Before the onset of the web, selling was primarily a door-to-door activity. Dedicated sales reps visited prospects personally to sell subscriptions, products and services. Once the prospect expressed interest, the back-end team would then provide support to close the deal. However, things are different now. Today, sales reps don’t have to tread on foot to meet sales target. It can all be done over a phone call or online interaction. This is the main crux of inside sales.
To put it in simple words, inside sale is like virtual selling. Sellers don’t have to meet the prospect in person and can pursue or correspond with customers over phone, email, chat, text and video calls. From the first call, till the lead is closed, all interactions happen virtually. It is a time saving and cost effective way to boost sales.
Inside Sales- Not Same as Telemarketing
Those new to inside sales may often confuse it with telemarketing or telesales. As a sales strategy, telemarketing has been around from several decades now (from the early 1950’s). Similar to inside sales, in telesales, the sales person call prospects to sell a product or service. But there are fundamental differences between the two –
Quality of Ticket
Low- In the case of telemarketing, sales rep usually sells auxiliary services –Insurance, warranty, credit card, add-ons etc.
High- When it comes to inside sales, sales rep are expected to sell niche/high-end product or service that aims at resolving specific business problems.
B2C- Telemarketing is most often targeted to the end consumer.
B2B- Under the purview of inside sales, the end consumers are businesses like marketing agencies, design studios, software solution providers etc.
In telemarketing, agent communication is scripted and standardized. Usually a set pattern and pitch is used to sell product and services.
Agents handling inside sales on the other hand are very skilled and trained. They have a through grasp of the product and its features. No standardized pitch is used to sell the product and is improvised depending upon the requirement of the customer.
Scope and Opportunity
In telemarketing, the window of opportunity is limited. Agents know within the first call if the opportunity will close or not. Customer will either buy the service/product immediately or will not be interested in it at all.
Inside sales is a high touch sales opportunity. This essentially means that the agent will have more than one interaction with the prospect. The opportunity will not end at one call, email, etc. Usually a series of communications take place before the opportunity is converted.
Why Inside Sales Is Taking Over Outside Sales
According to insidesales.com survey, there is a 44.5 % jump in remote selling in 2017, an impressive increase by 24% from 2013. And this trend is particularly prevalent in the B2B sector. Businesses are hard-pressed on time, resources and funds. As a result, inside sales is an optimal strategy over outside sales for the following reasons –
- More Cost Efficient
To maintain the competitive edge, businesses today are looking ways to cut down cost. According to Harvard Business Review –
Inside sales reduces cost of sales by 40-90% relative to field sales
Inside sales does not involve travel cost and sales rep can act and respond quickly thanks to Inside Sales Solutions that has features like predictive dialer, lead management, social selling tools, analytics etc. These technologies significantly reduce the total cost of customer acquisition which is a major concern for enterprises today.
- Empowering Platform for Agents
Field agents mostly work on guess work. On the other hand, inside sales rep are backed by a robust inside sale software that automates mundane tasks. As a result, agent feels more empowered and less burdened. A comprehensive training and familiarity with the tool improves efficiency and sales output which is mutually beneficial for the agents and the enterprise.
- Greater Outreach
Field agent can only cover a specific geography or reach out to only a handful prospects in a day. However, inside sales rep can talk to multiple prospects and cover a wide geography (domestically and internationally) in a small amount of time. Therefore, the outreach of inside sales is impressively higher.
Tracking the work and activities of representative on field is still a concern. Despite companies spending millions of dollars on enterprise applications, problems arising from hardware limitation, low connectivity etc. can hinder the process.
Opposed to that, inside sales is a predictable activity. Most inside sales team work alongside marketing and research team. They also work from a designated office space which means higher productivity, better connectivity and complete hardware support. In addition to that, that possess the data base of qualified leads owing to which revenue and opportunities are more predictable and authentic.
Inbound Vs. Outbound – Pillars of Modern Sales Activity
Inbound and outbound are two branches of modern sales activity. For a business to thrive, enterprises have to adopt both strategies simultaneously to drive in leads and improve revenue.
- Inbound Sales
Inbound sales refer to questions and queries that are organically generated. Today, businesses have different touch-points- the company website, social media page, blog posts etc. A user stumbles upon a valuable piece of content or social media feed which is related to his or her business need. Thereafter, he or she uses the platform to acquire more information about the company. This route or path is referred as inbound sales.
Typically, nurturing and converting opportunities from inbound sales is comparatively easier. Since the prospect shares their contact details and requirement in advance, it is easier to approach and establish a communication with them.
- Outbound Sales
Outbound sale is slightly trickier than inbound sales. Here the sales agents actively pursue prospects via –
- Cold Calling,
- Social Following
Agents have to identify prospects using the power of discretion, research and judgment. They are required to work with a lot of dexterity and since a series of follow-up and communication is required.
Given the persevering nature of the inbound sales work, agents need to be empowered with a powerful and scalable inside sales software.
What is an Inside Sales Software?
In sales communication, timing is the key. Take the following example-
Mark Heisenberg is a sales rep at a SaaS cloud platform enterprise Unitex. On a Wednesday morning Mark calls Steven Warwick, the CEO of a web design studio. After a brief conversation, Steven proposes Mark to drop in an email and call the following Monday to discuss the opportunity in detail.
Mark hurriedly scribbles the note. During the course of the week Mark connects with several prospects. The following Monday, Mark remembers to connect with Ruben Fernandez, who is spoke to on Friday afternoon, but skips to connect with Steven.
Following-up in one of cardinal rules of inside sales. A timely call can change the fate of the opportunity. A inside sale software is built with rationale of boosting sales across touch points. Some of the key features of sales acceleration software are as under –
- Lead Management– Speeds up lead generation, distribution and tracking
- Sales Productivity – Tools that optimize mundane tasks
- Sales Cadence– Accelerates sales with the right mix of email-call-social
- Sales Email– Optimize, customize and track mail efficiently
- Sales Dialer– Power up prospecting
- Integration– Seamless integration with CRM and marketing automation tools (Salesforce, Zapier, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics and many more..)
The above features of inside sales solutions enable enterprises to streamline the sales process, tap into ROI and improve business practices. For a detailed understanding, we suggest going through our article, 7 Must Have Features of Inside Sales Software.
Inside Sales Software- Results Enterprises can Expect
With the right set of technology and adequate agent training, enterprises can expect measured results for the following-
- Better Sales Connect– Reps can improve sales connect, thanks to a smart inside sales technology.
- Optimization of Sales Prospect – The platforms allows reps to manage the sales funnel. This will allow the sales team to predict sales and depending upon the revenue and response devise new strategies.
- Efficient Rapport Building– Building credibility in the initial sales process is crucial for a long lasting relationship with the prospects. The tool helps in nurturing that relationship by ensuring timely response and query answering.
- Develop Sound Sales KPIs– Inside sales personnel’s focus more on high volume calls rather than smart calls. Sales dashboard which is an integral component of inside sales platform that offers glimpse into metrics like- total number of lead connects, conversion score, response time. In short it gives insight into performance improvement.
- Build Sales Intelligence– Over time, businesses can measure and develop sales intelligence that works and does not work. Sales efforts will be based on more scientific and empirical evidence rather in abstract theories and assumptions.
Companies Most Likely to Invest in Inside Sales Software
- Mid Level SaaS Enterprises – SMBs and mid level SaaS companies have resource crunch and budget constraints. To optimize sales, a robust solution in inside sales can improve the outreach of such enterprises.
- Companies with Huge Influx of Leads – Enterprises that witness huge influx of opportunities require a robust and scalable tech platform that facilitates lead managed, work flow automation etc. This will improve productivity and eliminate opportunity loss.
- Enterprises with Complex Sales Cycle– Enterprises with complex sales cycles especially that have multi-level participation of inside sales, sales, product team require robust software.