A new study by frequent HBR contributor & sales strategist Steve W. Martin concluded that only 57% of inside sales teams were “equipped with the sales strategies, tools and skills to exceed their numbers.” Martin compared this to outside field sales teams, which reported that 83% had what they needed.
The definition of inside sales describes a process in which reps are primarily selling remotely, without traveling in person to see customers. Inside sales reps are also highly trained, and are often able to answer a wide variety of industry-specific and technical questions about how the products they sell solve specific pain points. Finally, they are typically engaged in high-touch sales, and are prepared to follow up with prospects a number of times during a sales cycle, performing product demos, discussing value propositions and often ensuring that customers are well taken care of after the sale.
Of all the things inside sales teams require to succeed, training and strategy are perhaps the hardest to deliver. Both are largely dependent on inside sales managers. If sales managers don’t completely understand their customers’ businesses, and their pain points, there’s little hope that the reps that work for them will be successful.
Thanks to the maturity of content marketing programs, as well as buyers’ cycles, Inside sales teams selling B2B products must also deal with the reality that many buyers have completed 70% of their research prior to contacting a sales rep, and are typically ready to compare two or more solutions. This means that their strategies for getting advanced buyers over the finish line must be completely in line with customers’ expectations.
Martin’s findings underscores the strong demand for inside sales management software, which is primarily focused on maximizing sales performance. Since inside sales is not only high touch, but also high volume, reps need to be able to perform a great number of tasks during a work day. In designing our own inside sales software, we listened to sales managers and directly addressed their needs. This is what we heard:
Given the explosive growth happening across inside sales teams in multiple industries, it’s more essential than ever to give them the tools they need to compete. As a side note, Martin also noted that 70% of inside sales teams reported sales cycles of 60 days or less, while 24% reported up to 90 days in length. Some of that is absolutely dependent on the product being sold and the complexity of the sales cycle. But I’m convinced that great inside sales tools can absolutely accelerate revenue by shortening sales cycles.
William Tyree is the Chief Marketing Officer of Revenue.io, where he works collaboratively across teams to unlock exponential growth for customers, buyers and employees. Previously, he was CMO at FaceFirst and VP of Marketing at DemandResults. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and his thought leadership has appeared in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Ad Age, The Deal and many other media outlets.