Time to outsource: what's in store for SMEs in 2023?

Employees sat around together discussing business issues.
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2023 is set to be a deeply challenging year for SMEs, so it’s no surprise to see companies taking action to protect themselves. Many are, understandably, focusing on increasing efficiency — be it through mothballing services, pulling back on marketing or reducing staff levels — but the answer to survival, and indeed success, may not purely come down to cost-cutting. In the current climate, the most effective response of all might be outsourcing.

SMEs engaging external partners to support key business functions, such as finance, marketing or IT, have been increasing in popularity, with spending in this area predicted to reach a staggering $731 billion in 2023. However, one function businesses are still reluctant to outsource is sales, arguably one of — if not, the — most important function when looking to grow a business, especially in 2023.

As companies, in an effort to rein in expenses, reevaluate their current suppliers and become more discerning in selecting new partners, SMEs have a remarkable opportunity to seize new business, particularly in markets they may not previously have been able to compete in. However, in order to do this, it is crucial that SMEs have a top-class sales team.

In any climate, building a sales team from scratch isn’t just time-consuming and challenging, it’s risky. In many instances it can take at least 8-12 months before any benefits become apparent leaving little to no room for pivoting or adapting quickly to changing circumstances, which are inevitable when working in an SME. This is why outsourcing, and in particular outsourced sales, will be pivotal to the growth of many SMEs in 2023 and beyond.

Levelling the playing field for SMEs

As companies grapple to come to terms with uncertainties facing them in 2023, building a dependable revenue pipeline is a key stress point that many businesses are struggling with. Sourcing and securing deals is an extremely labor-intensive task that requires a very specific combination of sales and interpersonal skills, tact and attention to detail. Ask any executive and they’ll tell you they’re bombarded with cold-call emails, phone calls and LinkedIn messages. They’ll also probably tell you that the majority are not relevant to them and very annoying. In order to break through the noise and truly connect with prospects, it is imperative that you are able to identify relevant prospects, speak to them — rather than at them — connect on a personal level, and show how your product or service can help them.

While this formula may sound basic, it’s crucial to note that this is extremely time intensive, which ultimately translates to expensive, making it almost impossible for SMEs with small or no sales teams to do. It is also exactly why I started 10G in 2017 — to level the playing field. I saw too many great companies with great products fail because they didn't have the right sales strategy or talent to maximize their opportunities.

Patrick Rhatigan
Patrick Rhatigan

Patrick Rhatigan is the CEO of global sales outsourcing company 10G and soon-to-launch AI powered sales enablement platform Revium.

Why outsourcing is the future of sales

While it may seem counterintuitive, 2020 and 2021 saw higher levels of entrepreneurs entering the market than in the years leading up to the Covid pandemic. As developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence continue to evolve at an increasing rate enabling companies to reach broader audiences in a more targeted way, the opportunity cost of building an internal sales team continues to rise; so it makes more sense for new companies to turn to outsourced sales.

With access to a proprietary AI sales enablement platform, businesses can carefully identify, target and engage with ideal customer profiles at an incredible scale - with some even generating a more than 300% increase in qualified revenue opportunities to clients. This means that when businesses take time to speak to new prospects they are using their time effectively and efficiently, speaking directly to decision-makers at the right time in their buying cycle. This in turn can reduce the sales cycles for the business and increase return on their investment.

Delivering this level of prospects with an internal sales team would take upwards of eight months and be extremely labor and cost intensive; but with an outsourced sales partner, companies can see a predictable sales pipeline in a matter of weeks, and at less than half the cost of an in-house team.

A quality collaborator

Outsourcing sales, when done right, doesn’t just give businesses access to experts in the field, it also offers new insights and perspectives, empowering companies to test the market and identify new customers at the kind of scale they never thought possible, and at a fraction of the cost.

Ensuring success through outsourcing involves finding the right partner. This is crucial as the company you partner with will often be the first point of contact prospects have with your business, and you don’t get a second chance at first impressions.

When selecting a partner, transparency into their process and pricing is key. There is no “secret sauce” to effective sales, outsourcing partners should be happy to share their strategies with you and, importantly, be able to effectively explain the logic behind them. Nothing is too complicated to be explained and if it isn’t working, you can bet that’s why it can’t be explained.

Look for companies that take time to work with you to develop your ideal customer profile so they can focus on providing high quality leads rather than mass targeting prospects, which not only results in poorly qualified leads but risks damaging your reputation in the process.

2023 is the time for SMEs to outsource their sales function. For most organizations sales headcount is one of the most expensive line items. By taking up to 80% of the arduous tasks associated with generating a predictable revenue pipeline off their plate, you will enable your sales team to truly excel, or even discover some of your team might be better leveraged in another division of the business. Either way, when you make the decision to outsource sales to the right partner, the business wins.

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Patrick Rhatigan

Patrick Rhatigan is the CEO of global sales outsourcing company 10G and soon-to-launch AI powered sales enablement platform Revium.