Back in July last year I wrote an article on Ecademy called "Is Sales Outsourcing Right For My Business?". The article was aimed at helping people understand sales outsourcing and whether it was a good fit for their business.Posted by: David Regler @
I recently had a discussion with a sales outsourcing partner about the different models used and what the benefits are of each one.
Sales outsourcing, in the sense of contracting an external sales team, is still a young business model.
Models used by sales outsourcing companies range from 100% revenue-share/commission (usually only adopted when the company has established relationships they believe they can exploit for a superior return) to a hybrid fixed fee plus commission.
In addition to this, many companies using the 100% revenue-share model are forming joint-ventures with their clients with an exit strategy established up-front; once they build the business to a specific level the client either buys out their share and brings the sales function back in-house or, if the client's business is sold, the joint-venture is included in the trade sale.
To me, this model encourages long-term commitment on both sides, which is always a problem when working purely on commission. Plus, from a sales outsourcing perspective, it provides a larger upside through building equity. This is the principal of shared risk models - a higher reward for greater risk.
An alternative, particularly suited to very early markets, is to work on a fee + commission to ensure some control of time committed, activity levels, etc and then to phase into a full commission or joint-venture model once traction is established. This has the added benefit of both parties getting to know each other prior to any venture.
The common thread in each model is a balance of risk and reward between client and sales outsourcing firm.
Factors such as maturity of products and markets place a large part in deciding the best model. If time-to-revenue is likely to be long, then some form of retainer will ensure commitment from the sales outsourcing firm.
Otherwise, and I have seen this happen, the client will get 6 months into the contract and find out that their sales partner has dropped them for a more attractive offer.
If that happens, the opportunity cost in delayed market entry will far out-weigh any savings on fees.
Shared risk means just that... shared risk.