How to Know If It's Time to Engage With a Sales Consulting Firm
"Change before you have to." -Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric
Are you maximizing your sales potential? Are you seizing opportunities to drive more revenue? If you’re a sales leader, answering questions like these can be challenging. But you don’t have to search for the answers alone. You can partner with a sales consulting firm to give you actionable insights to help you grow your business.
Why do companies hire a sales consulting firm?
Typically, businesses hire sales consulting firms to improve performance. They can offer a fresh perspective and help you innovate. Like the opening quote implies, you don’t need to wait until something is wrong to hire a firm. Even if your business is running smoothly and growing, a sales consulting firm can likely accelerate that growth. Here are some popular reasons companies hire sales consulting firms.
- Launch a bold idea
- Align sales and leadership strategy
- Update sales operations
- Implement new technology
- Keep pace with a changing marketplace
- Close gaps in margin
- Reduce employee turnover
- Clarify the sales process
- Create a more accurate forecasting process
- Improve the customer experience
In addition to these reasons, hiring a firm can demonstrate leadership. Some business leaders believe that hiring a sales consulting firm can damage their credibility. But if anything, your coworkers will see you as someone not afraid to take calculated risks and tackle problems. If you still want more guidance about whether to hire a sales consulting firm, check out this article from Sales Hacker.
What to look for when choosing a sales consulting firm
Once you’ve decided to partner with a sales consulting firm, how do you know which one to choose? At Altus, we leveraged our experience to compile a set of principles to help you answer that question. When you’re selecting a firm, keep these in mind.
Uniqueness: What differentiates this firm from another? The best firms have a unique value proposition that they can easily explain and helps them stand out in a crowded field.
Value-added: Is the firm promising growth? What kind of growth? Will you be able to sustain it? Whether your goals are short-term or long-term, the right sales consulting firm should be able to meet both. Firms can add value in a variety of ways. Check out this article from Forbes, which highlights the benefits of hiring a firm.
Cost: Value and cost are two sides of the same coin. Just because a firm charges more, doesn’t mean they provide better value. Likewise, all sorts of firms, big or small and expensive or less costly, can deliver results. There are many factors in evaluating whether the cost of a firm is worth it. Don’t be seduced by a hefty price tag, but also remember that you get what you pay for.
One way you can hold firms accountable for what they want to charge is to ask for a performance-based contract. Another tactic is to bring a firm on incrementally. Start with smaller projects and assess the firm's work. If it meets your standards, then start giving them larger projects.
Because of the diversity of firms and varying levels of expertise, it’s difficult to say what a firm will charge. Read this article for more guidance on what you can expect to pay.
Deliver results: Does the firm you like have a proven track record? Have they worked with companies like yours in the past? Read up on case studies and testimonials to glean insights. Also, ensure that the sales consultant creates metrics that her/his firm can measure. Measurable results help track progress. While there are numerous potential metrics, these are some of the most valuable metrics to measure.
Hidden or extra costs: You may love the firm’s solution, but make sure it won’t lead to an additional investment or hidden fees. Or, if it does, be aware of that from the start and ensure you have the resources to commit.
Experience: There are two aspects to consider here: the firm’s expertise in your industry, and the sales consultant’s personal experience in your industry.
Solutions that fit your business: You may have a firm that specializes in your industry, but if they don't have experience in creating the type of solution(s) you need, it might be a mismatch. Check their website and case studies to see if they’ve produced solutions like the one(s) you need.
Enthusiasm: Sales consultants don’t have to be as passionate about your business as you are, but they do have to be excited about helping your business succeed.
Performance/What other clients say: Read customer testimonials and case studies. For example, we prominently display our case studies, and any reputable firm should, as well. If you feel comfortable reaching out to previous clients of the firm, ask them about their experience. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Think Strategically: Strategic consultants think about how their recommendations affect other areas of your business. They don’t think in silos, and they understand the ramifications of what they suggest. Learn more from this article, which provides a deep dive behind strategy in today’s consulting world.
Firms and consultants that have these qualities are likely to deliver solutions and recommendations that will drive revenue and growth for your business. If you’re unsure about how to ask and figure out whether a firm/consultant is right for you, read the list below. I developed it so you can engage in strategic and probing discussions with potential sales consulting firms and consultants.
Questions that can help you choose the right sales consulting firm
1. What is the firm’s approach?
2. How do they go about assessing existing processes?
3. How do they identify solutions?
4. What do they do to implement long-term solution success?
5. Do they specialize in any particular area of business strategy?
6. What do they know about your industry?
7. What do they know about your company and your competitors?
8. Ask them for examples of strategic consulting projects and specific results.
9. Do they have a background in finance or an ability to perform financial analysis, modeling, and projections?
10. Present them with multiple strategic challenges and opportunities and ask them how they would start evaluating and prioritizing them?
11. When they’re consulting, how do they approach competing personalities, opinions, and priorities?
12. What would they bring to this role that no other consultant could provide?
13. Do they provide diagnostic and/or applicable solutions?
14. Do you trust them?
I hope the guidance I’ve offered helps you make a more informed decision. Whether you have an immediate need for sales and marketing assistance, or you’re exploring your options, we’d love to connect with you. Each of our consultants has over 20 years of experience driving new revenue initiatives at both Fortune 1000 companies and startups. See how we’ve helped our clients maximize their revenue potential.