Picture this, you have a strong product, your marketing efforts are on point, and your sales team is working in overdrive to capitalize on growing your lead list. You are experiencing growth, but recognize that the rate needs to be accelerated.
Growth is good, but sustainable growth is what you need. 9 times out of 10, the path to sustainable growth is driven by a concerted push in your company’s sales efforts. Most startups will begin with a small team of salespeople who manage all aspects of the sales process. In the early stages, this can work well - but as you experience growth you need to make a crucial decision in regards to specialization.
Should the sales team be generating leads as well as closing sales? Do these two functions need to be separated? If so, what is the best way to implement these changes? Should this be done in-house or would outsourcing be the key to success?
Read on to learn how Atomic Reach scaled their sales efforts by outsourcing crucial aspects of the sales process.
Our Sales Process
Before we decided to outsource our sales prospecting phase of our sales process, we did all of it in-house. Being a small team, this was quite the task.
We were in charge of going out there and researching new companies. We’d then locate the relevant contact points in those companies and then reach out to them through a cold email to let them know more about us.
When the prospect was interested, we would schedule a demo with them to learn a bit more about their content creation process, along with any particular pain points they’d have that we could address.
Once the prospect had a good understanding of our product and what we do, we would offer a free-trial. If they were interested, Paul, our head of client experience, would take over the reins and guide them through the trial process.
In the beginning, we did most of the prospecting using a third party platform that was able to give us contacts based on several variables including industry vertical, geographical location and job title.
The platform was quite effective, and we would expend upwards of 3 hours daily going through these prospects and ticking off all the relevant boxes that constituted a healthy lead.
This continued for several months, and it was working - we were getting a steady trickle of interested prospects coming in - they were high quality and there was a genuine fit. In an effort to guarantee that the trial was not a waste of time, we paid close attention to the pain points they had and would restructure the trial in a format that addressed those issues. This resulted in a fair amount of sales during those early months.
Scaling Our Prospecting Efforts
Management identified that this process was effective and decided that we should continue doing what we were doing, with additional efforts to ramp up how many people we were connecting with on a weekly basis.
This was when we started discussing the possibility of getting some outside help with our prospecting efforts.
Several sources online recommended hiring freelancers that excelled at this very thing. We decided to give it a go. We found highly qualified freelancers on UpWork, a great place to find freelancers for all sorts of roles from custom development work to sales prospecting. As they were all independent, we were under no contract and open to negotiations.
After testing out several freelancers, we at one point worked with 2 individuals operating out of the Philippines, 1 in Bangladesh, and 1 in Pakistan.
As you can imagine, this made communicating very difficult. Our newly hired freelancers were only available to chat at different times of the day during the week, which was often difficult to organize on Eastern Time.
Learning from that experience, the sales team came to the conclusion that we should actually stick to working with these 4 amazing freelancers located in Pakistan.
These individuals all knew each other, so communicating was simple. We’d simply relay all the information and instructions through our main point of contact who could then advise the other 3.
For sales especially, you know that you need to set benchmarks. From our team, we wanted to ensure that they knew how much work was expected from them. This way we could calculate the cost per lead.
Our Fantasic Four team was very well versed in sourcing prospects and their contact information. We were guaranteed and delivered the promised amount of prospects each day.
Setting Up To Succeed
To get things started, we needed to make sure they had a complete understanding of what we did. This meant giving them an indepth demo of our platform. With this demo, they were now equipped to seek out organizations that were worth paying attention to.
We ended up getting relevant and qualified prospects in our inbox.
To ensure that their choices matched what we were looking for, we provided them with a checklist of characteristics to concentrate on:
- Did they have a blog?
- Was it active?
- How many posts did they average per month?
- Is the prospect in a management position, or are they the ones doing the writing?
- By being able to answer these questions, we were able to get to know enough about our prospects and their company before we reached out to them.
If the contact was in a managerial position, our email would outline possible pain points in regards to ROI and effectiveness. In contrast, if our contact was a person in a writing or editing role, we would outline the possible benefits in regards to efficiency and ease of writing.
This system allowed us to craft customized outreach emails.
To ensure that we were always providing value with each email we sent, we would include a link to a free industry report that our data team had completed. This report was put together by our data team and was also available on our website, but is hidden behind a lead capture form.
This extremely insightful report was often read by prospects, and prompted them to want to know where we got this data. This gave us the opportunity to further establish a conversation where we would share that the data was extracted from users of our platform. The data within the industry report contained unique metrics pertaining to content performance. Interest piqued!
Advantages for Outsourcing
There are many advantages of outsourcing aspects of your sales process, the top two being cost and productivity.
In terms of cost, the issue is quite simple. Many small or medium-sized businesses are unable to maintain fully fleshed out inside sales departments. It is common to see a salesperson taking on duties that are technically not their own. Due to this, you can’t always depend on them to be on their phones or cold-emailing prospects all day.
Every moment spent not reaching out to prospective leads is a potential weakness in your sales process.
By hiring a full-time associate dedicated to just one or two aspects of your sales process, you can ensure that they are fully dedicated to the task at hand. The additional cost of hiring someone will pay off in the long-term as they find quality prospects at a faster rate.
Productivity is another advantage - by dedicating 6-8 hours a day on proactively reaching out to prospects and booking calls. Freelancers and other potential outsourcing companies will provide you with a guarantee of a minimum number of prospects they promise to deliver.
This means that your pipeline doesn’t experience dips in activity - keeping your salespeople busy throughout the year with fresh new leads.
Don’t forget about an increase in speed when you’re outsourcing parts of your sales process. For us, it took us a grand total of one week to set our freelancers up with all they needed to do the job. We were able to quadruple the number of prospect touch points in the next week. There were simply more people working for longer periods of time. Granted, the quality of the prospects generated in the first few weeks was a bit spotty here and there, but close communication with the team ensured that we ironed out any issues or problems they were having.
As we continued our work with the international team, our trickle of leads grew larger and larger. Since then, we have hired more full-time salespeople to help us manage the growing list of interested prospects.
The sales and prospecting process has been further refined to include discovery calls and targeted qualification questions, adding value to the prospect. Furthermore, we have constantly reiterated our cold outreach emails by A/B testing to see what works best.
Let us know your outsourcing strategies in the comments below!