Does Culture Matter When It Comes to Outsourcing?
In the business world, culture is talked about a lot. Business leaders are constantly looking for ways to build a corporate culture that generates their desired results.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, the writers describe attending a Fortune 500 strategy meeting. During the meeting, the word “culture” was mentioned 27 times in 90 minutes as the executives tried to devise a way to harness this magical force and use it to their benefit.
Culture defines your team and the way you approach business. When it comes to working with an outsourced sales team, though, you may wonder if culture really matters. After all, if you’re not on site and interacting with the team every day, can their culture really have an impact on your results?
Does it make sense to focus on the way your outsourced team chooses to run its business?
In a nutshell, it does.
To understand why, let’s start by getting a grasp on the meaning of “culture” in a business setting. From there, you’ll be better able to determine how to evaluate the culture of the outsourced sales teams you’re evaluating.
What is culture?
A company’s guiding principles should be a three-legged stool, focusing on mission, vision, and culture.
- A company’s mission is based on the past – why a company started, its goals, and its reason for existence
- A company’s vision is based on the future – where the company plans to be in the future and what its team is working to achieve
Culture, then, is focused on the present, on the environment your team works in every day, and on the attitudes and actions of everyone in the organization, from the senior leadership team to the front-line staff.
Culture isn’t coming up with a slogan to hang on a pretty plaque on the wall. Instead, it comprises the actions your team takes on an everyday basis. From the way your team interacts with customers, to the way they set goals and talk with one another – that’s culture.
Culture matters within my company, but my outsourced team isn’t part of the company. Does it matter with them?
You may concede that your own company culture is worth focusing efforts on. However, you may not be certain that the culture of your vendor teams matters; after all, their culture is their business, not yours, right?
While your cultures don’t have to be identical, consider this: if you’re working with an outsourced sales team, for all intents and purposes, they are part of your company.
Check Out the Culture at CloudTask Below
When your outsourced partner reaches out to prospects on your behalf, they’re serving as your front line team. The customer doesn’t see a difference – they just know the person they’re communicating with as the face of your company.
First impressions last – and they’re formed quickly (within the first 30 seconds of interaction). It’s crucial to make sure your outsourced business development representatives are culturally engaged and portraying the correct values to your potential clients.
So, a good culture is important when it comes to my outsourced sales team. How can I tell if their culture is a fit?
When you go on a first date or when you first start a relationship, both parties are usually very careful. They dress up extra nicely; they don’t eat too many onions at dinner; they work extra hard to be a dazzling conversationalist.
It’s usually not until they're really comfortable with each other that they let their guard down and start wearing sweats and binging Netflix together.
It can be the same when you're trying to line up a relationship with an outsourced sales partner. How can you really get a good grasp on their culture and be sure they’re not just putting on a show to get your business?
While you can’t investigate 100% of their internal behaviors, you should be able to get an idea of how their culture plays out in everyday business, and how they run their company. Keep your eyes open for these key traits and behaviors when you’re evaluating outsourced sales partners:
#1 - Data-driven mindset
Sales, when it comes down to it, is a numbers game. Keeping a good pipeline of leads should help you start to see an uptick in sales; if that’s not the case, you need to be able to pinpoint the reason why and start working through any issues you encounter.
When you’re beginning to work with an outsourced sales team, be sure to inquire about the data they’re using and the types of reporting you’ll receive. A good team should ensure that you’ll have a relationship manager staying in close contact with you, monitoring your team’s data, and using it to devise solutions, pushing through roadblocks and scoring additional successes.
Why does this matter? Without data to steer your sales efforts, you’re moving forward blindly. When your team is analyzing information regarding their efforts, they’ll be able to fix issues quickly, rather than waiting until problems reach a critical point and are affecting your business success.
#2 - Experience-focused evaluation
You need your outsourced team to be in love with digging through data. At the same time, you need to make sure they’re able to evaluate sales efforts from a qualitative standpoint as well.
Sales-focused companies are all about results, so they should definitely be able to show you numbers. They should also be able to show you that they’re dedicating resources to monitoring the quality of conversations.
Why does this matter? Bringing in a lot of prospects is one thing; making sure you’re providing a great experience and nurturing those leads into sales is another. You want a team that will use a high caliber of quality assurance monitoring to review the tone of interactions with potential clients, and that will dedicate resources to training team members to improve their interactions if issues are spotted.
#3 - Alignment of goals
A good sales partnership is communicative, open, and transparent.
When you’re building a relationship with your outsourced sales team, you should observe a willingness in the team leadership to get to the root of your sales needs and to have a full understanding of your goals.
Why does this matter? In this situation, aligning goals is very much about the dialogue you’re able to create.
It’s a bad sign if your outsourced sales team immediately tells you that a reasonable goal is unachievable, or that they only do things their way.
At the same time, if you’re the one issuing these types of plans, you may want to take an introspective look at your own company’s culture. Being open and willing to have collaborative discussions on sales goals means that your outsourced partner wants to understand where you’re coming from, and to help you get to where you want to be.
#4 - A focus on continual improvement
You can tell a lot about an outsourced sales team by the types of resources they’re willing to allocate to you. You should have an upfront understanding of the team members you’ll be working with and the resources they’ll provide you.
Look for job titles like “trainer,” “quality assurance,” “content creator,” and other similar roles when evaluating their team. When resources are allotted to you, it typically means that your team is focused on improvements and has created a “kaizen” (continuous improvement) culture for their teams.
Why does this matter? Equipping your team with these behind-the-scenes roles means your outsourced sales partner is willing to stand by the quality of their efforts. Instead of just putting a dozen reps on the phone and wishing them luck, a good outsourced sales partner is:
- Training their sales team members to ensure they have a thorough initial grasp of your business, then refining their efforts over time as they continue to build expertise
- Rigorously reviewing the efforts of their team with well-defined quality assurance measurements
- Creating content that gets to the heart of your services, then using that content to inform the efforts of the remainder of the team
#5 - Willingness to innovate
Technology is changing the business world rapidly. For example, the highest performing sales teams are much more likely to employ automation technology, and those forward-thinking companies are seeing a 451% increase in qualified leads through the nurturing process.
The best outsourced sales firms should have a culture that embraces these advances in innovation, rather than running from them.
You should be able to ascertain that your outsourced sales team is fluent in the technologies that are shaping the sales field. You should be able to obtain a good understanding of the third-party technology providers they partner with, and what they deem innovative among their own best practices.
Why does this matter? A decade ago, salespeople were just getting their feet wet with social networking services like LinkedIn; today, 78.6% of salespeople who use LinkedIn outperform those who don’t.
Other game-changing technologies are out there just waiting to be discovered or incorporated into your efforts. You want to work with a sales team that’s as eager to explore these new options as you are.
Great cultures aren’t created in a day, and building a long-term strategy of focusing on culture and living your company’s values can be very time-consuming.
However, putting in these efforts – both on your own team and when looking for like-minded outsourced sales partners – means you’ll be better prepared to sell to new customers, and to retain them once you’ve brought them onboard.
What do you love about your company’s culture, and what’s a cultural non-negotiable for you when seeking an outsourced sales partner for collaboration? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below:
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