How can you decide which sales consulting firm to trust?
Here are my top 10 questions to ask yourself before hiring a sales consulting firm:
1- Will the firm pounce on my insecurity?
- By hiring a firm, you are suggesting you are not sure of what to do. Some firms will smell blood in the water. They will try and sell you the kitchen sink. The best firms will admire your courage and help educate you.
2- Will the firm threaten my position?
- You are the boss. Some firms will try and show you up to prove how smart they are. The best firms will be happy making you a rock star.
3- Will the firm cause me to lose control?
- Since you own the number, you are in control and make the big decisions. The best firms understand they are merely advisors there to help. Other firms, will go around you, trying to become the best friend of the CEO.
4- Will the firm focus on delivering today?
- You have to hit the number today while building for the future. The best firms put your interest ahead of theirs and help you win now. Others want to sell you a 3 year road map so they can bill you for another 36 months.
- A quality firm is going to surface opportunities for improvement. Great firms bring forward these opportunities with maturity and class. Second rate firms position these opportunities as a smoking gun to the CEO, in hopes of justifying their fees.
6- Can I reveal my weaknesses to this firm?
- No one is perfect. You know what you need to work on. Top tier sales consulting firms create a relationship that allows for you to expose yourself to them and then helps. Below average firms use your vulnerability against you.
7- Will this sales consulting firm make me feel like an idiot?
- A great firm will always be one step ahead of you on the finer points of sales force effectiveness. That is their job. You have a day job to worry about. Great firms educate. Wannabe firms preach.
8- Does the sales consulting firm make lots of promises?
- Top tier firms have a saying “In God We Trust. All Else Bring Data.” Make believe firms read a blog post in the morning and are in your office in the afternoon with a “solution”.
9- Is this firm concerned about me, or my position?
- The best firms generated 80% of their annual billings from existing/repeat clients. In fact, most chief sales officers, upon taking a new position, bring their preferred sales consulting firms with them. Pretenders fall in love with organizational charts. The minute you are not in the top box on the chart, they delete you from speed dial.
10- Does this firm make me feel suspicious?
- Sales consulting projects are complicated with lots of people coming in and out of the loop. The best firms never leave you out of the loop. Working with them, you will never get surprised. The rest of the firms will go out of their way to “bring you up to speed” only when the project plan specifically calls for it. Expect to get surprised a lot.
You may be wondering, what about the sales consulting firm’s knowledge, methodologies, staff members, industry contacts, etc. These are all table stakes. If you are talking to a firm where items such as this are not blatantly obvious in the first meeting, abort ASAP. You have too much at stake to train the new kids on the block. It is all about trust.
Next time you go into the market for a sales consulting firm, try asking yourself these questions before pulling the trigger.