Every business that sells to other businesses has some form of Inside Sales going on.
Whether it’s taking an order over the phone, qualifying leads, nurturing opportunities, servicing existing clients, running webinars or a range of other activities where actual contact with a prospect or customer takes place, there will be an element of office based selling going on.
- People running and working in smaller businesses are unlikely to even call it Inside Sales, it may be sales administration.
- Medium sized sales focused businesses may have an informal set-up, perhaps under the title of client services or account management.
- Larger businesses may have a dedicated team of office based people performing sales tasks, such as a tele-sales unit.
There may be a significant opportunity to improve the performance of your business, by reviewing and updating your approach to Inside Sales.
Inside Sales – the forgotten heroes
Let me ask you, ‘Who are the heroes in your business?
If that’s difficult to answer, consider previous companies you’ve worked in or other companies you work with.
- Are the heroes the people and departments with the biggest budgets?
- It is the field sales people, (or the business owner) who bring in the mega deals?
- Is it the marketing people who come up with award-winning campaigns?
- Or is it the engineers who create the wonderful products and services?
Office-based sales people, or people in sales support roles, can be overlooked, and under-valued.
- They don’t control big budgets, and mostly it’s their time and expertise that’s contributed
- They don’t bring in the mega deals, because these opportunities are handed over to field sales people
- They don’t do much (or aren’t allowed to) that is particularly creative, in an award-winning sense
- They’re probably not the creators of great products or services.
The inside sales role and responsibility tends to be to perform a fairly prescribed process with great efficiency.
- Inside sales people may be managing a large number of installed customers
- There may be a sales support element, for example helping to write bids
- Marketing support may be part of the role, such as helping to run lead generation campaigns
- In a small business the marketing executive may be doing some inside sales tasks.
The people in Inside Sales may not be the high-fliers, or the people flying high – see above re heroes.
- Inside sales may be a training ground for people before they become field or outside sales
- Inside sales may be a career move chosen by experienced salespeople who are tired of endless traveling
- Pay and remuneration and responsibility of the inside sales role may not be very high, and therefore not attracting ambitious people.
Unfortunately, in business, the role of inside sales may be a bit of a no-mans land. Which may create a revolving door situation.
It may be hard to recruit good people, and then to hold on to them in that role for a reasonable length of time, before they want ‘promotion’ to a different sales role, or they leave the company.
Inside Sales – the Meat in the Sales Sandwich
However, for all the reasons that Inside Sales may be a no-mans-land, it could also be the pivotal area of the company for future success and sales performance improvement.
Consider for example:
- How many leads generated by marketing campaigns are not followed up promptly or thoroughly be field sales people?
- How many leads passed to field sales people are genuinely not well qualified, and actually don’t meet the profile of your ‘ideal customer‘?
- How many leads are passed to field sales people where the prospect is not ready to buy just yet and there is no genuine opportunity for a sale?
- How much time does it take for field sales people to follow-up leads on a one-by-one basis, when it could be done in a batch process?
- How much value can a field sales person add to a lead at the early stages, compared to adding value to sales ready opportunities?
- Who is monitoring Social Media and in a position to engage in a dialogue with a customer or prospect?
- Who is best placed to run regular webinars and online demonstrations, as a resource for marketing and field sales to leverage?
- Who is in regular direct contact with many customers and prospects, and able to provide market feedback to others in the organisation?
- Who has a schedule that has a high ratio of productive time, without the downside of travel and waiting around for meetings?
- Who has a low cost base, without the expense of travel, at peak or off-peak rates, or motoring costs?
Add these together and there’s a pretty big impact that a good Inside Sales person or team could make on your marketing and sales operational performance, and bottom-line sales and revenue results.
Upgrade Inside Sales and re-balance workload
Every business is having to think creatively to increase results and reduce costs, in order to remain competitive and profitable.
When you next consider your Marketing and Sales organisation structure, how about starting with a ‘What if…‘ approach?
- What if Marketing focused on demand generation?
- What if Lead Nurture was beefed up as a specific and dedicated operation?
- What if Field Sales focused on sales ready opportunities only?
How would that effect your overall Marketing and Sales Operational Performance?
How would it change, and improve, measurement & tracking, resource allocation and utilisation, conversion ratios, revenue and profits?
Would it have a positive effect on customer service, and on staff morale?
To get a different result something needs to change
To paraphrase Einstein, ‘If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you’re probably going to get the same result’.
Maybe upgrading Inside Sales is something that will create a positive change for your business.
If you’d like to comment on, share or discuss the points raised above, please get in touch.