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18 Jun 2020 / durhamlane

The true cost of managing a sales operation, and why you should consider outsourcing

Lee Durham

by Lee Durham

businessman with chess pieces and money

The business community is facing unprecedented pressure on their P&L. Many have seen their revenues and profits tumble due to the lockdown, and those able to continue trading have faced unplanned costs in restructuring their workplace environments and operating models enabling them to do so safely. 

We have seen ‘traditional’ routes to market in some sectors disappearing overnight, and creativity in sourcing new customers from untested methods at an all-time-high. This pandemic will result in a competitive environment, the likes of which few of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

Big news has been made of industry giants restructuring their cost-base to ensure continued financial viability, at least in the short term. In the past three months, we have seen an agility in businesses both large and small that has been both refreshing and exciting. 

Decisions being made ‘on the fly’ to enable them to operate safely, first and foremost, through the crisis, will hopefully result in an air of confidence going forwards that elephants can indeed turn on a sixpence.

This new creativity and willingness to operate with agility presents an opportunity for greater reflection on other changes that can benefit our businesses in the longer term. Now is the time to properly reflect on the ROI of every Pound spent. Many will be surprised, and not in a good way, that the many hidden costs associated with running their sales team diminish their overall returns significantly.

I feel, now more than ever, it’s important to highlight the true cost of managing a sales operation internally. All commercial businesses have them, and so ingrained are they, that their costs are accepted as a necessity, right? Right! However, it is also important to look beyond just the detail of the cost centre. Behind this, is a cost related to lost opportunities that, if left unchecked, may detrimentally impact your business growth. Let’s start with the four Ds:

Discipline

Holding our people to account is important in any function; but never more so than in Sales. 

The rigour required in the sales cycle is immense and intense. Creating opportunities. Converting cold calls. Promotions activity. Building relationships. Understanding needs. Developing solutions. Closing the sale. 

All of these elements have targets that must be managed closely to enable optimum sales performance. Unfortunately, it is often the case that this rigour is not evident and under-performing team members can continue to negatively impact the business results.

Distractions

Good salespeople love the chase. Unfortunately, in a B2B environment, they are often prevented from running the race.

They get bogged down in operational issues that are impacting the client relationship, and the client sees them as the owner of their problems. This can become an easy place to hide and getting back up to full race fitness can be a real challenge. The sales team can essentially become Account Directors and justify their inability to meet their sales target because they are dealing with distractions elsewhere.

Data

Data is king and the competition is high. 

It is imperative not to waste a golden nugget of an opportunity that isn’t obvious to the naked eye. Cold calling is good old-fashioned hard graft. Good cold-callers are intelligent, personable, and have great investigative skills with high EQ. Many businesses fail to invest properly in their tier 1 sales teams and generate unquantifiable lost opportunities as a result.

Development

When sales is your function, not your product, it is easy to assume that your business employs sales people that come fully skilled.

It’s also easy to assume that they keep themselves up-to-date with the latest knowledge and techniques related to their discipline. Few companies spend what they need to in order to keep their sales team fresh and relevant as markets change. 

This can result in losing out to the competition who have a better story to tell and a better way of telling it. Your sales team can actually start costing you sales rather than generating them.

GDP fell by 2% in Q1 and 5.8% in March versus February, our trade deal with the EU is far from resolved, and according to a panel of 50 economists, some forecast the world economy will shrink as much as 6% in 2020. Ensuring the return on every pound of investment can be measured has never been more important. There is no place for hidden costs in these times.

 We can all appreciate why cutting marketing spend is counter-intuitive to a business growth strategy; but many will feel forced to do it. At times of financial challenge, businesses often fail to appreciate the power and importance of a closed-loop sales cycle and reduce or remove elements that enable their sales team to perform at optimum levels.

Outsourcing sales, historically, has often been about high-volume, low-value cold calling. That is changing, and in the same way that businesses have leveraged the benefit of buying other services from outsourced partners, there is a new generation of businesses that are now reaching out to experts in sales and marketing to support them in creating demand, converting opportunity, and closing sales.

Sales is our product, we sell it as a service, and add value to your business and/or your existing sales function. There is no opportunity for hidden costs in our operating model. We provide a brand-relevant professional approach that is highly disciplined (we meet your targets, no questions); free from distractions; uses the data intelligently; and prides itself on maintaining the very high standards of performance from our sales experts through their continuous development.

Enjoyed this article? You may be interested in our Reasons to Use Sales Outsourcing eBook.

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