The Do’s and Don’ts for inside sales success

According to InsideSales.com, inside sales programs are growing 300% faster than outside sales programs. Other studies report that outside field reps are now spending 40 percent of their time or more selling remotely due to a significant shift in customers no longer wanting to meet face-to-face to purchase products or services. 

In the supply industry, inside sales often means different things to different organizations. 

  • For one company, having an inside sales team could mean they have a self-motivated CSR who is incentivized to make some outbound calls for a couple of hours each week when the phones are not busy. 
  • For another organization, inside sales refers to a full team of four dedicated inside reps making outbound calls, whereby the entire relationship is cultivated and maintained over the phone. 
  • A third dealership may define inside sales as merely lead generation, with the inside reps finding opportunities by phone and then setting appointments for the outside reps to visit. 

All of these examples are forms of inside selling. Each requires specific (learned) expertise, management, oversight and coaching. 

No matter how the inside sales mechanism is utilized, it starts by scouting the appropriate talent through the recruiting process, having a cohesive and continuous training regimen and then having the necessary amount of “stick-to-it-ness” to see the program through to success. 

For easy reference, here is a list of some “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to building and growing an inside sales team. There are exceptions to every rule, but these recommendations will be applicable to most inside sales teams. 

DO: 

  1. Capture and document your dealership’s Top Ten Differential Advantages and why they matter in the lives of your customers. 
  2. Document at least five customer success stories for new hires to learn and perfect. Stories about how you saved the day for your customers and how you created solutions to their problems need to become the fabric of your company branding. 
  3. Upgrade your telephone system to include call analytics and recording capabilities. This is a critical tool for managing, training and developing any inside sales team. 
  4. Use a CRM. There are many good ones to choose from. 
  5. Become proficient at running key reports from the CRM and reviewing these numbers with the team regularly. 
  6. Identify the team leader (manager) who will lead the inside sales team by example and have the pig-headed discipline to stay the course. 
  7. Maintain a culture of accountability and establish regular one-on-one meetings starting from the top. (Weekly meetings are a must!) 
  8. Expect to experience some new hire turnover—typically one out of every three hires will not make it, usually within the first 90 days of starting the job. 
  9. Have a stash of $5-$10 gift cards and other small incentives to reward behavior on a regular basis. Inside sales reps deal with a high volume of rejection, much more than field sales, and therefore need frequent recognition and encouragement. 
  10. Start the team off with a mix of cold calling and calls to win-back accounts. Existing customer accounts should be earned and not given out to brand new hires. Reward them with active accounts as they generate new accounts. 

DON’T: 

  1. Transition an outside salesperson to an inside salesperson. It seldom works and they often feel chained to a desk, aren’t willing to make the calls and end up hating the job. 
  2. Micro-manage. Create a culture of leadership, accountability and coaching but in doing so, give employees room to make mistakes and fail forward. 
  3. Wing it. DO…have a system. Set clear goals. Track everything. Follow the process. Train continually. Reward success and create a culture of winning. 
  4. Go at this solo. Ensure that you have a strategic partner to help you through the process and be sure that each inside salesperson has a battle buddy to cover them and encourage them. (Tip: Hire in pairs!) 
  5. Rush the hiring process. Yes, it’s tough to find good people, but it’s even harder to train the wrong person and ultimately see them fail. 

In closing, you should know that adding an inside sales component to your business is a powerful and practical alternative to the traditional outside field sales channel. As is true with most areas of business, there are best practices that can help provide the guardrails necessary to keep your business heading in the right direction. Hopefully these insights have added to your knowledge and can be put to good use by your organization. 

Good selling out there and my very best to you in 2019 and beyond!