inside-sales

What Is Inside Sales? The When, How, And What Of Inside Sales?

Inside sales is the practice of turning leads into customers remotely. Communication between the client and the customer occurs via phone, email, or the internet. Inside sales become a critical sales acquisition strategy when a company or startup needs to convert leads into potential small and medium business paying accounts. Thus, the inside sales representative will help prospect, qualify, assess and close those opportunities.

Understanding inside sales

Inside sales has become the predominant sales model in the past decade or so for representatives in B2B, SaaS, tech, and B2C industries where high-value products are the norm.

The inside sales model normally entails high-touch transactions over email and phone. Unlike telemarketers, inside sales require representatives to be knowledgeable and experienced. They must also be able to use technology to conduct demos, present information, and perform any other function that a traditional sales rep would.

Inside sales is the opposite approach to outside sales, where the sales representative goes out into the field to meet with prospects. However, the line between inside sales and outside sales is less clear than it once was. Many outside sales reps who work on-premise handle some aspects of their business remotely and utilize the same tools inside sales reps have used for years. 

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the goalposts once more, with the vast majority of outside sales representatives now working remotely. To some extent, this has destigmatized inside sales and its ability to close high-value sales without direct, face-to-face client interaction.

Essential inside sales tools

Inside sales representatives use some or all of the following tools:

Telephone 

Even though the telephone was invented in the 19th century, voice conversation is still an integral part of remote sales. Calls are made to first schedule an appointment and then follow up with a pitch. 

Inside sales representatives are also turning to text messages to communicate with prospects, leads, and customers.

CRM software 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software provides an overview of sales activities and ensures the rep can effectively manage their pipeline. 

The most capable CRM software also allows the rep to manage their client relationships more effectively by building stronger relationships and fostering mutual growth.

Email tracking

Email tracking is a critical component of any inside sales strategy. McKinsey Global Institute found that inside sales professionals spend 28% of their day reading and writing emails.

In most cases, sales professionals reach out to prospects via email once the marketing team has acquired them. Email tracking software then allows the rep to see whether an email to a prospect has been opened or whether the attached files have been downloaded. Based on these insights, a specific course of follow-up action is taken.

Reporting tools and dashboards

Successful inside sales also rely on data monitoring and the ability to extract useful and actionable data insights. 

Reporting tools should clarify, among other things:

  • The best performing representatives. 
  • The email templates with the highest response rates.
  • Whether monthly sales target will be hit. 
  • The optimum follow-up sequence.

Social intelligence software

Social intelligence software utilizes social media data to improve, inform, or enhance business strategy. The most adept inside sales professionals use social media to their advantage – whether that be to nurture a lead or identify a new opportunity in an existing account.

Social selling tools

In the context of inside sales, social telling involves the utilization of tools that integrate with social media to create and maintain relationships. 

Social selling may include endorsing a prospect on LinkedIn or scouring the platform’s search function for outbound targets. It may also include something as simple as following important accounts on Twitter or sharing the target company’s content across multiple sites.

Productivity apps

Like any work that occurs remotely, distraction is a constant menace for inside sales personnel. To work more efficiently, some use tools such as Focus which blocks access to social media sites or any others considered to be a time sink.

Others use Slack to increase productivity in a different way. Here, the platform enables automated sales notifications to be fed into a chat room. This allows the rep to keep abreast of day-to-day operations and recent developments.

Key takeaways:

  • Inside sales is the practice of turning leads into customers remotely. Communication between the client and the customer occurs via phone, email, or the internet.
  • Inside sales is now the default sales method thanks to advances in technology and a shift to remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Inside sales representatives utilize some or all of the following tools: telephone, CRM software, email tracking software, reporting tools, social intelligence software, social selling tools, and productivity apps.

Related Business Concepts

Business Development

business-development
Business development comprises a set of strategies and actions to grow a business via a mixture of sales, marketing, and distribution. While marketing usually relies on automation to reach a wider audience, and sales typically leverage on a one-to-one approach. The business development’s role is that of generating distribution.

Marketing vs. Sales

marketing-vs-sales
The more you move from consumers to enterprise clients, the more you’ll need a sales force able to manage complex sales. As a rule of thumb, a more expensive product, in B2B or Enterprise, will require an organizational structure around sales. An inexpensive product to be offered to consumers will leverage on marketing.

New Product Development

product-development
Product development, known as the new product development process comprises a set of steps that go from idea generation to post-launch review, which help companies analyze the various aspects of launching new products and bringing them to market. It comprises idea generation, screening, testing; business case analysis, product development, test marketing, commercialization, and post-launch review.

BCG Matrix

bcg-matrix
In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Ansoff Matrix

ansoff-matrix
You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

User Experience Design

user-experience-design
The term “user experience” was coined by researcher Dr. Donald Norman who said that “no product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” User experience design is a process that design teams use to create products that are useful and relevant to consumers.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

cost-benefit-analysis
A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Empathy Mapping

empathy-mapping
Empathy mapping is a visual representation of knowledge regarding user behavior and attitudes. An empathy map can be built by defining the scope, purpose to gain user insights, and for each action, add a sticky note, summarize the findings. Expand the plan and revise.

Perceptual Mapping

perceptual-mapping
Perceptual mapping is the visual representation of consumer perceptions of brands, products, services, and organizations as a whole. Indeed, perceptual mapping asks consumers to place competing products relative to one another on a graph to assess how they perform with respect to each other in terms of perception.

Value Stream Mapping

value-stream-mapping
Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.

Read the remaining product development frameworks here.

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