So you’ve decided to look for – and potentially hire – outside sales consulting. This is a decision we would applaud (and not just for obvious reasons). In fact, we feel that it’s critical to get an impartial assessment of your overall sales strategy, sales process, and all of the areas and factors that fall beneath each one.
But once you’ve determined that your company needs sales consulting, then the real decision making begins. Decisions such as: Will you hire an individual or a consultancy? What’s your timeframe? Do you have a set budget? And perhaps most importantly, what do you hope to accomplish?
Here are four things to keep in mind to ensure you enlist a sales consultant that best fits your needs.
1. Determine where your opportunities lie.
Start by considering your current end-to-end sales strategy. It helps to break it down into separate, defined categories, similar to the following:
- Business development
- Lead allocation
- Lead management
- Sales hierarchy
- Skillset of sales reps and sales managers
- CRM tools
In which of these areas are you noticing a breakdown? What can be done more efficiently or effectively? Even if your entire process needs improvement, you’re bound to be weaker in certain areas. Once you’ve determined what you’d like to focus on, start your consultant search by looking for those who specialize in your area of need. Many sales consultants have a specific expertise.
2. Don’t put too much emphasis on industry expertise.
Unlike with skills expertise, it doesn’t always pay to stick to consultants who specialize in your specific industry e.g., automotive sales. You likely already have a strategy or process that relates directly to your vertical and, well, it’s not producing the results you want.
To really shake things up and see significant change (and improvement), you need to think outside the box. This is not to say you should avoid consultants with experience in your industry; just look to see that they have other experience as well. This is one clear advantage to using a consultancy rather than an individual, as consultancies often possess experience across a broad range of industries thus giving them a unique perspective to bring to the table.
3. Consider how well you connect with a consultant.
Assuming that you’ll talk with a handful of sales consultants before making a decision, take the opportunity to test your chemistry with each of them. Remember, a consultant is likely someone that you’ll be having multiple conversations with, often times face to face.
The relationship should be a collaborative one – one that’s comfortable yet provides enough tension for both sides to express honest opinions and jointly push for optimal results.
4. Do your best to nail down a project scope.
And do it at the forefront of the engagement. Consultants of all kinds are stuck with the stigma that their services can turn into a black hole of expense. However, we can tell you from experience, those who are worth their weight should be able to accurately assess the scope (and the cost) of their services up front. Watch out for any type of “ongoing fee” scenario.
Another advantage to having this information up front is that it lets you evaluate your possible sales consultants and accurately compare them against one another.