Finding others to fix your business?
When we were running ElasticSales (outsourced sales on demand for startups), we had a certain kind of prospect that scared the living hell out of us—just by wanting to work with us.
These were the customers who wanted us to fix their business with the magic of sales, some of them willing to throw a lot of money at us to make it happen for them. Most of the time, we were strong enough to say NO.
Often times, these are the entrepreneurs who build a beautiful product and are in love with their idea—and think the only thing missing is some marketing/sales /biz dev guy to come in and "do the business stuff". They usually misunderstand what the business side of business is about, and have very little appreciation for it.
Sales are either slow or non-existent. They're not generating enough revenue. They don't know how to make their business work ... and want "others" to figure it out for them.
Here's an ugly truth that outsourced sales companies don't want you to know:
If you can't sell your own product, no one else will be able to sell it for you either.
And that's a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you are an entrepreneur struggling to keep your business alive. You'll become so desperate that you clutch at any straw you can find. You'll think, "Hey, these guys know sales, I'll just bring them in and they'll do it for me."
But that's just wishful thinking, born from the seed of desperation.
The truth is, if you have zero (or next to zero) sales, then ...
It's not the sales part that's at fault. It's your product
If you truly have a great product, you will be able to close at least some deals.
Even if you're not a salesperson.
Even if you suck at sales.
Even if your pitch is flawed.
Even if your hustle is lame.
If your product is solid, you'll be able to close your uncle, or your ex-boss, or your buddy's dad, someone ...
Figure it out before you source it out
It's ok to outsource sales because others are better at doing it. But first, you yourself need to have figured out the basic sales model. Don't just outsource something to somebody else that you don't understand yourself.
Don't expect some professional sales team to bring you from 0 to 1.
That step from 0 to 1 is always the step you need to make.
Taking it from 1 to 5? From 5 to 12? From 12 to 23? From 23 to a 100? Yes, bring in outside experts. But 0 to 1? That's your job!
But what if you really do need help?
What if you really can't get from 0 to 1 by yourself? Well, it's ok if you are looking for help on how to figure it out. It's ok if you're willing to do what it takes, and need someone to coach you through the process.
But don't look for someone who will figure it out for you. If you're looking for somebody who will do all the steps for you that are necessary to figure it out, you're fucked.
Figuring out the basics is your job. You don't need to figure it out until the very last detail—but at least you should have mastered the sales exploration phase and be ready to transition into the sales execution phase.
I wrote about the four stages of startup sales in my sales hiring post, and the transition point between sales exploration to sales execution is between stage #2 to stage #3. You want to have something that the outsourced sales company can build upon and optimize.
If you have nothing, that's not enough. :)