Over the past 3 years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way buyers buy. With the adoption of digital content marketing, automation tools, and social media – sales have become an integrated process that requires both sales and marketing to contribute to generating, engaging and developing real sales opportunities.
Sales outsourcing success is no longer about picking a list of leads to call setting appointments, doing a feature and benefits, show and tell meeting, and closing business. Below are a handful of questions for you to consider when deciding what type of sales outsourcing or outsourced sales and marketing engagement to pursue.
What part of the funnel do I need to outsource right now?
There are multiple sales and marketing functions that can be outsourced. When we speak to companies, we often discover that they don’t need to outsource all of it at once. Here are some of the questions we will ask them to pose to themselves:
- Do I need more top of funnel leads?
- Do I need more sales qualified leads?
- Am I generating enough leads to hand to an outsourced closer?
- If I hired a sales engineer internally could they be supported by a strong outsourced sales and marketing team?
- Do I need automation specialists to reduce time spent developing leads?
With sales being increasingly process driven, not all companies need to hire a full sales outsourcing team. Smart outsourced sales and marketing with solid integration into your existing team can save you time and money, decrease risk and increase your speed to market. Often starting at the top of the funnel is the best way to initially engage. You can start to generate deal flow without the six figures a full engagement will typically cost. The relationship can then scale as a sales pipeline is developed and deals start to close.
Do I have access to the talent I need to ramp my sales and marketing efforts?
Sales has gotten more complicated. With the buyer now controlling the sales process you need to have an aligned sales and marketing effort. This requires the talent to execute campaigns, manage lead generation efforts, develop messages, manage technology platforms, perform the required ROI analysis, train reps and most importantly, have the talent required to close the sale. From Gabriel Sales’ sales outsourcing perspective, the more complex the sale, the more processes you are going to need to manage. An outsourced sales provider can ensure that you focus and drive excellence in every discrete phase of your sales cycle with specific tactics. You need to be clear what talent you have in house already so your outsourced sales and marketing company can fill the gaps you need filled.
Do I have the technical knowledge and team required to execute in this new buyer driven sales landscape?
Sales execution is no longer just about making or scheduling meetings, making presentations, writing a proposal, and then closing the deals. The combination of more decision makers and influencers on the buyers’ side, the expectations that your company will be bringing experts to the table, and the advent of the sales technology stack that allows these teams to communicate fluidly means you need to know how to manage processes and technology. Understanding of the technologies and how they can be applied are more critical than ever to controlling. Does hiring a full-time staff member make sense to manage these processes and systems?
Am I looking for Operational Expertise?
Operational expertise takes time to develop because it is driven by measurement and verification against feedback loops. To truly drive operational expertise, gathering data and benchmarking against it is critical. One of the major benefits of plugging into your outsourced sales partner’s existing sales machine is that the system has already built for you and ready to go. There is a machine, feedback loops and historical data already in motion. By starting smarter, you learn faster.
Do I want to build Operational Expertise and then bring it in-house?
The reality of outsourced sales is that once the system is built and fully implemented it is possible to bring this process in house. If building a system and then transitioning this system is something you may be interested in long term, discuss this with your partner upfront. We have found that if this is done effectively, we can often transition all or parts of the process at the right strategic time for our partners so everyone wins.
Do I need to focus on my core business?
All of your talent needs to be focused where they can create the most value. So ask yourself these questions:
- Do my executives and management team need to focus on client satisfaction and product development?
- Do they need to generate business or can they simply focus on closing business?
- To grow the company, do we need to grow our delivery along with sales?
- Is time better spent in business development?
- Can I staff sales engineers to do the deep technical part of the sale and leverage an outsourced sales and marketing partner to source business and develop business?
- Can I simply hire one closer internally for the 10% that is now the art of the close and use sales outsourcing for the day to day grind of generating new sales qualified opportunities?
Do I really need to add full-time executives (and the long-term fixed costs) to my management team?
The kiss of death to any company is too many strategists and not enough employees to execute. Outsourced service providers can bring strategic expertise to the table at the right time and then eliminate the costs. This allows you to focus more budget on execution. Getting the initial sales efforts off the ground takes strategic insight and leadership, and often requires senior executive talent on both the sales and marketing teams. Pulling technologies together also takes some advanced technology expertise. All this requires a significant investment. The beauty of going to an outsourced provider is that once this investment is made, you don’t need to continue to carry these fixed costs.
With the buyer taking control of the sales process outsourced sales and marketing and sales outsourcing now looks much different than it did even 3 years ago. Being clear on what talent you have, what talent and skills you need in the short term and what talent skills and team you want to build internally in the long term will help your sales outsourcing partner provide the best return on your investment.
Go to Part 1…
Gabriel Sales has provided both sales outsourcing and outsourced sales and marketing services since 1999. And over the past 5 years with the explosion of content marketing and automation tools, there has been a dramatic shift in what is required to align sales outsourcing services with our clients for a seamless experience for both our clients and the buyers they are selling to.
We believe that integrating digital education with content marketing and sales automation is now critical to long-term success. 5 years ago we would have stated that a successful sales organization required eighty percent science and twenty percent art. That has shifted to about 90% sciences and 10% art (primarily in the close) over the past 3 years.
The following article is Part 1 in a 2 Part series that is designed to raise some business questions to consider and discuss with a potential outsourced sales and marketing company to ensure a successful sales outsourcing engagement will drive the business results you are looking for:
Why am I considering outsourcing sales and marketing?
There are multiple reasons to consider sales and marketing outsourcing:
- Are you looking to change top line or bottom line results?
- Are you taking and testing a new product in the marketing?
- Do you want to target clients that can scale?
- Do you want to be in a new growth vertical for your product?
- Is this about pipe velocity – more deals faster, better, more profitable?
The clearer you are about the business reasons you are outsourcing sales the cleaner the strategic recommendation and approach will be from you outsourced sales and marketing partner. The more insight you can give your sales outsourcing partner the cleaner your goals will be. And the clearer your targets are the greater your chances will be of hitting those targets.
Is reducing your speed to market possible by outsourcing sales and marketing?
When you outsource sales and marketing you are plugging into turnkey machine. The technology stack and infrastructure you will need will not need to be built from scratch. Ask yourself; does the fact that the outsourced sales and marketing provider will have workflows and processes ready to scale have value? Is losing a little of the day to day control to access the bandwidth to recruit and train a team valuable? Do you have the time is required to recruit, train, and manage a sales team.
Will outsourcing sales and marketing help me to manage my financial risk?
The answer to this question is yes. Outsourced sales organizations are driven to hit targets, reporting requirements, and other performance metrics. With most outsourced sales and marketing companies, you will get a level of metrics, reporting, and accountability that will be difficult to get from internally hired employees without aggressive day to day management. More reporting and full transparency means less risk.
In addition, sales and marketing outsourcing gets rid of fixed costs and moves them to a variable expense on your P&Ls. This is especially beneficial to avoiding the infrastructure investments in sales technologies and marketing automation platforms now required for success.
Most importantly, especially when launching a new product — outsourced sales and marketing will provide real-time marketing intelligence immediately because outsourced sales companies have these sales and marketing technologies in place to provide real-time visibility.
If managing risk is important, be clear with your sales outsourcing partner that this is a consideration.
Is long-term scalability important to me?
Do I need to scale quickly? Building a team takes time. Once you get initial sales traction you will need processes, technology platforms, phone systems, physical space, managers, recruiting and training systems etc. Will the ability to add and subtract headcount as required be of value? Would it be of benefit to you to get rid of these headaches? Would it be of benefit to get rid of all these soft and hard costs?
Outsourcing sales is a great decision for some companies. But you should expect the sales outsourcing companies to do their homework in during your preliminary discussions. You should be prepared to have honest and direct conversations about your sales outsourcing goals to get the most from your partnership both in the short term and the long term.
Starting with the down turn, and in combination with Tim Ferris’ (now almost classic) 4-Hour Work week, many small business are at least open to outsourcing most functions. However Tim Ferris’ painted a slightly rosy picture of how easy this could be. This is especially true when outsourcing sales. As any executive who has attempted sales outsourcing will tell you, outsourcing sales is not always a quick path to profitability or as straight forward as advertised. This is especially true when dealing with companies that have hung their shingles over the past 3-4 years.
Here are several perspectives to consider as you consider sales outsourcing for your company:
The One Eyed Man is Not Necessarily King in the Land of the Blind
As an outsourced sales company we are experts in sales processes, and all the tools required for successes. However if you do not have a sales process already in place it will take us at least one or two sales cycles (taking buyers through their buying process and your sales process) to refine our collective approach. Sales outcomes will not change overnight because buyers don’t change the way they buy overnight. We typically let our clients know that the more they can stay engaged through the initial 3 to 6 months the smoother and faster outcomes we will be able to collectively produce (more on this below). Most companies are successful for a reason and that typically starts with the sales knowledge that is out our clients’ executive’s brains.
If you do not understand why your buyer buys we can help you nail this down with some consulting workshops and then real time feedback from buyers. But it will take time before the path to growth becomes clear and concrete.
Can you stay engaged especially during the initial 90 days of launch?
Numerous entrepreneurs see outsourcing as a one time deal – you sign an agreement with an outsourced sales company, and afterward sit back while your new outsourced sales reps start closing deals. Obviously, as we all know, closing business is never that easy.
We have found that executives that stay engaged during the initial 90 days lead to our greatest success stories. You don’t need to stay hands on daily but we do recommend that you attend the weekly meetings and digest the data. There will be insights you will have and failures and rabbit holes you will be able to help your sales outsourcing partner to avoid.
We love the feedback, because they allow us to fix issues quickly to get the best results.
Embrace the Pareto Principle when Creating Content to Support Sales Outsourcing
As an outsourced sales and marketing company we are trying to build a repeatable communication process. What we find across 100% of our engagement is that 80% of your deals are going to care about the same 20% of the information. It could be the same objections that need to be overcome. It could be the same business pains you solve. You should expect your sales outsourcing partner to have a process to help document what 20% of information needs to be shared to drive that 80% of your engagement. You should then expect to create content that will give the buyers the ability to educate themselves digitally in these areas.
Embrace the Pareto Principle when Following Up with Leads
As a sales outsourcing company we have embraced automation technologies for one reason. Once an outbound lead has been generated (agreed to accept additional information either through an eMail campaign or cold call campaign) we use this technology to help us score a leads propensity to buy. Because what we typically see is – of the leads that do agree to engage only about 20% have an immediate need (next quarter or two) and the remaining 80% are interested but nowhere close to being ready to buy. Success in the age of digital buyer education requires that you use an automation technology to score leads. You should expect your sales outsourcing partner to be adept in the use of these tools.
The recent resurgence of trade shows presents today’s sales and marketing teams with both new challenges and new opportunities for growth in terms of post show strategy. While trade show attendees have more interest and buying power than ever before, small and mid-sized companies are at a disadvantage to Fortune 2000s when it comes to budget, staffing and technology. Consequently, many SMBs end up losing out on the opportunity to maximize event-based lead generation and sales revenue, both immediately after the event and for months into the future due to poor post show strategy.
According to Exhibitor Magazine, Less than 70% of SMBs have a follow up strategy post-event. As a result 80% of leads that are generated during a show are ignored after the show.
In this age of marketing automation, content marketing and increasing competition, simply showing up at a trade show and then blasting every lead with the same, tired email message instantly upon your return no longer works (and dialing every lead is simply too cost prohibitive). Having a post show strategy in place is very important.
The average company can increase trade show lead gen ROI by as much as 4X with good post show strategy. This increase requires a little more planning, tight execution, leveraging the right tools/technologies and temporary staffing (through a sale outsourcing company) focused solely on lead generation.
If you execute your trade show strategy correctly, you can ensure:
- You never miss a hot lead
- You don’t let warm leads slip away
- Everyone knows who you are and how you can help
- You maximize your ROI for the remainder of the year
This educational article is part 2 of a 2 part series. In this article we focus on how to maximize your post show follow up to make every lead count. (The first article details best practices to fill your booth. Both of these blogs were taken from a full whitepaper that also details how some of your larger competitors now fund and approach their trade show lead generation. You can download the full white paper by clicking the button below.
Download Whitepaper Now
To get the most from the simple tactics and strategies we require:
- The ability to leverage a smart content management system
- The basic lead scoring features of a marketing automation platform
If you don’t have lead scoring tools in place they can be rented as part of Gabriel Sales Turnkey Support Package. If you do have automation tools in place we hope you find these Trade Show Marketing Tips helpful.
Generate More Real Sales Opportunities – Post-Show Tips
87% of attendees said they purchased a trade show exhibitors product or service 6 months post event (CEIR Report ACRR)
But according to Exhibitor Magazine 80% of leads that are generated during a show are ignored after the show because 70% of companies don’t have any follow-up strategy post-event.
With a little incremental investment and a systematic and sustained effort post-show, most companies can generate dozens of additional sales qualified opportunities to increase both the volume and revenue amount in their sales pipeline by as much as 4X. What follows are simple to follow best practices you can implement to focus your team on developing, qualifying and generating more sales opportunities after the show.
Generate a Show Highlights Blog
You’re either sitting in your hotel room and unwinding after a long trade show, or you’re already at the airport or on a plane on your way home…what’s next? You had a great show—you talked to folks across the trade show floor; including vendors, potential customers, competitors, and successful innovators in the space.
Now, it’s time to create some content to share with all of the prospects you talked with and met at the show, all of those people who gave you business cards, all of those scanned leads and your existing nurturing database. The first thing we recommend doing is jotting down some notes on the following:
- Cool, interesting or valuable speaking presentations that were given
- Any break-out events or smaller sessions where you learned anything interesting, new or helpful
- New companies or solutions in the market that are worth paying attention to
- Any future industry trends that came to light during the show
- Anything interesting you learned or saw
- New innovations, solutions or ways people can do business better
Using these notes, our best practices recommend that you write a personalized blog recapping all of these items to share with your entire database (existing and new leads). As you’ll see in the “Post-Show Content and Email Flow” section, this is the first piece of content and email we recommend you lead with, within 48 hours of the show ending. You can assume that the large majority of your competition will be following the same old process of loading all of their new leads into their CRM, and blasting everyone with a hard ask: “Can we set a meeting?”
Differentiate yourself in your first post-show follow-up email by sharing relevant, educational and informative information with your network. The goal here is to share some honest, interesting content that will benefit your network, whether they immediately transact with you or not. This greatly aids in cutting through the noise that’s ever present after a show, and helps you stand out as a real resource while building trust and brand awareness.
Focus on Continued Buyer Education First After the Show with a Nurture Campaign
Exiting the show (since you have been diligent with daily list management as suggested above), you will have the hottest 10% of leads distributed to the appropriate sales reps. Your competition will have done the same thing. For the next two weeks buyers are going to be flooded with follow-up calls and follow-up meeting requests. Buyers are going to be flooded with these requests while they are also catching up on more pressing tasks after missing 3 to 5 days in the office.
The goal of your campaign is simply to stay top of mind until the attendee has the time and is ready to engage. If you do this you will not miss a deal and your buyer will appreciate the respect and persistence. Here are our email best practices to help you stand out from the crowd:
- Show highlights blog – 1-2 days post show
- Piece of educational content – 7 days
- Thanks for visiting us & reminder of how we can help – 10 days
- Special post-show offer – 14 days
- Product demo offer / soft ask – 21 days
- Hard ask – 30 Days è then drop into the nurturing engine
Does this cadence mean you should not ask for the meeting immediately? Absolutely not! Our best performing emails are those that give leads the option to do both. We recommend you offer the meeting or demo but you also offer continued education.
To do this, you will need to have a couple of educational pieces ready to send immediately after the show. You don’t need to create new content. You can simply recycle old material to provide options that appeal to a range of prospects at various stages and with different preferences for different educational formats.
- Whitepaper and blogs for early-stage education
- Webcasts for mid-stage
- Thought leadership videos or a clip of your panel at the show (if applicable)
When these are combined with the show highlight blog discussed above you will stay top of mind. And when schedules settle down over the next two to six weeks you will reap a significant increase in your scheduled meetings.
Sales Outsourcing Tip: Trade Show Marketing Lead Scoring
With calls to connect ratios (a buyer actually picking up the phone when you call) at 10%, it is critical that you make the most of every connection possible. To do this, it is important to prioritize your calling based on your buyer’s engagement with your follow-up email campaign and digital content consumption.
Once again, this is where you need to leverage marketing automation to maximize your calling efforts. Similar to the pre-show lead scoring, we recommend giving escalating scores to engagement with your post show content, If a lead is moving from the content offer and into more specific pages, we highly recommend that you follow-up immediately with an email and phone call. You can use an automation system to notify your caller when this occurs.
Coming out of the show, we also recommend that you segment your leads into three groups of follow-ups to maximize results and minimize costs. The basic idea behind segmentation is that you should not have senior reps—with loaded costs exceeding 100K—attending to an early stage prospect, and you should not have inside reps, your email marketing campaign or BDRs following up with executives you know are ready to engage.
As mentioned above, you can’t connect on the phone with every lead immediately, especially if you do not have the excess calling capacity to handle a spike in lead volume. Maximizing your results and manage your cost of sales percentage, you should prioritize follow-up with different types of leads accordingly:
- Hottest Leads – Leads where leaving the show, the next step is already scheduled (or promise of next step scheduled) and is to be followed up by sales reps.
- Hot Leads – Deals that are worth being pursued until they have been reached on the phone, but not worth a senior rep spending hours on that connection; prioritize these leads in batches of 50 (in order of importance) and then they should be given to your BDRs and they should call until they connect. It is OK to drop these leads into your post show marketing campaign.
- Warm Leads & Your Entire Pre-show Database – Call these leads based on their digital engagement. These leads merit a direct follow-up only after they start showing predictive buying behavior in their automation score
Sales Outsourcing Tip: Trade Show Marketing Post-Show Summary
Exiting the show you are going to generate business from your top leads. Maximizing your results simply requires a systematic plan and smart use of your calling resources executed over 4-6 weeks after the show. Remember, the majority of buyers stated they do not transact until 3-6 months after the show.
- Continue to educate your buyers after the show
- Be persistent and continue to build trust with the buyer with a consistent but not overly aggressive nurture campaign
- Call the hottest buyers first
- Use your automation platform to:
- Score leads to prioritize calling
- Give the buyer the power to schedule with you when ready
- Pursue the buyers for at least 2 months post the show
Who We Are and How We Can Help
Gabriel Sales offers turnkey trade show support packages to maximize event ROI.
Every tactic we use is driven by the goal of putting more sales qualified leads in your closers hands to generate revenue. We understand that companies already have different teams and tactics in motion. In response to this, we provide the following services:
- Top-of-Funnel Campaigns
- Sales Ready Lead Campaigns
- Thought Leadership and Sales Outsourcing and Automation Content Production
- Trade show Support
- And Full Go-to-Market Packages
To learn more about Gabriel Sales we invite you to check out the About Us section of our website or simply contact us to learn more.