Should Telephone Sales and Service Be Outsourced? 5 Reasons to Outsource and 5 Reasons to Avoid It |

It’s no secret that Corporate America is looking to cut costs, and outsourcing has become an important part of achieving that goal. Sales forces, particularly telemarketers, have been a prime target of outsourcing in recent years, as more and more sales jobs have moved out of the company and even out of the country.While many companies have seen great financial results from telesales and customer service outsourcing, the decision isn’t necessarily right for every business. For some companies, lower cost doesn’t necessarily lead to better value.If your company is considering outsourcing either function, weigh the five major advantages against the five major disadvantages, and decide whether it makes sense for your business.Five Reasons to OutsourceHere are the most common reasons companies outsource their sales operations.1. Focus on Core BusinessAs businesses look to trim costs, they’re finding that they see more benefit when they focus on the things that generate value – not revenue, value. What’s the difference? Revenue refers to the bottom line, dollars and cents. Value, on the other hand, is the intangible that a company brings to the industry. Some companies deliver value through innovation, others through service, and still others through consistency or reliability. In some cases, the sales force delivers the business value, but when that isn’t the case, it makes more sense to let someone else manage it.2. More Skilled Sales RepsIt takes time, effort, and yes, money, to train a sales force. If you’ve determined that your sales team isn’t a crucial part of your business value, why invest resources in training? There are companies out there that focus exclusively on the sales process, and they know what to look for in their salespeople and how to train them to sell different products and services. In other words, when you take part in inside sales outsourcing, you are not looking for the sales reps; you are looking for Telesales and Customer Service specialists.3. Greater EfficienciesCompanies are looking to be more efficient, and outsourcing can be a great way to do that. Instead of building or purchasing additional office space, with desks and chairs and computers and phone lines; placing ads to search for qualified salespeople and train them and provide their salary and benefits; and taking time and effort away from their core business to concentrate on peripheral activities, a company can move the entire process to another specialist that may be able to perform the same tasks better and at lower costs.4. Lower CostsOutsourced workers typically earn less than internal staff, there tend to be fewer costs associated with recruiting and training, and companies don’t have to devote office space, or manage payroll and benefit packages for the salespeople. When you move your sales and service teams offsite, you also move many of the costs associated with employing them.5. Access to New MarketsEven though the world seems to be getting smaller, a lot of companies still aren’t operating globally. If yours is one of them, you might be missing a great opportunity to expand your reach. An outsourced sales force can close that gap. If your business wants to expand into another market, whether it’s across the country or across the globe, you might reach your goal through inside sales outsourcing. This sales force will be more familiar with the market and will already know how to approach potential customers.Five Reasons NOT to OutsourceThere is no doubt that telesales and customer service outsourcing delivers a lot of benefits. But each of those benefits has another side that needs to be considered. Companies can be all too familiar with this downside if they outsource when it isn’t appropriate to do so.Here are the most common pitfalls to outsourcing.1. Less control over the processYou might move costs offsite when you outsource, but you also move your ability to control the process. It’s hard to keep track of everyday operations when they occur off-premise, and since you don’t have a hand in hiring and training the sales staff, it’s more difficult to maintain quality control. However, these challenges can be mitigated by making sure you stay in constant contact with the sales organization. You should ask for periodic reports and be specific and clear about what you expect from their sales reps.2. A greater chance of diminished qualityThis lack of control implies a lack of quality control. When you’re not there to oversee the sales process, there’s a chance that something might go wrong. A sales rep might not be entirely familiar with your products or services, or he might not use the right talking points to make the sale. Perhaps certain procedures are overlooked, like submitting the right paperwork or promoting the right incentives. Again, this is why constant communication is crucial; the more you stay in touch with your sales organization, the less chance of a mistake.3. Lack of company or industry knowledgeWhen you hire internal salespeople, chances are you look for expertise within your industry or knowledge of your markets. When you outsource your sales team, that expertise and knowledge isn’t quite so certain. In many cases, outside sales reps are chosen for their selling skills, not their industry knowledge. Plus, they may be working on several accounts and therefore have intermediate knowledge at best of any one field. If industry expertise is crucial to your sales operations, outsourcing might not be the best alternative.4. Higher security risksThe safest information is sitting in your company and, even then, it remains vulnerable. For some companies, data security is crucial, whether they’re protecting intellectual property or customer data. If your company handles sensitive information, then you should think twice before allowing any outside organization – including a staff you’ve never met and may or may not have been vetted – to gain access to your data. A security breach, even a minor or accidental one, comes with a heavy price, financial and otherwise.5. Public perceptionWhen most people think of outsourcing, they think of call centers moving to some overseas operation. Of course, many sales functions are still outsourced to organizations operating in the US, but the word “outsourcing” still creates a lot of anxiety. If you’re considering outsourcing your sales or service teams, keep in mind that if it can create a backlash among customers in your market or the public in general. Be prepared for it, and be sure that your decision will actually improve the customer experience.Outsourcing Telephone Sales or Customer Service isn’t always an easy decision. For some, it makes fiscal and operational sense, while for others it can dilute the brand and the customer experience. To build it in-house, your company needs to be committed to compensating appropriately, hiring the talent (including management), and supporting the work. Ultimately, the decision comes down to whether outsourcing will create better value for your company and a better experience for your customers.