With the advent of remote communications technologies, the inside sales model is slowly pushing the outside sales model off to the side of the stage. Inside sales is the practice of using modern computer tools and technologies to accomplish the same end goal as was accomplished by face-to-face meetings, but without all the associated T&E costs.
Traditionally, sales people had little to do with technology unless the product being sold was a computer. Managing and tracking contacts and sales tasks was a very manual process, typically handled on spreadsheets and Word docs residing on the computer of each individual sales rep. A day in the life: a sales person would look at their CRM for schedule tasks, click to the appropriate contact record in their CRM, pick up the phone and dial, with the goal of setting an appointment. To progress the sell, they would have to knock on a door to demonstrate their product. This type of sales model is typically called “outside sales”. Today, the outside sales model makes sense when a product or sales cycle is extremely complex, typically involves multiple decision makers, and the value of the close is high.
An inside sales model makes sense when the value of the close is lower, and the company needs to find ways to increase their margins. Many software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have migrated to a combination model – where the bulk of the sales cycle is handled using inside sales techniques, with travel being approved only for higher value deals and typically toward the end of the sales cycle.
Until recently, outside sales techniques was the only approach. We didn’t have the remote communication capabilities that we do now. Hosted CRMs, power dialers, auto-voicemail, screen sharing, email libraries, text messaging – these technologies have enabled the inside sales model and dramatically lowers the cost of new account acquisition for many organizations, across many industries.
With the right combination and application of these technologies, a lead qualification rep, based on what we are seeing among our own client base, can reach an estimated 300X more people in the same time frame as what was possible using their various manual contact processes. These modern sales automation technologies enable sales to close at Internet speed!
Since many sales tasks can be automated, one sales person can have a presence across multiple states in one afternoon. For example, a rep can contact an early stage prospect in Texas at 1:30 p.m. then close a big deal with somebody else in the state of Washington at 1:45 p.m. If that same rep happens to be on a call and misses another call from a prospect, an email or text can be sent by a workflow automation tool letting the contact know the rep will be back to them as soon as he or she gets off the phone.
If someone fills out a web lead form, the rep can be connected to that contact, via phone, within 8 seconds. Sound fantastic? It’s a fact if the sales operation is on XANT technologies. And why should the new prospect wait – 2 hours, 2 days to hear back from the company? In fact, industry research revealed that prospects are 100x more likely to be contacted, and 21x more likely to enter the sales pipeline, if a rep places their call within the first five minutes of submission of that lead. Overall, automation of the inside sales functions leads to a number of advantages: more efficient use of a rep’s time; lower cost of acquisition for new business and, ultimately, a higher return on technology investments within both the sales and marketing departments
As new technologies emerge, it makes sense that inside sales tactics and best practices will grow and evolve along with it. To stay ahead in your industry, it’s important to constantly be scanning the horizon for new tools that will give your sales operation a competitive edge. Then, give them a try. And giving them a try has gotten a whole lot easier, too, with the SaaS software delivery model. Typically, all you need is a computer – Mac or PC , an Internet connection, and a 10-digit direct dial number. Not a lot of infrastructure required.
Think about your product and the cost of acquisition of a new account. Are you still doing things the old way? Are you taking advantage of all the new technologies available? What other aspects of your sales operation can be improved? Maybe it’s time for a change.
photo credit: bit.ly/e4Tkl39
Free Inside Sales Industry Research
Gain access to additional inside sales industry research, including the original Lead Response Management study.