There’s a misconception about inside sales that I believe is rooted in its name. And it’s hurting many businesses. It’s the “inside” that leads people astray. Too many people think that it must mean that the salespeople are within their company’s walls. This belief is understandable, but it’s not always true. Inside salespeople are simply the opposite of field salespeople. They are not road warriors. They sell remotely and work inside an office, however, that office doesn’t have to be within your company.
Why is the idea that inside sales must take place within the organization hurting some companies? Because inside sales is more important than ever and many companies don’t have the skills or resources to institute or support a robust inside sales department. So they either go without this valuable function, or they stitch one together and limp along.
In recent years, a tidal wave has overrun the B2B sales landscape, changing it forever.
Sales organizations have shifted resources from field sales to inside sales. That’s according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR). They conducted research with over 100 vice presidents of sales in high-tech and business services companies. While some are moving resources to field sales (21%), more than twice as many (46%) are moving in the other direction.
Other figures are even more startling. An InsideSales.com study of sales and marketing managers in 30 non-retail industries shows inside sales growing 300% faster than field sales.
What’s driving the change? It’s all about technology, competition, scalability and results.
Given the advantages, going without an inside sales team or using one that’s not up to par, can put your organization at a significant handicap.
So, should you build up your inside sales organization or outsource the function?
First, you’ll want to consider the costs. The investment in an inside sales organization goes beyond salaries, benefits and commissions for agents. You also have management, recruitment and training expenses. Then there’s the infrastructure: phone systems, CRM solutions, office space and computers.
It adds up.
But that’s just one side of the equation. You also have to think about the productivity of doing the job internally. After all, is inside sales a core competency of your organization? For companies that offer outsourced inside sales, it’s often their entire focus. They have the know-how and the systems in place to optimize results. This foundation enables them to make more calls and set more sales appointments. Also, since they qualify the leads better, the appointments are likely to result in higher sales close rates.
How about inside sales turnover! When an inside sales person leaves, you are left with a huge hole. That hole can be even greater if you have a team with multiple languages. If you lose an inside sales person who was responsible for a specific language, you are in trouble. This is mitigated when you outsource to a professional, international outsourced provider. They will have qualified replacements ready to jump in when needed. Scaling is not a problem, and you never lose the business intelligence.
When you crunch the numbers, you’ll discover that in many cases, outsourced telemarketing is less expensive and produces more closed sales, thus delivering a higher return on investment.
To learn more, get our free white paper, “Telemarketing Execution: In-House or Outsource?” Find out how to evaluate the cost and ROI of outsourcing inside sales.
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished,” said Ben Franklin. And in a business world that seems to change more rapidly than ever, his words are still relevant.
What can you change today in your business that will help you with demand generation and ROI? Here are six ideas that can pay off. All you have to do is put them into action.
1. Clean Up Your Database
Sadly, there’s nothing glamorous or exciting about keeping your database clean. It’s a tedious job. Like cleaning your closet, it’s often a task that falls to the bottom of the priority list until there is absolutely nothing better to do.
But think about how you feel after cleaning your closet and ridding it of the clothes you no longer wear. Every day of the week, you save time because it’s easier to find what you need and get dressed. In the same way, when your database is not contaminated with bad data, you’ll increase efficiency.
The funeral for outbound marketing took place several years ago. Friends and relatives celebrated its life and moved on, letting inbound marketing fill the void. But now, what was old is new again. Outbound marketing is coming back to life. This begs the big question, “Why?”
Don’t get me wrong, I like lead scoring. It’s highly effective in increasing the efficiency of generating qualified leads. There is, however, a caveat. It does not do the whole job.
What does lead scoring do? You score leads based on their engagement level with your content as well as on the strength of demographic criteria that qualifies them. When you do so, you’re able to spot the hottest prospects, narrowing down the list, so you know who to call. In this way, it increases productivity.
Effective digital marketing and automation make outbound marketing more efficient. They do not eliminate the need for it. That’s because you need a two-way conversation to answer all the qualifying questions.
Some of your leads, for example, could be opening your emails, reading blog posts and downloading white papers. But how do you know if they can afford the product, service or solution you’re offering? You may have captured your leads’ titles, but every organization is different, so how do you know if they have the authority to buy? You can’t even start to guess who else is involved in the buying decision.
“Humans are wired to connect with each other. And we connect with one another by feeling, not thinking. …Emotion is now increasingly recognized as the key to moving hearts and minds,” Helio Fred Garcia, author of The Power of Communication
B2B buyers are a rational bunch. After all, they’re making decisions about business. That’s not emotional. That’s not personal. It’s simply a matter of tallying up the business benefits, weighing them against the price, making some tradeoffs and coming up with a sound business decision.
So says traditional thinking.
There is, however, a problem—it’s not true. And there’s research from The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) to prove this. They conducted an extensive study, including responses from 3,000 B2B buyers. It showed that personal considerations, including emotions, trump business considerations in decision making.
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort,” Paul. J. Meyer, founder of the Success Motivation Institute
When you think of content marketing, do online tactics come to mind—e-books, white papers, emails and more? If so, it’s not surprising. That’s where a lot of the marketing action is today.
Given our focus on all things web-related, it may come as a surprise to discover that the number one content marketing tactic is good old-fashioned in-person events. That’s according to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and their partners. When they asked B2B marketers what their most effective content marketing tactics were, in-person events topped the list. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said event marketing was the most effective form of content marketing.
While in-person events are impactful, they are also a significant investment. So, how do you ensure a positive return on investment?
Outsourcing marketing tasks is a trend that’s here to stay. There are many reasons for this, including:
Because of the influence of technology and the web, marketing functions are changing more rapidly than ever before. It’s hard for an internal team to keep up with the shifting environment as well as their business and the markets it serves.
You need high-level leaders to craft your marketing strategy and guide its implementation. Also, executing digital marketing requires an array of specialists. These include web designers and developers, content and copywriters, graphic designers and videographers. In addition, you may need gurus of social media marketing, marketing automation, conversion optimization, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, digital display advertising, email marketing and more.
And digital is only part of the marketing equation. For B2B marketing, you have to add the human touch. For this, you’ll need trade show and conference organizers and inside sales people or telemarketers.
in-house talent may not offer all the skills and expertise they need.
This problem, however, doesn’t mean marketers should reshape strategies to reflect their internal capabilities. The opposite is true. They should design marketing strategies that promise to produce the highest growth, then determine how to implement them with company associates and external resources.
When you’re managing business-to-business telemarketing representatives, you can record their conversations and use them as learning opportunities. If one agent is particularly productive, you can listen to recordings of her phone calls to determine what sets her apart from the others. Also, if another is having difficulty meeting their goals, you can re-live their conversations and learn where they go off track.
Before doing anything, however, become aware oflocal and federal laws related to recording calls and ensure that you abide by them.
When you’re listening to recordings to find out why some representatives are successful and others struggle, pay attention to these areas.
Last September, the AA-ISP, an international association dedicated exclusively to advancing the profession of Inside Sales, released their 2014 Inside Sales Top Challenges. And they discovered that the number one challenge sales leaders are facing today is training inside sales people to perform well. In fact, many sales organizations complain about a high turnover of inside sales representatives as they don’t manage to bring them to the performance levels they expect in the calculated timeframes.
Why is training such a hot issue?
A 2013 study by InsideSales.com reports inside sales is growing 300% faster than field sales. This trend is expected to continue. That’s because inside sales:
· cuts costs
· is accepted by customers who have become comfortable learning about companies remotely via websites, social media, content downloads such as e-books and white papers, email and phone calls
In fact, many customers prefer the flexibility of phone calls to face-to-face meetings.
Due to the benefits of inside sales, the B2B sales model is changing. Inside sales representatives are taking over more sales duties, sometimes handling the complete sale by themselves rather than working hand in hand with a field sales person. Even if they are working with a field sales executive, they may be doing more up front to transform leads into qualified sales opportunities before passing the baton to the field sales person.
The growth in demand for inside sales people has resulted in a shortage of qualified reps on the market. That means companies now need to hire and train people who may not have a proven track record in inside sales.
You've decided it's time to use the power of the human touch and connect one-on-one with your prospects and customers. You're ready to nurture and qualify leads more effectively and maximize the use of your sales team's time.
Perhaps you've previously done some informal telemarketing. You've asked a few administrative assistants to make calls on an as-needed basis. However, this option may not have worked for you because you were not able to put the correct systems, training, people and processes in place. It ended up being expensive, time-consuming and ineffective.
So, now you're making a choice between setting up an inside sales function or outsourcing the task to a professional B2B telemarketing organization. Intuitively, it may seem like it would cost less to tackle telemarketing tasks at your company. However, you want to see the numbers in black and white.