In-House Sales Team Vs. Outsourcing: How Do You Decide?

You’ve proven your business concept and are poised to go to market. But in order to break away from the pack your sales operations must function at their best.

What does this entail? This involves removing unnecessary tasks from your reps’ plates so they can focus solely on selling. It also means filling their pipeline with quality leads, and giving them consistent opportunities to close new clients.

How do you achieve these goals? Positioning sales for success relies on a variety of factors, including establishing a detailed ideal customer profile (ICP), testing and optimizing your messaging, and utilizing your CRM database to the fullest. Additionally, you must  develop an outbound strategy, which emphasizes a disqualifying mindset discovering the customers who are ready to buy now.

To make all of this possible without bogging down your sales reps, you’ll need to hire expert people to orchestrate these elements.

If you are 100% committed to having a comprehensive sales operation capability in place as you go to market, there are three options to achieve this goal:

  1. Build an In-House Team: Hire full-time employees and acquire the necessary tech stack
  2. Sales Outsourcing: Find a strategic sales consultancy
  3. Hybrid Approach: Hire some full-time employees and partner with a sales agency

Your unique business model and resources will help to determine which approach is the best fit. Here we’ll lay out several business strategy considerations that can contribute to your decision.

6 considerations for in-house vs. outsourced sales

There are six characteristics that high-growth companies must consider when deciding whether to build a world-class, in-house sales team or outsource their sales strategy and operations:

1. Need to scale

Are you transitioning from founder-led sales to a systematic sales approach? How much of your sales motion is a digital sales model, with most interactions taking place online rather than in person? For companies with strong digital sales motions, an optimized go-to-market sales strategy will require a balance of robust prospecting, closing, and top-line sales technology. Do you have a strong enough systematic sales model to fully utilize three to five in-house salespeople?

2. Funding

Bootstrapped companies or firms with tight cost control are rarely in the position to build a specialized in-house sales team accepting a slower growth rate. 

In a funded company or startup you are in a position where you can and should invest in sales, enabling you to investigate using outsourced sales teams to support rapid growth.

3. Hiring and onboarding

Hiring and onboarding play a crucial role in succeeding in the go-to-market stage. An experienced sales leader is needed to attract, onboard and retain the necessary talent to execute the right sales playbook. In a highly competitive talent market, where sales talent is a scarcity, special attention is necessary to keep momentum in accelerating sales while understanding the company’s runway.

4. In-house management capability

Sales is not a function that can be left unmanaged. Sales activities should be monitored to ensure performance and sales data should be continually mined to uncover insights for optimization. Do you have the in-house management capability to lead an in-house sales team especially in the growth stage your company is facing?

5. Go-to-market motion

Most high-growth companies have similar go-to-market motions. However, if yours is exceptionally unique, you may be best off with an in-house team well-versed in the nuances of your solution and market fit.

6. Urgency

Finding and onboarding highly-skilled, right-fit sales employees is essential, but building a world-class in-house team like this takes time. Additionally, it can take several months — even years — to perfect the data collection in your CRM before you can begin to find useful analytics and actionable insights about your sales activities. This longer timeline may be fine for less ambitious companies. But, firms under pressure to accelerate their GTM success simply may not have the time needed to experiment with their processes while building in-house.

When is in-house sales the best choice?

Is your funding and sales infrastructure on a level that can utilize full-stack team of full-time salespeople? And are your sales and marketing budgets adequate to support complete prospecting and sales activities?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, building an in-house sales team lines up. This is especially true if your sales are heavily relationship-based or your go-to-market motion is unique. And if you have strong in-house managerial capabilities and sales leadership with proven go-to-market experience.

When is it time to outsource sales?

Companies outsource sales for a variety of reasons. Some of those are tactical, i.e. you need to hit a specific sales target, decrease operational costs, or bring in more revenue in a short timeframe. Other motives are more strategic. Perhaps you need support in enhancing your value propositions, systemizing your sales process, or clearly proving you are go-to-scale ready for investors? You might also need to enter new markets where language and business cultural knowhow and networks play a significant role.

Seeking outside support is best for those that lack the commercial knowhow and experience of succeeding in the go-to-market stage but understand there is no time to waste. A strategic go-to-market partner will work shoulder to shoulder with your company keeping momentum and bridging any gaps you may face while you scale sales. A full-stack fractional sales team will fill all the roles necessary ensuring go-to-scale readiness down the road.

Perhaps most importantly, if time is of the essence and the pressure is on to prove your go-to-market effectiveness, then outsourced sales will almost always provide the fastest time to value. If you have tried to ramp up sales for more than three months but are still missing your goals, it is time to get outside help.

It is important to note that although outsourcing sales can be valuable and necessary for companies in the go-to-market stage, this approach is usually best applied in a hybrid manner alongside your in-house resources. While you will undoubtedly find agencies in the market promising to deliver a complete outsourced sales operation, erasing the need to retain or build any sales operations in-house is problematic.In reality, sales cannot be fully outsourced if you are trying to build a sustainable and scalable business. You will always need some direct connection to your sales line in order to create a truly invested sales culture and provide continual data feedback loops to the product.

Using a hybrid sales team

For good reason, a mixed in-house and outsourced sales team is the most common (and effective) solution for ambitious growth companies.

With this hybrid approach, you can focus on hiring sales leadership with strong GTM experience to manage and develop your in-house team while leveraging an effective partnership with a sales agency. Your in-house sales leader can drive the overall sales strategy while your outsourced sales partner will provide the day-to-day prospecting and data collection activities as well as acting as a strategic advisor.

When deciding which sales functions to maintain in-house and which to outsource, keeping the sales roles that are closest to your customers in-house is a good rule of thumb. For example, it makes more sense to outsource your sales development function than your customer success function. Sales development reps generally have light touch when it comes to connecting with customers beyond an initial conversation or two, while customer success managers must really dig in and develop a consultative relationship with each unique client.

Choosing the right approach for your business

Choosing the right solution for staffing your sales operation requires careful examination of your existing sales operations. Before you commit to any approach, ensure you’ve done the foundational analysis to create a successful outcome.

ScaleupXQ helps ambitious B2Bs transition from sporadic sales efforts to repeatable and sustainable revenue. Able to join your sales team at any point in development, a fractal ScaleupXQ sales team is available when and where you need it most. Contact us to discuss your company’s needs if you’re still unsure which path to take.