The Benefits of an Outsourced Sales Manager

Ever wondered how hiring a Fractional Sales Manager could help your business and whether it’s worth it? This article is designed to help make your decision easier by exploring the factors you need to consider when hiring a Fractional Sales Manager.

What is Outsourced Sales Management?

As you probably know, sales management is the process of leading, directing, and controlling an organization’s sales force. The main objectives of sales management are to achieve your desired sales outcomes and, ultimately, to meet your organizational goals.

This includes developing sales plans, setting quotas, managing customer relationships, monitoring performance, and providing motivation and training for your sales reps. Depending on the size of your business, the task of recruiting, hiring, and evaluating salespeople may also rest with your sales managers.

Outsourced sales management, then, is when you outsource the responsibilities of a sales manager to an outside firm or individual. This can have several advantages for your business.

What are the Benefits of Outsourced Sales Management?

There are many pros of outsourcing your sales management, including access to specialized knowledge and expertise, improved efficiency, and cost savings. Let’s look at some benefits in more detail.

  1. Increased Sales: When you outsource your sales management, you are essentially hiring experts to help boost your sales. These experts have the know-how and experience necessary to help close more deals and increase your revenue.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Outsourcing your sales management can be very cost-effective, especially if you choose a reputable and experienced company or consultant. You will likely see a return on your investment (ROI) relatively quickly.
  3. Flexibility: Outsourcing gives you the flexibility to scale up or down as needed, without having to worry about managing a team of employees. This can be extremely helpful during busy times or periods of growth.
  4. Free Up Your Time: One of the biggest pros of outsourcing your sales management is that it frees up your time so that you can focus on other strategic aspects of your business. When you outsource, you no longer need to worry about day-to-day sales tasks or managing a team of salespeople.

When is the Right Time to Outsource Your Sales Management Needs?

There are several things to consider when deciding whether to outsource your sales management needs. The single most important factor is the size and complexity of your sales operation. If you have a large and sophisticated sales operation, it may save you time in the long run to outsource your sales management tasks so that you can focus on other aspects of your business that only you can do.

I’ve talked before about how to assess your sales strategy and execution, and when it makes sense to hire a Fractional VP of Sales. When the organization and its sales team is small and the sales process is not complex, it may make more sense to hire a Fractional Sales Manager.

You may also find that you don’t have the internal resources or expertise to effectively manage your sales operation – especially if you’re growing faster than you can handle. In this case, outsourcing may be the best option.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of outsourcing versus the cost of maintaining an internal sales management team. In some cases, outsourcing can be more cost-effective. Of course, this will vary depending on the specific services you require and the provider you choose.

Finally, you should consider the level of service and support you need from a sales management team. If you require a high level of service and support, it may be more effective to outsource your sales management needs rather than trying to manage everything internally.

How to Find a Good Fractional Sales Manager

Before you hand the sales reins over to a Fractional Sales Manager, you want to be sure you’ve found one who is up to the task. Here are a few key tips:

  1. Do your research. It’s important to understand the different types of outsourcing options available and what they entail. This will help you narrow down your search and find the right fit for your business.
  2. Consider your needs. What type of sales assistance do you require? How much experience does your ideal candidate have with that? What skills should they possess? Answering these questions will help you create a job description and identify the best candidates.
  3. Check references. Once you’ve compiled a list of potential candidates, be sure to check their references. This will give you insights into their previous work experiences and performance levels.
  4. Interview multiple candidates. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start interviewing candidates. This is where you’ll get a better sense of who they are and whether they’ll fit within your company culture.
  5. Make an informed decision. After careful consideration, it’s time to hire the right Fractional Sales Manager and enjoy the perks.


It’s clear that there are some great advantages to outsourcing your sales manager. Just keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you should weigh the pros and cons carefully in the context of your specific business goals. If you need help thinking through whether a Fractional Sales Manager could help you, please contact me to discuss this further.


How to Test for Integrity When Hiring Sales Reps

Integrity matters in any business endeavour. But it’s especially important in sales. When it comes to the trust factor, no job role involves a higher degree of trust than sales. In my role as a Fractional VP of Sales, a mistake that I see business owners make during the hiring process is presuming sales candidate integrity instead of rigorously testing for it.

Why Should You Test Sales Candidates for Integrity?

Sales is a highly independent job role, especially in small businesses, which don’t typically have the enforcement mechanisms that large companies do to ensure all processes are being followed to the letter.

As a business owner or manager, you may only see your salespeople for a couple of hours per week – or even less, given today’s remote working options. Often, you’re taking everything your salespeople say as complete and accurate.

If you hire a salesperson who is prone to misrepresenting themselves, their sales productivity will be lower than their peers and they are likely to create a significant amount of pain and heartache for all other people they touch within the organization. So, how can you prevent this from happening?

How to Weed Out Sales Candidates With Questionable Integrity During the Hiring Process

Most business owners screen for personality traits like competitiveness and the ability to take initiative when hiring because these are known to be correlated with sales success. In the way you do this to hire sales overachievers, you should test for integrity during the hiring process. Here’s how.

Use Behavioural Interviewing Techniques for Sales Candidates

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Behavioural interviewing is an interview technique based on this premise that is designed to help the interviewer understand how a candidate might perform in the job based on past performance.

For example, instead of asking, “Tell me how you would [insert the skill or task you’re looking for here]” a behavioural interview question would ask, “Tell me about a time in your past that you [insert the skill or task you’re looking for here]”. Instead of “how would you beat your sales quota”, ask “Tell me about a time in a past job when you beat your sales quota. How did you go about doing that?”.

Using this approach regarding integrity, you should ask the sales candidate questions about how they handled situations in which they had to make decisions using integrity. Some questions to include:

  • Tell me about a time when you observed some sort of injustice happen to a fellow employee that no one else knew about. What did you do?
  • Describe a time when you found it necessary to slightly bend or stretch the truth when talking to a customer in order to help with a sale. (for example, stretching the truth may look like a salesperson telling a potential buyer that clients experience great results in 3 to 6 months when in reality clients don’t typically see results for at least 6 months)
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to choose between making the right decision and making an easy decision.

Be sure to sprinkle these questions related to integrity throughout the interview (ie. Don’t ask them back-to-back!) to get a more accurate view of the candidate across all the questions related to this theme.

Implement and Interpret Behavioural Interviews Properly

It’s great if you’ve decided to use behavioural interview questions, but you want to ensure you’re doing it correctly so that they yield useful information. There are three main things to keep in mind when asking behavioural interview questions:

  • Don’t lead the candidate in any way.

It’s all too easy to let on what the ‘right’ answer is if you’re not careful. Candidates may quickly understand what an interviewer wants to hear if the question is not presented neutrally.

  • Once you’ve asked the question, stop talking and actively listen to what they tell you.

Active listening includes making eye contact, letting the person know you hear them, and asking follow-up questions at the appropriate times to elicit more relevant information.

  • Take their response at face value and then reassess that answer after the interview.

A lot is going on during an interview since you are interpreting body language and tone along with what the candidate is saying. Reassessing their responses after the interview can help you identify things such as the use of evasive language. A candidate may give their true answer first and then backpedal to try and minimize it, or they may gloss things over their initial response and give a more accurate answer in the second half.

Have a Sales Candidate Do Multiple Interviews With Different People Within the Business

It’s important to have a multi-interview process to ensure that the sales candidate is interacting with several different people within the company. By having the candidate speak to multiple people, you’ll gain more insight into whether they’re the right fit for your team. Of course, you need your team to have their radar up for integrity and be clear on the techniques discussed above.

Before getting too far along the hiring process, you should also do a social media check to actively look for any signs of a disconnect between how the candidate portrays themselves in interviews and their day-to-day life.

How to Assess the Integrity of a Sales Rep You’ve Already Hired

We’ve seen how to test for integrity during the hiring process, but what if you have concerns about the integrity of someone you already have on staff? Many things can raise a red flag, but some of the most common issues I’ve seen with questionable sales reps are:

  • Promising sales results that don’t materialize
  • Stating actions and activities as completed (when they’re not) or not completed (when they are)
  • Saying different and conflicting things to management vs. other staff
  • More obvious things like inaccurate expense reports etc.

Every business owner or manager has had experience with one of these people. If the dots don’t seem to be connecting, take the time to dig into the details. It’s tedious work, but it has to be done to avoid any further damage to your productivity or team morale.

This means going through reports to make sure numbers add up or to check whether the person in question is misrepresenting information. If you do find discrepancies, meet with the salesperson with an open mind instead of jumping to conclusions. Be candid and ask them to help you understand what you’ve found. Of course, if it turns out they are cutting corners, then you need to decide what to do (but that’s a whole other topic)!

The truth of the matter is, if you have a job to offer that someone wants, they will be highly motivated to successfully navigate an interview, maybe to the point of telling you what you want to hear. Meanwhile, a hiring manager also wants to screen someone in rather than out because they’re motivated to get the position filled. This is why integrity can sometimes fall by the wayside and should be intentionally assessed.

The tips here are not completely failproof, but actively testing for integrity will help reduce your chances of hiring a dishonest person who is likely to make your business and team suffer. If you’d like to chat further about how to judge the integrity of sales candidates through behavioural interviewing, please get in touch.


How to Deal with Underperforming Sales Reps

On any sales team, there are top, mid-level, and bottom performers. It’s easy to know what to do with the first two – keep paying them to produce results! Sales leaders often have more trouble dealing with underperformers.

When I consult as a Fractional VP of Sales, I typically see two problems with underperforming reps: 1) they are left on the team to dwindle or; 2) they have a high level of staff turnover. So, what is the right way to handle your underperformers? Hint: the answer is not to immediately fire them!

How to Assess Your Bottom Performers

As a sales leader or business owner, you need to approach unsatisfactory sales performance from a place of curiosity. In other words, you should be asking why your bottom performers are struggling to get results. Here are three questions you can ask to get to the bottom of poor sales performance:

  • Why is the person in question producing at that level?
  • Why is that person going about their sales job in the present manner?
  • What is motivating this salesperson to chronically underperform?

An astute manager will flip this hierarchy of questions around and start by asking about motivation. It’s something that I don’t see managers consider very often, but it is absolutely the most effective way to get to the crux of the problem. That’s because there are two main drivers for success as a salesperson: competence and motivation.

How Competence Influences Success as a Salesperson

If we consider competence to mean knowledge and the skill needed to apply that knowledge, then it’s possible to teach salespeople things to empower them to improve their performance.

If someone is performing poorly in sales, it could be that…

  • you’re not giving them what they need to succeed
  • they don’t know what tools to ask for
  • they know what they need but are afraid to speak up
  • they don’t know how to use the tools they already have

For example, the CRM provided to a sales team may be either insufficient or too complex for some salespeople. Or perhaps they are expected to use technology platforms they’re not adequately trained on, which negatively affects their interactions with potential customers.

Whatever the specific issue may be, you can ensure that competence is not the problem by providing all the tools and training necessary for a person to improve their performance.

How Motivation Influences Success as a Salesperson

If you understand a person’s motivators when it comes to their job, you can feed them those motivators to set the stage for success. To know what motivates someone, you as a leader need to get to know your people.

Whether you choose to do that in a direct or roundabout way, you need to understand exactly what drives a bottom performer. Is it achievement? Do they enjoy competition? Do they prefer to work as part of a team? Do they shy away from public recognition, or thrive on it? Perhaps they’re motivated by a mix of money and an innate desire to help people.

Every person has a different mix of motivators that drive them to perform. Note that not every salesperson has money as their number one motivator. With that being said, if money is not in their top three motivators, they’re likely in the wrong job.

The Influence of the Interpersonal

As a business leader, you need to know how your people are doing as human beings in general. What’s going on in someone’s life outside of work can have a profound impact on how they show up in their job. In fact, one of the top indicators of job performance is the direct relationship between an employee and their superiors.

If you have no idea how they are doing as people, you’ll likely be at a loss for how to help them succeed. How you choose to get to know your people is up to what is appropriate for you and your style. Take whichever path you’d like, as long as you get there – or else, risk high turnover.

How to Deal with Bottom Performers Based on Your Assessment

So, now you have your diagnostic checklist for assessing a poor performer:

  • Are they competent (have you given them the tools they need to succeed)?
  • Are their motivators the type that will position them for success as a seller?
  • What’s going on in their life outside of work?

With all this information, you can figure out whether you’ve got what Jim Collins would call ‘the right person on the bus’.

You may find that with the right training and motivators, a bottom performer is in fact in the right seat on the bus and can get results when given the right tools. But not all salespeople are cut out for the role.

Someone may be an amazing fit for a different role in your company. For instance, you may find you have a bottom performer on a sales team who doesn’t have a competitive streak and doesn’t like asking for business. In that case, they’re not right for a sales role, but may be amazing in a customer service or account management role. In other words, they’re in the wrong seat on the right bus. Now it’s a matter of moving that person to a different seat on the company bus where they can excel.

If you’ve been through the diagnostic list and determined that someone is not capable of performing well in any role in the company, then they’re not a fit for your business. They’re on the wrong bus altogether, and it’s time to exit them (in a respectful way that allows them to succeed in the future of course- but that’s a topic for another post)!

If you’d like to talk through how to approach bottom-tier salespeople on your team, reach out to me and I’d be happy to help.

Top Three Sales KPIs to Ensure Steady Revenue Generation

When things are going well and your sales are up, you can sit back and relax, right? Wrong! Business leaders tend to sound the alarm when sales are already down – but if you’ve waited until your revenue has dipped, it’s already too late.

Find out why the best time to question your approach to revenue generation is when your sales are up, and the three leading indicators you should consider when doing so.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for a Dip in Sales to Optimize Your Sales Process

Imagine you’re walking along in the mountains and you take a path going down toward a valley. If you go too far in that direction without being sure that’s the way you want to go, it’ll be a long hike back up.

If you’re already at the bottom of a sales valley when you realize you need to do something about it and ring the alarm, you’ve clued in much later than you need to and have made climbing back up the mountain very difficult.

Typically, sales are measured at the end of a quarter. When sales are trending down, business owners often don’t sound the alarm because they assume it’s just a temporary dip. The next thing they know, another 90 days have gone by and they’re in the valley of despair, sounding the alarm that something needs to be fixed. 

Unfortunately, two quarters have gone by and now there are only another two left to get sales back up. In other words, an entire calendar year can be negatively affected if course corrections aren’t made in the first quarter or two.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re not too far down the valley before you realize sales are going to dip? What you need is a map that can help you continue your journey without losing elevation. This is where leading indicators (KPIs) come in.

The Top 3 Indicators for Assessing Sales Performance from a Fractional VP of Sales

If you’re a business owner and you want to significantly decrease the number of times you find yourself in a sales valley, you need leading indicators in place that you and your team follow diligently to understand if and why your sales are going to go down. These are the top three sets of indicators to consider.

Leading Indicator 1: Sales Activity Levels

 This category of indicators looks at crucial activities that lead to revenue down the road. If two or three weeks go by and sales activity levels are below where they should be, it is virtually guaranteed that it will lead to a low-revenue month.

There are many specific indicators you could choose from, but the top three must-haves are:

  • On a per-sales rep basis, how many sales calls or meetings with potential buyers are happening per week?
  • How many proposals are being sent out weekly?
  • How many hours per week does the team spend prospecting?

In my role as Fractional VP Sales, I often encounter sales leaders in small to medium enterprises who are not comfortable checking in with their salespeople about these indicators because they don’t want to be perceived as micromanaging. If you want a clear picture of whether your sales are on track or not, you need to keep track of these metrics.

Leading Indicator 2: Top-of-Funnel Health Check

The next set of crucial indicators for assessing and optimizing your sales process relates to the top and middle of your sales funnel. Bearing in mind your conversion rate from proposals issued to deals won…

  • At the top of the funnel, you should have at least three times the revenue opportunities that you need to meet your target for a given period. For example, if your monthly target is 100k in revenue, you should have 300k worth of opportunities at the top of the funnel. This is because typically, two-thirds of your opportunities won’t convert into paying customers.
  • In the middle of the funnel, you should have at least two times your target revenue forecasted to close in the next 30 days (if you’re measuring monthly) or 60 days to close (if you’re measuring quarterly).

If at any time you’re not meeting one of these minimums, a month or quarter down the road, you won’t meet your revenue goals. Based on these metrics, it will be obvious what you need to do to course correct depending on where you’re stuck.

Leading Indicator 3: Revenue Closed

Although this is classically a lagging indicator that shows what you’ve done, it can also be a leading indicator of what your team is capable of doing. It helps you understand your conversion rate and forecast the results you can get if you continue to do what you’re doing. Thus, it’s another opportunity to gain some insight to inform course correction to achieve the targets you want.

When you’re at the top of a sales peak, your valleys can be anticipated by looking at these leading indicators. The pitfall for most business leaders is to be happy when things are going well and then focus their attention elsewhere. Instead, you should be asking what will happen to sales in 30, 60, and 90 days based on your assessment of these indicators.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to applying these high-level tips to your business, and far more detail than can be covered in a blog. I’m always happy to have a conversation about how this applies to you, so please contact me for more information.



How to Assess Your Sales Strategy and Execution

Even if a business is well established, the sales strategy should be assessed at least once every six months. A good leader will pause to assess the sales results, then course correct on strategy and execution to ensure the company stays on track to hit its goals. As the old saying goes “if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got”.


  1. Assess the Sales Execution

As a business owner, you can take many approaches when assessing your sales strategy and results.  The approach below starts from sales execution and works its way up to the overarching strategy.

Here are the core questions you should ask related to sales execution…

  • How well do we conduct thorough, professional sales meetings with buyers?
  • How well do we currently navigate our buyers’ decision-making processes?
  • How well do we sell the value of our solutions versus their features?

If your answer to any of the questions above is “not very”, take steps to get your team the resources and education they need allow them to be successful in the sales arena. If your team lacks the skill or knowledgebase to execute, even the best strategy will never work.


  1. Evaluate the Supporting People and Systems

Once you’ve assessed the ability of your team to execute on the strategy then look inward to determine how well the organization has been doing in providing the team the necessary tools to facilitate their selling.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself (on a looking forward basis) about how the organization can support the ongoing sales effort…

  • What new or different marketing support will your sales team need to help them attract buyers that match your ICP (ideal customer profile) and execute on their daily sales activities?
  • What new or different after admin support will your sales team need to free them up to execute on more of their daily sales activities?
  • What new or different products/pricing [if any] will your sales team need to help them improve their results?
  • Will the CRM (customer relationship management software) configuration need to be adjusted to support the sales approach?
  • How will the weekly team and one-on-one sales coaching need to be structured to support sales success?
  • Is the staff compensation plan structured to incentivize the sales behaviours that will act in support of the strategy?
  1. Review the Sales Strategy

Strategy is a broad topic in business. So, to assess your sales strategy start by considering the following questions…


Are our Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Personas accurate?

It might be that the people the team used to sell to are now in fact the wrong people to sell to. Double check that your team are having conversations with the right buying influences.


Is the business we are winning the business that we want to win?

Sometimes the sales path of least resistance leads sales to say yes to opportunities that are in fact outside of the strategy. Has this been happening to you? Is your team in fact applying sales efforts to the wrong type of prospect client?


How is our profitability?

Sometimes we aim for business of the type we believe we would like, but over time determine that it is problematic business (unprofitable, unwieldy to service, difficult to retain etc).  Such a revelation may in fact take you back to the start of your strategy planning and result in significant course correction interventions. In my experience as a fractional VP sales I’ve seen that companies unwilling to “rip off the Band-Aid” and re-strategize suffer greater in the long run than they would have by addressing the situation in the short run.


Plan-Do-Assess & Course Correct-Repeat

I recommend to business-to-business sellers as well as business to consumer sellers the simple approach of Plan-Do-Assess & Course Correct-Repeat.  The Plan piece is blue sky time and fun. The Do part is exhilarating and rewarding. The Assess & Course Correct component however is the heavy lifting element. The team needs to pause the exhilarating Doing and be ready to face the reality that they may have been marching in the wrong direction or climbing the wrong hill.


  1. Hire a Fractional VP of Sales

As always, there is a great deal nuance in applying the principles I’ve outlined above. And it takes time which not every leader has in abundance. My role as a fractional VP of sales allows me to facilitate this process and much more. I’m happy to speak with you if you would like to learn more [email protected].