A local photographer decided that he does not like selling and marketing as much as he liked taking pictures, so he outsourced it to a small local firm. We received a call from them today, which in its abridged version went something like this:

Saleswoman: “Hi, this is Brenda from Such-n-such Photography. We would like to come to your home and take a picture of your baby – free of charge.”

Kim: “Sounds good. How many pictures are included?”

Saleswoman: “Oh, just one pose, one picture”

Kim: “Can additional pictures be ordered?”

Saleswoman:”Yes, packages start at $120″

Kim: “What is included in a package?”

Saleswoman (miffed): “I have no idea, I just book appointments”

Kim: “Thank you. Not interested”

Outsourcing is as old as the hills and we all do that – I don’t deliver my correspondence in person but the postoffice and courier companies do – but remember that judgement needs to apply.

You should consider outsourcing non-core activities that others do either better or cheaper (while maintaining acceptable quality) than you do in house. For the vast majority of businesses, relationship with clients is a core activity and should never be outsourced. The issue in this particular case is therefore twofold: not only a third party is retained to perform a core activity but, also, they cannot do it well. 

You may be reading this and saying to yourself, “but of course, it’s asinine!” You may feel that what I am saying is just common sense.

The trouble is, even large and sophisticated business often make outsourcing decisions that seem to be against this very common sense.

It turns out that common sense can be remarkably uncommon…

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