How To Select the Right Sales Consulting Firm
So you have a sales productivity problem and you’re asking yourself:
- How long will it take to fix?
- Can I fix it with my existing team?
- Can I get funding?
- How do I implement the changes?
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
You may even start thinking about the impact of the project: If this goes bad I’m done (fired). If it goes well, I might get that promotion or at least be able to catch my breath.
You decide to evaluate doing it yourself verse hiring a sales consulting firm to help. Now a new set of questions come to mind:
- How much time will an outside firm need from us?
- Can I trust these guys to get me the results?
- Will these guys get along with my team or just irritate them?
- Who can I assign to the project?
If you’re like most VP of Sales, you have no time and your team will say the same thing. Besides time, does your team have any experience in the area you diagnosed the problem to be in? Let’s say you have a Lead Generation problem. Do you have anyone with experience solving that problem? How about Sales Compensation, chances are the same group that designed the existing program will be tweaking the new program.
For this discussion, let’s focus on selecting an outside firm to assist you in solving the sales productivity problem. Download the Sales Consulting Score Card, a quick view of it is below.
Consider these 3 areas when selecting a sales consulting firm:
- Experience, I don’t mean experience in your industry. I mean, has the consultant been where you’re sitting? We have all had consultants that look like our kids and have never carried a sales bag or managed a sales team trying to give us advice. Do you really want to take advice from someone who’s never walked in your shoes? Will your team listen to someone who has no sales experience? Good consultants will educate your team and enhance their skills. Good chemistry and a working style that blends well with your organization are also vital to the success of the project.
- Knowledge in the area being addressed but also the ability to diagnose whether you’ve correctly identified the root case. Think about this is the same way you do solution selling. You’re solving a problem to get a result. If the consulting firm you hire only solves compensation problems, as an example, how do you know that’s really the root cause. If it’s not, do you really think they’re going to raise the issue? If you’ve hired a sales consultant and he/she says “I think you miss-diagnosed the problem”, you have the right firm. They not only knew enough to know it wasn’t the root cause but were willing to stop you from wasting your money.
- Cost, is it better to hire the low cost firm that tries twice and still gets no result or pay more and get a result. I’m pretty sure we can agree getting the result is the most important thing. Has your sales consulting firm offered a performance based contract? Have them put their money where their mouth is? You will pay more but at least your goals are clearly aligned. Perhaps you settle on a shared risk program. Companies often don’t go full performance contract based on the control and reporting requirements. Performance contracts have large pay outs and often times the fear of writing that check deters people from complete performance contracts. The last piece of advice on the cost side is starting small. Bringing a firm into your organization can be extremely disruptive. Start with a small project, a discovery phase or diagnostic project. Determine if the company works well with your team and you with them. Spending a little bit of money upfront can you save you from months of headaches and even your job? How many times have you hired a consultant and they spent time blowing past you to talk to the SVP or CEO?
If you’re not sure you’ve diagnosed the problem correctly or you’re just looking for someone to kick the tires with; shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll jump on a call for 30 minutes and discuss the problem.
Author: John Staples
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