7 Questions to Ask When Choosing an External Sales Team
A good manager puts a lot of thought into each hire, carefully selecting the person who’s best for the job. They evaluate qualifications and experience, review expertise, and make sure the potential candidate fits in well with the company’s culture.
When it comes to choosing an external sales team, the review process can be even more stringent. After all, when you’re selecting external representatives to assist with sales prospecting, they are poised to serve as the face of your company to potential clients, leading their earliest interactions with your business.
The external sales team's communications give clients a first impression and let them know what they can expect in future business dealings. When the external sales team connects with prospects, they need to give a clear and inviting picture of how the prospects will be engaged when they choose to communicate with your company in the future.
When you’re evaluating external teams to conduct sales prospecting for your business, asking the following questions can help you make the best decision and find a company that will work with you toward a common goal.
#1 - What are their capabilities?
To ensure a good fit, you’ll need to fully understand the capabilities of the external sales team and how they fit with your current resources. You’ll also want to examine your definition of successful sales prospecting and determine whether the external team provides the resources you need.
You’ll want to investigate their team’s experience, including whether they’ve been successful in your region or in regions similar to yours. They’ll be building connections on your behalf, so you’ll want to ensure they have a good grasp of cultural norms, regulations and best practices in your business area.
#2 - What resources do they allocate for your success?
Just putting a group of salespeople to work isn’t enough. To ensure successful results from an external team, you’ll want to make sure they dedicate enough resources to fully understand your product and to respond in an agile manner to challenges and opportunities.
A great external sales team will allocate talented professionals who will work behind the scenes to ensure your success. They'll provide team members such as trainers, quality assurance coaches and content writers to help meet your goals.
To successfully prospect in a manner that leads to closing the deal, the sales team needs to have a good comprehension of your business and its values and competencies.
Working with a partner that allocates appropriate training resources within your external sales team ensures they’ll focus on the areas that spell success for your business, cultivating valuable prospects instead of just scatter shooting to create leads that don’t have a high likelihood of closing.
Quality assurance coaching
Quality assurance coaches are a must for any external sales team you’re evaluating. Without these dedicated team members, you’ll have difficulty evaluating your success. They can help you put a system in place to ensure your team is meeting your standards and optimizing your efforts.
The quality assurance team will also be responsible for reviewing communications with sales prospects. This will ensure your message is being properly conveyed and is resonating with your prospects, which is key in moving the deal forward to a successful closing.
To optimize your sales prospecting efforts, a content writer should be allocated to your team. The content writer will create powerful and persuasive communications that are tailored to your prospects.
Their efforts will provide the foundation for your success, as they’ll distill your most powerful selling points and use them to create emails, online content, social selling pieces, outbound calling scripts and more, all of which will contribute to your overall sales prospecting success.
#3 - How do they communicate with you?
According to consulting powerhouse Deloitte’s Global Outsourcing Survey, communication is the key to building a successful relationship with an external team. When you’re evaluating potential sales team partners, it can be beneficial to understand how you’ll interact with one another.
For example, the best sales prospecting teams will provide you with a dedicated point of contact, someone who will ensure your goals and objectives are being met. The relationship manager should be proactive in looking for opportunities to improve your sales efforts, focusing on finding strategies that fit your business and that can positively impact your team’s performance.
#4 - How do they communicate with your prospects?
There are a variety of ways to build a prospect list. You’ll want to make sure your external sales prospecting team is utilizing the avenues that work best for your business and that have been proven to help other businesses grow, as well.
External sales teams that successfully generate prospects build some of those relationships not only by reaching out but by being available whenever clients are reaching in. One highly-successful mechanism for creating prospect relationships is through Sales Chat.
By making Sales Chat available on your website, your external sales team can ensure they’re capturing leads for you 24/7 and meeting your potential buyers where they are. Sales Chat helps position your company as a trusted expert and advisor, and gives you a great starting point for transforming an information seeker into a prospect and then to a sale.
And, a great sales team will also have a structure in place to ensure they’re rapidly reaching out – striking while the iron is hot, so to speak – when a prospect expresses interest.
Outbound calling can be one of the most successful avenues for reaching out to buyers, especially once they’ve shown they’re in the market for your product.
Your sales team should be prepared to pick up the phone and make a connection. According to DiscoverOrg, 60% of IT leaders polled had booked appointments or requested further information following a cold call, a stat that shows the tremendous effectiveness of having this tool in your communications arsenal.
#5 - What technologies do they use?
Thanks to technology, there are more ways to connect with potential buyers than ever before. Instead of flipping through a Rolodex or business directory, social media gives teams in search of successful sales thousands of opportunities to connect with prospects.
For maximum success, your external sales team should have social selling in their arsenal.
Social selling has become an integral part of the sales prospecting funnel. In fact, more than 60% of prospective clients are likely to respond positively to a sales pitch once they’ve established a trusting relationship and been presented with a relevant opportunity via a professional social network like LinkedIn.
And, they should have the ability to interface with a variety of other sales and marketing tools.
Their efforts should be in sync to produce the best results. That means working with a team that has the capability to connect with data analytics, marketing automation, CRM tools and other valuable technology.
#6 - How do they link with your in-house team?
Your external sales team won’t be working in a bubble. Rather, they will need to work in tandem with another highly valuable group – your internal sales team.
It’s up to you to decide the level of involvement between these teams and at what point they’ll hand off leads. You may, for example, want your external team to be intensely dedicated to successful sales prospecting, while you bring in one of your in-house experts to finalize the relationship and close the deal.
Regardless of the point at which you transition from one team to the other, you’ll want to discuss these capabilities when deciding which external sales team to go with.
#7 - How do they determine success?
Success can look very different to different people, and one of the best ways to avoid disappointment and confusion is to discuss specific guidelines and goals up front.
Establish your own idea of success for the partnership, then communicate with the external sales teams you’re evaluating to see if those goals are reasonable and attainable. When you’re planning this conversation, the sky’s the limit – number of leads, expansion into new areas, etc. – and the sales teams you evaluate can let you know whether your vision for success aligns with their capabilities.
You’ll want to have an awareness of what normal success looks like for your industry, so you can benchmark against it. In addition, you’ll want to have an understanding of how and when you’ll discuss progress. Determine how frequently you’ll want updates and what your timeline for productive prospecting efforts will be.
Success from a good external sales team should be self-evident, as you see your leads and sales increasing. However, an exemplary team will take it a step further by dedicating quality assurance and relationship leaders to keep you up to date with opportunities for improvement, and by pushing the envelope when it comes to generating additional success.
So what now?
When it comes to putting an external sales team in place to build your prospect list, look for a team that connects you with high-potential prospects and turns them into valuable leads and deals. You want to work with an organization that can provide quality and quantity as they build relationships with prospects.
What questions do you think are invaluable when you’re evaluating a potential business partner? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: