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February 2, 2008

A few months age, I began receiving a phone call or two a week from foreign sales people trying to sell me outsourced sales/BD services. I was stunned, not because of the calls, but because all the callers to date have not spoken American English very well. In fact, when I tried to tell them what I expect from a salesperson, they misunderstood what I was saying and would say yes to everything even when a no or some other response was required. If one intends to sell these types of services they need to fully understand the prospect and be able to sell the concept and speak the language. 

Most companies struggle with trying to figure out how they will go about outsourcing lead generation let alone direct sales. We know that many companies garner a very positive ROI from pre-qualified leads. But you have to know what questions to ask and understand the different types of services available within the “pre-qualified” to know what service the telemarketing company really provides. It gets far more complicated when you look at outsourcing sales teams. In the states, we do have some good outsourced sales services companies that use very experienced sales/BD executives who are familiar with the “C” groups and the many issues that B2B faces, but even they have to pick and choose the right partners to make sure that all parties are successful. For hiring telemarketers who will help you with an easy value proposition such as building a prospect list, mapping an organization and decision hierarchy and qualifying at the “C” or Director level for appointment setting only – you will need to:

1.) Be certain that outside lead generators are not recognized as such. They really need to act as an extension of your team.

2.) Telemarketer must know the subject matter and properly explain the value proposition. The agenda and purpose for the “meeting” must be clearly understood. Your reputation is on the line, not to mention your salespersons time and the cost of doing business.

3.) Focus on how the meeting was set-up, was it bullying, pressure, misinformation, etc. If it was any of these things your salespeople might be walking into a meeting where the CIO has no idea of the subject matter, no interest, or has a completely different idea of why the meeting was set-up.

4.) If you can, have the telemarketers reps based in your offices

5.) Make sure the BD folks from the telemarketing firm spend at least a day with you to understand what it is that you do and have them show you how they will explain it to your prospective constituency.

6.) Build a quality matrix and benchmarks

7.) Test, re-test and refine

8.) Be in constant communication with your telemarketing company and have one point person to go to.

9.) Invest a lot of time in developing your requirements and get “signed” buy-in from the provider

10.) Don’t commit to any long term relationship.

All of this needs to be done just for hiring a telemarketing organization, not a sales organization. I could go on but this is food for thought just so  companies don’t cut their throats while looking to cut costs.

If you’re a professional sales person selling products/services, your probably shaking your head right now and thinking that anyone who considers outsourcing sales is nuts. For the moment you may not need to worry about it because this is not a question that many companies are seriously asking themselves now. But you should know that there are a number of sales outsourcing organizations in India asking companies in the U.S. and elsewhere to buy into the idea, and my guess is that in a down market it could be tempting for companies looking to cut costs

Your thoughts please!

One Comment leave one →
  1. wealthmatrixmystem permalink
    February 8, 2008 7:16 pm

    As an experienced bootstrapper, I’ve been thinking of ways to outsource the sales and marketing aspect of my business effectively.
    Although some of your suggestions are not directly relevant to my level of activity, I think you make some good points.

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