The idea of engaging a sales consulting firm seems often to evoke an emotional reaction from business leaders. Some Sales VPs can fondly remember multiple success stories with sales consultants while others think of sales consultants as downright quacks. If you search for sales consultants on the Web, your search will return the names of thousands of experts–both individuals and companies.
What should the savvy shopper be looking for? How can I become a savvy shopper?
First, be open to the idea that your sales productivity problem may have its origins in a different area of the sales process than the one you think.
The sales consulting firm should have expertise across the entire sales cycle from prospecting through closing. When your sales consultant suggests that you may have misdiagnosed your problem, this is one clue that you may have hired the right company. If you hire a firm with deep experience in sales compensation and novice level familiarity with other parts of the process, you are going to be told that your sales incentive structure needs to be reworked no matter what the case actually may be.
Second, make sure that your experts are authentic.
The consultants should be senior salespeople with many years of experience. The consultants are going to educate and train your sales team. While a recent 26-year-old PhD graduate may lend a helping hand to your software development folks in working through some tough algorithms, someone who has never managed a sales team, let alone ever carried a sales bag, is not going to evoke the confidence of or even get the attention of your seasoned salespeople.
Make sure the consultants are from your industry. Certainly, there are many elements of the sales process that apply to virtually all kinds of selling. If you are an information technology company selling products and services to business customers, however, a sales generalist firm is not going to be able to do the deep dive into complex solution selling that your team needs.
Third, give yourself every chance possible to achieve a demonstrable adequate ROI on your investment.
Think twice about full performance based contracts. Besides the heightened control and reporting requirements that may even include call recording, full performance based contracts can be extremely expensive. Think carefully about if you are truly prepared to write some really big checks. Think about a shared risk program with a guaranteed hourly rate and a performance bonus if you insist that the consultants have some skin in the game. It goes almost without saying, but being a miser doesn’t pay out either. The low-cost firm that takes you and your staff through multiple evolutions before getting any result, or, more likely, none at all, is obviously not the recommended choice.
Finally, make certain the consulting firm has the resources you need.
Can the firm staff an on-site engagement properly or even act as a dedicated outsourced sales force if called upon to do so?
If you’re an entrepreneur that needs some guidance in building out your sales team, you may want the consulting firm to act as your sales force during the hiring and training process. You may even need some coaching and mentoring at your location. Skype sessions may just not make the mark. Maybe you need some extra staff on the trade show floor. The right sales consultancy should have the staff required to accommodate these kinds of situations.
When you have immediate problems to solve, signing on to a three-month sales training class and waiting till you hit Segment or Module X where the problems in your organization are finally discussed probably isn’t going to work. Neither is some standard three phased approach claiming to be customized for your unique needs likely to offer much either. Avoid confusion from firms that are offering graphic arts marketing approaches – fancy brochures, email flyers, goosed up slide decks and the like as a substitute for dealing with the sales process issues that are hindering the growth of your business.
Be cautious of tired clichés and old school approaches that were in vogue during the IBM, Xerox, Kodak and Savin Business Machines “hay days.” These should be a tip-off to you that the lead generation and business development capabilities of the firm you are considering are out of touch and outdated. Rather than opening executive doors to sales opportunities, these approaches will weld them shut. The Internet is replete with skeletons of sales consulting and lead generation companies that have been put out to pasture years ago with client bases that have all but evaporated.
Palm Coast Tech prides itself on the breadth and depth of our organization. We have decades of experience diagnosing and correcting sales issues. Many of our staff have worked in corporations at the EVP level in sales management. Feel free to reach out to us.
With your success in mind,