The world of professional services sales is changing rapidly. Changing with it are the challenges faced by the members of your team. This blog will talk about several challenges and the opportunity they present in selling professional services to clients in today’s environment.
Whether you are considering outsourcing sales or further developing your own internal sales team, the challenges that all of us face in selling professional services and solutions are the same. Gone are the days of discretionary or experimental budgets. If they still exist, they are typically dramatically reduced. You have to sell to both a technical buyer and a business buyer in every organization. Companies are running leaner at top levels, and as a result the decision makers that you need to sell to are picking up the phone 30% less. Once you do connect and start to engage the prospect in your sales cycle and with your content, their schedules are so tight that it takes much longer to move them through your sales funnel.
Here’s the bottom line: lead generation, lead qualifying and sales engagement can take twice the time and energy they did in the past. Markets are flooded with buyers and sellers of all types, and it’s your job to weed through it all. For the professional service firms that we provide sales outsourcing and lead generation services to, it’s more important now than ever that we sell smarter and do our best to maximize top producer’s sales efficiency and effectiveness. We also have to help make the process easier for the buyers we are selling to. They have less time and demand a more efficient way to buy.
When a professional service firm comes to us (as opposed to product sales companies) to have a discussion about outsourcing sales, they often voice additional unique complexities that they are now facing in the professional service market:
- The roles of seller and deliverer are often merging. More time spent selling means less time dedicated to delivery and/or available for sales pipe development efforts.
- The professional service sale is growing increasingly complex, and requires an investment in education and solution selling.
- Education is required because professional services engagements are perceived as high risk investments for buyers, since they can’t hold the product in their hand. Consequently, buyers take longer to make decisions and often want to break up adoption so that there is a pilot or proof of concept stage.
- Professional services selling requires communication of intangible benefits – character, thinking style and personality of lead consultants and top producers – to effectively close deals.
- Top producing professional service executives are predisposed to “solutioning” and solving customer problems, rather than “selling” and sales management.
- Professional service sales are high risk for the Seller due to the need to acquire real return and margins that only stem from long-term engagements, beyond initial pilots
If you take all of these emerging complexities into account, they point to “time” as the single, largest issue. Time is still quite literally money, as they say – and this is especially true for the professional service business model. For us at Gabriel Sales, the challenge in outsourcing the professional service sale lies in identifying how best to customize a program to make your top producers operate at their highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency.
Gabriel Sales has been providing outsourced sales and lead generation services successfully to professional service providers across a wide variety of verticals and target markets – for over 15 years. In the last few years we’ve seen a large market shift in the approach buyers take to engage and make decisions surrounding professional service solutions. This has led to the creation of a viable opportunity for increased efficiency and effectiveness in designing a sales engine and cloning your top producers.
Sales and marketing interactions have changed drastically due to the proliferation of the internet and digital communication. Buyers have always actively leveraged content, but now it is being digested specifically through digital and social media. Buyers are streamlining their process on their own time. You now have the ability to leverage lead generation and sales reps that are skilled in communicating your solutions effectiveness and value in the digital space. These reps can manage more of your sale and replicate larger pieces of what was previously required of your top producer. Professional service firms can make it easier for buyers to buy by alleviating the buyer’s time constraints, while simultaneously opening up bandwidth for their top producers. Sales productivity skyrockets by as much as two times within a year, and as high as three times within eighteen months.
This opportunity is significant. But what is even more significant is that taking advantage of this shift does not require completely changing your existing sales process. However, it does require that you effectively align your sales and marketing teams, and get them to stop living in the silos that is typically tradition. This allows for you to be able to engage in a one-to-many dialogue as you generate leads and communicate effectively with both the technical buyer and business buyer. Your sales reps will need to be trained and managed effectively in using these new tools.
Please feel free to contact us or visit “Why Professional Services Firms Use Outsourcing Sales and Marketing” for more information.
A sales story not only is a tool to guide your prospects through the buying process but it is also a tool to keep your sales and marketing team aligned. This infographic outlines 4 simple steps to make a sales story effective and the 3 main reasons it is beneficial.
To learn more about a successful sales story and how to align sales and marketing, check out the following blogs or contact us.
A Successful Sales Script Starts with Building a Winning Sales Story
Advice from a Sales Outsourcing Company: How to Get Sales and Marketing on the Same Page
Outsourcing sales and marketing is not “one size fits all” engagement. Because of the dynamic and involved nature of sales and marketing execution, it is important that you identify what gaps you are looking to fill within your current processes before looking to an outside partner for help. Alternatively, many times this potential outside partner can help you identify these gaps on the front-end as well.
The purpose of this blog will be to outline 5 final considerations you should make when considering using an outside partner, as well as what information you should be sharing with your potential B2B sales outsourcing and marketing partner:
Is reducing my time to market critical?
Outsourcing sales and marketing is more than just soliciting a business to make cold calls. You are plugging into a fully functional sales engine. Innovative technologies are in place to help you execute and processes are built to ensure success. Now you have access to a sales and marketing team that already know how to work together and are ready to start closing business on day one. Recruiting, building, and training a team can take months, quarters, even years to finally end up with a solid core group that “plays well together.” Do you have the time to bring that team together? If not, an outsourced partner is an ideal solution.
Am I looking for operational expertise?
It takes time to develop operational expertise because it is driven by measurement and verification against feedback loops. You can’t rush a good thing. To truly drive operational expertise you have to effectively benchmark performance against historical data. How can you tell whether your premature sales force is performing at the highest level possible when you are working with a brand new solution? One of the major benefits of plugging into an outsourced partner is that they already have an existing sales machine in place – you just have to jump in the driver’s seat. Feedback loops and historical data are in place to define actionable KPI’s, and you can start smarter and learn faster.
Do I want to build operational expertise and then bring it in house?
This isn’t a question you need to have an answer to up-front, but it’s important to keep it top of mind throughout this process. Once the code is cracked and the machine is running, you can heavily reduce costs if you bring the sales engine in-house. If you think you may consider doing this down the road, it’s important to share that with your partner early on. We have found that when done effectively, we often times can transition all or parts of the process at strategic times so that everyone wins more business.
Is Scalability important to me?
One benefit of being an established outsourcer of marketing and sales is that we have the ability to increase and decrease the scale of our operations fluidly. All of the necessary infrastructure and processes from the technology platforms, phone systems, and recruiting/training systems are already in place. Headaches associated with adding and decreasing headcount are no more. You have to ask yourself, can I benefit from getting rid of these headaches?
Do I really need to add full time executives (and the long term fixed costs) to my management team?
The kiss of death for any company in today’s market is employing too many strategists and not enough soldiers. Outsourced providers can bring long-term strategic expertise to the table at the right time to astronomically reduce costs. Getting the initial sales efforts running takes strategic insight and leadership from senior executive talent on both the sales and marketing fronts. Appropriately aligning the technological strategy takes advanced expertise as well. All of this requires a heavy investment. This is where the beauty of an outsourced partner comes into play. Once you invest in the engine, the fixed costs you would have had to carry otherwise with staffing internally fall away. The senior team moves to the background and the machine and sales reps continue to generate revenue.
For more information on how outsourcing sales and marketing can help accomplish your goals, please feel free to take a look at our previous blogs in this series “Should I Outsource Sales and Marketing” and “Is My Company a Good Fit to Outsource Sales and Marketing.”
If you would like more information, or would just like to chat with us about issues you may be having or how we can help, please contact us.
It is becoming more and more a commonplace business practice to outsource sales and marketing. However, with so many solution providers out there and the high level of complexity involved with outsourcing sales and marketing, it’s important to have a high level of transparency with any partner you are considering working with. This short blog will present 4 different questions that you should discuss with any potential outsourced provider. Remember that discussing these items should help you gain insight into the areas that outsourcing can help you the most, as well as bring to light where you are succeeding the most.
Does sales need to be a core competency?
This question can only be answered by the owners, executives and Board of Directors/Investors of our clients. This is the question that we typically work with and sweat over the most. Many times when we integrate into an organization for an engagement, we encourage that our clients retain product specialists, sales engineers, client service leads and professional servicing as their core responsibility. We want to focus our efforts on managing and executing the sale. When our clients effectively own that core competency, everyone wins. Most importantly, control of the business and long term customer relationships stay with you, the client. Once the engine is in place, decisions can start to be made towards where you should be focusing effort to close as much business as possible. The question then arises, does it make sense to have a team dedicated to generating new business and closing pilot deals while your internal team can focus on cherry picking the pipe for low hanging fruit?
Do I need to focus on my core business?
Today’s economy is fickle, at best. It’s becoming increasingly important that you have your talent focused on where they can create the most value and have the most success. This includes both closing deals and solution delivery. Do you need to grow delivery alongside sales? How focused will your executives and management team be on client satisfaction and product development? How much time should be spent on biz dev? Keep these questions top of mind while discussing with a potential outsourcer.
Do I have access to the talent I need to ramp up my sales and marketing efforts?
Sales and marketing are evolving rapidly and no longer live in their own silos. Buyers now control the sale. You have to have your sales and marketing efforts aligned to effectively capture the market. This means the right talent needs to be in place to execute campaigns, manage lead generation efforts, develop messages, manage technology platforms, complete the requisite ROI analysis, train reps, and MOST IMPORTNANTLY close the sale! In our opinion, the more complex the sale the more processes you need to effectively manage. An outsource sales provider ensures that you focus and drive excellence in each individual phase of your sales cycle. We can bring a dedicated, dynamic team to the table from day one.
Do I have the knowledge to execute?
Sales execution used to be simple. All it involved was making or scheduling meetings, giving presentations, scoping and closing deals. There are now more decision makers and influencers on the other end of the deal. The expectation is that your company will bring experts to the table and be educated on relevant technology platforms. They need to know you can communicate fluidly and manage process and technology effectively. Understanding the adjacent technologies and how they can be applied is more critical now than ever. Do you have the time to commit fully to stay current and knowledgeable?
For more information on how to outsource sales and marketing can help accomplish your goals, please feel free to take a look at our previous blog.
If you would like more information, or would just like to chat with us about issues you may be having or how we can help, please contact us.