Outsourcing sales is bad for business

If a development team is the heart of an IT firm, then the sales team is its face. The eyes that scan markets, the mouth that speaks about products, ears that listen to customers and the nose that sniffs for opportunities and problems. There are successful companies with great sales and lousy technology, while marvellous technologies with bad salesmen perish quickly. Why would you want to operate your business without a face?

The first thing you’ll find out when trying to work in sales is that it’s hard. It requires constantly exposing yourself to rejection, ignorance, abuse and a lot of pressure. You get targets, which are strictly bound to your salary and therefore living standard, if not survival. Then if one-on-one meetings with customers weren’t bad enough, you have salesmen from other companies competing for the same dollars you’re trying to collect. Why not help yourself? Let another entity do the sales for you:

  • they’re more experienced. They’re focused on just sales and nothing else.
  • they’re working on commission. No sale, no pay. Much cheaper than running that in-house.
  • they’ve more prospects. Tap into their existing client base without the pain of building one yourself.

Pretty nice, isn’t it? With sales out of the way all you have to deal with is working to improve your products.

Truth is you’re not making the products for the fun of making products. Well alright, you do, but only after you deliver them to someone who’ll value them more than the money they’ll give you in exchange. Since you’re making products for others, you probably want to be in touch with them often, so that you get plenty of feedback.

  • is this what you wanted, sir?
  • does it work as you expected, madame?
  • how can we improve it to better serve you?

Now, who knows your product best? Who cares the most about your product? Certainly not the commission-based salesmen. They’ll know what you’ll tell them, which is a small subset of what’s available. They’ll have products from different vendors, so if yours doesn’t fit, they’ll choose another. No feedback, no chance for you to adjust, improve and deliver. You cut yourself away from the very source that feeds you, both with new ideas and with cash to keep running: your customers. Think well before you choose that path.

I make software. And other things. Mostly in Warsaw, Poland, from wherever there’s an Internet connection, power outlet and fresh coffee. I love to read and learn how the world works. You should follow me at @mpaluchowski.

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