Why should you choose our sales outsourcing services over Rolodex?
This blog discusses the pros and cons of using a sales outsourcing organization like Gabriel Sales vs. hiring a Rolodex Rep specifically for new product or service launches.
Gabriel Sales is an organization to work with when outsourcing sales. In short, what we do is build sales engines. Those sales engines are usually for new product launches and new service launches but we also work with companies looking to turn around under performing sales teams, improve effectiveness of cold callers or anything else you can think of that has the end goal of generating sustainable revenue through a solid sales process. Because we are not a rep company, when we take on clients launching a new product, we are required to wear many hats – sales consultants, marketing consultants, lead gen rep, inside sales rep, closer, sales manager and market research (so we can accurately forecast and create an aligned sales content strategy).
One question that comes up frequently when discussing a new product or service launch is: “Should I hire a Rolodex Rep or hire Gabriel Sales?” There is no clean answer to that question because it depends on:
Short term and long term strategic needs
Short term and long term revenue goals
Maturity of the market
Maturity of the solution
We can make recommendations once we understand all the specifics with relation to the bullets above but here are some general thoughts (based on experience) for boards and executives to consider when evaluating Rolodex vs. Sales and Marketing Outsourcing.
Pros of hiring a Rolodex Rep
Rolodex Sales Reps have established relationships.
They can generally get you in front of a handful of decision makers quickly- By quickly we mean they should be able to spend 2-4 weeks reaching out to their network and another 2-4 weeks doing the first round of meetings. So within two months you should have 6-10 meetings completed and if the product or service is the right fit you can get some quick deals in the pipe depending on the sales cycle.
If it works you are a hero. If it does not work you are no further along than when you started and you will have lost two quarters (1 quarter waiting for that rep to produce and another putting another solution in place).
If it does work you can show investors traction but not scale.
Cons of hiring a Rolodex Rep
The ability of a Rolodex Rep to penetrate the market is limited. Studies have shown that the average Rolodex Rep can maintain 7-20 really strong relationships with senior buyers and another 15-30 plus friendly relationships. If you have a finite market this could be a great solution.
In most cases you have no visibility into what a Rolodex rep is doing for you until they actually produce something.
It has been our experience that Rolodex Reps with valuable relationships (20 strong relationships with senior buyers and 30 plus friendlies) are not cheap.
An experienced Rolodex Rep with genuine value in their network are often reluctant to take on a product until its proven unless you are willing to give them an exclusive for a period of time.
Rolodex reps rarely sell using a script (process in not necessarily repeatable and sometimes does little to convince investors you can scale) and do not provide and significant sales ratios for future pipe forecasting.
If it does not work you are no further along than when you started and you will have lost two quarters (3 months waiting for that rep to produce and another 3 months implementing the next solution).
Summary of hiring a Rolodex Rep
When a Rolodex produces it’s a huge win! Hiring a Rolodex Rep is generally high risk and high reward. Gabriel Sales is often brought into an organization after this approach has been attempted unsuccessfully. We are also often brought in simultaneously to start the lead generation engine so when the Rolodex Rep’s pipe runs dry we are filling it to sustain the sales momentum.
Pros of hiring an Outsourced Sales Company (like Gabriel Sales)
Outsourcing Sales Companies sell using a repeatable sales process. They generally get on the phone to start filling the pipe leveraging a scripted and repeatable sales process.
Outsourced Sales Organizations staff blended teams so you get the advantage of being able to hit 1000’s of decision makers with their dedicated telemarketing staff, leverage direct marketing campaigns and still have senior inside reps and part time enterprise reps to close business.
Unlike a Rolodex Rep, Outsourced Sales Companies are collecting critical market data for long term strategy and growth, creating a sales content strategy (and in our case producing digital sales content ).
When Outsourcing Sales and Marketing you don’t have to deal with all the database management and acquisition work. You get the advantages of a dedicated sales team without the 100K-200K of technology and support team investments required if you were to build your own technology stack. In addition you get rid of some of the fixed costs you would incur by hiring a Senior Sales Executive and Senior Strategist to frame your own engine. The savings is usually in the 100K -150K+ range.
With an Outsourced Sales and Outsourced Marketing Organization you get accountability, market intelligence and transparency on a weekly basis.
You get into the market fast and you get infinitely smarter faster.
Unlike a Rolodex Rep with a Sales and Marketing Outsourcing Company your sales momentum is just starting to build heading into months 3 and 4 which is generally when a Rolodex rep is starting to run out of steam.
Cons of Outsourcing vs. a Rolodex Rep
The same principle applies here as with a seasoned Rolodex Rep: The better the Sales Outsourcing Organization, the more expensive they can become. (On the plus side neither comes close to the sunk cost of building and managing your own team).
These organizations can get you into the market much faster than you could get there on your own but it will still take a little time to customize your sales machine and build a process that is both sustainable and repeatable.
The best solution if you can afford it is to hire both. However in this market you are better off walking away with something if you can’t afford to risk walking away with nothing. Good Rolodex guys are not cheap and you don’t know if you are getting anything back on your investment unless guarantees are made up front. With an Outsourced Sales Organization you are guaranteed call volumes, weekly reports to help you shape future metrics, market intelligence, a sales pipe with multiple stage deals that you can at a very minimum if the product you are taking to market does not quite hit the mark.
At the end of the day everyone is looking for the fastest cheapest way to fix their problem. While you might be able to get something in the short term from a Rolodex Rep you will not get anything for the long term. Building a sales engine is like building house and you have to do it the right way, build a strong foundation and lay the groundwork for success, or you will end up dealing with repairs on a consistent basis and wishing you had invested that extra effort up front.
For more background on the type of consulting you can expect and to understand some of the additional options you have we invite you to check out our blog post on Sales Consulting vs. Sales Outsourcing. If you are looking to drive sales faster while building a sustained foundation for a high velocity sales machine we invite you to contact us for a free consultation to see what we can do to help.
The purpose of this blog is to help our outsourced sales and outsourced marketing clients understand how we recommend they think about their B to B demand generation and sales content strategy and what we do as part of our consulting engagements to shape Sales Collateral.
What defines a “better” piece of b to b sales collateral? Well, in our opinion better b to b sales collateral moves a prospect further into their decision making process and does it at a faster rate. The goal: close more business, faster.
The first thing to remember is that to create better sales collateral it’s never going to be about you. It’s about your prospect’s specific sales information need and the type of information they need will depend on where they are in their decision making process.
As a sales and marketing outsourcing company, when we launch a new client we take them through our proprietary discovery process to establish the initial messaging and targeting strategy. Once this is complete we get on the phone and simultaneously accomplish the following functions:
We execute immediately to start generating leads to fill the sale pipe
We start collecting hard data and metrics
We continue to consult creating a content and sales process strategy that aligns sales and marketing
This ongoing consulting based on hard data allows us to frame a repeatable sales process. Creating this process requires that we listen to and then meet the sales needs of the prospect. Without the correct sales process and the right content nobody wins. This includes our clients, their prospects and us. What most sales outsourcing organizations won’t tell you is that no ones content is perfect out of the gate. The idea here is to talk to the prospects, test, refine and become more efficient to fill the content gaps as quickly as possible. This is what helps us become more effective and more efficient closers. This is where we gain our advantage.
We realize that content creation can seem daunting. It does not have to be. It should be fun. What we generally find is that our initial immediate needs can be met quickly and created quickly as we are putting the first wave of deals in the pipe. In most cases we find that existing content just needs to be tweaked, reframed, repurposed and/or reformatted.
The chart you see at the top of this post is the simple framework we use as we create your long term content strategy during the consulting portion of our initial client launches. What drives the efficiency in this approach vs. a typical marketing firms approach is that we are not guessing. As we are filling the pipe we are measuring what is successful and what is not successful. We are learning when we lose and improving what works. We are making decisions based on real customer data and real customer feedback that creates a content strategy that fuels a sales process has a real impact. We are simply listening to your customers and giving them what they need to transact. This is not rocket science but it does require following a specific process, road map and framework, and then supporting the effort with proper tools. This approach creates a scalable sales machine.
Depending on your stage of sales and marketing maturity, there are multiple sales and marketing strategies and tactics Gabriel Sales can leverage to drive sales growth. A strategy or tactic is most effective when anchored in real numbers tied to realistic targets and measureable goals. The best sales and marketing operations outsourcing company will help you to create a unique plan to create this strategy and set real metrics if you are just getting started. If you have an existing sales history Gabriel Sales can fix what is not working and build on what is. Contact us for a free consultation to see what we can do to improve your sales performance and pipeline velocity in 2012.
Gabriel Sales is a top sales outsourcing solution provider that specializes in in building sales machines that can double sales for services firms.
For Professional Service Sales the Job remains the same. Targeting the right markets, generate qualified sales leads, close faster and upsell accounts. As a seller you are tasked with growth when both the seller and buyer are being asked to more with less. As a Services firm, you now have some additional challenges which makes this a great time to consider outsourcing sales.
Sales Challenges for Professional Services Firms
You have less access to decision makers doing more work which means you need to double your lead generation efforts. Your top producers need to sell and in this economy they need to spend more time servicing accounts. So your sales pipe peaks and valleys are more exaggerated. You now need to engage and close two decision makers and that doubles the time required sell. Education is even more critical in the buyer’s process to remove perceived risk. And you need to sell your expertise and thinking style harder than ever to drive rates and margins. Finally sales and marketing operations can drain focus and steal time from revenue producing activities.
You need to maximize your top producers sales effectiveness and efficiency. If you are still selling and marketing the same way you may feel like you are running to stand still. How do you sell faster, more effectively and grow your business? You build a sales machine that aligns sales and marketing that clones your top producer’s sales process.
Your sales and marketing operations need to embrace the new rules of sales engagement and integrate sales reps, pushing digital content and measuring the results with smart technologies. And you need to push and repurpose that sales content across platforms to make it easier for you buyer to buy and give your sales reps the ground cover they need to close deals.
Here is what a sales machine looks like. You put qualified deals in the pipe using reps and digital tools. You engage. You address one sales objection at a time. Push content and engage or nurture, until the deal is closed or out of the pipe.
You have two options. Take a year and a half to build a sales solution your own, or partner with an outsourcing sales and marketing provider to augment your gaps. With sales outsourcing you can be up and running is as little as two weeks, with a fully functioning sales and marketing operations execution team, leveraging a scalable sales process that is transparent and metric driven.
As an outsourced sales company we provide, speed to market, a managed sales process, digital content production and distribution, sales staff and marketing staff that executes seamlessly, sales tools and all the sales metrics to maximize ROI.
Sale services range from full time sales outsourcing and outsourced marketing operations, sales consulting, sales staffing and digital sales execution. Or you can test with a Gabriel Sales Spark™ Campaign – outsourced lead generation to boost existing efforts, Gabriel Sales Ramp™ – for New Product Launches, or Ignite™ – a fully integrated outsourced sales and marketing campaign.
Is it harder to put leads in your pipe? Are you spending more time educating and less time closing? Do you build a pipe and then abandon it, starting from scratch every quarter? Do you over or under forecast your revenue?
The professional services sales industry has its ups and downs. On the plus side, professional services sales are forecasted to grow at over 2.5X of the rest of the economy for the next 4 years. On the downside, it’s getting more competitive and there are new rules of engagement. Below is a quick outline of how you can build a sales machine that addresses those new rules and will double your revenue.
A high velocity sales machine for professional services requires a different approach to the typical professional service sales and marketing method. It takes commitment to continually improve the process. It takes a commitment to becoming a “digital publisher” and learning how to use new technologies. It takes a commitment to managing inside and junior sales reps on a daily basis, and most professional services professionals love solutioning and would rather not spend their time managing junior employees.
Make Your Product Accessible Digitally. Your Top Producers are Your Product! As a top B to B professional service sales outsourcing company, we map all the sales objections we get during the sales process. We measure what wins deals. Once we understand these objections, we work with our outsourced sales clients to create content that demonstrates their intangibles—their thinking style, their approach to solutioning, their character, their personality—and create content that is authentic, and allows them to enter into dialogue with the prospect one to many. With or without us you need to create content that clones your Top Producers. Once we start working with a client, we generally find that over 50% of the content we need is already lying around in one form or another in past presentations, RFPs and speeches they have given.
Use an Inside Sales Team. You cannot afford to have your high-end sales resources, or professionals, that could be billing clients instead generating leads and selling to early stage prospects. To make this work you will need a hands on VP of Sales who has prior experience running an inside sales team. The team needs to be able to sell strategically over the phone, qualify prospects and understand both their business need and how they will budget for the solution. Open ended questions and smart probing questions go a long way. Once the lead is engaged, bring in your senior resources and then pass back to the inside rep to manage the logistics of the close.
Start by Leveraging Digital Content on the Back End of Your Sales Cycle. Start with your close when creating content and then work backwards to share that content. This means you need to approach your B2B customer by taking more of a consumer approach to marketing. Once they are engaged, you need to sell to them digitally. Any presentation you give more than one time a quarter needs to be turned into a webcast. Any objection that comes up more than once a quarter, you need to write a blog about. You can then repurpose that same content for SEO and have your inside team use it for lead generation downstream.
Leverage Technologies. If you have a complex sale (and most professional services sales have some level of complexity) and the prospect is moving through your pipe, they will be actively looking at your content and will be sharing that content. You need to track when people are looking at your content. All the Fortune 1000 have these technologies in place, and they will win if you do not compete. Prices have come down dramatically in 2011 and you can now have equal footing.
Leverage Social Media. Once you have the content created, you simply need to push that same content into Social Media. This means YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter. The average B2B customer goes out on the web looking for you once they are sales engaged. Make sure that they find you. This is ground cover for your inside sales team.
Nurture Prospects. Take the same digital content you use as part of our sales cycle to engage, develop and close prospects that are actively buying; and cut it up into much smaller chunks – 90 second videos—and use that same content to stay in front of prospects that are not ready to buy. Staying top of mind will win you deals when they are ready to buy. Let the longer term prospects engage in the sales cycle with your content, and use your inside reps to touch them so they know you care. Technologies like Pardot (our vendor of choice) and Marketo automate this process. Hit them with a monthly blog and a quarterly newsletter via these tools. Your inside team will be watching.
Metrics are Critical. Gabriel Sales top management executive team members are all endurance athletes. This approach is not a sprint. The high velocity sales model for professional services is an endurance sport, and you need to have your handle on every step of the process. You get stronger over time. This model is designed to get deals that are ready to move moving, and keep deals not yet ready to buy engaged until they are ready. With more content and more inside sales touches you get more results; and you need to measure what starts momentum, what sustains momentum and what builds momentum.You also need to understand what fakes momentum and what takes momentum. We build custom metrics for every client because generally a professional service sale (with both a business buyer and a technical buyer) is a 5 to 7 touch sale. Our experience is that about 70% of these touches can be done with inside reps.
SEO and SEM Focus. Within six months to a year, you will start to see a lift in Natural Search, Organic Search and SEO. You will have the metrics and the insights to start to give your Marketing efforts a Sales Quota. If the content is crafted carefully, you will be able to niche target and save a ton of money executing your SEO strategy.
For more information on B to B Professional Service Sales Outsourcing, please feel free to contact us. You can also visit our Knowledge Center for more tips for Professional Service Sales.
Does it seem like you are spending a ton of time talking to prospects, and your company isn’t growing at the speed you expected? Are your professional service sales inconsistent and spikey, or your revenue projections often wrong? Do you know what sales tactics, conversations and content are your best performers? Maybe your sales reporting and metrics need some fine-tuning.
A strategically-designed sales reporting plan is critical for your company’s success, because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. This is especially true for professional service sales, because so much time can be spent educating the market and scoping projects that don’t close. A first step we take, when we work as a professional service sales outsourcing partner, is to help establish Key Performance Indicators that improve our client’s sales productivity.
Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs need to reflect more than just revenue figures
They need to include data about your sales process
They need to include data about what messages are working
They need to include data about what markets are the best performers
They need to address how fast or slow specific decision makers move through the pipe
They need to include how much time is spent educating prospects and scoping business in each market
They need to be split between time invested with the technical buyer and the business buyer
Sales reporting and solid KPIs have many benefits. They give your company and team a consistent view of progress daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. KPIs can be used to create a scoreboard to keep your team engaged and motivated towards a common goal. The KPI scorecard keeps sales, professional service leads and lead generation reps moving towards that common goal, and also ensures everyone knows what specific tasks they are responsible for in achieving this end. This is especially critical when the sales process get passed between a professional service lead to develop and then back to a sales lead to close. Using KPIs to establish benchmarks and analyze results allows you to identify sales trends, including what high-value activities to optimize (usually with digital content) and what new tactics to leverage. Overall, you learn why you win and when you lose.
In this economy, with the new rules of engagement, professional service sales need to use sales reporting to make informed and timely decisions. We use sales details and patterns because they help us to discover insights to generate revenue and grow your business. As a professional services sales outsourcing partner, we recommend that you:
Evaluate how many touches it should take to qualify a prospect
Identify the most important business pains your solution fixes
Identify what content is shared internally by your champion to move the deal forward
Understand what Return on Investment argument makes the most sense to specific markets
Evaluate how much time is spent educating a prospect
Evaluate how much time is spent scoping a project
Manage more efficiently by focusing on what’s working best and eliminating unproductive activities
Target markets that are ready to buy and nurture markets (and decision makers) that are still educating themselves
Effective sales reporting can help you get the most out of your existing professional services team and allow you to introduce sales reps into your complex sales process. Sales reporting will help you to clearly identify what messages and presentations can be digitized to spare your senior resources from attending meetings with prospects that don’t transact. It will also help you to more accurately predict when you need to hire more client servicing team members, decrease costs and strengthen customer upsells.
Professional Sales outsourcing can link you with the expertise necessary to establish a constructive sales reporting process, and provide you with the appropriate tools and metrics for your company. With over 12 years of experience as an outsourced sales operations company working with professional services firms, we can work with your team to monitor your data, leverage our historical data to benchmark you against the competition and identify areas for increased efficiencies and insights. Overall, we have found great sales reporting can lead to great insights, which yield great sales results. Feel free to contact us for a free pipe velocity consultation to see what sales reporting and strategy can do for your business.
Our job as a sales outsourcing company for professional services is not to replace your top producer. Our job is to augment what they do to increase their capacity. We will keep drilling on this point throughout this Series on Building Sales Machines for Professional Services because it’s important to remember that if you are considering outsourcing sales for professional services, no one can replace your Top Producing Professional Service Person. They are the product and they are required to close business.
In this blog we want to discuss two other unique challenges faced when outsourcing sales for professional services. They are:
The Professional Service Sales industry is often highly complex and time needs to be spent educating the buyer. The buyer needs to be educated to reduce their perceived risk.
Educating the Buyer is often when the Top Producer sells their intangible value like personality, leadership style, thinking style and communication style. You need to sell your intangibles to close business and increase margins.
The two issues above are discrete issues and so we will address them separately. In the end, what we hope to inspire are some new ways that you can leverage digital content and an inside rep to increase your sales pipe velocity. These techniques will also reduce the amount of time your most highly valued resources spend educating your customers.
The professional service sale is a highly complex sale. Time often needs to be invested in educating the prospect. Your prospects become intrigued and you love solutioning around what you do, so your top producers can end up investing several hours and several meetings educating the prospect. This is not cheap. Even worse, there is no guarantee that the deal is even qualified. Until you have done the education, in more complex sales, the prospect in many cases cannot evaluate if you are a fit. The math here is simple. Spend just 90 minutes educating the technical buyer and then another 90 minutes educating the business buyer (to establish if they are actually qualified) and you have 3 hours sunk in a sale before a deal is qualified. If only 25% of these sales leads are end up being sales qualified you can have 12 hours of your Top Producers time invested in direct dialogue and another 12 hours in preparation and follow up work. This means you have a sunk cost of 3 full working days to get one qualified deal and you haven’t even started selling. Addressing this issue is probably the single quickest bang for your dollar that you can get leveraging an outsourced sales company. When outsourcing sales for professional services, we integrate reps and digital content.
Challenge: Qualify the opportunity without taking Top Producers bandwidth
Solution: Script the initial intro presentation to be delivered by the inside sales rep. Leverage Webcasts moderated or led by your Top Producer, Video Taped Presentations showing your Top Producer, Blogs addressing early stage sales objections “written” by your Top Producer and White Papers to do the education for you. In some cases, we require the inside rep to understand their budgeting and decision making process before they have “live access” to the Top Producer. Bottom Line: You need to use Digital Content to maximize your Top Producers bandwidth.
Building on the point above, most professional service folks love educating the buyer because it allows them to problem solve by starting to engage in abstract and technical thinking. This is also a critical part of any professional services sale, because they need to sell their intangibles—critical thought, passion, personality and expertise—to the buyer. This builds trust. Trust is critical and required to get the deal done. What we find when working as a professional service outsourced sales provider, is the sharper the professional service person, the tougher it can be. This is because it is often difficult to stop him/her from educating buyers, because of the excitement generated by the solutioning on both sides.
Challenge: Selling the intangibles to build trust without crushing your Top Producer’s bandwidth.
Solution: You need to measure how much time your Top Producers are spending educating prospects and set limits on this investment. You need to leverage Webcasts, Video Blogging, and Whitepapers in your sale. This allows you to share the intangibles one to many, instead of one to one. You need to refuse to travel until you have a specific project on the table and scoped. You need to have a sales rep clearly accountable for the close of business and articulate that accountability to the prospect. This gives you the option to cut off access to the expert if the deal is not moving forward.
Outsourcing Sales and Marketing Operations for Professional Service Firms can help you increase the productivity of your Top Producers, increase the volume of deals in your sales pipeline, increase your margins by maximizing the revenue from closed deals and free up bandwidth to focus on serving your customers. Contact us to see if we can help you to build a professional services sales machine.