Larry Kaul, Founder and CEO, Kaul Sales Partners
Challenges building an in-house sales department
Niche technology consultants face a steep challenge if dependable referral revenue streams dwindle or don’t drive needed growth. Head count is usually comprised of a few partners who have spent decades being both rainmakers and acquiring deep skills that justify big invoices. The article of course applies to all B2B oriented companies in services and software.
When the referral business goes quiet and every client is maxed for upsells, they have to build out a professional sales facet to their organization. But adding discrete technical skill sets for project support is easier than just “plugging in” a salesperson.
Joyce Query spent 25 years building her cross-industry ECM (enterprise content management) consultancy, i-Squared, which over the years has evolved to primarily deliver custom SharePoint implementations due to the tool’s ubiquity.
When faced with the need for more clients, Joyce encountered every flavor of challenge typically experienced by small IT consultancies who try to build their own sales capabilities in-house:
• It is extremely difficult to ID and hire the right salesperson.
• After six to eight months — which is how long it takes many hired guns to learn the nuances of what they’re supposed to be selling — they would leave or have to be replaced for underperforming.
• Company principals found themselves reverting back to the rainmaker role while the salespeople just took orders — which is not a value add.
• Having salespeople doesn’t equate to having a sales process; if they’d never been trained in building and following one, the hire was a waste of money.
• Having to manage the salespeople was a major pain.
Over these years of experimentation, one salesperson flourished — but left after eight months due to a family tragedy, forcing i-Squared to start from scratch once again.
Trying Something New
At the peak of i-Squared’s attempts to build out their in-house sales force, they were burning tons of cash on a full-time sales manager and two full-time salespeople. And Joyce was still bringing in most of the business herself. i-Squared pivoted to lead generation services, but these outbound services produced no results.
What was missing?
“We put a lot of money and energy into securing pieces of the process,” said Joyce. “And even that piece — the salespeople — was difficult. You need a sales manager and co-strategist, the sales people, campaign management, content creators and everybody else who can manage the nuts and bolts of a successful outbound campaign.”
After receiving an email from us describing her pain points to a T, Joyce engaged with Kaul Sales Partners in 2015. She’s recently closed significant new business and works with the Kaul team to formulate strategy and craft new outbound campaigns. i-Squared and Kaul work closely to track results and adjust campaigns to improve response.
Sales strategy, pipeline management, campaign/account management, sales support and copy development now all easily flow from one place, giving Joyce the freedom to do what she’s best at and reduce sales management to a few monthly calls and emails instead of a round-the-clock distraction.
“I’ve actually had a CEO or CFO call me after a campaign goes out. That’s never happened before,” Joyce added. “KSP was able to quickly bring a seasoned team of people who know their process very well. And I don’t have to manage it.”
If you’d like more ideas about the sales challenges that B2B companies face, please check out other entries in our B2B Sales Perspective Series.