Dear ToddCohen.com Sales Community,
Recently, I have been asked to comment on the viability of a virtual sales team. In other words, a sales team that is contracted to work on behalf of a company to sell their products and services. These virtual teams are, in essence, hired guns or outsourced sales teams. They are hired to do a job for many different companies and have no allegiance or true connection to the company, its credo or its mission. Now, before I go on, let me make a clear distinction: In the consulting and training work in my area of expertise of developing a sales culture, I often speak of the importance of creating a virtual team. This means the sales professional who can either be employed by a company or self-employed, who is building a committee group of professionals inside (and outside) the company to work together to develop the client solution. This, as you can see, is a very different concept.
Now, back to the topic at hand. I am not a fan of outsourcing sales. I believe this is an effort aimed at solely cutting cost. The value proposition is simple and is one that companies motivated to cut costs initiate quickly. Outsourcing a sales team is a short-term response to a longer-term issue. It avoids longer-term investment like training and development of people. It allows the company to play games with compensation and benefits.
Here is another problem as I see it: Sales campaigns are getting more and more complex, and they require more resources to bring the sale to closure. It is absolutely necessary for companies to develop, nurture, and empower these internal sale teams because to bring these sales campaigns to closure involves a strong network of relationships, both internally and externally, and must be teams that the sales professional can call on to deliver results. These relationships cannot be developed quickly and will never be as robust when the sales team is outsourced.
Further, when you outsource sales, you are putting your future and your revenue streams in the hands of people who have no real connection to the company. Allegiance is in short supply, and the emotional connection that fires the passion of the sales professional is missing. That same passion and enthusiasm is what has powered some of the greatest companies to success. When you outsource sales, you limit that passion and essentially give your future away to people who are simply not as vested in your success as that strong and well-trained internal sales team. You cannot replace that energy and inertia.
More on this soon and as always let me know what you think!