Does Sales Process Outsourcing (SPO) work? Part II
7 April 2014, Posted by Shyam Sekar S
Most of you would have read the "Does Sales Process Outsourcing (SPO) work? - Part I
", that touched upon those phases of the sales cycle that lend themselves to outsourcing. This part of sales process outsourcing article touches upon factors to consider before an organization decides to outsource the whole or a part of their sales process.
One of the most fundamental aspects that an organization needs to consider while contemplating outsourcing is the complexity of the solution, or product, or service that is being sold. At one of the spectrum, the offering could be complex business applications that require customization as per customer's requirements. Such solutions have a relatively long sales cycle, with potentially face-to-face engagement with the customer. Typical examples include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications, turnkey solutions and business applications that automate specific business processes.
At the other end of the spectrum are products or solutions offering a specific functionality, with very limited or no customization requirement. Typically, such solutions are sold online, with the entire transaction being consummated without the need for a face-to-face discussion with the prospective customer. Such solutions invariably fall within the self-use category, or backed by a service provider who takes responsibility for delivering the output electronically. Examples include specific document conversion activities, retail products sold online, consumer products, consumer services, selling online courses, etc.
|Products/ Simple Solution
||Suitability for SPO
||Suitability for SPO
||Typically well-defined audience
||Well defined audience
||Qualifying criteria for purchase typically well defined. Hence easy to qualify
||Qualifying criteria may at times be elaborate. A first level of qualification alone will be possible
||Product/Solution features well defined; so product/solution demonstration, service explanation is straightforward
||Solution/Product demonstration could involve customer specific aspects
||Limited suitability. Only a high-level feature/solution walk through is possible. Detailed, client focused demonstrations will not be possible
||Solution proposal would essentially be a price quote
||Solution proposal would factor client specific requirements, and would be a comprehensive document; It would also need specialist/ expertise to prepare
||Since scope of work and price involved is well defined, there is very little room for any strategic negotiation
||Well-suited. The possible area where attention may be required is in working out volume discounts
||Values of proposals involved are high, and negotiations could potentially involve several stakeholders
Moving towards complex solutions, one realizes that sales success is dependent on selling skills and customer relationship management. While it is possible to identify the various phases of the sales cycle at a broad level, working within each phase calls for a balanced mix of 'sales' skills and vertical specific understanding / competencies in the chosen domain.
However, it also remains a fact that generating sales worthy leads remains one of the most challenging aspects of the sales process, regardless of the domain in question. Many a time, organizations are left with fewer options to generate leads: whether widen the scope of the lead generation process through strategic marketing initiatives, or reach out to more customers through telesales activity. When the process is controllable and has lesser risks, it becomes amenable to outsourcing.
To sum up, both marketing initiatives
like digital marketing
that includes online campaign management, SEO, SEM, etc. and back office sales processes
are less risky and should be explored for strategic outsourcing or off-shoring
. This ultimately helps them scale up their lead generation area faster, cheaper and better; it helps make use of their financial and people resources more effectively.
Sales process outsourcing is not easy, as it demands for a reliable partner who has the drive, passion and zeal to ensure success with your partnership. However, having identified the right partner, proper set up time is essential to have the right team in place. Effective coaching is critical, before they get on to the live work. Proper systems have to be in place at the outsourced partner’s end for performance monitoring and to take corrective steps, quickly, when required. Reporting mechanism should be simple but robust to ensure transparency between both parties (customer and vendor partner).
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