Your company offers an exciting technology product that’s leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. If you could just get your prospects to try it out, they would no longer be able to live without it.
It’s exciting when they sign up for free trials. But then, what do they do? In many cases, they never use their trial.
How will they ever know what they are missing?
To say the least, it’s frustrating. While it may seem as if you’ve accomplished your goal when someone signs up for a free trial, there’s inevitably a big gap between the number of people who sign up and the number who become customers.
It’s not just true for your business. It’s an industry-wide phenomenon.
According to a study by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, the top inside sales challenge is training and development. As a result, almost half (45.7%) are increasing their internal training programs.
Training, however, can be a daunting task. After all, inside sales training should be at least as thorough as training for field reps and probably more so. That’s because inside salespeople need the same skills and expertise as road warriors, plus they have additional challenges because they are not face-to-face with the customer.
For example, it’s harder to establish rapport with someone when you are not sitting across the desk from them and cannot make eye contact. Likewise, it may be more challenging to understand the lay of the land within a corporation. After all, the rep can’t see whether they are talking with someone in a cubicle or corner office.
Here are some key skills and areas you need to train your inside sales people on so they can do their jobs with the ease and confidence that leads to sales success.
“Our research shows that inside sales roles are growing 15X faster than outside sales.” — Mary Shea of Forrester Research.
If you’re managing B2B sales, you’re likely either expanding your in-house sales team or seeking to grow it by outsourcing some or all of the function. Much of the tremendous growth spurt of the inside sales function is due to technology which has enabled reps to be productive without the cost of face-to-face meetings. So, whether you’re using internal or external resources, understanding the technologies that provide the foundation for success is essential.
As a telemarketing company that serves B2B organizations, we know the ins and outs of technology. After all, our success depends on it. So to save you some time when assembling your technology stack, here’s an inside look at what works for us.
The field sales person used to be a lone ranger. He operated beyond the walls of the corporation, with his own schedule and tactics. Yes, he’d call in once in a while for help from customer service and marketing, but his efforts were not part of a finely orchestrated sales strategy.
Today the tides have turned. Technology has enabled inside sales people to be more efficient and successful in working with prospects and customers. CRM keeps the sales process organized, the Internet provides ready access to research, emails and social media aid in communication and online meetings can often achieve as much as the face-to-face alternative.
At the same time, field sales people earn 12-18% more than inside sales people. Plus, there are associated costs of travel and downtime while en route to the next client. Therefore, it’s not surprising that inside sales is growing at an average rate of 7.5% a year while outside sales is barely holding its own with an average increase of 0.5% a year.
That, of course, brings up the question of how to integrate inside sales with field sales to get the best of both worlds. After all, despite all the efficiencies of an inside sales team, there is still something incredibly powerful about face-to-face meetings.
Here are some insights to help you maximize sales results:
“Succeeding in business is all about making connections.” — Richard Branson
When you bake a chocolate cake, missing one ingredient can lead to disaster. Without baking powder, it goes flat. Without the sugar, it’s bitter. The same applies to the outreach tactics for account-based marketing. When you mix them together, they all work harder. I’ve previously written about two ingredients for successful account-based marketing — phone calls and personal emails. Today, let’s dig into the third — social media. How do you leverage social platforms the right way?
You have to approach social media outreach carefully because, contrary to some beliefs, it is not advertising. It’s more like an ongoing business networking event that you can attend at your convenience.
It’s helpful to think about business functions where you meet in person. Have you ever been to one where someone has approached you to sell you their product or service? How did you react? If you’re like most people, you probably excused yourself to make an emergency trip to the hors d’oeuvres table, ending the conversation as quickly as possible.
Are you ready to increase sales close rates? If so, you may not need to invest in the latest technology, hone your sales techniques or take a new marketing strategy for a spin. Instead, boosting close rates could be as simple as helping your salespeople to rediscover the basics: Putting customer interests first, listening actively and empathizing with their concerns.
Account-based marketing is becoming a go-to strategy for B2B marketers who want to take control of their outreach (rather than waiting to see who finds them) and shorten their sales cycles. What may be receiving less acclaim, however, is the starring role outbound calls play in executing account-based marketing strategies.
If you’ve done your research correctly and know who to contact, when you make an outbound call, there are two possible results. One, you connect with a decision maker. Two, you end up in voicemail. You need a plan to make the most out of either situation.
Here’s how to craft your message for live calls and voicemails.
“If you want to go upmarket, which you absolutely must to grow, you have to go outbound. Winning large customers is much more about causing sale, not just catching one.”— Ken Krogue, President and Founder, InsideSales.com
Account-based marketing is quickly gaining popularity. It’s a strategy that aligns sales, business development and marketing around the potential deals that can have the most impact on a company’s future revenues. To execute account-based marketing tactics, you will likely need to transform the approach of your business developers.
How do the account-based business developer’s activities differ from those of typical telesales representatives?
The job of the account-based business developer is to open doors at the big accounts that matter most. So, rather than simply qualifying inbound leads, they use outbound tactics — phone, email and social selling — to stir up sales opportunities with high-value prospects. Based on in-depth research, reps contact prospects in a personalized way that provides value. The emphasis is on long-term gains, not quick hits.
B2B companies are increasingly selling from remote locations over the phone. Perhaps a decade ago, most people would not have predicted this turn of events. After all, that’s when marketing leaders eagerly sought out the new promise of inbound marketing to produce leads and revenues.
For many years, we’ve seen arguments favoring inbound over outbound marketing. Marketers are now starting to realize, however, that they may have swung the balance too far in one direction. There’s no reason to choose between inbound and outbound tactics. Today’s effective marketing is “all-bound.” That’s because there’s synergy between inbound marketing and outreach in the form of emails, social selling and phone calls.
Challenges that are part and parcel of new market expansion and product introductions include executing in-depth market research, filling distribution gaps, honing marketing tactics and building internal resources to support the initiative.
Given that leaders are juggling multiple priorities, it’s not surprising that they sometimes fall flat when attempting to scale inside sales to meet expansion goals. After all, there’s a lot involved — creating a sales process, hiring and training sales people, and ensuring they have the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and successfully.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these challenges and how to tackle them.