How To Build Elite Inside Sales
Inside sales. Inside sales. Inside sales. Our clients have been asking about this topic more than any other.
Business-to-business (B2B) inside sales growth is unambiguous and irreversible. Numerous studies also confirm that it is increasing in importance. In fact, one study found that inside sales forces are growing 50 percent faster than traditional field sales.
This article discusses the growth of inside sales and the steps you should take to transform your capability in this area.
COVID-19 accelerated several underlying trends that underscore the importance of B2B inside sales:
1. Profitability: Distributors increasingly find that inside sales are a highly profitable and productive channel. According to the Harvard Business Review, "When appropriately utilized, inside sales reduces cost-of-sales by 40-to-90 percent relative to field sales, while revenues may be maintained or even grown."
2. Specialization: Salespeople are tending to work more closely with fewer and larger accounts. As a result, inside sales have an unprecedented opportunity to sell mid-sized accounts successfully. Inside sales professionals can be highly effective at selling "B" and "C" accounts.
3. Technology: Online webinars and videoconferencing make it possible for inside salespeople to create customer intimacy without field interaction. Even as businesses re-open, field sales find that customers are less open to drop-in visits than pre-pandemic. Inside sales can bridge that gap.
The combination of shifting buyer behavior, rising sales costs and advancing technology will likely continue to challenge long-held assumptions about the sales roles.
Investments in inside sales represent a significant opportunity. Realizing that opportunity, though, requires a well-orchestrated implementation plan — which includes the following steps:
1. Commitment: "Commitment is an act, not a word." Senior leadership commitment is a requisite. You will not succeed if you dabble. The commitment must include sufficient resources and realistic return on investment (ROI) expectations.
2. Build a Model: Every company has a unique customer mix and sales strategy. Creating a revenue engine takes more than a formulaic cookie-cutter approach. You must dive into your data and learn where your sweet spot is. Is it growing mid-sized accounts? Is it prospecting? Is it nurturing accounts and then handing them off to outside sales? Is it team selling? You won't know what's best until you evaluate multiple models.
3. Pilot: Start small and you will avoid big mistakes. Measure outcomes. There will be wins and setbacks. Adjust your model until you get consistent results.
4. Hire Talent and Train: There is no substitute for talent. The attributes that lead to successful inside sales are measurable. Do you have the tools to predict inside sales success? Train hard. Trained salespeople bring in 9 percent more revenue.
5. Scale: Once you understand what works, you can focus on scaling up. Sales process is the key. The Sales Management Association's research shows that a formal sales process, pipeline management, and training produce a 28 percent improvement in sales revenue.
The success of inside sales models in the B2B market demonstrates the vital role that inside sales can play in a re-designed sales function. The opportunity is there. Are you ready?