Hiring a sales consultant: How to find and hire the right person
For your sales org to succeed, you need a repeatable, predictable process for sales. This is the only way to increase revenue and grow your business.
So, how do you get to this point?
For many companies, hiring a sales consultant is the fastest way to ramp up their team, build a structured sales process, and turn their reps into high-performing sales masters.
Thinking of hiring a sales consultant? Here’s what you need to know:
- What does a sales consultant do?
- 5 key steps to take before you start looking
- How to hire a sales consultant: 3 places to find the right consultant
- 5 steps to evaluate your options and make your final decision
Ready to supercharge your sales team? Let’s get started.
What does a sales consultant do?
A sales consultant is an ally to your sales team who works alongside both leaders and individual reps to boost key results, such as outreach rates, revenue, or productivity. They’ll normally work short-term with your team to fix processes, develop clearer strategies, or improve your sales stack (or the way you use it).
The advantage of working with a sales consultant is that this isn’t their first rodeo. An experienced sales consultant has been accomplishing the same tasks and building solid, repeatable processes for multiple companies. They know what they’re doing. And they have their process and methods to boost the productivity and effectiveness of your sales team.
Whether you’re building a new sales team from scratch for your growing startup, or you’re trying to optimize the work of your current sales team, working with an experienced sales consultant can help you get the job done right the first time.
A sales consultant’s services might include:
- Building an inbound and/or outbound sales process your team can follow
- Evaluating and identifying weak spots in your current sales process
- Helping you define a clearer ideal customer profile (ICP)
- Creating inbound email sequences and workflows
- Writing cold email or cold calling scripts
- Setting up sales operations and CRM
- Improving the product demo process
Each sales consultant has their own strengths and mindset for success. So, how do you find, evaluate, and hire the right consultant for your team and goals?
5 key steps to take before you start looking
We’re about to dive into a total of 13 steps you need to take throughout the process of looking for and signing with a consultant. Let’s start with what you should do before you begin your search.
1. Prepare yourself and your team
If you’re even thinking about hiring a sales consultant, you’ve decided it’s time for some external help to solve business problems. But it’s important to make sure that your whole team is ready to accept help.
Remember: A sales consultant can only be as successful as you allow them to be.
If you, your sales team, or company directors have a bad attitude coming into the consulting relationship, you’re unlikely to get anything useful from the time and money you spend.
First, make sure no one on your sales team feels like this consultant is a threat to their position. When communication and transparency are limited, individuals on the team may feel that they’re under attack rather than viewing the sales consultant as someone coming to help. Talk to your team about the issues you’re facing, and explain the help you’re looking to get.
Then, make sure you get buy-in from higher-ups at your company. Just like when you want to spend money on software, you should have a clear business case for your consultant.
2. Define what kind of sales consultant your business needs
Here’s how SMB and SaaS sales consultant Mor Assouline explains it:
“There’s a difference between a sales consultant and an advisor. A sales consultant is way more hands-on; the advisor isn’t really doing hands-on work, they’re just giving feedback and advice. So my advice is to decide: Do you want someone to be more hands-on, doing the work, or do you need someone that validates ideas and gives you recommendations and advice? Those are two different things.”
Think about the level of help your team needs to make real changes in your results. Do you need someone to come and help you clean up your process, or do you need continued support to build and scale your sales team over time?
3. Document where you are and where you’d like to be
The more specific you are about where you are and what you need, the easier it will be to get the results you want.
On the other hand, if you go into this relationship with a very vague idea of what you need, it’ll take much more time and energy to get to where you want to be. Or you may end up working with a sales consultant that’s not specialized in the areas you need help with.
So start by asking yourself a few key questions:
- Which piece of our sales process needs help?
- Are we looking for help with inbound or outbound?
- What kind of support do our sales reps and AEs need?
We asked Jake Dunlap–CEO of sales consulting agency Skaled–about his thoughts here. He said: “My best advice for a lot of firms is that you need to be smart about saying, hey, here’s where I’m at, and here’s what I need over the next three to six months. And the more time you take to document some of that, you’re going to set yourself up much better for success.”
“Just take a bit of time to think about what you want to get out of it,” he says, “Even if it’s just a to-do list. Something like that can be a starting point.”
Learn more about Jake and his work at Skaled.
4. Build realistic expectations
A sales consultant is not your fairy godmother, they won’t be able to turn your sales process and revenue into a golden carriage if you’re handing them a bunch of pumpkins.
With the right expectations, you’ll be able to focus on accomplishing the work rather than rushing through a process just to get to the finish line.
To build those expectations, do research. Talk to people in your network that have already hired a sales consultant, and see what they have to say about the process and the results. When you start considering sales consultants, you can read reviews and recommendations from their past clients.
Pro tip: We spoke with some of today’s top sales consultants about their work, their stories, and the trends they’re seeing in sales. Want to listen to these interviews? Head over to our Sales Consultants Directory.
5. Decide what kind of budget you have for a consultant
Your budget will ultimately decide where and how you look for a consultant. For example, if you’re willing to spend bigger bucks, you can probably afford to check out top sales consulting agencies and firms. But if you’re trying to cut costs, look for individual consultants.
But never forget that this is an investment, not an expense.
Here’s how Mor Assouline explains it: “Some startups go, okay, I can just figure it out on my own. And now the CEO is playing a consultant instead of a CEO because they’re looking at it as an expense rather than an investment. I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make.”
How to hire a sales consultant: 3 places to find the right consultant
Now that you and your team are prepared to invite a sales consultant into the fold, where can you find the right person?
6. Dive into social media
If you’ve ever searched for sales-related content on LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube, you’ve probably come across the advice and strategies of top sales consultants.
Many consultants give away their advice for free online. As Michael Halper of Sales Scripter says: “I’ve kind of become the sales messaging script guy. So when you search for sales scripts, a lot of times you’ll end up on my website or my YouTube channel. By no means am I an influencer, I just crossed 18,000 subscribers, but it is an audience that I can communicate to.”
Find content and strategies you align with and you’ll have a better impression from the get-go of how aligned this consultant will be to your business.
You can also search specifically for consultants on LinkedIn with advanced search features. Scrolling through the posts and content of a sales consultant is a great way to get a first impression of their ideas and methods.
7. Ask your network
There’s nothing better than a great referral. When talking to other sales leaders and startup founders in your network, ask around to see if they know any great sales consultants.
There are a couple of advantages to getting a referral from your network:
- First, you’ll be more likely to find a consultant who aligns with your industry
- Second, you’ll get a recommendation from someone you trust
8. Browse consulting-specific directories and platforms
While you can simply Google ‘sales consultant’, an online marketplace or directory can work much better than a simple search. Directories give you filtering options, and some are more geared towards the type of consultant you’re looking for, or your industry.
Of course, each marketplace and directory has its advantages. Here are a few of the top options:
The Close Sales Consultants Directory: An openly accessible directory of 100+ selected sales consultants for startups and SMBs, including featured profiles with in-depth interviews and more.
Consultport: A consultant marketplace platform that handles the process from start to finish, and helps match you to the right consultant by having you fill out an in-depth form.
COMATCH: Top consulting marketplace with 15,000 consultants and experts in 10+ sectors and departments, including sales. Requires you to sign up and submit a form.
G2: Listings mainly for large sales consulting agencies, along with ratings from clients.
5 steps to evaluate your options and make your final decision
At this stage, you probably have a few consultants that you’re trying to decide between. Maybe you’re about to speak to some of them.
So, what should you look for? What key aspects can help you decide which consultant is right for your sales org?
Here are 5 key methods to evaluate your options when it comes to hiring a sales consultant:
9. See if they’re good communicators
Here at Close, we’ve always been huge promoters of over-communication, especially when running a remote team. This principle holds true for your relationship with a sales consultant.
As Jake Dunlap of Skaled says: “Communication is one of the most important aspects of a great partnership.”
Here’s what good communication should look like:
- The ability to clearly explain what they do and how they do it
- A plan for regular communication throughout the project
- Agility within different forms of communication, both synchronous and asynchronous
- The ability to listen and comprehend what you tell them
- Asking good questions that draw the right answers from you
Of course, the communication style and schedule will depend on the project and your needs.
Here’s what good communication looks like for some top sales consultants:
“Slack, email, weekly calls. With some of our clients, it’s two or three calls a week. But certainly, weekly communication with key team members is mission-critical.” – Jake Dunlap, Skaled
“We do a 1-hour Zoom every week. Then people add me to their Slack community, they can text or email me, we do a ton of work in Google Docs and Google Sheets. You tell me what works best for you, I’ll tell you about what works best for me, and then we find a happy medium there.” – Scott Leese, Scott Leese Consulting
“I like to lean into asynchronous communication. I record Loom videos. We have a working document in Google Docs that everything gets recorded in, all our meeting notes and call recordings are linked there as well. My clients can also contact me on WhatsApp, you can leave voice notes that give a lot more context and detailed answers than simply typing them out.” – Mark Colgan, Yellow O
Here’s the key: find a sales consultant that knows how to communicate well, and is willing to adapt to your favorite communication methods.
Psst… Want to hear more insights from top sales consultants? Check out the full interviews with Jake Dunlap, Scott Leese, Mark Colgan, and more in our Sales Consultants Directory.
10. Watch for genuine interest in learning about your business
Any sales consultant worth their salt will want to know about you, your business, your team, and your current processes and systems. That’s the only way they can give good advice and actually help you.
That’s why a key quality to look for when evaluating sales consultants is genuine interest and curiosity.
Think: Are they asking in-depth questions about my business, or are they simply selling their method or playbook? Are they really interested in what we sell and why we sell it? Are they interested in learning about our customers and industry?
When you see actual interest in understanding the value of what you sell and flexibility to customize their approach to your team and needs, those are good signs.
11. Learn about their strategy for consulting and the results they expect
Most sales consultants will focus on a specific area of sales and know how to pull the best results from that area.
So, as you talk to your potential sales consultant, ask them: Do they have a specific way of consulting and improving processes? Can they prove their way works?
The consulting strategy is a key area because it can make or break your relationship. Here’s what Jake Dunlap of Skaled has to say about the red flags you might see here:
“If a consulting firm won’t tie themselves to results or outcomes, that’s a red flag. I think about the outcome I want to drive to. That’s why we try to preserve as much of the language and processes used internally as possible, versus having one cookie-cutter way that we put 55 companies through a quarter. I just think that’s old school and more companies are looking for someone who’s going to take the time to get their business, and the solution that comes out the other side doesn’t feel cookie-cutter.”
The point: If a consultant is trying to squish your business into one cookie-cutter way of doing things and isn’t comfortable tying their work to real results, that’s a red flag.
12. Collect references, and have meaningful conversations with them
Just like when hiring a new team member, you’ll want to see references and recommendations. Sometimes you might have enough with online reviews or LinkedIn recommendations, but sometimes you may want something more.
If you decide to ask your sales consultant for references, make sure these conversations are meaningful. Think in advance about what you need to know about this sales consultant. Find out what kind of results they had when working with the consultant.
This can help you go into the relationship more confidently.
13. Remember that working with a consultant is just the beginning
When you work with a sales consultant, you’re not just paying for the time you spend working with them—you’re paying for the results you’ll continue to see after they’re gone.
That’s why it’s essential to think about and evaluate the follow-through. What will you have at the end of the contract that will enable your company to continue successfully? What will the sales consultant leave you with to implement the ideas and advice they’ve given you?
When you evaluate beyond the time of the contract and think about the continued results you’ll see over time, it’ll help you evaluate which sales consultant is working to set you up for success in the long term versus simply helping you get temporary results in the short term.
How to hire a sales consultant and improve your results in the long-term
It can be scary to bring an outsider into your sales org and allow them to mess around with the processes and workflows you’ve grown accustomed to using.
But having an outside perspective can be just the kind of shake-up your team needs to reach their potential, or even grow beyond it.
When it comes to hiring a sales consultant, you’ll need to have buy-in from the whole team and be prepared to take in and implement the advice and strategies they give you. When you and your team are well-prepared and ready to improve, you’ll gain more than you might expect.
Ready to start the process?
Head over to our Sales Consultants Directory, a constantly updated resource that lists today’s top sales consultants and gives you all the information you need to make an informed decision.