After trying to do the ‘surgery’ on yourself you can always ask for external help. Most companies, that have successfully implemented a sales methodology, involved some external sales consulting into the process. But only after they made sure that they have the proper budget and there is real added value to buy…
Courtesy of: Miramax Films
What is the added value of a good sales consultant?
Does a good sales consultant know more about your business than you do? Nope.
Is a good sales consultant cleverer than you and your sales director are? Nope.
The real added value of a good sales consultant is the benchmarks he knows and you don’t. He knows the best practises of your industry: best performing lead sources, sales processes, motivation systems, event budgets and proposal structures. A good sales consultant knows what your competitors (and your clients) are doing as he works in your industry and he has strong references from it.
So if you want a consultant that can bring you money instead of taking it follow these simple rules to see quick return of your investment:
Let’s face it, the best ‘doctors’ are freaking expensive
Without the proper budget do not go for consulting. Even one thousand dollars is too much to spend to imitate that you are getting consulting. If you cannot afford professional consulting (which in 2017 is always North of 200 USD / hour), put your money on better use by purchasing some DIY books on sales methodologies and spend the rest on a team-building dinner for your salespeople instead!
The safest thing to do is dipping your toe to the water first. Instead of jumping into a time-taking and risky sales consultant selection you can have a quick and easy online test of their services. (if they offer any small online consulting package) This way you can get some valuable first impressions about a consultant’s professionalism for few hundred bucks. Some of these online services also offer anonymity so you can safely share details about your sales department incognito and you don’t have to worry about nondisclosure issues.
(here is an example of such Sales Expert-as-a-Service)
Go for professionals!
When you are ready for personal consulting the number one typical mistake is to bump into is the ex-president or ex-CXO of a huge international corporation. The guy who was once responsible for billions of dollars and in his retirement he fancies doing some consulting. So in his whole career he saw 2 or 3 sales departments (the first one 30 years ago). And yes, he probably solved some sales issues in the past (or watched others solving them) and it is even possible that he faced some sales issues very similar to yours.
But it is not a support group that you need. If your sales department has ‘cancer’ you are not going to get cured by ‘sharing’ your struggle with fellow businessmen. What you really need is a professional ‘doctor’ who successfully selects proper treatments for ‘cancer patients’ for a living. Somebody who solves various sales problems every day.
Do not get fooled by the references of a consulting company!
Company references and a senior individual with hands-on experience are two different things. Consulting companies are like hospitals. They employ a lot of nurses and doctors and administrators. Not all of them are rock stars. Ok, a good hospital usually has good doctors. But the good reputation of a hospital will not mean automatically that they have a good diagnostician. And the long-term colleague of a good diagnostician is still not the right hit.
Find a senior sales consultant and have a look at the personal references of his/her!
Never ask for or accept success fee, revenue share or consulting for equity schemes!
Don’t try to reinvent consulting compensations by success fees or by any other schemes! For the same reason why doctors are not allowed to prescribe drugs for themselves and paediatricians are kindly (and in some jurisdictions legally) kept away from treating their own children. We humans tend to have this special approach towards things that are ours. Let it be our own body or our kid or our own company we cannot have the same analytical mind and cool-headedness anymore. In legislation this is called partiality. And actually this is one of the main differences between a CEO or an investor and a sales consultant. A sales consultant can only have an unbiased opinion about the sales situation and can only have a precise diagnosis and a well selected treatment if he is independent financially and emotionally from the case unlike people (CEOs, board members etc.) from within the company. By having either a success fee or a revenue share scheme any consultant becomes just as bias and attached as any other executives and the real added value of consulting would be gone at once.
Do not go for medication advice to a drug company!
There are many sales software vendors and CRM partners that offer cheap consulting services. Sometimes they offer consulting for free! Since there is no such thing as ‘free lunch’ you should know better!
Yes, you might need a CRM or other (!) sales acceleration solutions at a certain point in time. But that is a specific drug to a specific disease. First you will need a diagnosis and then an unbiased doctor to select the right complex of medication.
If you ask a drug company about the right medicine, don’t get surprised to receive solutions exclusively from their portfolio. (Isn’t it natural that for a CRM company every sales problem looks like a software feature issue?)
If you have problems in B2B sales, do not fool yourself with the clever marketing tools and all-in-one packages of others, find a doctor instead!
When a friend highly recommends a consultant…
A personal recommendation coming from a trustworthy businessman is a good path. But only go for recommendations coming from companies similar to yours!
Just because somebody helped a chicken farm to sell a lot of chicken to a fast-food chain this experience does not make him an expert on how to sell IT support services to a banking corporation.
…and finally gynecology, urology and sales consulting are all very personal!
Consulting is as personal as practising medicine, so you must find the consultant you feel comfortable with and having no problems ‘undressing’ in front of.
You are about to share a lot of intimate info about your company and receive a lot of dramatization and problem finding. This process is always intimate, usually painful and sometimes even embarrassing.
You should find a sales consultant who has the right gender, age, style and humor that fits you!