Each year as Q4 approaches, many sales leaders are scrambling to close the year on a high note—not to mention establish solid plans for the new year. And as it turns out, proactive sales planning has maybe never been so important.
Analysts say mediocre sales performance is costing companies 3.2 percent in potential revenue. Another report identifies “insufficient revenue growth” as the number one pressure motivating sales management initiatives. They cite lack of established sales processes and sales methodologies among the contributing factors.
What does all this mean for your sales plan? If your organization is newly launching, rapidly growing, or approaching a key inflection point, processes and methodologies can be hard to pin down. Sales consulting teams help you develop a data-driven strategy to drive next year’s sales goals and to sustain sales performance in the long run.
Could your company benefit? Here are six common business cases for sales consulting services:
1. Your Startup Needs a Go-to-Market Strategy
Recently funded, high-growth startups have a lot to gain from a sales consulting partnership. Naturally, companies that are brand new have no historical track record to build on, in terms of sales strategy. Sales consulting partners help them develop plans and forecasts, based on knowledge of the landscape and GTM best practices. Research shows 75 percent of all startups fail. Sales consulting can mean the difference between early growth and extinction.
2. Your Emerging Company Isn’t Scaled for Growth
Your initial GTM strategy may have been a big success. But after clinching that initial product-market fit, leaders often recognize obstacles that prevent them from scaling early successes. Depending on your industry and your target buyers, solutions might involve hiring more sales reps (and managing all the attendant issues: commission structures, quotas, etc.); investing in inbound marketing alongside a telesales team (while keeping a keen eye on performance metrics and alignment); or outsourcing sales to an experienced outside sales force until you’ve minimized the risks of hiring. There’s no universal recipe for a scalable, repeatable sales process, which is why qualified consultants are so valuable at this juncture.
3. Your Mid-Market Company Isn’t Meeting Sales Goals
Sales consulting isn’t just about creating new processes. At Mansfield, we’re equipped to fix the broken ones, too. Many of our clients are large, established companies with strong leadership and knowledgeable executives, who can still benefit from a fresh set of eyes. In our assessments we take a holistic approach to uncover what’s working and what’s not—exploring people, processes, compensation, sales and marketing metrics, etc. And at the end of the day we give clients the information they need to do things differently… and kick start performance.
4. Your Industry Is Evolving
Are you up against serious competition or shifting market forces? New players, regulations, or standards in your industry can shake up your game plan overnight. When it’s time to overhaul your sales and marketing functions, it often makes sense to leverage sales outsourcing. Sales consulting is a smart first step to ensure any outside resources will effectively expand your sales capabilities while minimizing costs.
5. You’re Planning Rapid Market Penetration
Here’s another scenario in which sales consulting can prove invaluable, simply by providing expertise in unfamiliar areas. Whether you’re looking to gain market share in a new region or a new vertical, you won’t get there any time fast by recruiting and hiring an in-house executive. Of course, not every sales consultant is up to the task, either. It’s important to look for an individual—or more likely, a sales team—who can demonstrate proven success in your desired niche. (LinkedIn is a great search engine for this, by the way. You can enter targeted queries for sales consulting professionals and/or companies based on industry, location, group membership, connections, and more.)
6. You’re Approaching a Major Financial Milestone
Sales growth is one of the most important factors investors and buyers consider when conducting a business valuation. As you’re approaching your next round of capital funding, an initial public offering, or a merger/acquisition transaction, you’ll want to demonstrate both a profitable sales history and sustainable cash flow. If sales performance is lagging, or—equally important—if you lack a transferable business model/sales process, potential partners may not think you’re worth the risk. Sales consultants can’t turn back time, but they can help you develop a sales playbook that will deliver a steady growth rate from Day One, onward.
Meanwhile, don’t forget the most important piece of your sales plan: the sales team who will execute it. Here’s more advice on assembling the right team:
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.