Five years and four months ago on Monday I officially started working at XANT. Actually it was called Sales Team Automation at the time. We were still a few weeks away from buying the XANT domain from a guy who needed money just before Christmas in 2004.
We paid three thousand dollars. Now it is arguably our single greatest asset.
We had the website up by the first week of January, and the first day we generated 8 leads, now we get 50 a day. Back then you typed in “Inside Sales” to Google and you found us and 10,000 companies trying to hire inside sales reps. There may have been a lot more but I stopped scrolling through the pages to see how many.
Now there is more, much more.
I used to be concerned when I noticed that we have several competitors mimicking our every move and driving adword costs up, then I realized that is the best thing that could be happening; Inside Sales is becoming an industry… it is an industry.
We just became a Member and a major sponsor of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, AA-ISP. Industries have associations.
Every morning I have an email that comes to my inbox from Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com of new job listings from companies that are trying to hire Inside Sales jobs. It keeps getting bigger.
We knew that inside sales would become Inside Sales. What had been a 2nd class department that generated leads for Outside Sales and took all the scraps off the table would one day grow up.
For sixteen years I have watched inside sales evolve. From my years at Franklin Quest when we had to find our own leads and hand off every large corporate sale we caused that turned into something big (and we caused a LOT of sales.) It wasn’t fun being a second class citizen under the thumb of Field Sales and the Great Generation sales leadership and Baby-Boomer sales management who only know one way to sell. We were the fastest growing department at the 2nd fastest growing company in America.
Just recently our joint research with infoUSA, SKKU, and MIT has shown that Inside Sales is growing at a rate that is 15 times higher than Outside Sales, which really isn’t growing at all (7.5% annually versus .5% annual)
It hasn’t been a revolution like I sometimes hoped it would be. It just became the default way to sell for hi-tech companies who did everything over the web. All of B2B and the big ticket business to consumer companies that live off of web-based leads like mortgage, insurance, online education, debt consolidation, and even automotive before the crash have all gone to outbound call centers with professional sales reps who sell remotely… That’s Inside Sales. In fact, our definition of Inside Sales is simply remote sales (see “What is Inside Sales? Our Definition of Inside Sales“)
I think much of it came about because of technology: The phone, the fax, the internet, email, WebEx and GoToMeeting. Then hosted CRM, dialer tools, voice messaging, presence detection or “Sales 2.0” as so many call it took it to a new level. The crash and the down economy has actually accelerated the growth of Inside Sales. Travel costs and savvy buyers who would rather meet by web conference have increased the effect. Companies just aren’t replacing the attrition of Outside Sales, while actively staffing up their Inside Sales teams.
Mostly I just think it is the coming of age of every generation after the Baby-Boomers. They are more comfortable interacting, communicating, and selling remotely.
We have stopped hiring old-timers, they can’t seem to keep up. I’m forty-four, two years shy of being in the Baby-Boomer Generation and I’m the oldest person at XANT. LinkedIn says our median age is 25 years old. My partner, our CEO, just won Forty under 40, top 40 entrepreneurs under the age of 40 in Utah. He can keep winning it for 3-4 years. I’m a geezer; the only one with grey hair. Even my son Josh and one of my old Boy Scouts Scott Gardner works here.
Inside Sales isn’t just a department anymore… it’s an industry. And it is the fastest growing industry in all of sales and marketing.
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