At some point, when considering an emerging task or initiative, almost every company leader will ask, “should we outsource this?” Many fast-growth companies find that outsourcing allows them to better focus on core competencies and strengthen their competitive advantages. It’s therefore no surprise that global outsourced services is an $88 billion dollar market and has grown over the last dozen years or so.
The sales function is a natural one to benefit from this outsourcing trend. Companies of all sizes, and across a broad cross-section of industries, are finding success by augmenting their business development efforts with the help of an appointment setting firm. These outside prospecting experts serve as extensions of internal sales teams, allowing organizations to free up their inside staffs to focus on driving business with key accounts, delivering a better customer experience, and more.
But finding the right outsourced sales partner shouldn’t be left to chance, and awarding your business to a low-cost vendor will only leave you disappointed (or worse). Here are the top seven things companies should look for when considering an appointment setting firm:
- Employees – not contractors. We’ve all received calls, in business and in our personal lives, from mega-call centers, perhaps located overseas. Such calls are so pervasive, they’re instantly recognizable. They almost always go wrong—right from the start—and most often yield little or no interest. This type of an encounter is the calling card of the contract sales employee. On the other hand, an appointment setting firm that has gone through the effort of screening and hiring qualified representatives will deliver much higher quality engagements and ongoing results for your business.
- Investments in training. The firm’s representatives should be sales career-focused; possess four-year degrees; be able to think on their feet; and have outstanding organizational, interpersonal and written communication skills. Most importantly, they should be trained on successful sales engagement processes spanning the sales lifecycle, starting with the pre-sales phase. Other must-have skills include the ability to rank and qualify prospects and follow an overall metrics-driven, process-oriented sales methodology. Experience with salesforce.com and other CRM and sales platforms is also key. Training across all of these areas will not only deliver optimal results, but also align with the ongoing reporting needed to keep everyone on track.
- Deep experience. Your best bet for success is to work with a firm whose executives and team members boast deep industry and sales experience, and who take the time to understand and speak fluently about your business needs, market and offerings. Unfortunately, these days, many sales outsourcing firms focus on high-volume and low-cost operations, and despite their claims to the contrary, offer very little experience. This not only comes through in their messaging, but can also derail a sale. Besides losing the sale, a negative experience can also damage your brand and reputation permanently.
- Augments your sales message. Your sales messages are critical to your success. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the sales partners you select use a systematic approach to reinforcing those messages, with both tailored emails and voicemails that hit the mark. Equally important, when speaking on the phone with prospects, they should be able to discuss your offerings intelligently, leveraging their seasoned experience in combination with an understanding of your target market and the value proposition of your solutions. Don’t hesitate to test their calling skills and ability to deliver your message before they get started. One final note: the sales message should also be tailored according to where the prospect is positioned within the sales pipeline, and your outsourced firm should have a pulse on delivering the right message at the right time to these prospects as they move forward in the sales cycle.
- Experts at targeting. Every sales leader has an ideal customer in mind. An experienced appointment setting firm will not only know where to find these prospects, using proven resources that continue to produce results, but also how to best communicate with them. Before embarking on a project, make sure the partner you choose will take the time to zero in on the right targets and avoid the temptation to blindly pitch anyone with a phone number or email address. Don’t hesitate to ask your outsourced sales firm about the methods they use to find and communicate with prospects, and make sure these methods protect your brand.
- References. In business, references are essential. It’s critical to ensure that the firm you select to handle your all-important sales initiatives has a proven track record, along with high-quality references who will vouch for their success.
- An honest partnership. To achieve your sales goals with an outside firm, you should be looking to form a long-term business partnership. Such a partner will serve as your trusted advisor, and their value to your business will only grow with time. From letting you know what is working well, to providing guidance on improving your approach and message, their ongoing feedback can be invaluable. Quick, one-off project relationships with less expensive—and less experienced—sales outfits, with their revolving door, contract employees, will only leave you disappointed.
Finding and reaching qualified decision makers is key for any company to create new business opportunities. But it takes a systematic sales process undertaken by dedicated, experienced professionals to deliver the best results. Selecting the right sales partner will accelerate the sales cycle, increase revenue and set your business up for success in the long term. So choose wisely, and you’ll be able to optimize your chances for success right from the start.
Is your business looking to enter new markets in 2016? Or are you simply in need of an added sales boost to meet quota this quarter or this year? C-Level Connections can deliver the results you need, allowing you to take advantage of the proven skills of our seasoned appointment setters. To learn more and receive a complimentary sales consultation, contact me, Bonnie Rodden, at 512.768.8571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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