We just closed the books on our strongest first quarter for new customer acquisition in our 12 years in business.
We are seeing a growing need for our services across the board, but one of the biggest factors driving demand is the general market’s increased focus on inside sales strategies within B2B enterprises.
We aren’t really surprised by this trend, given that strong growth of inside sales was projected throughout the last half of 2013.
Velocify published a study in November 2013, conducted by USC Marshall School of Business Professor Steve W. Martin, in which 46% of participants reported a shift from a field sales model to an inside sales model.
Many B2B enterprises are maintaining their current levels of spend on inside sales, but re-evaluating and restructuring their approaches for greater effectiveness and efficiency. In working with some of these companies, we have identified 3 key factors affecting inside sales success:
1. Conflicting Priorities
Many companies try to have their inside sales organization address too many sales scenarios: cold calling and lead generation, nurturing early-stage prospects, supporting field reps with critical near-term deals, in-bound calls, and closing business for lower-cost products or services.
Inside sales reps’ focus will depend upon how incentive compensation is structured and how closely day-to-day activities are monitored, but it isn’t possible for a conflicted inside sales team to deliver well across all of those efforts. Often, incentive structures set up conflicting priorities, with emphasis on closing deals, leaving the sales organizations scrambling to generate new leads and build a big enough pipeline to make quota in the following quarter.
The number one reason that B2B enterprises fail to make quota is not having enough opportunities in the pipeline.
Fixing this requires focusing the efforts of the inside sales organization or outsourcing key priorities, such as lead generation, to a focused service provider.
2. Inexperienced Talent
Inside sales is often treated as the training ground for future field sales reps, rather than being viewed as a role with a viable long-term career path. This leads to hiring inexperienced team members, who demonstrate strong potential as field reps, and putting them on the phones.
These immature sales professionals are then expected to execute against one of the biggest challenges in selling: establishing credibility with executive-level decision makers without the benefit of face-to-face interaction.
It requires a pretty exceptional entry-level-sales-rep-in-training to engage in a meaningful interaction on the phone with an executive prospect. Additionally, these young people are focused on moving out of the inside sales role into the field, hindering the opportunity to develop a mature inside sales team capable of being a true strategic asset to the sales process.
It might surprise you to learn that at JMS Elite, we have never retained a Business Development Executive (BDE) from an inside sales organization.
The profile of talent in the typical inside sales organization doesn’t fit our strategy of having experienced business professionals engaging executive business decision makers on the phone.
Most inside sales reps we have interviewed spend 30 – 40% of their time on outbound calling efforts.
We look for experienced business development executives with a minimum 15 years of business experience plus at least three years of outbound B2B calling.
This is one of the primary reasons that clients who outsource inside sales to JMS Elite see an increase in the effectiveness of the inside sales function.
3. Lack of Relevant Training and Methodology
Most organizations focus their sales training efforts on skills and methodologies developed for field sales. The typical inside sales rep receives minimal training and coaching on the skills needed to effectively engage an executive decision maker by phone.
Sales leadership often assumes that if they hire inside sales talent from other organizations’ inside sales teams, and script them well, they will get the results they need.
Unfortunately, while a good script may provide excellent guidance on messaging and positioning, it doesn’t really help an inside sales rep engage an executive-level decision maker in a meaningful dialogue.
Training and methodology that is specifically oriented around phone-based prospecting and selling is the only way to develop these skills.
As inside sales becomes a growing part of B2B sales strategies, it’s critical for your organization to either develop this capability or find a service provider that has invested in developing the training and methodology to ensure consistent performance against your inside sales objectives.