Outsourcing vs Building a Sales Team

Deciding that it’s time to grow your company is a big decision. You’ve mastered your sales processes and you’re confident that your product can break into cold markets.

At this point, you are most likely considering the available options. Should I outsource my sales process or should I build an internal sales team?

When you are looking to expand your sales, you need to expand your sales team. But figuring out the best way to do that can be challenging.

If you are ready for growth, you should already be confident in the bottom-of-funnel sales processes. Everything that happens once a sales meeting has been set should already be optimized. Now it’s time to set qualified sales meetings for your sales staff.

For this step, you will need the services of a sales development representative (SDR). You are presented with two options - either hire the SDRs and expand your staff, or find a sales appointment setting agency to outsource the work.

But both come with inherent risks and challenges.

Control vs Collaboration

The most common reason that business leaders don’t outsource is that they are not comfortable with relinquishing control. Particularly in small companies, the founder, sales, and marketing leadership have 100% visibility on all sales processes—often because they are the entire process.

Outsourcing to a sales or marketing agency is usually the first time these business leaders lose visibility and control over one of their business processes. Relinquishing this control can be terrifying—the potential negative consequences seem catastrophic. Wasted money, damaged brand image, losing autonomy and developing a reliance on an outside resource...

This loss of control can be seen as a negative, but it could also be seen as a business advantage. Enlisting the help of an experienced agency can give your business an important second set of eyes. The agency has likely worked with businesses at several stages of growth, giving them the experience to identify new opportunities.

If the relationship is collaborative, you’ll have clear visibility on how the marketing agency handles things like lead generation and appointment setting. You could be inspired by their methods and discover a new one for yourself.

Quality of SDRs

When you want to increase your sales pipeline, you hire a sales development rep (SDR). Rather than closing deals, this person focuses entirely on setting meetings for the inside sales team. Naturally, you want a talented SDR to ensure that you receive more high-quality meetings.

So how long does it take for an SDR to get “good?”

The Bridge Group has done extensive research on SDRs. Recently, they published benchmark data from 434 B2B companies.

One of the first things that jumps out in the study is the average experience required on job postings for SDRs. As the position has continued to be more and more in demand, the years required have gone down from 2.5 to 1.4 since 2010.

The other big number is “months at full productivity.” This is determined by subtracting training time (3.2 months) from the average tenure (18 months).

So roughly every 18 months, an SDR quits and needs to be replaced by a fresh hire that requires 3 months of training.

Alternatively, SDRs that get promoted spend an average of 16 months in the SDR role.

Either way, for every year and a half, 3 months will be spent training an SDR. Not only are they not setting an optimal amount of meetings, but they’re taking up the time of other employees through training, increasing the HR and staffing budget, and taking up space in the office.

This is where outsourcing becomes your friend. By outsourcing to an experienced marketing agency, you’ll be taking SDR training off your plate. While you are using all of those free hours on what you are good at, the agency is using their expertise to train new SDRs.

Another benefit to outsourcing to an agency is that they likely have a much longer tenure of SDRs due to not having an inside sales position to be promoted into. At ProSales Connection, sales development has been our primary business for 11 years, and because of that, we’ve managed to find employees that want to specialize in the SDR role—our average current tenure is 3 years.

Cultural Challenges of an Internal SDR Team

Aside from the time and resources dedicated to training and managing an SDR team, there are some hidden challenges. One of the biggest ones was invisible—even to us—until one of our clients told us the story of their failed internal SDR team.

Before they decided to do business with us, they tried to do it themselves. They spent months getting their process down—list building, message development, training SDRs.

Their first major challenge during this was developing a technology stack for their SDRs. Their previous technology stack was not meant for mass cold outreach, so they had to buy new software services and get familiar with them.

Everything was set up...and then the big challenge hit. Their work culture shattered.

The insides sales process was siloed from the SDR process, but the teams still interacted on a day-to-day basis. While the SDRs were heavily managed, expected to pound the phones, and judged based on their activity metrics, the inside sales team had entirely goal-focused metrics to hit. The inside sales team wasn’t supposed to strive for 150 calls a day. They just needed to maintain their relationships and treat their prospects by hand.

The SDR team, feeling like they were always being pushed to the limits to achieve maximum productivity, became bitter at what they saw as preferential treatment. While they were made to feet guilty for taking a couple of minutes between dials, the inside sales team was ringing the gong for each sale and taking long lunches.

Individual relationships deteriorated. It’s something seen most often in the relationship between marketing and sales—failure is passed along the chain. Rather than taking personal responsibility for success and cultivating their own talent, workers often have a tendency to point to someone else as the problem.

Eventually, the company was managing a toxic work culture. They made a sharp turn, deciding to focus entirely on inside sales while outsourcing the SDR process. The culture cooled off, and the company got back to its desired productivity.

Challenges of Outsourcing

The article may be leaning towards outsourcing, but outsourcing is not a perfect solution by any means.

Earlier, I touched on the loss of control. While that is not inherently bad, if you lose visibility on that piece of your business, it can be hard to account for its success.

If your outsourced agency engages in opaque processes, you’ll be blindsided by results and unable to find any insights in the failure. Instead, it’ll just be failure. Your business partnership will end and the only thing you’ll have to show for it is a smaller budget—and you’ll be lucky if the agency has done nothing to harm your brand and ruin promising opportunities.

We run into it all the time. In fact, it’s the most common reason that companies decide to not do business with us—they’ve had a bad experience in the past.

Here at ProSales Connection, our mission it to provide our clients with a world-class service and a consistent value. If you’re interested in outsourcing, read more about our outbound calling program or contact us today to learn how we can help you grow your business.

Tyler Campbell

is a digital marketer with an emphasis on data analysis and copywriting. When he's sure no one is looking, he writes blog posts like this one.

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