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When To Hire A Sales Consultant: A Simple Framework To Guide Your Decision

when to hire sales consultant
Certified Sales ExpertThe Harris Consulting GroupTraining & Coaching

Should we or shouldn’t we?

If I do, does that mean I am less valuable as a leader?

These are the secret questions almost everyone thinks but never admits.

And truthfully, they are the wrong questions.

As for the answers: Yes to #1; no to #2.

Two questions you should be asking are:

  1. When should we bring in a sales consultant or sales trainer?
  2. How do we choose the right sales consultant or sales trainer?

The Cold Hard Truth About Hiring A Sales Consultant

Deciding to hire a sales trainer or sales consultant is a lot like deciding to go to therapy.

You have 3 choices:

Own It! You can own it, understand you need help, and actively seek the guidance and support with a willingness to make changes.

Go Through the Motions – This means you think you want help, but in the end your ego is preventing you from actually hearing and implementing the advice that you are getting. You may go through the motions, but things don’t stick due to a lack of consistency, no coaching, or no self-accountability.

Often times the ego comes down to “budget” or “Oh, I can do this myself”. Based on what we’ve seen and experienced in life and business, this will often lead you back to #1, and sometimes it may be too late.

Do nothing (Smokescreen for job security) – Thinking that things will get better without a real shake up to the system is a fool’s errand. And no, the “beatings will continue until morale improves” is no longer viable. That may have worked with Gen-X sales teams, but it’s the 21st century, and you will either adapt or die a slow and painful death.

Surface Pains vs. Core Pains


When we talk to new potential clients one of the first things we ask them is “Why now?”

We often get what we like to call “Surface Pain Responses”

Surface Pains: 

  1. “We missed goals.”
  2. “We are ramping the team.”
  3. “We have a team but everyone is doing it their own way.”

That is not really the answer we are looking for, and neither should you.

What we really want to know is “Why NOW???”  

Our goal is to encourage our prospects to be honest with themselves, not just us. If they are still focusing on the standard answers and not going deeper, it means they do need the training but they are still fighting some internal resistance to it all.

The answer to this question is the cold hard truth and are we like to call “Core Pains”.

Core Pains Sound like this:

  1. “We acknowledge we are missing something, and we just aren’t sure what it is.”
  2. “We need some outside perspectives because we know we can do better.”  

When you are ready to own these types of statements, that’s when you’re really ready to hire someone.

But wait, don’t just take our word for it.

Here’s what other sales and marketing leaders have to say on the topic

Keep in mind, everything you just read was written BEFORE asking any sales leaders in the wild for their opinions. Can you spot the similarities?  

From Dave Hawley, CMO in Silicon Valley

When is the right time to bring in a sales trainer?

The time to hire sales development coaching in my experience is when you have a small team that you’ve been coaching yourself for a few months. The fresh perspectives that a professional coach can bring are invaluable.

The other great time to bring in a sales development coach is when the team starts to plateau. Do it immediately. Again, it’s about the fresh perspectives, but in this case it’s also about the skills that have yet to be developed and opportunities that only an outsider will see.

From Bob Marsh, Founder and CEO, Level Eleven

When is the right time to bring in a sales trainer?

A sales trainer should be brought in when you need an outside party to bring your team a fresh perspective on how to qualify, progress, and close better. Many sales leaders have the skills needed to be successful, but don’t have the time, or often the know-how, to take what’s in their heads and turn it into learning material.

From Matt Belitsky, SVP, Global Sales & Marketing at Komiko

When do you want to hire an outside sales trainer or sales consultant?

When you start asking yourself two things: (i) there must be a better way…?; and (ii) how will I do this on my own? When you hire externally, you’re seeking not only outside counsel but also an implementer.

Did you see that?

We posed our questions to the two well-respected sales leaders and a very smart and respected CMO who has owned the top of the funnel SDR team in his two previous roles. We did not share any information with them.

The fact that 2 out of 3 specifically said “fresh perspective” and the 3rd one said “a better way” should confirm your own internal thoughts about when it’s time to bring in outside help.

If you are thinking these same things, then it’s time for you to start having bigger conversations around the subject of sales training and sales consulting.

“Will I lose credibility?” (No, You Won’t)

Oh, and for your “Do Nothing / Will I lose credibility” comment rolling around in the back of your head, you should keep the following in mind.

Even though you can implement sales training yourself, you are still a human being. You will always have a list of at least 10 things to do today, tomorrow, and six months from now. So bringing in a sales consultant will help you scale and allow you to focus on other very important tasks.

Don’t worry, you won’t lose your job if you are an inside sales leader or even a sales enablement leader. There are always plenty of other important things to be working on. In fact, you will most likely be seen in higher regards within the organization and your sales team.

Whether you are running an inside sales team or a team of field sales reps, if you are saying these things to yourself or your suspect, you will be saying them as part of your 2018 Sales Planning. And that means it’s time for you to start having conversations with a sales trainer or sales consultant.

Need help with anything? Contact Us for Free Consultation. 

Richard is founder of The Harris Consulting Group and the Director of Sales Training and Consulting at SalesHacker. He is a seasoned SaaS sales leader and trainer with 20+ years experience helping early stage and expansion stage start-ups build their sales infrastructure and train their sales teams to "get there faster". Clients include: Gainsight, Udemy, TopOpps, LevelEleven, PushPay, and SocialChorus