You may think it’s not your job to train an outside sales team. After all, you’re paying for a team manager and a trainer as part of your outsourced sales team’s overall package.
And, it turns out, you’re partially right.
Your outsourced sales team’s leaders will focus on making sure the team performs well and meets your goals. However, the best results can only be achieved when there are good relationships and ground rules in place before the selling starts, as well as regular check-ins throughout the process.
Think about it the same way you think about dating someone new. When the sparks first fly, you think about the other person constantly, wondering if they feel the same way about you. While their behavior gives you some insight into their feelings, sometimes it’s easiest to just spell things out and make sure you’re on the same page.
That big conversation in dating is sometimes referred to as a “DTR,” or a ‘’Define the Relationship’’ talk. When you start work with a new outsourced sales team, you need to have this conversation as well in order to define your partnership and how best to work together.
Even as your relationship as business partners progresses, additional conversations can help your relationship evolve by making adjustments if your outsourced sales team isn’t meeting expectations.
Early conversations with your managed sales team are a part of this training process, setting the tone for the entire relationship. In them, be as forthcoming as possible regarding your industry, analytics and goals, while at the same time being open to suggestions and feedback from your outsourced sales partner.
#1 - Understand what the stats look like for your industry
Reaching for the stars is admirable, but temper your expectations with reality. Your managed sales partner will be able to share statistics on how similar businesses succeed - whether you can expect a longer sales cycle (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it gives you more time to engage more deeply with leads), a larger group of decision makers (an average of 5.4 people are typically included in the B2B sales decision making process) or additional due diligence and regulatory review on the part of your potential clients.
#2 - Set clear expectations with your relationship manager
Your relationship manager is the key to success with your outsourced sales team. They’re hard-working team leaders, but they’re not necessarily mind readers. Talk with them and let them know how you prefer to communicate.
If you want to “set it and forget it” with their sales team, let the relationship manager know that you’re a big picture person. If you want a weekly or monthly update, let them know what you expect that update to include.
#3 - Give good access to data
Connect your outsourced sales team with whatever information you can provide, whether it’s your current sales funnel, your website’s traffic analytics or that list of prospects that you just haven’t had time to reach out to yet.
The better the quality of the information that’s available to them, the more they can use that data to target the right leads and give you a good return on your investment.
#4 - Look at the innovative/most successful tools you can offer
Your outsourced sales team may have resources that fit your needs that you haven’t used yet. Look at them with an open mind, whether it’s switching your process for outbound calling or using sales chat as a way to connect with prospects. Social selling, for example, can be a very successful communication resource - 78 percent of sales people use social selling as a tactic perform better than their peers.
#5 - Determine what other tools you need
Your managed sales partner should have experience working with other clients to build good partnerships, as well as a wealth of knowledge gleaned from other successful sales partnerships.
Ask them where they see other clients benefiting from technology that they use in the sales process, and see if it’s appropriate for your business to adopt these tools as well. Your partner may have vendors who already easily integrate into their own technology platform, or that they know provide outstanding sales results.
#6 - Build strategy together
Although it may seem time-consuming, devote yourself to a rigorous review of the training materials your outsourced sales team has prepared for their representatives. While they’re the experts on generating sales, you’re the expert on your company’s products and services. There may be nuances to your business that you can share that’ll help them to sell more easily.
In this area, it’s also important to hear what they have to say. Something that makes perfect sense to you as an expert on the business might be a little cloudier to new prospects who are unfamiliar with your technology or line of work.
Conversations on sales success and training shouldn’t stop just because you get the partnership up and running successfully. In a dating relationship, if the conversations stop, you have the potential to lose interest in each other or to drift apart.
It’s the same for your outsourced sales relationship. Even when things are going well, take time for regular conversations and prioritize them as a crucial training opportunity. Rather than becoming complacent, make time for each other and your working relationship, as a way to advance your success.
#7 - Always look for little ways to improve
Sometimes, small changes can make a big difference.
If data shows that certain call times are better than others, for example, your team may consider changing the times when they reach out to prospects. Just a small shift can make a big difference and impact your productivity.
The same goes for resources like sales chat services. If you’re using AI to start conversations with clients, something as seemingly trivial as incorporating emojis can have an impact on approachability.
These small items may seem negligible, but keeping open lines of conversation with your outsourced sales partner and sharing these types of suggestions can help them to be proactive in searching for ways to improve as well.
#8 - Watch the big picture as well
Your outsourced sales partners should always be looking for new ways to innovate. And because they’re typically working with partners in multiple industries, they may see other businesses having success with particular strategies that could translate to your arena.
Indicate to the team that you’re interested in hearing feedback and finding ways to be better. Letting them know that the lines of communication are open - and that you’re ready to try new things - may lead to additional success stories.
Working with an outsourced sales team won’t always be perfect, sad to say. Every relationship has its rough spots, and the best way to navigate around them is through communication. It’s better to have a quick conversation ASAP - even if you’re nervous about it - than to wait until a problem becomes insurmountable before addressing it.
#9 - Make QA part of your talk track
The best way to point out an issue is to express your concern in a fact-based manner. Rather than encouraging an emotional reaction, facts give you the authority to have a neutral, yet unarguable, conversation.
If you and your relationship manager spot a potential problem, review your quality assurance data and find evidence to back it up. It’s harder to have an issue become emotional or frustration-based when you’re looking at black-and-white data, instead of just sharing feelings or opinions.
#10 - Don’t be afraid to speak up
Finally, keep in mind that your sales team is going a mile a minute to achieve the best possible results for you. Because they’re moving so quickly (at least, they should be), items can be missed or important institutional knowledge isn’t passed along.
Instead of letting an issue fester, speak up and share how you’d like to see things handled differently. At that point, they can share their views or best practices, leading to a healthy dialogue about the way efforts should move forward in the future.
Whether it’s dating, marriage or an outsourced sales team contract, when you make a serious commitment, you also need to commit the time and resources necessary to make it a success. By Defining the Relationship, then keeping lines of communication open, you’ll be able to train and shape your sales team in order to gain maximum impact from their efforts.
How have you handled tough training conversation with your business partners or vendors? Feel free to share your experiences here: