly.
Once a strategy has been agreed with your sales company, it’s vital that dialogue remain consistent. Any changes to a product, service or stage within the customer journey must be communicated as this could lead to unintentional mis-selling which has potential ramifications that need little explanation.
Regular contact also strengthens a general, mutual understanding between your business and your outsourced sales company. Ideally, they should begin to feel like an extension of your team and it’s when this stage of the relationship emerges that the real, compelling results begin to materialise.
For this to happen though, it is vital you maintain transparency.
Transparency is key
Sales people tend to be details-driven beasts. They know that knowledge is key to them overcoming objections, so you need to supply plenty of it. That will often mean being honest about the limitations to your product or service.
There is nothing to fear about opening up in such a way. You must always keep in mind that the need of your sales company to succeed extends much further than simply getting paid. Every client they work for could potentially be their last unless they produce clear ROI. If you find they’re asking questions that go into details you hadn’t expected to divulge, they’re asking them for a reason, and that reason to improve their chances of winning you new business.
Patience is a virtue
But more than a virtue, patience is rewarded. Few people agree to any financial commitment after one unsolicited phone call or site visit. Rapport and relationships need to be sensitively curated and it’s a process that takes time.
Keeping lines of communication open will quell early frustrations should they arise as you’ll be aware where various leads are up to in the sales process. It will also allow you to spot potential opportunities for additional/alternative sales when hearing the responses the sales team are being met with.
The first few weeks of a campaign may be quiet, but that does not mean the rest of it will be.
Be prepared to step in
It’s difficult to predict how a prospect will respond to a campaign but you should always be prepared for them to be immediately and enthusiastically interested. That means having your own materials and pitch ready for delivery, in person, and quite possibly on the very day contact is first established. Momentum is critical and allowing just one day to elapse can be the difference between securing a sale or losing it.
It’s important to remember that your sales team are appointed to get you to the finish line, but you must take that final step over it yourself, so be ready.