You could be forgiven for mistaking the term “inside sales” for an exclusive sales club for exchanging contraband. In reality, however, “inside sales” refers to an emerging sales method which can be more efficient, more sustainable
and even more profitable than traditional sales methods.
What is Inside Sales?
Inside sales is simply the act of identifying leads, nurturing them and closing sales remotely. Because technology has evolved to a point where consumers are increasingly transacting online, top-performing brands in B2B, tech, SaaS, and even some B2C industries have also evolved to predominantly carry out their sales activities remotely.
While this might sound surprisingly similar to telemarketing, anyone looking to succeed in inside sales must first understand the difference between the two. Inside sales involves multiple high touch transactions via phone and email, and this means that there is no reliance on sales scripts like there is in telemarketing. Inside sales reps have to be highly skilled, knowledgeable, and proactive to be able to make a success of their sales methods.
With the evolution of technology in recent years, more companies have adopted the inside sales model with spending in sales technology increasing from $2,546 per sales rep in 2014 to $4,581 in 2017. Advances in technology allow inside sales reps to be able to give presentations, product demonstrations and perform a host of other sales-related activities without being physically present. This allows for a more cost-effective approach, as the cost per contact is reduced, the number of reachable leads per day is increased, and the overall response rate is vastly improved.
Additionally, the inside sales model simplifies transactions between sales reps and customers, eliminating the need for in-person meetings, presentations and laborious payment regimes. Collaboration is streamlined between teams, and timely feedback can help to quickly re-engineer the sales process.
How to be a successful inside sales rep
With the upward trend of the inside sales model, it has become increasingly important for top-performing inside sales reps to add some tech-savvy to their sales prowess to effectively convert leads and prospects into customers.
Being a successful inside sales rep isn’t easy, but it is possible with the right resources and skillset. Whether you’re a first-time rep or you’re looking to improve your craft, building these skills will go a long way towards increasing the number of closes you achieve.
1. Prospect Knowledge
The great military leader, Sun Tzu observed that the greatest art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. This principle applied to inside sales shows that the greatest sales reps sell without actually selling – and as cliché as it sounds, this begins with information. The importance of carrying out research to learn and understand as much as you can about your prospect, long before any interaction cannot be underestimated. Successful inside sales reps rely on research tools such as social media and analytics tools to provide current and concise information about prospects, their industry, their publications, what they eat for dinner – everything. All of which may prove useful when contact is finally established, offering insight into passions and habits which might be best catered to.
2. Product/Service knowledge
To be able to sell a product well, you need to have a high level of understanding of the inner and outer workings of what you are selling. This is because your prospect doesn’t care about your product – they only care about their problems and it is your job to communicate that you understand both the problem as well as the solution, by answering whatever questions they raise. If prospects feel that you understand their concerns and can provide something of value, even if it is just information — then they are more likely to continue the relationship.
3. Embrace Social Selling
Social media has changed the world we live in, and one of the greatest skills for inside sales reps to have is the ability to identify, nurture and build relationships through social media. Social media platforms also provide a great platform for learning about your prospects, but it also goes the other way. Your prospects are equally likely to research you and your business, therefore it is necessary to cultivate an online presence by joining and engaging relevant threads, following key accounts, sharing the company’s latest information and posting relevant information on your pages as well as following trends and data trends relevant to your industry.
4. Effective Conversation
The art of selling is heavily dependent on being able to drive effective conversations, whether they happen by phone, email, social media, or videoconferencing. Being a successful inside sales rep requires you to be able to hold detailed and meaningful conversations with prospects, and it is important to learn how to drive these conversations by asking the right questions and internalising the responses. By engaging with your prospects in this way, you will be in a better position to empathise and respond to their concerns in a way that is mutually beneficial to both you and them.
5. Increase the Numbers
It’s simple maths – the more sales opportunities available at the top of your funnel, the greater the number of closed deals you get at the other end (unless of course there is something fundamentally wrong with your process). Successful inside sales reps have their inbound lead generation down to a fine art, without necessarily working longer hours than average. They work smarter, and make the hours worked count – and adjustments don’t have to be drastic. They could be as simple as posting on social media during ‘high engagement hours’, persistence and commitment to following up conversations.
6. Embrace Technology
Good things come to those who use technology as a tool. The right technology tools combined with great sales ability can very quickly set you apart from the rest of the pack. Key hardware tools that every inside sales rep must have include two screens, a mobile phone, and a noise-cancelling wireless headset. Must-have software includes:
- Customer Relationship Management [CRM]. CRM software is key to the success of any inside sales rep because of the need to understand prospects enough to be able to offer the right deal to the right prospect at the right time. For example, with Act!, reps can store customers contact details, activities,
opportunities and also email them automatically based on rules you set. The ability to access an overview of all your sales activities arms you with the critical information and organisational tools needed to nurture and manage relationships more effectively—which is at the core of effective inside sales.
- Email Tracking Software. 20 years ago, a sales letter was a sales letter and nothing more. Nowadays, inside sales reps can identify leads, introduce products, offer demos and even start video calls – all using email. Email tracking enables inside sales reps to view metrics such as when an email is opened, whether files are downloaded, when a call-to-action button is opened and when it’s time to follow up.
- Reporting tools. To be a successful inside sales rep, you need to pay attention to key data and understand how to extract actionable insights from them. Reporting tools will help to analyse and view data to produce insights in different
While inside sales reps can be found easily, highly specialised, effective inside sales reps are not so easy to come by. However, with the right set of tools and mindset, it is possible to set yourself apart as the Ronaldo of inside sales in your industry.