Today I want to write about Outsourced Sales Management (OSM) and why it’s so critical for many small and medium sized companies today who want and need to grow. This is especially relevant after taking a beating for the last year + due to Covid.
Let’s explore why this could work for you.
Sales likely aren’t great. Or maybe they are ok but it sure would be helpful if they were even better. Sales and sales growth has really suffered during Covid and you’re not sure what to do anymore to increase them. Because you’re not big enough for a full-time sales manager, sales is reporting to the owner or some other function within the organization. A typical approach is that sales people aren’t doing enough.
Often, when in doubt, sales are asked to do more:
Which closes more sales right???????
You either keep doing what you are doing (and hope for a better result) or you look to increase activity as the best way to grow sales revenue. Often sales either pushes back or it doesn’t work like you think it should.
What else can you do?
I have encountered this situation a lot over the years and can tell you from experience that doing More isn’t always the best solution. We can also do Better
There is a ‘Better’ way to increase sales. Sustainably.
There are a couple of approaches (or strategies) that SBD Growth Strategies provides that you should consider:
Why is Outsourced Sales Management (OSM) important and why should you consider this strategy to boost your sales and build internal capacity to grow business for the long term?
Consider the following indicators (symptoms) you could benefit from an Outsourced Sales Manager:
Imagine a scenario where your company isn’t big enough yet to have a CFO or a VP of Engineering. Or you’ve lost your VP of Operations and you need to replace them. Have you ever thought that you should have your accounting, engineering and/or operations team reporting to sales?
Why not? We do it to sales all the time! And I don’t want to hear you say ‘yah but sales is different’. Successful sales professionals and sales leaders have significant experience, education and training that directly contributes to their success. Companies that fail to appreciate this do so at their own peril-and likely less than desired sales results.
In my over 30 years of experience, I can help organizations with the following:
I have yet to encounter someone without a strong sales back ground and with responsibility for sales being effective at, or having the proper time, to do these effectively. Without experience and/or time, any one of these activities are difficult. Especially if you are also trying to manage sales off the side of your desk all while overseeing other mission critical responsibilities.
Ok then Scott, what are the primary benefits to hiring SBD Growth Strategies as your Outsourced Sales Manager?
Here are the main reasons to hire an OSM:
For many small to mid-sized businesses and start-ups, outsourced sales management has benefits that lead to sustainable sales success and revenue growth. This could be a long-term solution or an interim strategy until you either find the right person externally or build the capacity internally. Both of which SBD Growth can help with.
If you are looking to increase sales and build a sustainable sales engine at a lower cost than hiring someone full-time and, let’s chat.
Ok professional network I would like your input on something. Here’s the back ground.
As we often do in business, I recently asked a person in my network for an introduction to someone they knew as they used to work together and are connected on LinkedIn.
This is the response they received from requesting a warm introduction for me:
“Thanks. I don't know him. He's a sales person who has been trying to get business for years. I am not interested in pursuing that”
He is a sales person…
That felt like it was supposed to be derogatory and demeaning. Didn’t it?
I am not sure why but this really offended me. All morning I kept thinking about it. I have been ‘a sales person’ for over 30 years and am proud of this profession. As I have gained experience and gray hair, I now have an even better appreciation for the value of the ‘Noble Purpose’ (Lisa Earle McLeod) of putting the needs of the customers first. I am consistently looking for ways to help, not just sell something. Why can’t they figure it out?
I quickly checked my CRM and saw that I had reached out about 10 times over 30 months – several emails and a couple voice messages. Was that too much?
My first thought was that this was a poor reflection of the prospect I was trying to connect with and that they were being narrow minded.
Then, as my fragile old ego started to heal, another thought occurred to me. Maybe, just maybe, this is my fault? I must have come across as ‘salesy’, whatever that is. Clearly I have not effectively communicated my intent of exploring ways to help their organization.
I thought about it further and decided that there were a few things I could have done differently. Better. Y'know like the things I train and coach on??
Since we should always learn from setbacks and failure, what have I (re)learned here?
More research - is required prior to reaching out. A generic message likely won’t resonate with anyone. Instead, what will be of specific interest to them? Everything else is just noise. In Hope is Not a Strategy, Rick Page talks of the Arsenal of Competitive Advantage and Linking only what’s relevant to the client. In hindsight I was throwing ‘stuff’ out hoping something would stick. That was dumb.
Shorter emails - I am verbose at times and my subject lines more compelling. There is lots of research that shows short emails with specific messages and compelling subject lines are opened more, increasing the opportunity to connect.
Leverage your network - to learn more about the individual PROIR to reaching out. Spending time preparing better upfront is more effective than potentially wasting time later. Jill Konrath (More Sales Less Time) writes about the benefits of pushing the BETTER button in sales vs the MORE button. If your approach or process is sub optimal, why do even more of it? Figure out how to do it even better.
Negative perception of sales people is still quite prevalent - What can I/we do to help people understand we want to help? Sales is by definition helping, however some people still view sales people as yucky. As per Daniel Pink’s word cloud in To Sell is Human:
As I have written about before, my purpose or mission is to help evolve sales people into even more effective sales professionals through sales training and coaching. This unflattering email response reminded me that we are all a work in progress. Yes, even me. Maybe especially me. It’s easy to get complacent and then reality reminds you there is always room to improve and get ‘more better’.
What recent experience have you had that was a reminder that sales is hard and we need to always be looking to grow and improve professionally?
What did 2020 force you to have to do better?
In speaking with many of my clients, I am reminded how 2020, while poopy on so many levels, forced many of us to rethink how we do business. What worked in the past didn't work so well now. Or, maybe what wasn't working great anyway was absolutely not going to work anymore. We were given little choice but to critically look at the ways were were comfortable doing business and serving our clients and exercise the part of our brain where we innovate and think of new ideas for old business.
Personally, I was forced to face what I already knew but hadn't acted on yet - I needed to diversify my client and revenue streams. The training work I was travelling to do was put on 'pause' in March and is beginning to start up again virtually. But.....the unwelcomed slow down in work for the past several months provided me with a great opportunity to rethink, rejig and revitalize how I engage with, and add value for, my current and future clients.
I am often guilty of spending too much time working 'IN' my business relative to the valuable time I need to spend working 'ON' my business. Since March I have spent quite a bit of time working on my business and you know what? It feels pretty good. The ongoing result of the hard work I am putting in, with a little help from my friends, has me now very excited about 2021.
In those quiet moments of walking the dog and convincing myself to get out of bed this past weekend, I started to take a mental inventory of what 2020 motivated me to do differently (better) that I likely would not have started, or even more likely not finished, if not for this past year of challenges.
Here is what I came up with (so far):
Further, as I will be creating and delivering more content from my home office, I have invested in some new technology:
That's a lot right?!
But really, I had to in order to survive/thrive beyond this year. That's what 2020 did - it presented many of us with the opportunity to adapt. To grow. To be even better at what we do. To be....MORE BETTER!
I would love to hear how 2020 encouraged you to be more better. Let's hear what you did or are working on!
Work with me here:
Think of your favourite (yes Canadian spelling) hockey team (GO Jets Go). You watch all the games and are a huge fan. Let’s say their 5 on 5 game is good, Penalty Killing is near the top of the league, but the Power Play is ineffective and not only doesn’t score, it takes momentum away from your team. The Power Play has sucked for a while now and nothing seems to work. But they keep doing. The same. Dam. Thing. Man that's frustrating, right?
As a fan are you screaming at the TV for the coach to ‘do something’? (I don’t do that by the way). Maybe fire the GM? Or change it up and put so and so in front of the net.
"If it’s not working, why don’t they do SOMETHING? Anything?"
As the coach, if you knew the PP was hurting your success, wouldn’t you look to update and improve your power play?
Additionally, what if they didn’t track this part of their game (analytics/KPI’s) and don’t even realize the extent the Power Play and is hurting the team’s success? That would be irresponsible to the players and the fans. Especially the fans.....
Wait a minute - does this maybe, possibly, even a little bit...sound like your sales game plan?
While I have your attention, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is your sales strategy?
2. How do you measure your effectiveness?
4. What does your sales funnel look like? (Does it look like a funnel?)
If these questions were difficult to answer, or you didn’t like the answers, should we fire the coach? Of course not. But it does drive home the fact that if we took a page from sports in terms of our approach to sales and sales leadership, we could probably be even more successful.
Here’s another example to hopefully drive this point home: Think about the amount of time sports teams invest preparing and planning for their games. Football for example takes an entire week to review game film, devise a game plan specific to the next opponent, run drills at practice, more drills, pre-game preparation etc.
To maximize the opportunity for a successful outcome.
In our case that may be a sale, but it may also be another meeting. It may be an opportunity to get in front of more decision makers to even better understand how you can help them. It may be the opportunity to submit a proposal for the first time with this account. Those are all 'wins' that lead up to the 'championship' – a new client.
How many of us show up to our calls and meetings prepared with a well-defined sales game plan?
No? Ok that’s it! FIRE THE COACH!!!
Kidding again of course.
But, maybe you could hire a Sales Coach to work with your team. One that has the experience to help guide team players and management on developing a sales game plan that will lead to increased success. Someone who could put processes and structure into place that will lead to building that capacity internally so that you can eventually run your own game plan. Someone that could help with practice plans and provide a safe and fun environment to practice your various skills so that when you get into the game - sorry met with a customer - you are prepared to be at your best, help the customer and invariably, make the sale.
Somebody who is funny, witty and with boyish good looks and charm for days. I know a guy…