In 2020, inside sales and professional telesales teams are more than just a nice-to-have component of a sales strategy. They are one of the hottest trends in B2B sales. B2B telesales and inside sales are a force to be reckoned with and are increasingly becoming companies’ go-to sales strategy.
Inside sales and B2B telesales are cost-effective, easily scaled and the preferred sales channel with Millennials and younger generation buyers. Their success is why we continue to see remote sales teams growing at a rate of 15% a year—often while companies are scaling back their field forces.
But are you doing everything you can to make your B2B telesales and inside sales reps as efficient and productive as possible?
If not, and if you think your B2B telesales and inside sales reps could be accomplishing more, it may not be the caliber of your people. Instead, it may be time to re-prioritize both the activities and attitudes within your sales organization.
Support Your Front Line of Sales with Technology
Over the past ten years or so, we’ve seen the evolution of B2B telesales and inside sales. In previous years, the job of your inside people was merely to take a new lead and qualify and nurture it until a field rep could get around to following up and making a formal sales pitch.
Slowly, however, organizations opened their eyes to the fact that their telesales and inside sales reps are in the best position to respond while a prospect is hot. As years of research show, fast response times can make the difference between connecting with a lead and turning it into an opportunity and, ultimately, a customer. It’s estimated that as many as half of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
But the real game-changer has been technology. It turns a phone bank into a remote sales team of B2B telesales professionals that can bring the sales experience directly to the prospective customer.
For your remote sales force to be effective, however, your telesales and inside sales teams need the technology to enhance and enrich the sales experience. Inside sales requires a high-tech infrastructure of sales-enablement tools that allow them to close business without face-to-face meetings. Some of these tools include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: To stay on top of their leads, prospects and customers at all points in the sales cycle, CRM software allows reps to manage relationships, track status, support nurturing, generally improve business relationships and increase customer retention.
- Next-Generation Support Tools: Collaborative planning and communications platforms—like Slack and Asana—support sales and marketing teams working remotely and often not in proximity to one another.
- Communication Tools: In addition to phones, Inside Sales needs Skype for Business (Teams), web conferencing and email to connect with prospects in the most convenient, efficient and effective way. Conferencing tools enable multiple decision makers to participate in meetings that support a rich audio-visual experience.
- Sales Engagement Tools: The old way of clicking a lot of buttons to get inside sales tasks completed is out the door. Today, automating a lot of the mundane tasks helps to increase performance exponentially. One solution that comes to mind is Outreach.
- Live Demo Tools: Advanced demonstration platforms bring a rich sales experience to prospects by providing a demonstration in real time. Buyers and sellers can discuss product functionality as they work through the demo.
- Online Content Management: It’s no longer enough to provide buyers with links to videos, blog posts and whitepapers. Content needs to answer buyers’ questions and speak to their specific needs. For that to happen, your reps need tools that help them quickly identify and deliver the right content at the right time.
- Screen-Sharing Tools: Whether for live customer support or delivering a presentation, screen-sharing enables both customers and sales to share screen views.
- Analytics: To help your sales reps optimize their efforts and continually raise the bar, give them the tools to measure and analyze their work. Analytics also help managers watch for potential problems and know when to step in or mentor a rep.
Help Your Reps Prioritize the Activities that Increase Productivity
Increasing efficiency isn’t only about tools and technology. Your B2B telesales and inside sales reps need the time to focus on what they do best—sales. They should not be the dumping ground for all the tasks that no one else is interested in doing.
By encouraging them to prioritize their activities, you can keep your telesales and inside sales reps focused on selling. Here are a few ways to help:
- Alignment: By more closely aligning inside sales with marketing, they can work together on setting the goals and tailoring the messages used in lead-generating campaigns. The goal when delivering leads to sales should be to put quality over volume.
- Systematize: Encourage telesales reps to focus on more immediate goals than only hitting quarterly and annual quotas. Help them set daily objectives and systematize their processes. One example is the ten-by-ten technique—to make 10 calls by 10 a.m. each day.
- Optimize: There are many ways that sales reps can boost their productivity through optimization. For example, they can group similar calls on the same day (e.g., same industry, similar pain points). And each call shouldn’t require spending time developing a unique call strategy. Once they have identified the group of calls for the day, they can set a plan—a message, a focal point, a product or strategy—to discuss with everyone. Encourage them to keep it simple and focus on the quality of the overall message, not the uniqueness of each call.
- Research: Because your remote sales force is accumulating as much insight into customers as your traditional field reps, you want to allocate time for telesales and inside sales reps to research new outbound sales opportunities. They can bring new business to the table.
- Offload: With every additional task, administrative duty and non-customer-facing chore you assign to your telesales team, you’re taking them away from selling. Bring in more administrative help to support your inside sales and automate as many tasks as possible. One of the most popular AI sales tools is the chatbot that you can program to handle many customer and prospect inquiries.
Give Telesales Respect and Recognition
While focusing activities for more efficient sales is essential, it’s not the only focus of your re-prioritization makeover. You need to examine attitudes toward B2B telesales and inside sales reps companywide. Even though remote selling is an integral part of sales in 2020, memories of its more humble beginnings may be holding you back.
It’s even possible that some of your sales managers may not put B2B telesales and inside sales on par with the traditional field sales force. That’s a significant mistake. It not only hurts morale but may be limiting productivity.
B2B telesales and inside sales are your first line of sales. It’s in your best interest to give them every advantage possible. Here are some strategies that will help:
- Optimize the Onboarding Process: Prepare new inside sales hires for the job as thoroughly as you would field sales reps. Make them feel they are an integral part of the team. Give them product training and access to the same resources available to other reps.
- Keep People Motivated: Include your B2B telesales and inside salespeople in sales meetings, team building activities, department events and sales retreats. Build inclusive teams that combine remote sellers, field reps and channel partners.
- Inform and Update: Keep them in the loop on new products and upgrades as well as cross-selling and upselling opportunities. The more they know, the better they can sell.
- Provide Professional Advancement: Encourage your telesales and inside sales reps to take advantage of opportunities to advance and grow professionally. Include them in any coaching and training programs available within the company. Track and analyze their progress, keeping a close eye for potential problems or ways that you can mentor and improve their skills and success.
- Keep Them Happy: It’s simple, just let your telesales and inside sales teams feel fulfilled and appreciated. Compensate good work. Give them quotas comparable to those available to field reps. Let them know they are respected members of the team.
Your B2B telesales and inside sales reps are an essential part of your sales success today. Not only do they help you keep your costs down, but they can also help increase your ROI. But only if you prioritize the tools, activities and attitude that support them.