It’s projected that, by year’s end, about 800,000 additional companies will have begun working towards building active B2B inside sales teams. This is according to a study from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. So where’s your business now in terms of building your marketing team? Let’s just hope it’s moving toward that direction as we speak or else, your organization stands to lose a lot of opportunities and more.
B2B inside sales combines the telephone and the digital media channels to generate and nurture business leads as well as to set appointments and even close deals. The ideal inside sales operations consist of two groups: one which handles targeted outbound telemarketing with warm or cold contacts in mind and another responsible for responding to inbound inquiries or actions from web-generated leads. You can always outsource part of or your entire marketing needs if you find it impractical to carry out in-house.
But whatever dispositions you may have about working with inside sales teams, you should consider the following facts and figures in deciding how you’ll deal with it in the future:
1. Engagements happen more on the phone. According to the previously-mentioned study, as much as 4 out of every 10 engagements with prospects and customers by reps took place over the phone. Of course, this doesn’t imply that face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past. Face-to-face engagements happen at a much later part of the sales cycle or when requested by the prospect or customer. Inside sales doesn’t replace the physical handshake that seals the deal; it only makes sure you really get to that point.
2. Buyers want smarter reps. A separate study from Cahners reveals that approximately 58% of buyers report that sales reps fail to meet their expectations in terms of addressing questions and concerns. Furthermore, the same survey shows that professionals spend about 40% of their time researching how to do their jobs. Today’s buyers have already researched and learned about your solutions long before making contact. That’s why inside sales teams focus on answering more detailed questions and know a great deal about your products/services, your target buyers, and their own responsibilities.
3. Sales cycles have lengthened. Six years ago, the average cycle was around 5 months long. Today, a quarter of B2B sales cycles have increased to 7 months or so. This marks a 25% jump in the time needed to close a deal, implying greater requirements for nurturing and multiple touch points. These B2B marketing teams keep in touch with prospects along the pipeline through relevant phone calls and content.
4. Inside sales reps perform extremely well. Data from the 2010 Inside Sales Metrics Snapshot from Reality Works show average annual quotas for sales reps nearly tripled in four years, from $642,000 in 2007 to $1.6 million in 2010. In addition, best-performing b2b marketing reps contribute $1.2 million in annual average quotas.
According to the same study from Kellogg School of Management, growth in the hiring of b2b marketing reps have outpaced that of third party service representatives, recorded at an annual rate of 7.5% and 0.5%, respectively. But this shift represents more than just a change in trend. As the business buying cycle and the buyers themselves evolve, the b2b teams that face or speak to them must likewise adapt to keep up. As such, inside sales is more than just a way of carrying out prospecting or business engagements; it’s really a whole new way of thinking.