There are lots of great reasons to bring in a sales agency to grow your business: it can assist you control the type of clients and projects you take on, help you handpick your team, and, if you play your cards right, it can provide financial wealth. But dealing with an outside agency can also be extremely challenging, even downright miserable sometimes, although few people admit it.
If you’re thinking of hiring an agency to help you with sales, chances are you’ve probably tried everything, and are starting to wonder whether it will work out or not. You have a general idea of how they run, who does what, how clients get pitched, how work gets invoiced, and so on, so it can be tempting to plough ahead with your new business without taking the time to think it all through.
But how do you know which is the best sales agency for you?
Sales is the lifeblood of any successful business, as sales bring you customers who grow your business, without which you have no success. Many business owners think they can secure these coveted customers by doing it themselves. This may work to an extent in some enterprises, but for those owners dreaming of seeing their company’s name in lights, a critical piece of the sales puzzle is how to get these customers while you focus on running the company.
Therefore, the sales specialists at 2larnie Solutions will give a breakdown of what to know before hiring a sales agency.
Write Out Your Business Description
It’s a mistake to think that every sales agency is the same. That’s why you need to write out your business description when you’re thinking of hiring a sales agency. It makes the scope of the role clear for the agencies benefit. It also helps get others in the company on the same page. Don’t skip this step.
Write down the activities the sales agency is expected to do, starting with:
- generating the lead,
- through closing the sale,
- through any post-closing follow-up.
Consider such issues as whether the agency is required to generate leads, or whether your business has a marketing machine in place to bring in leads. That distinction is important in determining what skills to look for. Some people are good closers if you present them with leads coming in, such as from Google AdWords or an online lead-gen form. Not everyone can go out and prospect to generate their own leads.
Another issue is sales administration and support. Will the sales company have to enter orders into your system? Will it be expected to follow up on post-sales details, such as gathering information or delivering status updates to a client? Or do you have other staff to do those activities? Some agencies expect to be able to hand the sale off and not handle post-closing duties.
Resist the temptation to hire cheap
If you tried out sales before you hired your agency, you’re probably used to controlling every aspect of every project that comes through your door, and that can be a hard habit to break.
Now that you’ve hired an agency, you may be tempted to continue managing clients yourself and hire a junior person to take care of the monkey work. Before you take that approach, stop and think big picture about the type of agency you want to work with.
Do you want an agency where you’re tied down to every project and need to attend every meeting because you don’t trust the agency to lead? Not only will that earn your company a poor reputation, but it’s also incredibly inefficient. It will hold you back from getting out and selling, which is the most important thing you can do.
On the other hand, maybe you’re thinking about outsourcing sales work to freelancers on a per-project basis, so you don’t have to commit to paying a regular fee. This is a terrible long-term strategy.
For starters, this approach is generally more expensive per hour than a full-time agency, which will eat into your profit margins. More importantly, you can’t build a great team culture with contractors, especially when you’re a new and fragile company.
You need a team of full-time, experienced professionals who will grow with you, give you their best work, and help build a great reputation for your company.
There are only three situations where you should hire a cheap for your company:
- If the work is one-off, transient type of work
- If you just need a once-off sales campaign and you don’t ever intend to offer that as a core service, then it’s OK to hire a cheap agency to partner with you on the project to execute the campaign.
- If you’re temporarily short on resources
Maybe somehow all your clients ended up with deadlines in the same month (you need better planning if that’s the case, but we know how clients are…) and there’s no way your team can humanly complete everything you’ve committed to in that time frame. If there’s no chance of moving deadlines, then hire quickly to help with copy or design work to get your team over the hump.
Go for Knowledge or Experience?
Some companies don’t believe it is mandatory to hire a sales agency. However, we have always recommended finding an agency with a particular skill set that includes the ability to build relationships quickly.
Also, they should have a good network and be able to expand on it. They should be able to work autonomously as well.
Experts disagree on whether industry experience is necessary. If they are a good sales agency, they can learn about your company’s inner working and the value of your product or service.
However, direct experience with your business may be crucial in certain industries. Some types of sales are complex. Or the industry may be too specialized to learn quickly. Small businesses usually need sales fast. Many of us don’t have the luxury to subsidize a nine-month learning curve.
Implement systems and processes
Systems and processes provide leadership, set expectations, and ensure consistency without you needing to micromanage every action. You need to empower the sales agency to succeed. Proper process and defined systems are essential to successfully scaling your business.
Systems and processes are like recipes. If you’re building a fast food chain, you don’t leave it up to each cook at each location to cook things the way they want. There is a strict recipe to follow, so the client gets what they expect every time. After all, managing client expectations is at the heart of every successful business.
While every agency is going to do things a little differently, there are some standard processes you should define so everyone knows what happens when, who does it, and what the outcome should be:
- Human resources
- Pricing and billing policies
- Onboarding new clients
- Creative briefs
- Tracking time
- Disputes with clients
- Delivering work
- Managing client expectations during a project
- Attracting new talent and retaining your existing team
- Generating and qualifying new leads
- Check Background and Attributes With These Questions
When checking up on a sales agency, ask about past results. You’d want to know what sales they’ve closed, what quotas have been met or surpassed, and how their track record compares to the rest of the track records” at previous companies.
Also assess team attributes and character. You’d want to know if they were leaders or followers. Your first agency is probably one that you’d want to be a leader, but who is willing to go out and start small to grow with the business. They’re going to be taking risks, because really good sales agencies command a higher fee than what a company looking for a ‘first sales agency’ can usually pay.
Ask probing questions to assess the agencies sense of urgency. Sales deals die from lack of momentum. You want a company that acts fast. Do they return messages within X number of hours? What’s their attitude toward emails? An ‘inbox zero’ personality is ideal. What’s their daily routine like — do they set daily goals? You want a sales agency who will be hounding you for deal approvals because they operate lickety-split, not one you have to hound just to return a call.
Contact today to book a consultation with 2larnie Solutions.