Bostdorff: Make inside sales a priorityWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
Feet on the street, closers, salesman and marketing representatives are all terms referring to the person assigned to work to expand your financial relationship with your customers. The picture we usually have of this role is one of making physical calls with customers or prospects. As the price of an outside salesperson and all of the associated costs have increased, there is a greater focus and interest on reducing that growing investment while maintaining and even growing the revenue driven by this resource. Therefore, many companies are thinking about moving some of the smaller or less active accounts to inside sales.
When I was at IBM we did exactly that. We moved some of our very small accounts to an inside sales team. When and if they uncovered an opportunity, the inside sales team either serviced the opportunity or contacted an outside specialist to address some of the technical questions associated with the evaluation of the solution.
However, when you begin utilizing an inside sales team, many organizations do not understand that this role is not just customer service or order entry warmed over. These folks need training, mentoring and coaching. I do not know of any organization that has a successful outside sales team without an experienced sales person responsible for managing and mentoring his/her team. Therefore, the same thing is true for an inside sales team.
These folks also need to understand the sales process. What do I say when I call someone? How do I build rapport via the phone? How do I get to the decision-maker? What questions should I be asking to uncover the wants and needs of the customer? Can I quantify those needs in dollars? What things can be done to build the confidence and therefore success of the inside sales team? What do I say and when do I say it to close the business?
It is important that these folks feel the priority of their responsibilities. They are extremely important to the welfare of these customers and the financial growth of the company they represent. If there is any perception that they are second-class citizens they will fail, as will the company.
As the intensity of the spotlight on inside sales increases, attention needs to turn to training. In the past, the level and rigor of the sales training for inside sales has not matched that provided to outside sales groups. In most cases this was justifiable given the difference in the sales activity and the potential for revenue generation. But since in many cases those differences are starting to blur, it is time to upgrade the sales training for inside sales.
Sales training is important. However, if you provide sales training but no reinforcement with sales coaching on an ongoing basis, your team will fail. When I was a youngster learning to play baseball I was not given a ball and glove and only told how to make that double play. I had a coach who showed me how to turn the double play and we practiced it until I understood the why, when, where and how. The same is true for sales people, inside or outside.
Role playing, observation and coaching during the inside sales person’s day and strategizing is imperative for this team to improve and drive the results desired. You want to work with all of your sales teams, not in a confrontational manner, but one where they perceive that you want them to be successful. Yet there needs to be accountability in the process as well.
Have you set your team up for success?
Good luck and good selling!
Roger Bostdorff is the president of B2B Sales Boost. He spent more than 30 years with IBM in sales and sales management. B2B Sales Boost is a consulting company helping organizations improve their sales and overall business processes. He is also available for business speaking engagements. You can find more regarding B2B Sales Boost on the Web at www.b2bsalesboost.com or calling (419) 351-4347. If you would like to receive the B2B Sales Boost Newsletter please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.