How Outsourcing Sales Management Improves Sales for SMEs

A growing trend among small to medium-sized enterprises is to engage in outsourced sales management. This allows companies to access highly skilled sales professionals at substantially lower costs than hiring an employee.

In fact, many SMEs are now seeing outsourced sales management as a surefire way to boost their economic growth while keeping the size of their teams manageable. In this article, we explore the seven top reasons why finding an outsourced sales manager could be your ticket to increased sales at lower costs.

1) Improved Processes

Many SMEs lack a well-defined sales process or they struggle to follow the one they already have in place. A third-party sales manager can help in this area by creating a professional sales process or by reviewing and making improvements to an existing one. These sales mercenaries likely already have a tried and true plan that has worked elsewhere and can be tailored to fit your team’s needs, strategies and goals.

2) Lowered Costs and Increased Profits

Adding a sales management consultant to your team will reduce the costs associated with hiring a full-time employee which will free up budget space to go after new sales leads and increase spending in other areas proven to boost sales performance. In fact, a qualified and experienced consultant can help you plan to use these saved funds to target qualified leads, drive inbound traffic, convert leads and nurture relationships with prospects and existing customers alike.

3) Increased Motivation and Mentorship for the Existing Team

By bringing in a hired gun, your existing sales team members will get the message that they need to raise their games. In addition to bringing new ideas and concepts to your company and the team members they work with, their presence will subtly send an important message to your existing sales professionals that the status quo is no longer good enough.

4) Improved Recruitment and Team Management

Many SMEs don’t have professional sales recruiting and management teams because they literally don’t even know where to start in this highly specialized area. The right consultant will not only be able to pitch in and boost sales right away, they will also have the experience and the know-how to help you flush out this critical part of your company’s future sales success and create a professional environment for your employees.

5) Accelerated Sales Funnel

Many SME owners wear multiple hats and are therefore unable to dedicate themselves solely to improving and managing their sales processes. This can lead to gaps and choke points in the sales funnel which in turn can lead to lost sales. An expert outside sales manager will be able to review your existing funnel and provide solutions to any recurring challenges. For example, they will be able to assist with how best to identify solid prospects and how to market to them to ensure they make it all the way through the funnel.

6) Boosted Scalability

Because of an inherent lack of resources, many SMEs are more susceptible to market changes than the larger companies they compete against. By bringing in the right consultant to provide proven solutions at the appropriate time, your lack of size can become an advantage as your company becomes more flexible and agile. By adding a third-party expert to guide your team through these challenges, it is possible you will actually prosper during market shifts instead of being hurt by them.

7) Improved Access to New Technology

In today’s highly digital world, it can be a full-time job just keeping up with all the new technological advancements. Employees can tend to become comfortable using tools they are familiar with whereas any outside sales management consultant worth their salt will be up to speed on all the latest tools and be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to adding performance-enhancing technology to your operation.

SUMMARY: Finding an expert outside sales manager can have a hugely positive impact on small to medium-sized businesses at a far lower cost than one might expect. However, as with anything in business, it is important to carry out an appropriate level of due diligence to find the right fit for your company.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is a journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.

How to Leverage Personal Contacts to Improve Sales

As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. According to many leading sales coaches, this adage is especially true when it comes to being successful at selling. You can do this by learning how to leverage personal contacts to improve sales numbers.

While many salespeople are hesitant about reaching out to their friends and family, there is little doubt personal networks can be a goldmine for professionals willing to make that first call.

It makes sense. People are far more likely to trust someone they know than some random salesperson they’ve never spoken to before. Because of this, you are more likely to make a sale if you have a personal connection to the person you’re pitching to.

Three out of four businesses say they prefer working with sales professionals who were recommended by somebody they know and trust. Additionally, research shows more than 90% of people are more likely to trust referrals from people they know.

Why You Should Leverage Your Connections to Improve Sales

There are many benefits to mining your personal connections. Learning to leverage personal contacts to improve sales can bring you more business and better customers. At the same time, you should feel more comfortable approaching them. One limiting belief that is common among salespeople is that they shouldn’t mix professional life with personal life. While in some cases this may be true, the fact is most people who know you also trust you and are willing to help you succeed.

It is also important to remember recommendations are a very effective way to grow your business and your personal connections can be very helpful in this area. Personally qualified referrals can help bridge otherwise uncrossable gaps to new prospects as, without that connection, you are a stranger to the prospect and they have no reason to trust you.

On the other hand, the person referring you can help turn that cold lead into a warm one and help you move through the process much faster than would have been possible otherwise.

This is also an inexpensive and efficient way to reach new prospects. With much of the usual ‘getting to know you’ process eliminated, you are able to move through to closing far more quickly than otherwise would have been possible.

Start With a Higher Level of Trust

This method of growing your clientele is becoming a mainstay piece of advice for many industry-leading sales trainers. In fact, most now believe that an introduction from a personal connection is the best way possible introduction to a new prospect with calling and emailing falling to a distant second and third place.

There is simply no easier way to get a conversation started than through a mutual connection. Once connected, the first step towards success is to make the process as easy as possible by explaining the value you have already provided to your common acquaintance and the value that you will be able to offer the new prospect.

Your mutual connection allows you to know more about the prospect before you reach out to them. For example, they can provide advice about the best way to contact the prospect. Even better, they may offer to make that first contact for you and help set up an initial meeting. A great tip is to provide your contact with an email draft that they can customize before sending it to the prospect.

How to Leverage Personal Contacts to Improve Sales

Even though there are multiple upsides to employing this type of prospecting, the many nuances involved often stop sales professionals from using it. Be sure to include this topic the next time you conduct training for your sales team.

Additionally, it is important to understand that personal networks don’t only come from existing clients, friends, and family. However, the closer your referral is to your prospect, the better. That person should be someone your prospect respects, trusts, and considers credible.

Before reaching out to your contact, make sure you have an appropriate product or service to pitch. Furthermore, always conduct yourself in a professional manner. No-one is going to want to make an introduction for you if you can’t be professional with them, no matter how well they know you.

Remember, your contact is taking on the responsibility of introducing you to one of their connections. This raises the stakes on both sides. Give your contact space to reach out and don’t pressure them with unnecessary calls.

Understand that it may take some time so be patient. Also, don’t forget to act professionally to avoid damaging your reputation or causing your contact to question your intent. Avoid reaching out to the prospect without running it by your mutual contact first. It’s a small courtesy that may end up saving both relationships.

Here are a few key tips gleaned from the teachings of top certified sales coaches:

  • Avoid asking the same person for multiple introductions
  • Explain clearly why you’re asking for the introduction
  • Outline the value to the intended prospect
  • Give your connection an easy way to decline your request
  • Keep your connection informed about progress
  • Don’t pressure your contacts
  • Don’t forget to thank your contact
  • Offer more referrals. The more you give, the more you get

Learning how to leverage your personal contacts to improve sales is not only doable, it is a key part of the success enjoyed by many leading sales professionals. If you’re still on the fence about approaching your friends and family for help, hopefully, this article has made you realize that you should ‘get over it.’ Who knows? You might even be doing them a favor!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is a journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.

Team-Sales-Training

The Many Benefits of Executive Sales Leadership Training

Team-Sales-Training

As effective business leaders or owners know, finding role-specific training for their employees is critical to the overall success of any company. In particular, this type of specialization allows the sales team to be equipped with the tools, resources, training, and opportunities they need to operate at their full potential.

It is also important when it comes to executive sales recruitment and finding the right training for your sales executives as, contrary to a commonly held misconception, they are not the same thing as sales managers. And, while there are any number of training programs available to choose from for your sales managers, executive sales leadership training can be a little more difficult to find, according to leading sales trainers.

A study by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) recently found that only 10% of companies train their sales leaders to a high extent while over 20% do not train them at all. On the other end of the scale, the study found that about 65% of those companies train their salespeople on selling skills at least once a year.

The skills needed to be an effective sales executive are not the same as those required to be a successful salesperson or sales manager. Because of this, finding a talented sales executive can be challenging as many of the skills they need are not obvious if they are currently a member of your sales team.

If you choose to look for an experienced sales executive outside of the company, it will still be important to ensure they have access to ongoing career development so they can continue to contribute to your company. By failing to provide access to executive sales leadership training, you could be hurting your company by limiting employees’ chances for success.

So, whether you are planning to hire a new sales executive, promote from within or are simply trying to get the most out of the sales executives you already have, investing in industry-leading training for your sales team will help your company get where you want it to go. Here is who will benefit from executive sales leadership training:

A member of your sales team with leadership potential

As any successful sales trainer will tell you, finding role-specific training for employees is critical to the overall success of any company. This is particularly important when it comes to finding the right training for your sales team leaders. Executive sales leadership training programs should be tailored to each organization and employee to suit their unique situation and provide the best possible learning experience.

An underperforming sales executive

It is important to remember to provide a proportionate level of training and coaching to your company’s sales executives as well as your frontline salespeople. Often, a lack of sales executive coaching and training is the reason they are failing or performing below expectations. While commonplace in many workplaces across the United States, neglecting to invest in the development of sales executives can be a costly mistake.

A promoted employee who lacks the leadership skills and tools needed for their new role

For anyone working in sales, one of the biggest challenges you can face is becoming a sales leader or executive after a career as a rep or a manager. Just because a person is highly skilled at closing deals does not mean they naturally have what it takes to lead people and plan strategically. They must be taught how to translate a company’s mission, values, and vision into a clear game-plan that their teams can get excited about and dedicate themselves to.

A skilled sales leader in need of an attitude adjustment to realize their full potential

Sales leaders must understand they are only as good as the teams they manage and their primary role is to make the people around them better. Executive sales leadership training teaches sales leaders how to define tasks, set achievable objectives, and maintain control over their teams. Good people skills alone are not enough. They must be able to take a logical and planned approach to help their teams maximize results.

Executive sales leadership training will be beneficial for your whole company

With it you will create a focused vision and mission statement for your company and set measurable goals and objectives that you and your team can follow. These sales team trainings will also help you to learn how to manage change, develop plans and methodologies to ensure your team is motivated to continuously exceed client expectations.

Investing in top-notch executive sales leadership training will help you develop a sales strategy that will take your company to new heights. The key is to find training that is specifically tailored to your industry and your employees.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is a journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.

Why You Need to Double Your First Sales Pre-Call Research

The Chinese philospher Lao Tzu once said: “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

While it is unlikely he had the modern sales professional in mind when he said this, that doesn’t make his words any less applicable to those hoping to be a success in the industry today.

Most salespeople already understand how important it is to know as much as possible about a prospect and their company before trying to sell to them. The successful ones practice the research aspect of first call preparation religeously and often reap the rewards of knowing exactly how they can provide a solution to a prospect’s challenge. Less successful sales professionals frequently skip this step in favor of “winging it.”

However, both groups are usually guilty of skipping an equally critical step in preparing for that first call: They neglect to research themselves.

How much should you know about yourself before reaching out?

Before picking up the phone to make a first-contact sales call, it is critically important you know everything there is to know about your own company. As any top sales coach will tell you, you should know your company’s history, its leadership as well as its products and services inside and out.

Before you can even start crafting your pitch, you must understand exactly what makes your company’s products or services valuable to others even if they are not the products or services you are specifically charged with selling. Just as it is nearly impossible to sell a product or service you don’t believe in or fully understand, it is extremely difficult to sell anything if you don’t believe in your company or its mission.

Make sure you know what makes you and your company stand out from the competition. Only then will it become obvious how what you have to offer will be a solution to your clients’ problem.

Even the downsides can be upsides

Conducting a deep dive on your own company might result in discovering some – shall we say – less than favorable information. Obviously, you shouldn’t volunteer this information to your prospects but knowing these issues exist will help you to respond effectively if a customer or client ever brings them up. You might even be able to turn them into positives.

Remember, nothing beats being an expert with superior product knowledge. Knowing your own company’s products or services better than anyone else will be a key factor when it comes to winning new business and closing deals.

At this point, if you’re struggling to understand why you should put so much effort into knowing everything about your company and its products and services, try putting yourself in the shoes of a potential client.

What would you do?

Would you buy from someone you repeatedly have to ask questions about their products? Is there anything more frustrating than asking a question about a product or service only to be told “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to get back to you on that”? Chances are you’d be just as inclined as your prospective customer to seek out someone who does have the answers i.e. the competition.

If, on the other hand, you are able to display a deep knowledge of (and pride in) your comany and its products and services, you’ll be more likely to be seen as a valuable resource that can help them grow their business.

That is why you should read all your company’s press releases, blogs and newsletters to stay current on any updates and developments. You should also try to spend as much time as you can with the sales engineers who know the technical aspects of the products your trying to sell.

Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard

Part of the challenge here is that few people go into sales thinking they will have to do all of this “extra” work. Well, there’s a reason sales is considered the highest paying hard work or the lowest paying easy work you’ll ever have.

Bottome Line: It is a lot of hard work and you will spend a lot of time on things that may seem outside the scope of your role. But, the value you create for your company and your customers by going above-and-beyond will see you well rewarded in the end.

What comes next?

So, all your hard work has paid off and you closed the sale. Now what? If you answered “more hard work,” you’re starting to get the message!

It’s not enough to understand how your company’s current products and services work, you must stay on top of developments to know what’s coming in the future and how it may provide additional solutions to your customers’ evolving challenges.

Industry-leading certified sales coaches recommend subscribing to customers’ blogs and newsletters to stay up to speed with what they’re doing and what their future needs might be.

It’s not all bad news

While the thought of doing all this research might seem daunting at first, it’s not actually as bad as it sounds because most of it will only have to be done once. For example, once you know your company’s history, you know it. From that point on, it will simply be a case of keeping an eye out for new developments in the story.

Of course, there’s a little more to it with potential customers as you will have to do a deep dive for each and every new one. However, once they become a established client, you’ll be in the same position you are with your own company in terms of just staying up to speed with developments.

There is no better way to establish and build a relationship with a customer than to know them as well – or better – than they know themselves. Calling them first to say, “I heard you guys are thinking of doing this and I think we can help” is always going to be more effective than sitting there waiting for the phone to ring.

As any top sales coach will tell you, failing to prepare is the same thing as preparing to fail. So, the choice is yours: Do the hard work and be rewarded for it or don’t do it and continue to struggle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.

The Five Best Sales Books Ever Written

Being a successful entrepreneur means the quest for new skills and knowledge never ends. Reading, taking online courses, speaking with more experienced contemporaries, learning from mistakes and failures are all part of the process that will take you where you want to go.

As a sales professional, your area of study should be a little more focused as you need to enhance your persuasion techniques and negotiation skills as well as your ability to communicate effectively with potential clients and customers. These are some of the most important traits of a successful salesperson as you endeavor to separate yourself, your company and your products from the competition.

At first, just knowing where to go to find the information to help you on your journey can be challenging. If you already work with a trusted sales coach, you should ask them to provide you with a list of resources for additional study.

Otherwise, here is a list of the five best sales books ever written to help you get started. Whether you are an experienced professional looking to beat your current monthly sales record or a rookie just starting out, these books are must-reads that will change your life! Enjoy:

ZigZiglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale

Written by Zig Ziglar, this book contains tips and trick on how to sell your product and make everyone you pitch to say: “I’ll take it!“ In less than 500 pages, the author outlines more than 100 persuasive closes in addition to over 700 questions every salesman should ask himself. Renowned for his powers of persuasion, Ziglar is widely considered one of the most successful motivational speakers in history. This book is something every serious salesperson should own.

How to Sell Anything to Anybody

Authored by Joe Girard, this book was first published in 1978 and is now considered a classic. Part of the reason for this lies in the fact that Girard made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for selling 1,425 cars in one year (1973). Throughout the book, Girard shares best sales practices learned throughout his career and offers useful advice to those hoping to follow in his footsteps.

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Through the story of a poor camel boy named Hamid who achieves success with his selling skills, author Og Mandino shares his key essentials to becoming a successful sales professional. The book includes The Legend of the Ten Scrolls with each scroll outlining a key attribute necessary to make it in the sales business. Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey has said this book changed his life so why don’t you let it change yours too?

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling

Following an unremarkable careers in professional baseball, author Frank Bettger turned to selling insurance to make a living. Nothing short of an epic failure at the beginning of his career, he considered moving into a different field after just 10 months. However, heeding a lesson learned from a baseball manager who had cut him, he changed his attitude and his approach and by the time his was 40-years-old, he owned a large country estate and was one of the most successful salespeople in the world. A must-read for anyone doubting the power of “faking it until you make it.“

How to Win Friends and Influence People

With over 30 millions of copies sold worldwide, Dale Carnegie’s classic is one of the bestselling books of all the time. With good reason as Carnegie offers solid advice on how to make people like you and how to win them over to your way of thinking with little or no resistance. The book expounds on the fundamentals of handling people in addition to offering tips and tricks on how to make your home life happier. Keep an eye out for the passage that talks about the magic of the phrase, “Do me a favor …“ The power of starting a request with these five words is truly remarkable!

While reading all of these books will take a while, it will be time well spent and your sales managers will thank and reward you for it. Inside these volumes, you will find some of the best sales coaching practices out there and the sooner you start implementing them, the sooner you will start blowing away the competition.

Don’t forget … if you’re not a big reader, all of the above titles are now available on audiobook. Alternatively, any industry-leading sales coach or sales trainer will be well versed in the strategies outlined in their pages.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.