Outsourcing at least a portion of your sales operations can be a smart move for early stage startups. It can accelerate growth, help bring in key early customers and expand the skill set and fill in the gaps that may be missing in your early team. For a bootstrapped, B2B SaaS startup this can especially make sense for technical founders or small product teams that don’t have lots of sales and marketing expertise.
There’s lots of writing out there that sales is too strategic to outsource and that even highly technical founders need to be sales driven. In an ideal world this is true, but the Technical Founder has a choice – spend lots of time and try to develop these capabilities in house, or partner with a firm that already has these capabilities and focus limited time and energy on where he/she drives real value. Just as there are lots of experience, tools, and a network of connections that allows skilled developers and technical types to build great products efficiently, an experienced sales and marketing firm can do the same to drive immediate revenue.
Some Best Practices for working with an Outsourced Sales Team:
- First and foremost obviously look to find a long term partner. Beyond the interview/getting to know process, there will be a ramp up time for the sales firm to understand your value proposition, product, pricing, ideal target customers, use cases, etc., not to mention typical sales cycles to start seeing revenue. If you find a good partner it is best to invest in the relationship up front. Consider a retainer vs. pure commission setup so both sides are committed to seriously making it work and have skin in the game.
- An ideal outsourced sales partner, rep firm or reseller will be focused on your niche. They’ll understand your offerings, perhaps sell complementary ones, and have a network of contacts to tap into that fit your target customer profile.
- Go on calls/meetings together with the sales firm, particularly early on. The firm will better understand your positioning and responses to objectives to use later on their own, and you’ll get a feel for the firms style and hear direct customer feedback.
- Share leads with the outsourced sales firm/reseller. Keeps them engaged and your product top of mind.
- Have a weekly or bi-weekly call with the outsourced sales firm. Even if it’s 15 mins to get an update on pipeline, talk through prospect/customer feedback, or update them on product roadmap it’s important to keep the lines of communications open and both sides accountable.
- Set up a CRM system (many are free/low cost to start) for the outsourced firm to use. This will give you visibility into pipeline, get a sense of how much outbound activity is happening, and what is happening on any specific account. If the engagement ends you’ll have a database of customers/prospects and history of communications to start with.
- Look to productize and systemize the sales operations and processes. As your team grows it may make sense to bring some or all of these capabilities in house.
If you are in the B2B marketing, SaaS or Ad Sales niche and looking for an outsourced sales partner contact TechCrowds.