amp up

Businesses across the country are turning to an inside sales model in response to the changing nature of how customers buy today. With technology at their fingertips, customers can do the research and pinpoint their options quickly and effectively. They accept and, in some cases, expect to buy remotely.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review with more than 100 vice presidents of sales at technology and business services companies, 46 percent of study respondents reported a shift from a field sales model to an inside sales model, while only 21 percent reported a shift from inside sales to field sales.

The reasons for this shift are compelling. Approximately 80 percent of the participants said it is easier to onboard new sales people and the model allows the company to scale faster. They said an inside sales team allows for increased call activity and selling volume.

If your company doesn’t have an inside sales team, you should look at its potential impact on your ability to grow business. If you already have an inside sales team, you need to assess its effectiveness and its results. If you want to amp up business, you need to amp up your inside sales team. Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Establish a Culture of Discipline

It’s not exactly boot camp time … wait, yes, it is boot camp time and make no apologies for that. Creating a firm process that allows for maximum optimization of time and resources will result in greater success for the sales team and for the company. Inside sales people need to stick to the process you establish. Incentivize adherence to process the same way you would incentivize goal achievement.

Is the sales rep making the required number of calls each day? Are the required number of new prospects going into the sales funnel and not leaking out? Is the sales rep making proper notations in your CRM? Is the turnover process to field reps in order? Are daily reports completed and filed on time? Is the rep attending and participating in morning huddle? Reward and recognize those achievements regularly.

Don’t be so rigid that you fail to listen to inside sales people if they find a piece of the process that is broken. They will help you fix it and be proud of their contribution to continuous improvement.

2. Establish a Culture of Continuous Learning

You have your super inside sales team in place. They’re adhering to your carefully thought out sales process. But, for some of them, something just isn’t clicking. They’re not achieving what they want to achieve. They’re growing disengaged and frustrated. You’ve invested time and money in onboarding these employees and now it looks like some of them may walk away. How do you prevent that from happening?

Give them the opportunity to learn. Offer regular training programs in the areas you see that are causing roadblocks for your team. Perhaps it’s weekly role-playing sessions with the entire team, so that reps are learning from each other and from you. Perhaps it’s one-on-one coaching from you or another sales manager, sitting beside the rep as she makes calls to help her determine where she’s stumbling. Maybe it’s bringing in external trainers who can work on everything from the basics of prospecting to the finesse of the trial close.

Whatever it is, give attention where it is needed and offer tools to help reps continuously learn. Improving skills will amp up results. And a visible commitment to your employee’s professional development will encourage her to try harder and to stick with you.

3. Establish a Culture of Innovation

You’re likely thinking, “I really don’t want my inside sales team to innovate. I want them to follow the process and sell, sell, sell.” But if you think it through, encouraging a culture of innovation at all levels demonstrates clear respect for your employees’ unique contributions to your company and your culture.

Innovation in inside sales can look like this:

  • Identifying the perfect phrasing for a call script that results in getting to the next step almost every time.
  • Finding a hitch in the process that every rep experiences and figuring out a way to smooth that hitch.
  • Discovering a new source of potential clients in a category no one had previously thought about or identified as hot.
  • Finding a more effective and faster way to mine data – from suggesting an improved email tracking system to finding a way to use marketplace knowledge to leverage sales.

There’s no reason inside sales people can’t be innovative in their area of expertise. You just have to channel that innovation to areas where the most benefit can occur.

The bottom line is pretty simple: Create a culture that encourages and engages inside sales people and they will respond by ensuring your company’s success. They’ll amp it up and you’ll see the positive trends in the financials.