In our last article, we discussed a critical and emerging sales trend of 2020: the rise of on-demand leadership. We went over the many defining qualities and benefits of hiring on-demand partners at sales organizations. This article analyzes what separates on-demand partners from another well-known part-time support workforce: traditional sales consultants.
To be clear, the point of this article is not to say that on-demand partnerships are always superior to consultancies. Or that part-time help is always superior to full-time. Far from it.
Our goal is simply to get growing businesses to think about more than the traditional two options of hiring full-time employees or consultants when it comes to scaling. Every company is unique, and their needs change based on their stage of growth, resources, and even product. However, we believe that on-demand sales leadership will become a critical component of modern sales and scaling.
Let us rephrase that. IS a critical component of modern sales and scaling. But we do understand that it’s not the traditional way, and we have to unpack a few concerns first.
The Part-Time Fallacy
First, we have to dispel the unfounded fears of hiring non-full-time roles.
One of the most common misconceptions we’ve seen among venture capital, private equity, and CEOs of companies at various stages is that hiring full-time is the only way to find people who are completely invested in your organization.
Many founders and leaders still hold the antiquated notion that full-time employees are the better suited, long-term solution to help scale an organization.
But, we’re just going to come out and say it, they’re wrong.
Training to level up a core aspect of your business alone makes full-time employees a time-costly endeavor. If you need to scale your business rapidly, this traditional hiring structure is not the best option.
Then there’s the issue that while a full-time employee will have well-rounded skills, they may lack specific ones that are needed when new problems arise for your company as it grows. Problems that actually aren’t novel from business to business, but are new from series to series.
Moreover, most organizations are already familiar with the concept of bringing in outside help to fulfill the company’s needs. If you’re in Finance, chances are you’ve brought in an audit group at some point. If you’re in Marketing, you’ve brought in a performance agency to optimize ad spend, or a PR agency to maximize brand exposure.
Think about when you found that help. You more than likely found those experts to be just as invested in your success as your internal team.
It’s not impossible to find the right expertise that is only part-time. So why do so many leaders believe they can’t have the same outcomes? They certainly can, and that’s where on-demand partners come in.
On-demand partners are just as invested as any full-time person. All of the attributes you can and would look for are identical to what you look for in a full-time hire. You can vet them the same way. They can be managed and held to a scorecard and lead individuals and projects.
There is no lack of loyalty built into on-demand partners. You treat these experts with the same interview process, and the same level of culture fit as a full-time hire. In the end, you hold them to the same or higher standards as any other employee, AND you get the added benefits of their specialized expertise.
On-Demand Partner vs. Sales Consultant
We briefly defined how the two roles are similar and different in a previous article. But to recap, the fundamental difference between on-demand leadership and consultants is execution. Consultants don’t stick around to see whether their strategies and recommendations are implemented. On-demand partners make sure their initiatives are implemented and adopted and stay for as long as needed.
Let us explain in more detail.
Typically when you bring in an outside organization to help your company, they have established objectives. Usually, they come in and assess the organization’s current situation and create a roadmap for growth. They then hand off this plan to team members. Whether or not the team successfully implements that plan is not the consultants’ concern. And generally, they are not around to support the project once it’s complete. Your company then has the burden of effectively using the roadmap provided, whether it’s prepared to or not.
On-demand partnerships are embedded in your team, drive initiatives forward, and are experts in specific areas of sales operations, sales enablement, and sales leadership.
By providing that level of expertise around certain areas, on-demand experts take that work off your internal team’s plate or augment what they’re doing.
That’s what makes on-demand partnerships unique from traditional training or consulting work, and full-time hires may not have all of those necessary skills.
Many organizations often make shortsighted decisions based on traditional understandings of the workforce, but those notions are increasingly obsolete. Sales teams often bring in individuals with some skills in multiple areas, but they’re not the expert needed for the specific task.
Technology is also an incredibly important factor when considering on-demand partners. Tech stacks are evolving at an incredible pace. Few organizations fully implement even a handful of tools from an array of thousands. They simply can’t keep up. Sales leaders and their teams can learn about a tool, of course, but they won’t understand the effectiveness for months or a year.
On-demand partners are continually learning how to use new tech for their own professional development, and various partners will specialize in various tools.
Perhaps your company only has a temporary need. If needs are temporary, an on-demand partnership is definitely the right move. That’s part of why they do what they do – to fill a unique need that doesn’t require long-term full-time help but is necessary to propel businesses forward.
There are three questions to ask if you’re trying to decide between full-time, a traditional consultancy, or an on-demand partner.
- Do you need a highly specific area of expertise for your growth stage or project?
- Is staying up to pace with current technology and innovation important to the growth of your company?
- Do you only have a temporary need?
Consider these questions and their answers carefully. Suppose you need someone with specific expertise, knowledge of modern sales tech, or has helped companies in your exact situation dozens of times. In that case, we encourage you to consider an on-demand partner. On-demand partners may technically be consultants, but unlike their part-time counterparts, they will execute the frameworks they bring to the table.
Turning Traditional Sales Consulting on Its Head
The consulting framework in B2B Sales is taking a turn. Many have grown accustomed to the assessments, charts, graphs, and audacious plans that sales consultants create. But these plans are increasingly challenging for internal sales teams to implement along with their regular responsibilities.
Moreover, it’s dangerous to assume (though many companies do) that all consultants are created equal. Companies need to stop robotically spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants that try to fit problems into a neat playbook. And, if there are no results from it, using that failure as a deciding factor to hire full time, which is also wrong depending on how you answered the three questions above.
On-demand partners make an earnest effort to improve performance, optimize what they say they’re going to optimize, and leave teams with a clear path forward that they can execute on. As we said at the start, our goal is not to convince you that on-demand is the only answer, but to get organizations to think about other options besides hiring full-time employees or sales consultants when it comes to scaling.