By Neil Smith
Many B2B businesses especially small and midsized ones are moving towards an inside sales based model these days. Which is natural considering the improved bandwidth provided by inside sales reps as compared to outside sales rep in terms of coverage, cross/up sell and account management.However for inside sales to work for your company as intended there are some key mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
- Inside sales isn’t customer service – a lot of sales leaders come up to us after their failed experiment with inside sales and one of the first things we notice is a lack of sales training provided to the team. In most cases the training provided to the team is of the types provided to “customer support” executives. This is wrong! Your inside sales team is a vital part of your sales strategy. In most cases these days inside sales reps end up having more conversations with prospects when compared to outside sales reps. Thus they ought to know how to sell!
- Bad hiring choices – the performance of your inside sales team is dependent on the quality of people that you have hired. For a high performing inside sales team you need to hire people with prior and proven sales experience along with the right attitude for sales. It is necessary to clearly identify core competencies required for the role and then match that with the personal strengths of your candidates. Inside sales has a higher turnover when compared to outside sales. A strong hiring and coaching mechanism should however help you keep that in check
- Disproportionate incentives – inside sales reps are just field reps on the inside and thus need to be treated in a similar manner. Their compensation plan should mirror that of your field reps. You may need to change their compensation plan from an hourly rate to a model that involves direct + variable pay alike other sales reps. Also don’t forget to include metrics from key inside sales tasks like weekly dials and customers contacted
- Improper tools and training – your inside sales team needs to be well versed with your product/ service and its value proposition. They need to be able to sell outcomes instead of solutions. For this a certain level of comfort is desired while working with CRM systems, customer data and phones. They need proper coaching and thus the role of an inside sales account manger can’t be overlooked. Account managers need to spend time with reps discussing account strategies, gauging call quality and reviewing individual sales funnels
In short don’t treat your inside sales team just as an extended customer service team! If you are doing that – change and change fast. Or else you may be risking a huge volume of business that inside sales has the potential to drive.