As a sales ops leader, you face problems every day. With each challenge, you make choices along the way to find the best solution. Today’s post gives a stepwise approach to selecting a consulting firm. At the core, your choices depend heavily on your answers to some key questions:
Do I need to take action or can I ignore this?
How quickly do I need to find a solution?
Can I fix this problem in-house or do I need help?
Do I have budget and can I justify spending for a solution?
Who can I trust most to fix this?
Who has the most experience solving this problem?
There are many other questions you’ll likely ask yourself depending on the circustances. Generally, the more complex your problem, the more detailed your buying process becomes. For the Sales Ops’ Guide to Selecting a Consultant, click here. By registering for SBI’s Sales & Marketing Research Review, you'll get the Guide. You'll also get plenty of other tools to help you meet all types of Sales Ops challenges.
In selecting a consulting firm, let's first uncover some myths about good consultants:
Big consultants are the best. Bigger doesn’t mean better. You want an agile, experienced team to solve your problems. Seek out nimble firms with deep and broad real-world experience. Consulting firms with a bunch of MBA’s but no street smarts won't cut it.
Strategic consultants are the best. Strategy is essential, but it doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t execute. The best firms will both lay a sound strategic framework and then tactically execute.
Consultants are supposed to identify the problem and how you can fix it. Identifying the issue and how it can be fixed is just the first step. Does the partner have experience putting solutions in place, making them stick and delivering results? Who has the specific case studies to prove their worth?
Whatever the challenge, you’ve decided you need to find and implement a solution. The cost or lost revenue is too big to ignore. You need to address the issue quickly and don’t have the internal resources. You need an independent, unbiased view. You need a firm that’s solved these challenges before in the real world.
Identify your options through research. Who’s publishing commercial insights on a regular basis? Who is delivering value that you can apply in the real world? Who’s got expertise in solving this type of problem? Who’s looking the changing buyer landscape and delivers solutions that will work in the future?
Dig into their Personnel. Use the tools at your disposal to do a deep dive. Who are the Partners, Principals and Consultants? What is their experience? Have they walked in your shoes or those of your boss? Use their web-sites, LinkedIn and Google to get a full view of their experience.
What do their clients say? Once you’ve gotten it down to 3-4 contenders, contact each and ask for client references. Did they deliver success quickly or was it a drawn our process? Most imprtantly, connect with several levels of stakeholders. Ask reps, Sales Ops, Sales Directors and VP's about how they did. Did they drive performance?
What were the results? How did the prospect’s performance improve? Accelerated revenue, reduced costs, higher customer retention? Consultants that can’t deliver specific results are not worthy of your consideration. Again, check within all levels of the client organization - reps, managers and leaders.
Perhaps you've concluded that you can solve the challenge in-house. If so, ensure you have the experience needed in the discipline of focus. Whether it's how you structure, go to market or compensate, having experts is key. Success rates soar with a team that's successfully implemented the initiative in the past.
It's possible you've decided the problem isn't big enough to worry about. If you opt for the status quo, just make sure you understand the full cost of inaction. If you don't fully understand the consequences of inaction, you should dig deeper.