What Defines Inside Sales Today?

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This week we released the 2011 edition of our Telemarketing/Inside Sales Performance Optimization (TISPO) study. More than 200 firms worldwide participated in this year’s inside sales survey spanning 93 metrics on sales performance. Questions covered areas including Sales Rep Hiring & Compensation, Sales Execution, Sales Management, CRM 2.0, and more.

In my view, the most significant trend is inside sales’ continuing advancement–some might say encroachment–into areas once reserved for field sales. Specifically, inside sales is increasingly pursuing and closing opportunities; a lower percentage of firms report lead gen/qualification for the field as a primary responsibility of the inside team.

For too long, inside sales was equated with “junior sales.” The real action was out in the field. That may still be the perception of those in the field but the data show there’s a lot going on inside. One-quarter of firms report planning to grow their inside sales teams by more than twenty percent (>20%). Another 19% plan to grow more than ten percent (see chart).

Planned Change in Inside Sales Headcount 2011

These dramatic increases will test companies wanting to keep their top performers. The primary profile of new hires (49%) is reps with selling experience within the same industry. In other words, other companies will try to steal your top performers.

2011 will be both challenging and rewarding year for inside sales. Teams are growing impressively, taking on more extensive sales responsibilities, and carrying deals further into or completely through the sales cycle as buyers become more comfortable dealing virtually.

In fact, increasingly, field reps working remotely from their homes, hotels and/or shared office suites are leveraging on-line demos, chat, email, web-based video and, yes, phone calls to cover more accounts in less time. Rather than inside versus field, we think a more useful distinction may soon be selling virtually versus physically calling on accounts and prospects.

Jim Dickie and I will host a webinar covering our findings on May 17th. We will highlight the challenges impacting the performance of virtual sales teams. In addition, using case study examples, we will give best practice examples of how companies can increase win rates, improve sales rep quota attainment, shorten sales cycles, reduce the ramp-up time for new reps, and successfully deal with other challenges standing between you and your revenue goal for 2011. The webinar will be held 5/17/11, 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific. You can register here.

Good Selling,

Barry Trailer

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