20
Mar
09

Outsourcing Sales and Building Relationships

The nature of the selling process is going through another revolution, where relationships and goal alignment – not product knowledge – will be critical success factors for sales professionals. The ability to steer a purchase discussion away from pricing on a particular item and towards performance against meaningful goals will mean the difference between making a price-dependent, commodity sale, and developing a stable and profitable customer base.

Outsourcing is also affecting the nature of this revolution, as companies find outside specialists deliver their non-core requirements. Increasingly, Sales and Marketing are becoming a part of that mix – especially in niche markets or alternative market segments. This model is going beyond the traditional Manufacturer’s Representative or distributor network. It’s moving up the chain to the strategic and management functions within the company.

It’s certainly an interesting proposition: the Sales and Marketing functions are usually not core competencies for most companies, but have rarely been thought of in an outsourcing light. Customer relationships and the ability to control the company’s brand(s) trumped any cost or efficiency considerations.

The economic crisis has changed that equation. The latest cost pressures have caused companies to reconsider everything they do and how it gets done. That includes outsourcing the execution of Sales and Marketing.

On one plane, this makes perfect sense. If your company does not have high-level skills within your organization, outsource the function. Outsourcing can save money (as you only buy the services needed), but more importantly, it can save time and be more effective than trying to build the skills in-house. Never before has so much talent been available with tailored solutions to address particular Sales and Marketing situations. Even modest sized companies can hire world-class talent to drive these functions.

Of course, outsourcing means someone else will be on the front line with your prospects. A clear plan for managing those relationships must be a clear part of the outsourcing initiative. Those plans should include regular business reviews with key customers, processes to measure the success of all initiatives, and clear correction mechanisms for any significant deviations from the plan. This will require creative, non-traditional thinking to make any solution a success.

Outsourcing Sales and Marketing may be a terrific option for your operation, lowering costs, increasing effectiveness, and making world-class talent available to your organization. These gains can be realized without losing customer relationships, but it requires careful thought and deliberate nurturing of the critical parts of your marketplace!

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