When I came to InsightSquared, I had to change a lot about how I sold. I was used to in-person meetings, where I knew the name and title of everyone in the room. I actually shook hands with every prospect to close a deal. They were large deals, and I only needed a few to hit goal.
When I came inside, I quickly realized that I had to adopt a new approach. Here are my 5 biggest takeaways from transitioning between outside to inside sales:
1. Keep It Personal: Instead of meeting people in person, we do most of our selling over the phone. The efficiency gained through an inside model means you can touch so many more people. However, phone calls are impersonal. I’m better when I can read emotions and see reactions. Just because you’re selling remote doesn’t mean you should submit and let the situation rob you of your humanity. Every laptop has a webcam now, so just use it. Turn yours on and your prospect will too. Or ask them too. I like awkward. It humanizes you. Get face to face even when you’re not really face to face.
2. Stop Everything: The other challenge with inside sales is that sometimes, you’re ambushed by a person who you didn’t realize was on the call. Suddenly, a mystery guest is throwing flaming balls of hate your way and never even introduced themselves or made their intentions known. Stop. Every. Thing. Politely address the fact that you’re a human being having a conversation and ask them their name. Find out what they do there. Find out why they’re asking what they’re asking. Then, acknowledge their question and deliver an honest answer. Command the room and don’t let them push you out of your square. It’s cringeworthy the first few times you do this, but it’s worth it. By maintaining your position as the subject matter expert, and by demanding a conversation on equal footing, you’re establishing a better engagement from there on out.
3. Build Your Social Brand: I also realized quickly that your online brand matters a lot for inside sales. Before I started working at InsightSquared, I barely had a LinkedIn profile and didn’t use Twitter at all. It just didn’t matter for laundry. But with inside sales, it’s vital to invest in social selling. Prospects need to feel like you’re accessible, trustworthy, and knowledgeable in the field. Make sure you create a great LinkedIn profile, that positions you as a credible advisor. LinkedIn is not your resume; it’s your professional social media page. Share relevant content. Join the right groups. Have conversations and engage with people.
4. Transactional Sales: When I was working in outside sales, I was able to close just a few deals and hit my goal. In SaaS, the deals can be smaller and more transactional in nature. It meant that I had to shift my goals and work more deals at the same time. This required better time management and focus on my part. I suddenly cared about MQL:opp ratio by lead source and by campaign. I cared about conversion rates for different contact personas. My focus is scale and efficiency. You find a way to consistently take the smart behavior and model it across your team. Find the mistakes and eliminate them.
5. Trust the Data: When I worked in outside sales, I just kept track of my deals on my own and told my boss about them. He didn’t care how I engaged with prospects as long as I closed deals. But for inside sales, CRM usage is incredibly important. You have to log every call, take notes on every interaction, and look for patterns in the data. Sales data is a powerful tool for both managers and reps, and inside sales needs these insights.
These are all lessons that I learned quickly on the job when I switch to inside sales. I was able to become the top sales rep at InsightSquared, and other reps can do the same.
Next time you’re struggling to fill a vacant spot on your sales team, don’t be afraid to bring in someone who doesn’t have a tech background. With the right skill set and targeted sales coaching, you’ll be building the next class of rockstar sales reps to kill it on your team. If you’re building a team, I hope this is helpful. If you’re looking to join our SF team, come and find me. 🙂