Telemarketing/Inside Sales Thoughts & Observations

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Last month I attended the American
Association of Inside Sales Professionals (www.aa-isp.org) Summit in
Minneapolis and wrote about some of the highlights in my 4/29 blog: Lead Generation: What
Telemarketing/Inside Sales is Doing

This week we are releasing our 2010 Telemarketing/Inside Sales
Optimization report
and I want to share a brief sneak preview.

Initially, customer-facing phone-based
personnel were called “telemarketers” since their primary function-like the
rest of Marketing–was identifying prospects/leads to move on and eventually
into the sales funnel.

Once prospects and customers became
more comfortable with phone-based sales reps, opportunities could be carried
further into the sales process by these lower cost sales reps and in many cases
opportunities closed without a field-based sales rep visiting the buyer.
Telemarketing had in many cases become “telesales.”

Enter the Internet and the business
imperative on both sides of the buy-sell equation do more with less
faster.  Telephones have been augmented
by live chat, web-based meetings/demos, customer self-service and more-all with
the aim of closing and renewing sales. Hence, “inside sales” is increasingly in
use as the label for non-field-based personnel.

Telemarketing-Telesales-Inside Sales
are used essentially interchangeably with some industries favoring one term
over another. In this report we are interested in gauging the activities and effectiveness of individuals who do any
of the following from their desk:

a) developing leads for themselves or others to pursue;
b) qualifying leads into opportunities for themselves or others to pursue;
c) purusing opportunities to a sale or eventual ending;
d) turning over opportunities for others to complete the sale.

I’ll share a few key findings from it including:

  1. Quota attainment is Down:  53%
    of Telemarketing/Inside Sales reps met or exceeded their quota last year;
    this is up one point from two years ago, but down four full points from
    one year ago.
  2. Telemarketing/Inside Sales is playing nicer with
    Marketing:
    Telemarketing/Inside Sales has
    a lower percentage of self-generated leads and is generally happier (than
    field sales) with the quantity/quality of leads provided by Marketing.
  3. Number of Calls to Close is Up:  63% of sales
    close with 3-9 calls, down from 72% a year earlier; only 1% went to 1-2
    calls to close, the other 8% went to >9 calls to close (see Figure 1).

Number of Inside Sales Calls is Up

Figure 1

You might be tempted to think 1-2
call closes are restricted to small opportunities. In fact, 80% of deals
reported by these companies were in the $30k-$100K range.

The data suggest that as your
sales cycles tend toward the high end of the mid-range (i.e., 6-9 calls) things
will tend to go south pretty quickly. Said another way, unless there is
something particular to your industry that causes extra long sales cycles and/or
extra numbers of touches, chances are you need to revisit your sales
process.  Specifically, having an
organized win/loss assessment process, as well as observing and sharing best
practices of those reps able to close deals more quickly (you may also think
about rewarding these reps for sharing their golden tactics) both seem in
order.

Another eye-catching metric this
year is the planned increase in inside sales force size.  While the past 12-18 months were
characterized by staff reductions and hiring freezes, companies this year plan
to grow inside sales-a LOT (see Figure 2).

Sales Force Size is Increasing

Figure 2

As seen in chart, the majority of firms
expect to grow their Telemarketing/Inside Sales teams in 2010. Recognize that
holding onto and attracting solid Telemarketing/Inside Sales talent is going to
be much tougher this year than last.

One in seven firms plan to increase by more
than 20%.  For starters, if you’re at the
low end of the scale with 20% total turnover (another metric tracked in the
study), you’ll have to replace one in five reps just to stay even. If you’re
among the 28% of firms seen above that plan to increase their team size by more
than 10%, you need to add another one in five (more or less). The same is true
for your toughest competitors and the other key metric you need to be aware
of-or reminded of-is that 38% of new hires are sales professionals from within our industry. That means, they are
looking to your company as a fertile hunting ground.

Action
Items:

  1. As
    we approach the end of Q2, if you’ve not already “hired up” approved headcount,
    now is the time to do so.
  2. Retaining
    talent is just as important so if you aren’t regularly coaching and taking the
    temperature of your key performers, don’t delay longer.
  3. Develop
    an ongoing recruitment program to identify solid candidates in advance of your
    immediate need and build bench strength.

Sell Well,

Barry Trailer

2 COMMENTS

  1. The reason marketers and telemarketers may have said “awareness” is because we find that the callers’ personal connection rate is higher when the prospect recognizes the brand/company based on their experience of value with the content. Hence they are more willing to engage in conversation. And, of course, calling based on a business reason that the prospect has expressed interest in doesn’t hurt, either.

  2. More companies ar starting to see the renewed value in outsourcing demand generation services to sector specific telamrketing agencies. These types of “non generic” agencies have the upper hand as they understand their clients market and have the relevent sector intelligence.

    Jonathan
    IT Telemarketing from Fluent

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