Being out is so in!

There can’t be many sales professionals working in the UK today who have much reason to thank the economic downturn but one managing director has seen his new sales venture born and blossom directly as a result of recession.

That’s because career-long sales professional Steve D’Souza started his outsourcing company as a victim of the cutback in sales positions as companies struggled to make savings in the teeth of the economic crash in 2008.

Yet now, D’Souza has seen his company’s turnover double year-on-year for the past three financial years.

Speaking to SI, D’Souza said: “The project began because I was trying to find work basically! What I was finding was that companies were not hiring, especially back in October 2008 when the financial services market was contracting dramatically, and so companies stopped hiring sales people.

“Yet, at the same time, these companies still needed to achieve their sales targets and, as an organisation, the commercial activity was reduced but either way they still had to produce a sales resource.

So what we were looking at providing organisations with as little as half a salesman so they didn’t have to invest in the full-monty and go through the HR processes and incur all the associated costs.

Having been a sales manager in a big organisation, I understood all the investment needed to create a sales position with so many overheads to build into the process. What companies wanted was the ability to hire than on a consultancy basis.”

But the growth of his sales professionals outsourcing business also became linked with the drive from many clients to diversify into new markets to explore other avenues of sales growth.

D’Souza explained: “Also what we have found is that a lot of companies are coming to us saying: “We’ve done a lot in this part of the market but now need to look at another sector in which to see growth.”

They could either commit an existing member of their sales teams to that new sector or use our services as a toe-in-the-water to see if it’s going to be a rewarding move and all without risking anything more than our consultancy fees.”

Another silver-lining to come out from the recession that D’Souza has been able to use is the large pool of super-experienced sales professionals who were cut from staff positions around the same time he found himself looking for new ventures.

This highly skilled and flexible resource of sales experts are now available for client companies to hire on a need-to-have basis to cope with sales projects as, and when, they arise.

D’Souza added: “Nobody in the company is under 40-years-old and we’re in the happy situation of being able to capitalise on their wealth of experience.

Again the fact these experts are available is down to the recession where many were paid-off as companies cut costs. Yet, most, were not ready to stop working in areas of their expertise which we can now provide to companies and organisations.

So we’ve be concentrating on matching the sales requirements of the client with the expertise of our sales consultants providing the sales resource on a day-to-day basis. The remarkable thing is that, around the recession, these companies are not hiring and we’ve been able to provide their sales requirements circumventing the expensive processes they would have had to cope with by hiring staff.

Our consultants are freelance so we are providing a franchise around which those people can work. This is about creating a brand that people will go to when the sales need arises. Essentially, we have two data bases; one for the people who work for the IT company seeking to hire and then the one with the combined knowledge of those freelance consultants. For example, if you’re in a company that needs to go into the investment banking side we can call one of the consultants who has experience in this sector to match the requirements.”

And D’Souza attributes much of the success of his company Cloud Point Consulting (soon to be renamed Sales Kinetics) to the level of expertise he is able to draw on to satisfy clients’ specific requirements.

He said: “There are companies that provide low-level sales resources but we are about real high-level experts.

The process has expanded into doing a lot of work within marketing. We’ve seen our turnover double every year over the last three years and now our annual turnover is more than £800,000 and we’re making a decent profit margin on that.

Our clients are often owner/manager type of companies where the guys have had good ideas but they don’t really know how to sell them to a wider market. So we provide a professional sale approach to their ideas and help them achieve kinetic growth for their sales.

The case study is our involvement in a stock broking company for the past two years gradually building their sales structures which has resulted in them winning the biggest contracts they’ve ever signed. And over the last three years their turnover has risen by 90% and that’s an ongoing growth and they have had no other sales process than that which we provide.

We have up to three people in there at any one time and all working part-time. So that when the client gets a big bid on, we’ll have three people working with them full-time whereas, during down times like summertime, we’ll have just one or two and the client is charged on that day-to-day basis.”

Looking to the future, D’Souza envisages rolling out the model for his outsource into sectors other than the technology and financial services industries where his own expertise exists.

He said: “I’ve found that the recession has had a silver lining for us. Because, despite the slump, people still have to sell things and we provide that for companies who can’t afford, or don’t want to risk the investment, hiring their own sales staff.”

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