By now, you are probably aware of a shift to inside sales—also referred to as virtual, remote or digital sales—for B2B industries. Companies like Cisco, IBM, Lenovo, Oracle, SAP, Intel and AstraZeneca have shifted their inside-to-outside sales ratios significantly in recent years. Our partners at InsideSales.com have reported that more than 50 percent of B2B sales jobs now are inside sales roles.
The majority of B2B buyers actually do not prefer a face-to-face meeting, according to research conducted by Sales Benchmark Index. Even if you haven’t considered how to leverage an inside sales strategy, chances are your competition is reviewing their sales efficiency options.
Why are companies shifting to inside sales? According to the Harvard Business Review, three factors play into this movement:
- B2B sellers feel competitive pressure to cut costs and are seeking more efficient ways to sell.
- B2B buyers are becoming more comfortable purchasing and collaborating remotely.
- New and easy-to-use online webinar and videoconferencing technologies make it possible for inside salespeople to create customer intimacy.
Inside sales also can reach remote geographies more efficiently than the field sellers, thus expanding your audience or touching your account base more frequently.
Are your sales professionals spending time in the entire sales funnel? Each part of the sales process requires a different skill set. You’ve categorized hunters and farmers, so let’s take it a step further. Instead of relying on your sales representatives to be great at generally everything, put people into roles that maximize their strengths. You could fill your pipeline quicker.
Some people are better and more comfortable as “openers” or conversation starters. Others are more adept at closing. Instead of paying large salaries to generalists who have strengths and weaknesses, consider separating these roles. Inside sales allow you to hire specialists who can cover the entire sales lifecycle. The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) has broken down the most common inside sales roles.
In a contemporary sales acceleration model, the sales team uses account-based selling methods, rather than calling individual leads. Account-based selling is a hot topic within inside sales. Through this method, you identify potential clients and target many personas to have a conversation with named accounts. Each type of buyer requires customized messaging from marketing and sales that speaks to his specific needs.
Gone are the days of building an inside sales center that just cranks out 100 dials per rep, per day. The telephone or smartphone is only one communication channel and, while it will most likely continue to be the primary source, the buyers of today have different preferences. The future of inside sales will include a multi-channel approach, and the future is now. According to data from SiriusDecisions, 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is digital. So which forms of communication should an inside sale team use and which have the best response rates?
As you can see, many channels exist for buyers to communicate. Specifically, video is growing rapidly. Data from this year’s annual survey from AA-ISP shows that 22.4 percent of inside sales teams occasionally use video in their sales process, 8.6 percent use video frequently, and 4.6 percent plan to implement video in 2016.
Most of these channels are affordable but require training and time to build. The point is to have your inside sales teams employ many communication channels to allow the buyer to engage in the format he prefers. Doing so will fill your sales funnel more quickly than just using telephones.
What can you expect from inside sales?
The outcomes of a properly developed inside sales strategy includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- You can increase revenue from your tier B, C, and D accounts, and maximize your mature products.
- You’ll receive quicker responses from potential new customers when using a multi-channel approach.
- Specialized roles will fill the pipeline faster. Account executives or business development representatives will be focused on where they should be spending their time: presenting, proposing, and closing to gain new customers.
- Inside sales is a more scalable solution to grow market share.
- Inside sales people who are in the same location can be easier to coach and develop.
- You can offer work-from-home opportunities as an added benefit to attract talent, as today’s telephony technology allows managers to see work activity in real time and even listen in for coaching.
- Sales expense is optimized through reduction of the cost of sales by 40 percent to 90 percent – relative to field sales – while revenue is increased, according the Harvard Business Review. (You can read more about this in an upcoming Aug. 11 blog from Matt Hudson, Director of Financial Operations for MarketSource.)
Building an inside sales team is not easy. Considerable time and effort are needed to plan and train; attract talent; manage; identify and install technology; develop operations structure, such as cadence; and create a professional culture that represents your brand. I recently presented a TweetChat on this topic, which you can review to learn more.
MarketSource can provide you with an Assessment to help define your challenges and design a solution that produces results in the area of gaining new customers, launching new products, growing market share, optimizing sales expense, or maximizing a mature product.
Our sales teams deliver more than $6 billion in revenue for many of the most well-respected brands in the world and a diverse mix of forward-thinking small and medium businesses. You can learn more about this topic and MarketSource’s Proprietary Process, Empowered People, and Proven Performance, by contacting us today.