Contracting out or outsourcing sales and marketing is the practice of engaging an external agency to handle all or some of a company’s sales and marketing duties.
One of the main motivations for outsourcing is the need to access skills not available internally. Contracting out can reduce costs by approx. 40%, while also increasing productivity and speed to market.
For many life sciences B2B companies, the default position for technical sales and marketing is in-house. However, with sales and marketing outsourcing gaining momentum across many parallel sectors, companies in the life sciences sector are beginning to ask if the use of external service providers for all or a part of their technical sales and marketing to an external agency is worth considering.
Is Sales and Marketing Outsourcing/Contracting ideal for all Companies?
There are many reasons for using contractors for sales and marketing functions: A desire to access skills not available internally is one of the main reasons, particularly start-ups and SMEs. This makes sense especially for large-scale, short-term projects, where the company lacks the bandwidth for the opportunity.
Cost reduction is another reason. With the right partner in place, an outside agency can reduce customer acquisition costs by up to 40% through operational efficiencies and reduced FTEs, not to mention productivity gains and accelerated market access.
Outsourcing is also attractive to those companies that sell fast changing but low margin products, or those with long sales cycles, or those that follow indirect innovation pathways. In these cases, cash flow forecasts may limit the hiring of FTEs.
In some instances, internal politics also prevents expansion of headcount budgets. In this case, the only viable option is to look for an external service provider.
However, outsourcing is not something to be taken lightly. Sales and marketing functions are the essence of any business, and therefore any decision to contract out should be, foremost, strategic, and most definitely, evaluated in terms of ROI rather than simply cost reduction exercise.
Are there any other factors that must be considered?
In summary, yes. The prevailing business environment, life cycle of the product/industry, a company’s specific circumstances, internal capability (strengths and weaknesses), and capability gaps, revenue goals, etc., are important considerations.
Also, outsourcing leads to changes in a business’s internal processes, a perception of loss of control and an outward transfer of responsibilities/power. There are challenges around managing the relationship, the KPIs and service agreements that come with the arrangement. In some cases, it can even be more expensive compared to undertaking it internally.
Thus, it may well be that contracting out a selection of an organization’s sales and marketing activities or possibly only certain customers or territories and for a limited time period until certain strategic objectives have been realised is the most common sense approach. These are certainly low risk approaches to sales and marketing outsourcing that should be explored first.
Benefits of Contracting Sales and Marketing
Here below are 10 key benefits of using a contract sales and marketing partner that a typical life sciences company maybe able to reap:
Lower cost and risk
Outsourcing to life sciences marketing agencies allows B2B firms to access experienced teams quickly, reducing risks of inefficient processes, while removing the uncertainties and cost impact of hiring and retaining an internal sales and marketing staff. A company’s bottom line is particularly sensitive to operational inefficiencies arising from high staff attrition, politics and complexity, lack of commitment, not forgetting staff hiring costs, training, and retention of top talent, and the costs internal staff add to overhead.
Most providers of B2B sales and marketing services have worked with other clients within the life sciences industry, and in the process, learned what works best. And although it is possible for companies to build this competence organically, it takes long. Companies that hire life sciences marketing agencies gain access to cutting-edge expertise immediately, which is also transferable to the internal function.
Time to market savings
Many life science sales and marketing implementers work at the highest level of efficiency and productivity. By engaging such companies, firms can significantly reduce the time to market and payback, allowing their internal teams to focus on other pressing needs. Meanwhile, outsourcing gives the reassurance that work will be completed on time and on budget.
Sales and marketing platform
Contract sales and marketing is a proven model. The right sales and marketing solution provider will build a sales and marketing platform that can be further developed and used as a basis for future sales and marketing applications or processes for the company. The benefit of this is clients will have a great scalable platform developed by experts over time and in response to the needs of customers.
Companies today face an unprecedented number of exposures. Rock star sales and marketing talent can easily be poached by the competition, leaving a business undermined. Subcontracting all or some of your sales and marketing operations can significantly reduce the risks your company faces.
Systems versus needs optimization
For companies using marketing platforms like Communigator, HubSpot, Salesforce and Marketo it can be difficult to make the most of their utility. By using a third party sales and marketing provider, companies will be able to access expert technical users who will ensure needs are properly assessed/understood to arrive at the most ideal solution, ensuring the best results are achieved.
Engaging a sales and marketing outside partner can facilitate rapid enterprise growth due to the fast and agile approach that outsourcing solution providers are know for. They have experience in pooling resources and delivering successful sales and marketing plans against tight time and budget constraints. Most importantly, companies will achieve the growth benefits without seeing growth in headcount.
Transfering certain independent tasks allows a business to maintain financial flexibility, for instance, when there is uncertainty in demand. Companies then have the flexibility to scale up or down as conditions dictate, usually at a much lower cost. Outsourcing provides additional benefit of running your business in full throttle even during off season and holiday months.
9. Superior customer service
A sales and marketing service provider, with their skilled expertise and knowhow, will produce quality deliverables faster, increasing turn around time to the customer. Outsourcing will lead to delighted customers, allowing companies to benefit from increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
The ultimate benefit of using a contract sales and marketing organization is that it helps your company gain a competitive edge in the market. Through strategic outsourcing to a competent partner, a company will not only be providing your customers with best-of breed services, it will also increase productivity while managing your in-house resources smartly. This will help you surpass competitors who have not yet realized the benefits of this market access model.
Switching to having an external or indirect sales and marketing function can be a smart route to market strategy for B2B businesses. However, it is well worth firstly finding out whether it will work for your circumstances. It may well be that outsourcing a selection of your sales and marketing activities or possibly only certain customers or territories is the most sensible thing to do. These are certainly low risk approaches to dip toes into sales and marketing outsourcing.