Sales outsourcing (and the benefits thereof) is something nobody even heard of two years ago. But recently, there has been a growing number of B2B companies willing to make the move to sales outsourcing, or sales-as-a-service. The benefits of this evolution are both plentiful and obvious. Rather than having to develop various teams and technologies in-house, an expensive process that can take months or even years, companies can start leveraging third-party experts and services immediately.
Beyond traditional outsourcing functions such as accounting, IT and human resources, many companies are choosing to work with freelance sales partners, also known as “sales as a service.” Thanks to technological advances and cost savings, outsourcing sales has become an increasingly viable option for more and more businesses. Many believe that very soon it will not be an option, but a necessity. With such rapid evolution of opinion on the subject, one must look at the factors that make it more important and not just optional.
The paradox of sales is this: the smaller and younger a company is, the more important sales are for driving revenue — and yet it’s exactly these newer, smaller companies that are least likely to have dedicated sales teams of experienced professionals. They are no longer alone in this challenge, though. Enterprise companies find that the cost of sales is rising sharply while the time it takes to close a deal has gotten longer. They now must re-evaluate the investment in talent against the time it takes that talent to break into target accounts.
Sales is the embodiment of what author and businesswoman Jessica Livingston calls the “narrow and deep” approach for startups. Tiny companies that grew into tech juggernauts, like Apple and Facebook, began by offering better “mousetraps,” to be sure, but they were focused on appealing to a select group of people (e.g., Harvard University students). Similarly, sales takes a “narrow and deep” stance by persuading a small number of accounts that would be most interested in the company’s products rather than the “shallow and broad” approach favored by marketing.
Despite the supreme importance of sales, organizations of any size or industry must focus as much time as they can on their core objectives and competencies. In an increasingly specialized, competitive business landscape, companies need to differentiate themselves and find their place in the market in order to survive and succeed. They must also sell their solutions all the while in order to fund the focus on those core objectives.
This means that businesses are forced to find ways to scale while remaining profitable. In these situations, partnering with a third-party “sales as a service” company is a highly sensible proposition. Companies can still benefit from the expertise of experienced sales professionals while redirecting resources to their most important business activities. Sales outsourcing solves many problems for business small and large alike. Thus, it will soon become a necessity more than an option.
In addition to the extra free time and resources, sales as a service gives you direct, immediate access to sales experts who know what they’re doing. They have already built relationships with accounts you want to do business with. Freelance sales professionals can draw on their experience to understand the best way to position your solution in front of decision-makers they already know. So not only is it less expensive to employ the freelance sales professional they are also able to move prospects along the sales funnel faster.
Sales as a service through sales outsourcing companies also gives businesses much more flexibility and scalability, particularly during times of staff attrition or extreme growth and demand. Because sales professionals are critical to a company’s bottom line, finding and hiring the right people should be an in-depth, involved process that takes weeks or months — which may be too long for businesses under pressure. Using freelance sales professionals is an easy and affordable way to deal with this temporary crunch. Last but certainly not least, the final benefit of using a freelance sales organization is the cost.
The cost of hiring, onboarding and training a new employee can be expensive — not to mention the salaries and benefits that companies have to pay. The hiring and training process can be especially time-consuming. For top-tier sales professionals, it can also be very expensive. Given the fact that so few of them stay with a single employer long term, the cost has become even greater.
When a sales team suffers from a high turnover rate, that can make it difficult for businesses to recoup their return on investment. The 2016 Sales Metrics Report estimates that sales reps have an average tenure of only 1.4 years, with only 5 percent staying at a company for three years or more. So now companies are doubling or tripling their recruitment expenses just to keep the same number of sales professionals on staff year over year.
In light of these findings, the right question to ask isn’t whether outsourcing sales is expensive but rather, can you afford to continuing building a sales team in-house? Companies like Swarmsales can connect businesses with experienced, talented sales professionals, all for less than the cost of a single in-house sales rep’s monthly salary.
More and more companies are realizing that outsourcing sales makes sense for their situation. Similarly, more and more sales professionals are realizing that it’s the only way to maximize the relationships they’ve nurtured for years. Organizations that leverage the new sales as a service trend to their advantage and focus on their core competencies will be poised to succeed and expand in a business landscape favoring increased specialization.