The handwriting has been on the wall for several years. Inside sales teams are expanding in size and growing in importance, and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
The reason is simple. Inside sales can transform your sales through digital technology, cost savings and the ability to meet the changing preferences of younger buyers. That’s why the number of inside sales reps is growing three times faster than traditional outside reps. It’s also why fast-growing tech companies rely heavily on inside sales.
Don’t expect outside sales reps to completely disappear—at least not in the foreseeable future. They are still vital in handling large accounts that expect lots of hands-on attention.
What we are seeing, however, are more field reps adopting the techniques of inside sales. They’re spending less time on the road and relying more on digital demos, online-accessible content and conference calls.
Welcome to 2020…the year many experts expect inside sales reps to outnumber field reps. Here are nine reasons why the trend toward inside sales will continue to grow.
1. Professional Sales in a Virtual World
Many inside sales teams continue to grow at around 15% each year. One reason is that companies are seeing inside sales reps as the perfect, hybrid salesperson. They are proficient with technology and possess the social skills and cultural diversity companies are looking for.
Like traditional field reps, inside sales reps often specialize in an industry or product line. They possess all the knowledge and professionalism of the best field reps, but without the need to carve out geographical territories.
2. Comfortable with Digital Sales Technology
Most inside sales reps coming onboard today are part of the digital generation. They’re comfortable and conversant with webinars, video conferencing and podcasting. In other words, they are equally able to host or create the kind of content that satisfies customers’ requirements for convenience and meets companies’ needs to control costs.
3. Easy Access to Content
Between websites, social media and targeted emails, inside sales reps can provide customers with fast, easy access to precisely the information they need at any point in the buyers’ journey. Speedier action on the seller’s side may even help shorten sales cycles.
Is it effective? Well, according to the Aberdeen Group, 72.6% of reps that incorporate social selling into their sales process outsell their peers and more often exceed quota. It’s not surprising given that virtually all your customers and prospects are on social media today.
4. Better, Easier Coordination and Teamwork
As the size of corporate buying teams continues to grow and more people telecommute, it is becoming increasingly difficult for outside sales reps to coordinate everyone’s schedules for a face-to-face meeting. Remote selling, conference calls, online demos and group emails help solve this problem.
Inside sales reps can prepare custom demos or record webinars or explainer videos for buying teams to watch at their convenience. They can send out group emails to coordinate an online conference call, making it easier to work with a team of decision-makers that may be scattered halfway around the globe.
Similarly, if a buying group has some highly specific or technical questions, an inside rep can arrange to include a product manager or technical expert on a call to talk and answer questions.
5. Flexible and Scalable as Needed
It’s easier to spin up and scale your inside sales force to meet your growing or changing needs. First, because you aren’t facing the overhead, travel and general expenses of carrying an expanded field salesforce, you can more easily justify your decision to scale.
Second, when you choose to work with a firm that outsources professional inside sales reps, you don’t even have to hire any permanent employees. Today’s top outsourcers can help you grow your inside sales force by delivering reps who understand the sales process and know how to engage prospects and build relationships with customers.
When you work with a firm that dedicates reps to your account, these inside sales pros will become as knowledgeable and effective at selling your products and services as any in-house sales team.
6. Increased Efficiency, More Cost-Effective
It’s almost impossible to over-emphasize the efficiencies and cost benefits of building an inside sales force. Consider how many sales calls a traveling field rep can make in a day compared with the number of calls an inside sales rep can make.
A Harvard Business Review article estimated that when using inside reps, the costs associated with customer acquisition and selling could drop anywhere from 40% to 90%. Similarly, PointClear data estimates that the cost of an outside sales call can be at least six times more expensive than using an inside rep.
With these kinds of savings, it’s also highly cost-effective to have your inside sales reps work on smaller accounts—those that field reps tend to ignore or overlook. Inside sales may be able to turn some of those smaller and mid-size accounts into the major accounts of the future.
7. Engage Younger Buyers Digitally
It’s no secret. Millennials and younger buyers are digitally savvy and like doing their product research and buying online. What’s more, increasingly, these younger buyers are today’s buyers.
Digital buyers want to have a working knowledge of what a product or service can do for their business. They appreciate the convenience of working online when they want. They look for companies that offer digital resources for a quick conversation via chat, access to digital downloads for demos and the availability of webinars 24/7.
In truth, it’s not just Millennials. According to the 2017 Sales Benchmark Survey, more than 70% of all buyers prefer working with inside sales reps and digital resources. And in case you think that inside sales reps can’t break through to decision-makers, consider this: According to DiscoverOrg, 78% of buyers surveyed said that they had taken appointments and/or attended events based on an email or cold call.
8. Faster Response Rates
Inside sales experts have long known that, based on Professor James Oldroyd’s original work, faster response rates and frequent calls pay off in more sales. Inside sales reps are perfectly positioned to contact and qualify more prospects and convert more prospects into customers.
As traffic becomes more expensive and competition becomes more intense, you want a sales force with the potential to increase prospect contact by 100X and boost prospect qualifications by as much as 21X. Think of inside sales reps as your company’s “first responders.”
9. Better Work-Life Balance
Inside sales reps have the advantage of keeping more regular business hours. Because they aren’t rushing through airports and spending their nights in hotels, they enjoy better work-life balance. They have more time for family and outside interests.
Even if you haven’t yet made a concerted effort to build your inside sales force, you can bet that there’s a good chance your competition has. Make 2020 the year you put this perfect mix of digital access, cost savings and customer convenience to work for you.
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