Updated: Jan. 3, 2019
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Throughout my 15 years in this industry, one question almost always pops up when talking to marketing and sales teams from different companies: should we outsource prospecting or keep it in-house? My response every time has been to find out as much as I can about the asker’s requirements and resources, then base my answer on it.
That’s because, as someone in an outsourced marketing company, I always see to it that the businesses we work with really do have a genuine need and fit for third-party marketing services since these clients tend to gain the most success from us.
Our experience has taught us that the decision between outsourced and DIY marketing goes beyond merely cost-savings alone. Practically all of our most successful clients made their outsourcing decision based on these six company-specific factors:
Goals and Timelines
I’ve met a number of potential partners who managed to make informed outsourcing decisions simply by taking a step back and clarifying their marketing and sales objectives.
It’s important that you carefully think about the following questions first when weighing your options:
- What are your monthly and quarterly targets in terms of leads, appointments, proposals, and deals?
- What pipeline growth rate are you aiming for?
- How quickly do you need to expand your pipeline?
If you’re looking at very tight timetables for pipeline acceleration, then a third-party lead generation firm might be a more preferable option than recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training additional in-house staff.
One of the main things to consider in the in-house vs. outsourced sales appointment setting decision is the skills and expertise needed to achieve your prospecting goals.
A reputable sales appointment setting provider ideally has the right kind of expertise (since prospecting is their core competency). But, depending on your goals, your internal people may or may not already be up to the task:
- What are your core marketing/sales activities?
- How much time do staff members actually spend on core marketing/sales activities?
- Can you train current and additional staff without disrupting operations?
In addition to specialized sales prospecting skills, today’s appointment setting projects require supplementary expertise such as project management and technical capabilities.
Technology and Tools
This is why having (or not having) the essential marketing tools and technology is a crucial factor when choosing between in-house and outsourced marketing:
- Does your current technology stack accelerate or slow down pipeline growth?
- What percentage of your prospecting workflow does your technology stack support?
- How well does your tech stack let you track and measure results?
Building and operating a marketing tech stack that’s up to par with industry standards oftentimes require significant outlays for tool purchases and subscriptions. Unless you’re willing and able to commit the needed resources, an outsourced lead generation firm is most likely a more viable option.
Ability to Scale and Keep Up
Speaking of industry standards, it goes without saying that the marketing landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Strategies and tactics can quickly become obsolete, making it difficult for marketing/sales teams to keep up.
Although at first glance not much has changed with appointment setting, the reality is that sales prospecting is a vastly different activity than what it used to be. It’s now an integrated part of the prospect’s buying journey—with an entire set of new requirements and demands:
- Do you follow a defined strategy to keep up with marketing trends in your industry?
- Can you set aside resources for testing and evaluating potential improvements and innovations?
- Can you provide your team with continuous learning and development opportunities?
Costs and ROI
Like with any business decision, costs occupy a key place in the outsourced-vs.-DIY marketing question. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to look at costs when deciding whether or not to outsource.
The key is to take into account the value and ROI from your chosen option, rather than purely focusing on the amount spent or saved.
- Can you reliably track how much each prospecting activity contributes to your objectives?
- Are you looking into the breakdown and details of prospecting costs?
- What do unit costs (e.g., cost per lead, cost per acquisition, etc.) look like under each option?
A lot of companies looking to outsource marketing operations often treat cultural fit as an afterthought. But cultural match needs to be one of your top considerations, not only at the vendor level but also whether outsourcing itself aligns with your brand and organizational values.
- How much of your top-of-funnel activities depend on branded communications?
- Can you maintain open and efficient lines of communication with people outside your organization?
- Do you see outsourcing as a transactional option or a long-term partnership?
Working with an outsourced sales appointment setting agency means allowing a third party to represent your company and brand at a crucial stage in the sales process. That’s why cultural fit can make or break success.
Conclusion: I hope this quick blog post has shed some light on your outsourcing planning. The important thing is to pinpoint exactly what your goals are so that you’ll choose the option that best meets your needs.