Sales outsourcing: weighing the pros and cons

Sales outsourcing

Sales outsourcing is the business practice of leveraging additional salespeople outside of your company, typically through a partnership with an external provider based offshore. It is a proven way for companies to quickly and effectively increase revenue, and has been around for decades. 

Before a firm embarks on its journey of outsourcing some or all of its sales operations, it is important to consider what the key benefits are likely to be, potential pitfalls, and how to avoid them. We build and train offshore sales teams for clients, across multiple industries, as one of our core services. Based on our experience, this article lays out the most important considerations for sales outsourcing. 


Major advantages    


Expand into new or underserved markets

Companies of most sizes are usually always stretched when it comes to having enough salespeople to cover different territories and industries. Also, businesses often have numerous leads available to them, but are unable to pursue fully due to human resource constraints. An outsourcing partner can increase your sales capacity virtually instantaneously, and can prove to be a critical success factor in territorial or industry expansion. This can also help companies to try new approaches to sales and product positioning.


Gain access to expertise

Sales outsourcing allows a company to leverage the best practices and skills developed by providers, who can draw on their own vast experience with other clients across multiple industries. This can be used in many ways to bolster your sales efforts, such as picking up new sales techniques, especially for more niche sectors. It’s also a great way for sales leaders to add ‘bench strength’ with reps who have demonstrated experience in a specific industry, such as healthcare, financial services, or technology. 


Scale up in a flexible way

There are many strategies to grow sales, but at some point, in most businesses with in-house sales teams it will become necessary to simply hire more sales reps to grow faster. Of course, this can take time, leading to a loss of momentum. Sales outsourcing gives you an opportunity to scale almost immediately. For example, at Bettersource we build offshore teams for clients that can start within days in a fully remote environment, or in a hybrid setting.  On the flip side, firms also need to be able to reduce headcount relatively quickly when market conditions demand it. Compared to internal teams, this is more easily achieved when working with a sales outsourcing provider.


Leverage technology to boost efficiency

Organisations can save time and achieve time-to-market benefits by outsourcing sales to an offshore partner already well-versed in the relevant technologies, such as the most appropriate customer relationship management (CRM) software. In addition, if a company does not employ the latest technology tools, it can save on the required upfront investment for the upgrade by partnering with an offshore provider. Efficiency gains can be made through techniques such as data analytics, that can provide valuable customer insights. Overall, by optimally using the right tools, sales outsourcing partners can generate actionable insights for the whole sales lifecycle.


Increase ROI

Sales outsourcing is actually a savvy investment, because it can lower the average cost per sale and result in higher overall revenue. On the cost side, companies can significantly reduce their overheads by adopting sales outsourcing. This includes savings on office rent, IT hardware, and software subscriptions. The human resource cost is also typically lower in offshore sales outsourcing models, in addition to saving on recruitment and training costs, compared to running a completely internal sales team. And with the ability to penetrate new markets, scale faster, and access specialised expertise, sales outsourcing can deliver a higher bang for your buck. 


Potential pitfalls

As with any business strategy, sales outsourcing comes with certain challenges. It is important for companies to consider these. To help this process, we lay out some issues that can often come up, along with risk mitigation recommendations and tactics we employ ourselves.  


Limited control

Some argue that sales outsourcing can result in weaker control over customer relationships, or the sales process as a whole. Sometimes, this can come about due to challenges in tracking the performance of outsourced teams. To avoid this, we advise or clients to discuss the scope of the sales outsourcing engagement in detail at the outset, and to include in such conversations what monitoring and evaluation frameworks will be used, as well as to outline responsibilities clearly. Overall, companies can establish more control by outlining their sales process very clearly, and ensuring that their outsourcing partner follows it closely through an established customer relationship management system.


Integrity and data security risks

With sales outsourcing, companies need to proactively manage how customers’ and company information is stored. With regards to the former, this can happen if the outsourced sales team does not fully share the information being collected about potential customers. To avoid this scenario, companies need to make sure that their partner adheres to their decision-making chain, and that all sales related information is captured in their own CRM. Overall data security is also an important consideration, and companies need to evaluate potential providers’ compliance with recognised data and cyber security standards (such as ISO 270001/SOC2), as well as their internal policies and reputation.   


Culture fit issues

An underappreciated success factor in sales outsourcing is whether the outsourced team can gel with the client’s organisational culture. While a hands-off approach might be tempting, it can often lead to issues down the road. At Bettersource, we tackle this in two ways. First, we make sure that members of clients’ offshore teams can work seamlessly with their counterparts. We achieve this by recruiting professionals who are familiar with Western culture, either through education or work experience abroad. Secondly, we work extremely closely with our clients to develop customised training programmes for offshore teams, that include sensitivity training not only about the client company, but also the country of operations.      


Optimising sales outsourcing 

On the whole, the benefits that can accrue to companies from sales outsourcing outweigh its potential costs. As a starting point, the foregoing can serve as an overall guide on how to approach sales outsourcing. But it’s important to then get more specific, beginning with the exact goals of the exercise and then crafting an execution plan. 

Bettersource helps clients do sales outsourcing right through a three step process. First, we engage intensively with companies to understand and define their needs. This includes team size and composition, operating model, and feedback mechanisms. Our clients are able to choose whether a fully remote or hybrid office setting is more appropriate to build their offshore teams. In the second step, once the engagement has been defined, clients are rapidly able to select their offshore team members using our vast talent pool. Along with that, Bettersource delivers client-focused onboarding training, so offshore teams are ready to hit the ground running. Lastly, we assign experienced engagement managers to each team, who collaborate closely with client counterparts on a daily basis to ensure that things are always on track.  

Still have questions about sales outsourcing? We would love to start a conversation, so do drop us a line.      

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