Selling Power Magazine Article

Should You Outsource Your Sales Force?
Gerhard Gschwandtner
Many CEO's wonder if they are getting the best possible ROI on their sales force investment. Until a few years ago, they had little choice. But times have changed. The unbundling of corporate services (such as outsourcing payroll, human resources, IT, telemarketing, legal services, and so forth) is continuing at a rapid pace. A few years ago, outsourcing a sales force was a novelty. Today it has become a trend that enjoys a 20 percent annual growth rate. Research shows that outsourcing (or supplementing) a sales force with the right partner can boost sales while cutting costs.

Gary Polson, CEO of Cydcor, the nation's largest outsourced sales company, believes that companies don't always have access to cost-effective resources to capture unique opportunities in the market. Cydcor has recruited and trained over 2,000 salespeople to make b-to-b cold calls to sell business services such as telecommunications, credit card processing, or office supplies. Says Polson, "We have perfected the art of the one-call close." Cydcor deployed over 500 salespeople for Quill, an office and computer supply company; it increased sales and lowered customer acquisition costs.

Peter Groop, CEO of Fusion Sales Partners, told Selling Power that his outsourced sales teams work in sync with his b-to-b clients' existing sales organization. "While our clients' sales force specializes on low-hanging fruit," says Groop, "our sales team climbs up higher and harvests opportunities that would otherwise go to the competition." Says Groop, "We offer a distinct edge over a corporate sales force, because we don't weigh salespeople down with a lot of corporate diversions. Our team can focus 100 percent on selling and pursuing fresh opportunities." Fusion Sales Partners closed half a billion dollars worth of business for one Fortune 500 client during the past 12 months.

Each sales outsourcing company occupies a special niche to meet unique sales and marketing challenges. For example, Corporate Rain, a New York-based company founded by Timothy Askew, offers a customized system of initiating new contacts and relationships with high-level corporate executives. Askew, who is passionate about new client acquisition says, "We practice high-level corporate sales initiation as an art form."

Sales leaders who are shopping for outsourcing companies should keep in mind to hire a partner, not just a provider. Outsourcing is more than a contract, it is a business relationship that requires smart governance. Test the waters before making a full commitment. Ask questions such as, "Can you run a campaign in one market and test the profitability before expanding to additional territories? How do you integrate your team with our existing sales organization?"

Peter Kadens, CEO of Acquirent, a company that runs sales for many mid-sized companies, explains the chief reason for outsourcing sales: "Many companies have far more potential to grow sales than they have resources to capture that growth." Kadens is currently forming an Association of National Sales Outsourcers, another indication of a fast-growing industry. Sales outsourcing has quietly become a powerful and cost-effective management tool that's not a passing fad, but part of a highly effective business model.
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