SALES: To outsource or keep in-house? We ask the question.

23 February 2017

Outsource sales or keep in house?

In business when you’re getting started with a shoe string budget, then beginning to build sales momentum, and expect further sales opportunities; you’re often faced with the question around resourcing.  Hire or outsource? Inside sales teams are no exception. When all you want to do is sell, but you need to keep your overheads down, outsourcing may seem like an attractive option.

But when is it the best time to outsource? And how do you know if it’s right for you? We take a look into this issue.

The External Sales Team

Inside sales outsourcing or lead generation can save you money. But your success in sales is only ever going to be as great as the quality of the sales representatives employed. For this reason it’s important to be discerning when selecting an outsource partner. Are they aligned to deliver the level of service your customer base would expect? Are you confident they will represent you in the same way your internal team would?

The Internal Sales Team

Keeping things much closer to home, some of the benefits of keeping sales in-house include their exposure and understanding of your business. Often this knowledge is invaluable in building trust and reassuring potential buyers. The challenge for business is when the focus on lead generation gets diluted when managing the day to day issues that come in.  It’s the cost effectiveness vs. sales volume and productivity call.

So which one’s better?

Every organisation is different and what works for one may not work for another. It makes more sense to consider how beneficial it is to outsource for your specific situation. Johann Edward, CEO of EIMS identified 5 areas that can help you determine the best option for your business.

Product Complexity

How difficult is it to sell your product? Take into account all the steps and processes involved for the buyer. How easy is this to package into a call-script or campaign and outsource and how can this process be simplified?

Target Audience

Getting off the ground generally requires a mentality of ‘high-end experts first, and sales-skills second’. It’s important to watch for changes in buying behaviour, and adjust sales approach accordingly. You also need to be realistic with your audience targeting. Would you be a credible supplier to the selected companies – we all want to be engaged with the most lucrative clients – but many will also have high barriers to entry that you will struggle to get through.

Nature of the product cycle

This takes into the consideration the premise that at some point in the nature of the product cycle it will become apparent that outsourcing is the more cost-effective option. Most quota carrying sales reps will be hands on with prospects that are in the evaluation/decision stages of the customer journey. Prospects in the awareness/interest stages need responsive follow up and nurturing to progress to a sales qualified opportunity. The profile of a successful quota carrying sales rep and the gently, gently progress opportunity inside sales rep are very different.

Company Culture

Outsourcing the early stages of the sales cycle allows the resourcing to meet the peaks and troughs of the demand generation activities whilst maintaining the high performance sales culture of the organisation. By regarding the outsource team as part of the broader sales team there will be a greater sense of ownership between the two teams and a shared commitment to sales success. The outsourced teams KPIs for lead quality and prospect engagement should complement the internal sales team performance KPIs..

See also: Top tips to get sales and marketing teams working together


If outsourcing means a significant loss in sales quality, then there’s no point. It’s important to keep a balance and ensure that your sales team is of the highest calibre. The best approach for success is to treat outsourced teams as ‘strategic partners’ – valuable contributors to the company’s goals. Level of professionalism including product understanding, tone and ability to establish rapport should be more important than driving the lowest possible cost per lead pricing model.

Some other areas of consideration include:


Other research indicates that it comes down to the quality of your sales representatives; naming the top 5 traits crucial for sales as: flexibility, willingness to learn, great memory, empathy and communication. Ensuring teams are given adequate training in product offerings as well as sales skills is vital. Now then, does your company have the capacity to adequately train staff – or does it become more cost effective to outsource to an agency?

On Demand Capacity

It might be a good idea to invest in an outsourced inside sales where demand requires or there’s a drive to meet key financial targets. For example if you are running a particular Direct Marketing or eDM campaign, you might require additional resources to follow-up leads. Or telemarketing could be what gets you across the line on a particularly slow month.

If you’re after any advice around how to structure your inside sales team, or would like some assistance in lead generation, contact the team at Make it Happen. You can connect with MIH also on LinkedIn.

Related Posts:

Join the MIH Newsletter

Sign up and we'll bring you the latest on industry trends, news, tips and opinions.




Job Title



I'm most interested in... (tick all that apply):
BrandDemandDigitalB2B Lead GenerationChannel MarketingNot For Profit


Get the latest B2B, NFP AND MarkEting insights from our complimentary resource library