Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Brands and Outsourced Sales

Every organization needs a sales function. If you do not have a sales function internally, you need to outsource that function to someone else. 

But know that sales is the first point of contact that your organization will have with potential customers. Those first customer contacts need to deliver against your brand's promise and personality. If they don't, at best, potential customers will not get a sense of what your brand stands for or what makes it different. At worst, the outsourced sales function can damage the perception of your brand.

I recently had an experience in which a professional service firm was trying to sell a service to my company. The salesperson was relentless in trying to schedule a sales call with me. We finally scheduled a time and date for us to talk on the phone. When that time and date arrived, the salesperson said he didn't have time for me and asked me what other times and dates would be convenient for me. I gave him several and then he rescheduled the meeting for a time and date on which I was not available. I emailed him back and said I couldn't make that time and date. When we finally scheduled the call and the time and date arrived, he never called me. I emailed him. I called him. I never got a response. Luckily, it never really registered with me what brand he was representing so I do not have a negative perception of the brand, just of him.

There was another company that was trying to sell my company on outsourced lead generation. That sales call didn't go very well. The person who called me had a strong Indian accent that I had trouble understanding, but worse, his English was poor, he was not professional and he kept on asking me the same questions over and over again. I would not hire a company like that to represent my firm, which delivers brand strategy services to senior executives. Our brand is smart, accomplished, professional, friendly and easy to get along with. That salesperson conveyed none of those qualities. 

So, my only admonition in this blog post is to consider very carefully to whom you outsource certain company functions, especially the sales function. While it might be tempting to try to juice your sales with an outside sales function, do not do that to the detriment to your brand.


  1. Interestingly, I just ran into a similar problem with outsourcing delivery services. I recently ordered a new refrigerator and dryer for my second home from Home Depot. They work through a delivery services company that only seems to be able to reschedule deliveries. And that company works with separate delivery companies in different locations. The delivery company was unable to deliver the appliances to my home because of the size of the truck and the winter road conditions. So they rescheduled the delivery for the following Friday, but no one will be at the house to let them in on that date and the winter road conditions will likely be the same as they previously encountered. When I call Home Depot for help, my call continues to be redirected to the delivery service company, which can only reschedule the delivery within a 30 day window and I am not able to contact the delivery company itself to arrange a delivery that will work for them and for me. I have gotten the runaround and even surly responses from people in the delivery service company who cannot help me. I have tried to cancel the delivery date that will not work for me, but to do this, they indicate they must cancel my order, which is not what I want. This has tarnished my perception of the Home Depot brand. This is an example of an outsourced service that is hurting a brand. Home Depot is unlikely to even be aware of my frustration. And the most likely outcome is for me to cancel my order and perhaps to switch my business from Home Depot to Lowes.

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