Can you outsource your sales team?

In the world of B2B Sales, pre-sales as a process and appointment set-up as a function have acquired a key stake in the ultimate achievement of revenue numbers for any large corporation.

This specialised function enables the actual sales folks to attend to opportunities post proper qualification screening and establish the critical buying signals, including the industry-standard Budget/ Authority / Need / Timeline – BANT criteria.

Most organisations do this internally with a team of SDRs (sales development resource) . However, some of the B2B demand generation companies have started offering such services as an outsourced function in the recent past, but the success is limited.

Appointment Setting (AS) is a complex process, and it involves intricate and seamless development of a complete campaign plan in coordination between marketing and sales. Therefore, this cannot be a standalone sale driven initiative.

When we look at the OS (Outsourced) model of Appointment Setting, this becomes even more complex since the SDRs are not working just on a dedicated program but will be working on several programs simultaneously. In most scenarios, such programs are success-based, meaning the provider gets paid only when they close a qualified appointment.

Too often, such initiatives lead to low levels of success and the quality of the appointed candidates will be bad if checkpoints aren't verified thoroughly.

Such OS services need a higher category of folks than your generic telemarketing agents. It is a specialised role that would require a bit of tenured sales folks to be working on. The failure of many programs that are OS have their roots in this core issue – they consider appointment set-up as an extension of their lead generation functions.

However, such programs need investment and effort from both the buyer and seller to deliver fully trained SDRs, who have been trained on the client’s products/services, the value prop, and the high-level pitch.

The cost of failure is high with such initiatives since the prospect would be left with a bad experience that would take years of effort to correct or remedy.

One of the key success parameters for AS programs is synchronising the messaging between the marketing/sales and the OS SDR functions. It helps to have consistent messaging across the board so that any touchpoints a prospect has with the company is communicating the same message.

If you are an organisation looking to explore appointment set-up as an outsourced function, it helps to go through the defined process below for a better success rate.

Like every function, we recommend organisations to have a defined and progressive framework that ensures that all aspects of People-Process-Technology are covered and signed off during an outsourced SDR function's design and implementation.

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Define

The DEFINE phase is the most critical phase of the AS program. Here, it is crucial to sit down with the stakeholders and understand what the desired outcome from this initiative would be.

The outcome should not just be in terms of the number of meetings or appointments but in terms of the desired REVENUE IMPACT / DEFINED REVENUE OUTCOME.

Working the traditional sales funnel model in a reverse direction, we can clearly map the:

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To help drive the discussion for the DEFINE phase, we have listed some queries that could help drive such a discussion:

  • Why this campaign?
  • What are the desired outcomes?
  • What are we selling?
  • Who are we selling to?
  • What are the desired timelines?
  • Where are we targeting?

The DEFINE phase should be a joint workshop with the client stakeholders from both Sales and Marketing. And all the desired information should be discussed and documented along with a sign-off on the end output document.

During the phase, it's imperative to arrive at the right skill set of SDRs to be engaged for the program depending on the product/service. The training timelines, certification process, mock calls, ramp-up productivity numbers, and steady-state productivity.

Output from the DEFINE phase:

  1. Revenue impact desired?
  2. Number of meetings to be conducted.
  3. Number of SQLs / MQLs required?
  4. Timelines?
  5. Number of SDRs needed for the program?

Design

During the DESIGN phase, we focus on the campaign calendar and activities that need to be implemented across a defined timeline.

The most critical aspect would be sign-off on the target buyer demographics, including:

  1. Geography focus
  2. Industry focus
  3. Job functions to be identified and grouped under – buyer/influencer/decision-maker
  4. Titles we need to focus on
  5. Define the intent topics that could be used for determining buyer intent surge
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The second phase would involve some of the more key design items, including:

  1. What is the key focus of the campaign – in terms of service or product?
    1. Messaging themes
    2. Value proposition
    3. Assessment of the current assets – whitepapers / webinars / other material available
  2. Training timelines & related documentation
  3. Certification of the SDR – key evaluation metrics & scores
  4. Establish an initial draft of the campaign calendar
  5. Design initial email templates
  6. Design the landing pages
  7. Design creatives for any LinkedIn / programmatic advertisements
  8. Identify the key topics for any webinar initiatives & speakers
  9. Identify any live events that are happening during the period of this campaign
  10. Draft calling scripts
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Implementation

The IMPLEMENTATION phase includes:

  • Training of the SDRs – sample curriculum given below
  • Mock Calls
  • Certification of the SDRs
  • Go Live with Pilot phase
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The key during this phase would be to capture data from the efforts, including:

  1. Email – open / click / download
  2. Engagement on advertisements
  3. Calling dispositions – eliminate any DNC/not-interested contacts.

The first cold call must be made after at least two to three touchpoints with a prospect.

During this phase, it's a good idea to leverage data subjects who fall under the technographic scope and show intent surge related to the key topics the client would consider as buying signals.

The opening point of discussion should be connected back to an engagement the client has with an asset or ad or consumption of content.

Analyse

All campaign metrics must be reviewed weekly with the client stakeholders, trends identified, messaging impact analysis, and any changes required to be done should be implemented post the sign-off by all stakeholders involved.

Conclusion

Outsourced AS programs are complex and will require investment from both partners to make it work.

It must be implemented for the long-term with clearly defined metrics and flexibility to re-define the program design during the period of engagement.

Incentives for success outside of what the OS vendor will pay for their SDRs could be a great motivational factor. Regular reviews and constant feedback from the sales folks on the appointments that have been set-up becomes very crucial for such programs.

The OS functions should effectively function as a virtual back-end office for the sales folks with complete clarity on the roles & hand-off points.

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