We’re constantly looking for and anticipating the next sales trends – but rarely do we apply them like we should.
COVID-19 exposed a lot of gaps and slow adoptions of trends for sales organizations. If you’re a glass half full type of person, you could say this unpredictable pandemic actually gave us some clarity in the upheaval and rediscovery of some basic yet prominent truths.
One such truth is how startups and growth-stage companies could and should scale their business and hire talent.
Whether you’re scaling for the first time, entering your next stage of growth, or modernizing a particular sector of your sales organization, all of these scenarios have two options: A full-time hire or a niche, on-demand and part-time expert.
The traditional answer is to hire a dedicated, full-time person. But no two businesses are alike, and in the current economy, full time may not be an option.
You may decide that you’re not ready for a full-time head or VP of Sales or realize that you require an outside point of view that has fixed your specific challenge hundreds of times for other sales organizations.
The main obstacle is the outdated notion that a gun for hire, outside, and part-time expert cannot serve a company as faithfully as a full-time hire. We’re here to tell you that not only are on-demand leaders a tremendous resource for sales teams right now, but they will become the standard sales trend even after the pandemic has subsided.
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of on-demand, expert talent to help you make an informed decision to better fit the needs of growing a modern sales organization.
Defining This 2020 Sales Trend
First, let’s briefly look at this fairly nuanced term we’ll be using throughout this article when it comes to sales: on-demand leadership.
For those who have done the research on this topic or have even utilized an expert in this role before, you may have found or used terms like interim, outsourced, part-time, acting, or VP as a Service. These are all essentially the same as on-demand leadership.
And when we use it, we’re referring to experienced leaders that integrate themselves into your team in a part-time capacity (about 20 hours a week) and for a set period of time. In that time, the experience they bring to the table and hands-on execution will make a significant impact on the trajectory and growth of your business.
It’s also important to quickly differentiate on-demand partners from traditional consultants. Both are specialized and experienced experts who can aid your organization in a part-time capacity. What separates them is execution.
While on-demand experts embed themselves in your organization and drive initiatives forward, consultants only identify and assess the gaps in your organization. On-demand experts will also leave your team with a clear path that they can continue to execute on. Consultants will put together a roadmap for success, but will not stick around once they’ve handed off the execution path to your team.
What is an on-demand partner?
“A specialized expert who can instantly step up and embed themselves in your organization in a part-time capacity and drive initiatives forward – and leave your team with a clear path that they can continue to execute on.”
We recently published a guidebook on this further defining and highlighting the importance of on-demand leadership as part of emerging sales trends in 2020. You can download it here, or watch CEO Jake Dunlap give his overview on the subject in the video clip below.
Benefits of On-Demand Leadership
There are many reasons why on-demand leadership makes sense, but we’ve narrowed it down to eight major ones that are most applicable for sales organizations.
They make an impact on your business immediately.
Experienced, on-demand sales leaders are generally overqualified with years of experience. As a result, you can see a return on your investment more quickly. Full-time hires, meanwhile, often need time to acclimate to the organization’s structure and culture before they can start to make a difference to your bottom line.
They integrate more easily into your organization.
Their expertise puts them on a level that rivals even permanent leadership. But while such high-ranking positions are usually burdened with broader, long-term goals, on-demand talent can focus specifically on their strategic and tactical objectives for your company’s growth.
They take fewer resources and less time to hire.
Hiring the right full-time VP or head of sales can take months and cost a pretty penny if you’re working with a firm to find the right fit. (And if you are hiring full time, you should do this.) Their full salary is also going to be your highest. On-demand sales leaders are quicker to higher, have more experience specifically with your company’s stage of growth, and cost less because they’re part-time.
They have an extensive background in leading businesses through their exact challenge or series.
Scaling from a $5 million to a $10 million company looks drastically different than growing from $10 million to $25 million. You have to find the right leader, of course. But with an on-demand partner, you’ll work with someone who’s helped dozens of companies like yours in the same stage of growth.
They can help you build and roll out specific initiatives.
We can’t stress the benefit of expertise enough. While working with multiple companies part-time may make an on-demand leader seem less attached and split-focused, they’re actually even more knowledgeable than a VP who will bring what they know from their previous company. On-demand leaders are constantly exposing themselves to emerging sales trends, tech, and best practices. They can help your team modernize and update sales processes, methodologies, competencies, and technologies.
They often have a broader network of relationships that leads to more opportunities.
Because they often have worked at multiple companies at various stages in a sales organization’s development, on-demand partners will have resources and connections you cannot hope to match with a career sales leader who has likely worked on only a handful of sales teams. Those networks provide a wealth of possibilities for future expansion for your organization.
They are focused on performance as much as strategy and methodology.
Many times, a full-time hire will have a high-level strategic focus or a ground-level tactical focus, but not both. On-demand leaders and talent can provide a full growth and go-to-market strategy while also rolling up their sleeves and getting super tactical to actually implement the strategy.
They are available only as long as you need them.
This alone saves your company dollars in the long run. With a full-time hire, as your scaling process progresses, you may find them less and less effective for your organization because again, you’ll need very different types of leaders and experience throughout the growth of your company. On-demand experts can transition out more seamlessly and set the foundation for a full-time hire for when their talents are no longer required.
Types of On-Demand Support in Sales
Probably one of the most common sales trends in terms of on-demand talent that we’re seeing is an on-demand or interim leader. However, there are a few other types of on-demand support that are trending up and companies should consider from a cost and talent perspective.
Interim Sales Leader, Growth Stage
As we’ve already intimated, companies need very different things at various stages of scaling. Those stages also tend to happen quickly. Consequently, churn for a traditional full-time VP of Sales is high, as well as costly in the time and effort it takes to hire, let go, and then replace the role. Interim VPs with growth stage experience, on the other hand, understand the nuances for this stage of the business and have worked with dozens of rapid growth mode companies. They use that experience to guide their efforts within a sales organization, which only stands to benefit and grow as a result.
Process Overhauls & Optimization
While many teams have cut back their rosters to save costs during the pandemic, the work needed to keep a sales organization growing has not ceased. Rehiring those lost positions is usually not an ideal option when scaling back up requires speed. That’s where on-demand talent fits in. If you’re a company that already has an excellent VP in-house, for example, that VP may just need extra support for special initiatives or process overhauls.
Or perhaps your team may just need outside expertise for a specific amount of time to help optimize a particular piece of the sales process, overhaul the entire process, or implement new methodologies or new sales competencies.
A great on-demand leader will be on top of the newest sales trends, tactics, techs, and techniques.
While it may seem counterintuitive, a fantastic on-demand leader will actually lay the groundwork for a full-time leader or team. Their first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of a multitude of sales organizations at various stages of growth will guide them in setting the foundations for your company and its future framework.
They can also come in at a later stage to analyze your current sales team and restructure or redefine sales roles. They can even design what a future team would look like to support your revenue goals and help with expansion and hiring.
Tech Stack Design & Implementation
The amount of sales technology available has exploded over the past few years, growing from hundreds to thousands of options. When you bring in a full-time leader, they’ll most likely bring the technology they’re familiar with, which isn’t always the best option and could be dated. An on-demand sales leader specializing in the latest technology, however, will be able to assess and build your stack based on your company’s specific requirements. They will also be highly focused on team adoption.
Sales Operations Augmentation
There is no doubt that Sales Operations is a critical component of a successful sales organization. However, for most companies, it just doesn’t make sense to incur this cost at an early stage. Moreover, a full team most likely isn’t needed. Taking advantage of part-time on-demand talent in the Sales Operations field is a great way to keep operations and processes smooth. It again also helps your sales team stay focused on what’s important to keep your organization trending up — selling.
A sales trend in its own right, whether your sales team needs assets for meetings, prospecting, or any other aspect of the sales process – that’s sales content. Some organizations rely on Marketing to create these assets, but it takes sales expertise to thoroughly know what the content should be. Whether it’s to create sales playbooks, outbound messaging, or even LinkedIn content, your sales organization may need help in filling that gap in knowledge.
That’s where on-demand talent once again comes in. If you’re a sales organization looking for content help, rather than hire a full-time content specialist who may or may not have a background in sales and need time to adjust in order to become proficient, bringing in someone on-demand who loves sales and content is again the more experienced and cost-effective choice.
Another Resource on On-Demand Leadership & Support
Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to hiring on-demand talent compared to traditional full-time hiring. And as the current sales environment continues to evolve, we believe more and more organizations will shift toward this new trend when it comes to scaling.
If you’re interested in learning more about this 2020 sales trend and beyond, we encourage you to read our video guidebook on on-demand leadership.