Most industries are filled with inside sales teams and the trend is increasing. Each team striving to overcome the competition, create better value and ultimately win the best deals and grow faster than the competition. An example of this is the software technology arena, Software as a service (SaaS) and Software development companies in general, who rely not only on repeat business but new business in order to continue growth. So we’re going to use that as our example.
Inside sales teams are an essential part of bringing in vital new leads and new business. But how do you prioritize what’s important for inside sales? Especially when they’re coupled with a field sales team – or liaising with a team of specialist engineers?
In this article, we’re going to give you the rundown on what activities to prioritize above others and what will ultimately help you to succeed. But here’s the quick takeaway answer, then we’re going to dive into the reasons why…
How Do You Prioritize Sales Activities?
A simple way to optimize sales activities is to take a review of the tasks performed by your sales teams on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Assess what tasks they do that directly relate to sales focus and look to delegate other non-sales focussed tasks out to other areas of the business.
But in order to prioritize inside sales activities, we first need to understand what those activities are. Then we’re going to go through how you do this…
Inside Sales Team Importance
Why are we mentioning the importance of inside sales? Well because according to a 2019 study by Gartner, 24% of inside sales staff are looking to move companies. The top three reasons cited were “dissatisfaction with the competitiveness of compensation package, manager quality and the degree of respect the organization shows employees.”
So as a company, one of the main areas you need to prioritize is respecting your inside sales staff, remunerating them sufficiently and training managers to manage them effectively. An inside sales team that is happy, working hard and intending to stick around will be a major asset for the company, this alone will increase sales.
If you think inside sales teams just answer the phone, take details, and then pass inquiries to other “more competent” sales reps, You’d be wrong, and the first mistake you can make is to underestimate the importance of effective sales staff in this area.
By the time a lead or inquiry gets to an external sales team, software engineer, or any other member of staff, the customer has to have “bought into” your company. And by that, we don’t just mean your software or product, but the level of service, response times, trust, and efficiency amongst other factors.
It’s your inside sales team that establishes that first rapport with the customer. If done correctly, and then followed through by other staff means sales reps have an easier time. That is the most important function and it takes skill to do it.
For those that make external sales calls, their job is much harder than other sales, it’s not face-to-face, its often a cold call, and yet they’re supposed to conjure a sale out of it.
So for the initiated, let’s recap on what inside sales teams are usually required to do, here’s a list of typical activities.
Inside Sales Team Activities
Inside sales teams’ duties vary from company to company, focusses change for each. But they’re all essentially concerned with increasing sales.
According to workable.com, here’s what’s a typical job template for inside sales, it’s probably a good roundup of the duties and gives you some idea of the numerous hats an inside salesperson has to wear. And this is typical in the software technology industry.
- Source new sales opportunities through inbound lead follow-up and outbound cold calls and emails
- Understand customer needs and requirements
- Route qualified opportunities to the appropriate sales executives for further development and closure
- Close sales and achieve quarterly quotas
- Research accounts, identify key players and generate interest
- Maintain and expand your database of prospects within your assigned territory
- Team with channel partners to build pipeline and close deals
- Perform effective online demos to prospects
How to Prioritize Inside Sales Team Activities
So yes, inside sales duties are numerous, and aside from excellent customer service and product knowledge – which is a focus, there is one single higher purpose for inside sales staff.
To understand this one purpose, we need to get back to the main purpose behind an inside sales team, the clue is in the title. Sales.
We expect our inside sales team to find, qualify and nurture leads through sales activities. All good. But what tends to happen is we then start to load our sales teams with additional responsibilities, why? Because we often think so much “sits” with the sales team.
Think of sales activities in terms of percentages and this might become clearer. So all that happens is we initially expect that as much as 100% of the time the sales team is focused on new leads and new business, great.
But every duty we impose upon them beyond that sole task simply detracts from the main task, we begin chipping away at the main reason we hired them.
So What’s the Solution?
This is where a sales support team is something you should be considering. The task is pretty simple, you want to increase sales? Then take a review of exactly what your inside sales team’s duties are, what are they doing? From a quick meeting, right through to the extreme of an old fashioned time and motion study. However you do it, get a handle on what those duties are that specifically impact sales prospecting.
Once you know what they do, you can then decide from a management perspective what tasks (if any) you can take from them that can be done by others. You’ll be surprised by the activities they do that have little impact on getting leads and sales.
Ultimately, you have to look at what tasks can be passed to support staff. Here’s a list of potential duties that you could take off them.
- Complex solution quotes and bids
- Product specialisms
- Online Demos
- After-sales customer queries
- Locating new companies and avenues and getting call lists
- General Admin
To offer a basic infographic, here’s what your sales team duties and their percentages might look like before afterward. It’s rudimentary – and yours won’t look like this …but you get the idea.
To help you out, here are the four main activities that should drive your sales teams’ daily prioritizing.
1. Have a daily plan
Here are the three points you need to focus your attention on for the day
a. Focus on Activities that will benefit customers/prospects the most.
b. Ask your Sales guys what will make their job easier today to enable them to focus
c. Core business hours devoted to the higher value sales activities
2. Important sales targeted tasks first
The high-value important calls, the important emails
3. Prioritize who you spend your time with
Time spent with customers is the very best use of your time, some will pay dividends.
4. Task delegation
Management reporting, Bid writing, Bespoke Product solutions, Order Processing – Get support.
5. Relief times
If you need a break, take a break. Your manager will understand and regular breaks makes you better at your job.
What About Job Variety and Professional Training
No one wants a job just to be about calls, it’s fine having other tasks to do and there’s the knowledge you are going to need to keep up with – particularly if it’s in the Software technology environment. It’s more about balance.
You will need a certain level of product knowledge, you will need to update the CRM and write that quote yourself. There will still be activities that will break up the day, but those activities should be designed with your sales goals in mind. Just play the percentages and know that it will impact the sales results.
Your next steps
Need help organizing your inside sales team to maximize your sales focus? Then get in touch and let us help you achieve more, with less – more effectively.