Inside Sales teams are often just associated with ‘cold calling’ and doing the dirty work for the Sales team – passing ‘Sales-Ready Leads’ on set criteria to the Sales Team to close them. Often their job is supposed to be setting-up ‘meetings’.
While the Sales team takes all the credit for bringing in deals…are the Inside Sales teams the unsung heroes?
To understand the overall context, let’s start with the definition: Inside Sales is qualifying/selling/upselling, primarily through the phone and sometimes on the web without the necessity of meeting prospects in-person.
Inside Sales representatives need to be able to navigate an organization by phone and have engaging conversations with different roles in an organization.
In recent times it can also be used in context of in-bound calls where the prospect initiates the call inquiring about the product/service which is screened by the Inside Sales team. This is a relatively newer phenomenon with the advent of the web and with a lot of product companies relying on the web as an inbound Lead engine. In addition to engaging the prospects on the phone and web meetings, the Inside Sales team needs to be able to conduct web demos and presentations.
Let’s see where Inside Sales can make the difference.
Inside Sales can be the bridge between Marketing and Sales. They can take input from the Marketing Team in the form of potential sales from marketing campaigns and then qualify them for Sales. In organizations where Inside Sales is managed well, the funnel will never go dry and the pipeline velocity is faster.
It is also very important to set-up the Inside Sales team for success. It is good for Inside Sales to have had exposure in sales, it will help them feel as part of the sales group with common goals, targets and territory management. They need to be very well versed with a value based selling process and have to ensure that they pass qualified Leads (and not wrong Leads just to make up numbers).
In some organizations, Inside Sales might also be responsible for smaller transactions with the sales team only focused on larger opportunities.
The lines are blurring between Inside Sales and Field Sales, with organizations experimenting with their sales models, allowing sales representatives that are primarily Inside Sales go on customer visits when required. Other experiments which we have seen are where Inside Sales are also active in social media and engage in discussions with prospects as an additional responsibility.
So, how do we measure these unsung heroes and make them feel appreciated?
Should Inside Sales team’s measurement be the number of appointments set? Should requirement, budget, timeframe, decision tree, scope, business scope of a Lead, factor in the measurement? Should certain amounts of revenue in a deal closed be apportioned as an Inside Sales team contribution? Should overall number of calls done and conversations be taken into account? Perhaps the answer is all the above with the weightage depending on how an organization is setup. A lower weighted attribution in revenue in the final metrics would make the Inside Sales team feel under-appreciated.
Marketing Automation with a direct integration with Lead generation system and CRM would definitely help Inside Sales team in two contexts- one in terms of providing insights into behavior of Leads and providing context for follow-ups and second in terms of putting together metrics for their performance. The number of ‘Marketing Qualified Leads’ converted to ‘Sales-Ready Leads’ would be the true indicator of performance and can easily be set-up by Marketing Automation Systems.