5 Things I Wish All Outsourcers Understood

February 16, 2015


When you list “outsourcing” on your Linked In profile, go to conferences and trade shows, and generally network within your industry, a lot of potential outsourcing partners will approach you with a pitch on how their service will change your life. As a result, you appreciate and do business with the companies that seem to understand what you might need and how to appropriately offer their service. Now, I have worked on both sides of the desk. As a third-party, finding new clients and selling what your company does is hard. It requires intuition, perseverance, a bit of luck… and an ability to actually deliver an excellent service. Working on the customer side, there are a few things I wish all outsourcers understood.

It’s Not Always About The Cost

While cost is often a factor, it is not necessarily the most important one. There are many other reasons to outsource. If your whole pitch is about how inexpensive your rates are, it will raise questions about the quality of your service and what you produce. The first thing your client wants to know is what you can do for them. Why should your client do business with you? Is it your talent? Experience? Location? Flexibility? Ability to scale? Figure out what you do best and sell that. Cost will be negotiated after your client has an idea on how much your service is worth to them.

Customize Your Portfolio

A general portfolio works for trade shows and blind contacts. However, if you are sending your portfolio to a specific contact at a specific company, do a bit of homework and customize what you show. Check your client’s website and press releases to find out about past and present projects. Ensure you show some work that relates to that. Since there is a possibility that your client could be looking for something different, it’s fine to show the diversity of your work. Just make sure that you have some examples that connect with what they have publicized. On that note…

Use Material And Approach Appropriate For Business Development

Attracting partners is different from attracting talent or consumers. While many clients are happy to know that you are not running a sweatshop, showing pictures of your staff playing beach volleyball sends a mixed message. You are being hired to do work for your clients, not have fun on the beach. Save those images for your career website. Instead, show images of your team working together and how you invest in your talent. Keep your tone and approach friendly, professional and competent. Unless you actually know your client personally, using an approach that is too casual or familiar can undermine your credibility.

Know When To Pursue And When To Back Off

The fastest way to lose potential business is to be too pushy in your sales approach. Find out what your client needs are and where they are in the sourcing process. If they say they won’t need your service for a while, ask if they want to stay in touch and when would be a good time. Then honour that. Connecting during major conferences and trade shows is appropriate. If you happen to be in the area for another client, offer to visit and catch up. Constantly emailing with updates, offers, and requests for meetings is annoying.

Know How To Graciously Accept A “No”

You gave the pitch of a lifetime and still got a “thanks, but no thanks”. Even if you are under tremendous pressure to land that contract, graciously accepting a rejection keeps the door open for future possibilities. Showing disbelief, questioning your client’s judgement, or any sort of pressure tactic will likely backfire and discourage any future conversation. Any negative interaction will be remembered long after the initial pitch is forgotten. Politely ask for feedback or insight into the decision, but be prepared that it may not be given or what you want to hear.

Even though the above points are the basics of good business development, not all businesses follow them. Sometimes the best way to distinguish yourself is to be a master of the fundamentals.

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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