« Chance to meet me... | Main | HR outsourcing in this recession... why this makes sense for many global firms »

Mar 05, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hi Phil,

Most interesting article and one I really enjoyed reading amongst many others that you post regularly. Has anyone ever thought that their marketing expense can come down significantly if only they had more intelligent and marketing savvy sales teams? It is often that one comes across a sales team in the Outsourcing Industry who do not understand the dynamics of marketing. The only thing they can do is, with a lot of help, sell. Imagine if you had a sales team which required very little help, then the whole cost conundrum of having a sales support function would disappear. Like someone rightly pointed out - intelligently designed and well marketed content on the company website would save precious telephone talk time and hours of presentations and documentation submissions in trying to make the customer understand what you're really trying to sell and what your value prop is.

Few suggestions that I would give to most companies include:

1. Educate your sales team and have a sales team that not only sells but markets your company and positions it correctly

2. Marketing does not necessarily understand or appreciate the word "No" or "Impossible" in its dictionary but most CMO offices have this term etched in bold partly because of their own inabilities or inability to convince others. Look beyond yourself.

3. Outsourcing one's marketing activities is wise as long as you give it to someone who knows what they're doing. That doesn't necessarily mean going to someone who has been in it for dog years. Preferably go for someone who has the spunk and demonstrates the ability to go beyond conventional thinking.

4. Use every possible mode of communication not just to market but to sell. Right from a hello to the point where both parties are tipsy after one too many a drink

5. On analyst reports and research papers from the big analysts that everyone subscribes to - They are human and they get it as wrong as you on your own. So, try not to believe everything in those reports and for the price they charge, its not really worth having stale bread in a new garb with a hefty price tag. You can get your own if you'd take the effort to walk a little and maybe even get lucky with something rather fresh

6. And most importantly, if you have a marketing team, make them work and don't outsource everything. Classic example is an outsourcing company with more than 10 members in their marketing communications team. A little too many for a $60Mn firm who outsource everything - don't really understand the company's business - outsource to vendors that cost a lot more with poorer quality but do so within their city because they feel things will get worse beyond their line of sight [fact is, it might just better] - and please my fellow outsourcers, pl do not overestimate the value of a degree from a big fat college for simple undergrads can beat the hell out of them and cost a whole lot less with lesser attitude, hunger for growth and superior quality of work.

And finally, Good Luck!


Excelent article. An additional, alternative approach for market development, which particularly niche and emerging outsourcers should consider, is developing in-direct sales opportunities via alliance relationships with larger, full service outsourcing leaders.

We believe this is particularly true for smaller firms such as specialized BPOs or providers operating in highly commoditized industries such as desktop support, product acquisition or transactional-based services.

As you have illustrated very well, large end-to-end outsourcers must possess highly effective methods to deliver, manage and transform their contracted client environments and they have to do so in a very cost competitive fashion. Many times the larger outsourcers look to alliances to help them achieve these results. The end-client benefits, the outsourcer reaches their goals, and as a subcontractor, the niche outsourcer has revenue opportunities they would not win independently.

Didn't see Industry/Market consultants in your ecosystem. They're out there too.

By the way, we've focused our marketing spend in the following ways. Considering that, for most service providers, over 90% of revenue comes from existing clients it's pretty clear that client attrition is a much more important risk/opportunity than client acquistion:

1. Sharp focus on Account Based Marketing
2. Customer Intimacy Programs (e.g. Customer Advisory Councils)
3. Market research to clearly define challenges for key accounts, and developing campaigns based on target solutions
4. Specific focus on "Power Analysts and Advisors" with spend on building visibility and salience with them
5. No trade shows, and no 'above the line' stuff


Marketing efforts of the organisations needs to focus on 2 things, namely:

1. Getting new business - This can achieved by working with "market influencers" namely Sourcing Advisors (as most large / sizeable deals are led by them) and Market Analysts (most F1000 IT decision makers would refer to their report before making outsourcing decisions)

2. Protecting and increasing existing business - This is achieved by demonstrating capabilities by existing client decision makers by creating and sharing collaterals for existing engagements.


As an outsourcing company, one must hedge one's bets and invest in a two-fold strategy:

1. As an overall company strategy, invest into focused analyst events and specialized trade shows that will generate qualified or warm leads. Idea is to remain visible and active in the vertical/horizontal/domain of interest.
2. As a specific account strategy, invest into existing business and try to stay engaged through the tough times. The idea here is to reassure your customer that you will stand by them.



How about outsourcing the marketing effort? Why would outsourcers do it all in-house when they claim to be the experts at complementing clients who (in their opinion) should stick to their core competencies? The truth is that outsourcing per se may be good neither for the goos nor gander, a collosal hype about benefits of superior services at much lower cost. The use of outsourcing specific competencies to complement what the firm is capable of internally is not the same thing as wholesale outsourcing. The answer lies in your question: the CMO of an outsourcing firm would not be inclined to outsource and eliminate his marketing domain. Many CIOs are discovering that they are superfluous when their domain is no longer part of the organization. Hence your CMO may find it more difficult to find any audience where there are viable CIO fish to catch (those that lack skills to maintain the competency of running a lean and effictive IT organization) for wholesale outsourcing, unless they develop specific competencies that are truly supportive of the client organization.

Frits Bos

Industry analysts are great when they aren't pursuaded by tier 1 promotion dollars. Where we are seeing this tainted is when obvious information sharing isn't properly evaluated using a consistent and time proven qualification device. Up until a month before Satyam exposure the leading analysts were still being the favor drum for this source. The company is good but the fiscal/viability was questionable.

As we are an outsourcing company, We follow some of the things to market our company.. But as of now we dont have any budget .. We are developing applications in social media, So we do most of our marketing through online activities like SEO, SEM & Blogs ..

CEO & Founder of NDOT

Hello Phil,

Business development and lead generation.Specifically, outsourced lead gen/sales.Companies still must feed their pipeline even during these challenging times, and by outsourcing this function they can reduce cost and still gain new clients. Really, best of all worlds.


Bill Lennon

Most vendors would need to spend their dollars on market intelligence. It is becoming increasingly clear that most firms are moving towards the super vendor philosophy. Of late many deals have gone to sole source rather than the multi vendor deals we saw earlier.

Picking when and where to fight would become the name of the game in the coming months.

Like every business, it has to be in direct and measurable sales and marketing activity. I would avoid advertising and those conferences where it tends to be vendors speaking to other vendors. Focus on good business development people backed up by small, measurable forms of direct marketing and speaking engagements. The forward thinking companies are expanding their sales teams right now whilst the backward thinking companies are reducing them.

Phil, this is one question that is on the mind of every outsourcing vendor since Oct 08. I believe that the best way to spend on marketing is to build networks and relationships during this period. Increasing the feet on the street is also a highly recommended option. Therefore spending on face to face meetings, networking events and conferences will help.

Jaideep Kewalramani

Hi Bruce - good input. I include content development in the marketing, branding and PR category. As stated, firms should consider using third-parties / independents for these type of services, if they do not have well-honed professional writing skills inhouse. Good marketing agencies should be linked up with professional writers so they can bring them in to their clients when needed,


Good post, Phil. But you left out an area that may fall under your media category, the content on the provider's Web site. Many prospective buyers will have staff look into providers and perusing Web sites is the avenue for investigation.

At this point, content becomes king. It is frequently quite obvious that communication is not a core competency of many providers. To those suppliers I put forth the following question:

Are Some Companies Fishing for New Business Using Dead Bait?

Like people, companies never get a second chance to make a first impression. The content on the Web page frequently creates that first impression. I have perused many Web sites and read hundreds of case studies and white papers. Some sites are stellar in the content, while many more pale by comparison.

Ineffective communication is detrimental to branding. Yet that is what is occurring for many companies as they view communications as an expense instead of an investment. By focusing upon the cost of the writer instead of the quality of the writing, they lose dollars chasing dimes.

The quest for market share is intensely competitive. What once was a fine line has become a razor’s edge. A seasoned business technology writer can help in communicating corporate messages more persuasively to the executive decision makers of prospective clients. Engaging a professional writer with business writing as a core competency is a wise investment. The question is not if the company can afford to bring on a professional, but rather if it can afford not to.

Phil, Good times or bad times, it is important that the vendors should focus on the "customer" and listen a lot to them. In Boom time it was still acceptable for the vendors to look inward and think that business and profits were coming from within their organisation. But universal truth is that the vendors who were ready to look at their clients and "make them win" always succeeded.

I would put my dollars in Industry (client industry) forums and focus groups than IT/ITES association meetings.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Follow me on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter


    My Photo