Hiring A Sales Consultant To Help Your Company Grow Revenue May Make Sense On Paper, But Here’s Why It Might Not Work
Before everyone goes crazy responding to my inflammatory statement, understand that I’m sure in some situations a sales consultant can come in and help a company get to its revenue goals consistently.
But in most cases, sales consultants fail to address a big part of the revenue challenge, and that involves the story the company is telling, how that story translates into capturing the interest of the target prospects and how the company uses marketing tools to generate enough leads to fuel all of the sales improvements recognized by the sales consultant.
Revenue generation is not a single departmental challenge; it’s a companywide, multi-departmental challenge. If it’s your top priority to fix, it requires much more than hiring a single sales consultant to come in and provide training, coaching or closing skills improvement to your band of salespeople.
Let’s dig into this in more detail so you can see how this holistic look at revenue generation makes more sense than simply checking the box associated with sales training or sales coaching for your reps.
The Sales Consultant Business Model
One interesting nuance to the sales consulting industry is the huge number of sole practitioners. These are successful sales managers, sales leaders and sales associates who have decided to go off on their own and share their expertise with companies just like yours.
While there are a few larger sales consulting organizations, most sales consulting groups are on the smaller side. Even the bigger companies, like Sandler and Richardson (to name two of the biggest), simply license content and methodology to small solopreneurs who bring that content to their clients.
Sales consultants primarily offer sales training, sales rep coaching and temporary sales leadership services. Most of the sales consultants are very focused on the sales aspect of revenue generation, and they bring little to the table when it comes to marketing or customer service.
There’s nothing wrong with this, and helping improve close rates, your ability to qualify, your efficiency executing the sales process and how to create territories, comp your salespeople or hire sales leaders can be valuable.
But this is only a small and narrow slice of how you should be looking at revenue. It’s definitely not a holistic approach, and it might not be as innovative as possible if improving revenue generation is a top priority for your company.
The Alignment Of Sale And Marketing
Getting your sales and marketing teams (even if you have one person in marketing) isn’t easy, and it isn’t something most sales consultants have done 20 times before.
This isn’t just agreeing on what’s a lead. It’s about having marketing participate in creating the sales process. It’s about sales providing feedback to marketing on the quality of the leads generated. It’s about creating lead scoring based on input from sales and marketing.
In some advanced companies, it’s about creating a service-level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales that clearly defines each team’s contribution to the company’s ongoing quest for revenue.
Sales consultants who have limited experience in marketing, working with marketing or delivering marketing tactics are going to come up short when you’re talking about full alignment.
In some organizations, marketing’s role might be to generate leads but also to create content that tells a story, to support hiring, to drive the CEO’s personal brand or to raise the reputation of the company across a variety of platforms. Those are all legitimate marketing objectives that might support sales in a roundabout way, but they might not generate actual leads for sales reps to follow up on.
Aligning sales and marketing can be looked at on a spectrum. You might not be ready for a new revenue team or revenue department. Merging sales and marketing together into one single department might be too aggressive for your company, while in other situations and at other companies, this is the right move to make right now.
Finding a sales consultant with the experience to work with you over time to slowly and thoughtfully move marketing and sales more closely together might be challenging.
It requires a lot of art, plenty of well-designed strategy and definitely the experience to not make big mistakes all at once. While it’s not impossible to find someone with that background, it’s going to be easier to find a firm with a blend of marketing and sales expertise to handle your alignment challenges.
Generating Revenue From Current Customers
One of the first places you should be looking for additional revenue is your current customers. Sales consultants should be adept at pointing this out and directing your sales team to go deeper with your current clients.
However, the facts speak for themselves, and if you haven’t been doing this, there’s usually a good reason. Either your customers aren’t happy, they don’t need the other stuff you have or your services team is not directed to help you drive revenue.
Uncovering the root cause first is key. Marketing can provide a lot of air cover for revenue growth from current customers, especially when those current customers are happy.
In a lot of cases, sales consultants are directed by their clients to focus on net new revenue. In these cases, it’s not their fault that revenue from current customers might be overlooked. Regardless, marketing agencies with sales enablement capabilities are well-equipped and have a lot of experience executing campaigns to current customers that generate additional revenue quickly.
Keep this in mind as you tackle your current revenue challenges.
Creating A Prospect And Customer Experience
I’ve written about this a lot, and you’re probably sick of reading about it, but I think it’s one of the most common weak spots when it comes to revenue generation. Sales and marketing are rarely on the same page with regard to the prospect’s experience before, during and even after they reach out and ask to speak with a sales rep.
The overall experience with your company starts long before a prospect even thinks about talking to your sales team. Yes, marketing is responsible for that early experience, but so is your customer service team.
If a customer is having a wonderful experience with you, they’ll tell several other people, fueling your marketing, sales and lead generation efforts.
You’ve probably seen or heard similar data. Unhappy people almost always tell more people about their situation than happy people. The goal here is to have as few unhappy customers as possible.
The better you are at creating the service experience, the more leads you’ll get. This is especially true today. People don’t ask for references; they do a search for reviews. People don’t tell you they’re unhappy; they post negative reviews. Not only do you have to monitor reviews, but you also have to respond to these reviews and work hard to make those unhappy people happy.
This is relevant to the experience we’re discussing, because it almost always predates any specific interaction with your company. Prospects might check reviews before even coming to your website.
Once they land on your site, now it’s your marketing team’s responsibility to provide a great experience, to serve up great content, to drive a conversion and then to nurture that new lead until that person is ready to talk to your sales team.
It’s a long, complex and chaotic set of interactions and touches. The experience can go bad in a lot of places, and your prospect is having a lot of these experiences while they work through their own buyer journey.
If you want to learn more about how people buy today and what you should be doing about it, check out the Cyclonic Buyer Journey™ article on our blog.
Building A Revenue Generation Machine
One of the big challenges facing our industry (marketing agencies, sales agencies and internal teams) is building a revenue machine that produces sustainable, predictable, repeatable and scalable business results month over month.
If this is your end game (and it should be), single function practitioners are not going to get you there. What you’ve done in the past is not going to get you there. What used to work last year, three years ago or five years ago is not going to get you there.
Instead, consider doing something new and looking for people who bring a specific methodology to your company. Look for a methodology that has been tested and proven to produce the results you’re expecting in the time frame you’re expecting them.
Most importantly, just because you want something in a specific time frame doesn’t mean it can be delivered. Look for someone who is interested in getting to know you and your company enough to help you define what you need and then work with you create the complete revenue plan to get you there — even if that means telling you that you’ll have to reset your goals or your timeline.
Don’t shy away from people who are honest, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Instead, work harder to understand why they’re telling you this and go deep with them, because in our experience, these are the people best equipped to help you over the long term.
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