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Outsourced Inside Sales: 3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Partner

Published Date: Saturday, Aug 05, 2023
Last Updated on: Wednesday, Sep 13, 2023

In the dynamic modern market, organizations looking to scale, grow and drive revenue across all channels need to invest in inside sales… and fast.

For some, this is easier said than done. Building a winning inside sales team from scratch is incredibly resource-intensive. The process can draw focus away from your sales objectives, reduce headcount in critical revenue areas, and it comes at a considerable cost. It won’t happen overnight either.

The need to keep up with the sales industry’s changing dynamic, combined with these challenges, has resulted in businesses turning increasingly to outsourcing to fuel their growth. In fact, 66% of U.S. businesses with 50 or more employees successfully outsource their business processes — a statistic that rises year-over-year.

But, choosing the right outsourced inside sales partner is not a decision to be taken lightly. It requires careful appraisal to ensure a successful collaboration. In this article, we explore three vital considerations for selecting a partner that drives your profitability, rather than holding you back.

Why should you outsource sales?

At a time when speed, scalability and focus are critical, outsourcing inside sales is a proven way for businesses to drive revenue quickly and sustainably. Through outsourcing, companies have been able to reach their long-term business goals by drawing on the experience and expertise of highly skilled sales pros.

For some businesses, outsourcing is simply a way to protect time, headcount and resources. For example, some leaders may choose to outsource a specific area of the sales cycle, such as inbound lead generation, to a third party. This means they can better protect the time of their in-house sellers, reinvesting effort into where it is best placed: Closing deals.

For others, outsourcing can be more complete. Despite its rapid rise, inside sales is still in its infancy in many B2B industries. Often, these companies lack the capacity, funds or experience to build a team from scratch. By outsourcing, they gain critical insight from third parties that are specifically designed to support their teams with data, benchmarking, best practices and industry knowledge. This helps leaders get to market faster with informed decisions, meaningful insights and experts who already understand their role in the funnel — without overhauling training or investing massively into ramping or onboarding.

1. No recruitment or hiring

Outsourced sales teams enable businesses to grow their sales pipeline without needing to spend weeks, months and sometimes years recruiting in an incredibly difficult hiring market.

A good outsource partner will provide a team of adept sales talent, with the expertise to sell in your chosen market. Not only does this decrease the time it takes to actually begin scaling results, it also means that leaders save countless hours that would otherwise be spent searching for best-fit candidates. That’s not to mention the time it takes to actually hire and train new sellers.

2. Reduced retention risk

Salespeople are known to have some of the shortest tenures in business. They’re always in high demand, and companies typically see higher levels of attrition as a result. Losing a qualified sales professional within the first year is extremely damaging for a brand. Firstly, the time and expense that was invested into onboarding this person is wasted, and secondly, additional effort will need to be spent recruiting a replacement. With a range of live sales roles hiring at any one time, this can quickly become a vicious cycle.

Outsourcing offers certainty in a testing retention model. It reduces the glaring risk of significant sales floor vacancies that can prevent a business from meeting its revenue potential. With the right partner, companies can greatly reduce the financial and HR headaches tied to low retention, and invest their capital into business growth, rather than recruitment, ramp and culture.

3. Flexibility

The inside sales market is ever-changing. Being agile in this rapidly shifting environment is essential to your success as a business. Whether due to limited time, resources or headcount, staying ahead of the curve isn’t a reality for most leaders at enterprise or SME level.

Outsourced sales firms offer resilience in this sense. A good partner will bring the knowledge, data and experience, honed to your specific industry and market. This means businesses are always able to benchmark against best practices and shift to newer strategies in line with changing buyer habits, expectations or engagement.

4. Fast path to market

One of the most attractive benefits to inside sales outsourcing is speed of deployment. Armed with rich data insights and a vast experience of selling to different industries, the right partner will be able to take your product or service to market far quicker. They will already have the practices and resources to ramp a team faster than any other business could.

Once ramped fully, outsourcers also soften the landing from poor performance or unexpected changes. Many companies see building an inside sales team as a plug-and-play process: Build the team, set the process and generate revenue. It isn’t that simple. With the support of a confident vendor, businesses can commit to sales program experimentation and potentially boost performance without sacrificing any percentage of their workforce. Outsourcing, therefore, can plug-and-play, in many ways.

5. Reduced risk and liability

The state of the economy is fraught with concerns for business leaders: Inflation rates, cost of living, global affairs and oil prices to name just a few. All of these factors have led to attrition issues for major employers.

When businesses choose to employ their own internal sales team, they’re making a finite commitment to that team of people, including the resources needed to support them: Leadership, payroll, tech stack. Both people and resources are expensive. Using an outsourced third party lessens some of the risk posed by economic uncertainty.

Considerations for choosing a partner

Once you’ve carefully considered your strategy, capacity and targets and determined that outsourcing is the right way forward, it’s time to choose the right outsourcing partner. Sadly, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all process.

Different providers will offer different advantages based on their specialization, industry, reach and, of course, experience. Equally, this is a partnership. Each outsourcer will have their own unique requirements for working with you. This can range from contract obligations all the way to financial goals and the types of metrics you’re looking to measure.

Your sales partner’s skills should be matched to your long-term business goals. It’s also important to look for a partner with the resources to meet your immediate needs, and the agility to grow alongside your changing demands.

Here are three crucial considerations before making your decision:

1. Assess cultural fit

No different to hiring your own inside team, company culture is critical to outsourcing success. Many businesses are quick to detach themselves from their culture by settling on the cheapest vendor — without any alignment with their values or mission statement. The reality is, culture dictates the structure of that provider. It controls how they work, how they react and how they align with your values.

It’s important to remember that outsourcing doesn’t mean mindlessly offloading work to a remote team. It’s a partnership. The strength of that partnership will move the needle on the end result. A cultural alignment ensures that your partner is able to fit in and work well with your existing in-house leaders, field sales team and other executives. Outsourced sales reps are not aliens on a different planet. They’re engaging daily in multiple different areas of your business model and sales funnel, just like an employee would.

By aligning culture, both parties are able to create a seamless relationship that boosts collaboration and conversational effectiveness, and ultimately form a stronger sales cycle for your prospect or customers. It ensures continuity in approach and methodology from top to bottom throughout the entire process.

2. Look for total transparency

As an extension of your business, a good outsourcing partner should offer complete transparency into their work. No provider will ever admit to being dishonest; in fact, you’re unlikely to find one that doesn’t promote “honesty” as a core value. Regardless, it’s always worth selecting a partner that you can trust to be honest, that acts as directly as possible, and is proactively truthful about what is and isn’t working.

Whether discussing the outsourcer or client’s areas for improvement, you need to be working with a partner, NOT a vendor. Ensure that you’re contractually entitled to reports at an agreed frequency to ensure a full partnership approach is adhered to.

A transparent provider won’t have anything to hide. Ask your provider: “Are you happy with us being able to talk to your team directly on a daily basis?” If the answer is no, it’s worth steering clear. Their work is your work. Any limit on visibility is a limit on performance and understanding.

There’s no reason why a client shouldn’t be able to contact their outsourcing provider for an update, timelines or data — it should be an ingrained part of the package you’re investing in. If they withhold information or aren’t direct in their reporting, that’s a serious red flag.

3. Agree on metrics up front

Make sure to come prepared to your initial partnership discussions with an idea of the metrics you want to track. It’s always best practice to agree on metrics up front and determine the approach for measuring the success of your agreement.

It’s less about a promise to deliver “X” amount of revenue. When you engage in a joint relationship with an outsourcer, it’s unfair to hold one party accountable for the other’s ability to cooperate. However, you can hold them accountable for the milestones that need to be achieved — on either a person-by-person or team-wide basis.

Metrics should instill confidence and provide evidence that the activity required to deliver results is being performed on a consistent basis. Some providers will offer to take care of the metric-setting independently, with the promise of quality results. As enticing as this sounds, this will cause an undoubted misalignment further down the line, with very little accountability over results. Metrics give clients the tools to measure performance, hold outsourcers accountable and justify their investment.

Final thoughts

When choosing an outsourcing partner, you should want them to be a part of your team. A partnership is an investment, just as hiring a new employee would be. Remember, successful partnerships should result in long-term, fruitful relationships that drive business success for both parties.

If you’re not confident that the group of individuals is offering enough transparency, insight or subject matter expertise — do not invest. If you wouldn’t want your partner investing — or at the very least, participating — in activities and the growth of your business, then you’ve got no business working with them.

Looking for a best-in-market outsourcing solution? Harte Hanks can help you bypass the common mistakes that slow down the effective deployment of inside sales operations. We can combine the learnings and experience of supporting businesses ranging from start-ups to FT500 companies, and support you in generating more qualified leads, with a faster path to revenue growth.