We recently came across a great article on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network about “The Growing Power of Inside Sales.” The article – an interview with Mike Moorman, a senior leader at ZS Associates’ B2B sales and marketing practice and a sales management thought leader – discusses many issues, including why companies are turning to inside sales in droves and what types of selling situations were most compatible with inside sales. What we found to be the most fascinating answers are about the types of results that companies can expect. Some of Moorman’s examples of how inside sales can improve results can be taken to an even more optimal level with the use of the right sales performance metrics.
Here are three types of results, from the HBR article, that companies can expect from building out their inside sales team…and adopting a data-driven approach to analysis and reporting.
Increased revenues in low-priority accounts
Field sales reps are more hamstrung by time and the logistics of travel than inside sales reps are. Therefore, field sales reps might not be able to devote the necessary attention to close some of these low-priority or higher-risk accounts.
But what if you had a team full of inside sales reps who have the time and resources they need to give these accounts more attention? Even better, what if you had a report on the current state of your pipeline that lets these inside sales reps know which accounts should be prioritized, in terms of engagement and risk? In that scenario, inside sales reps would be able to help grow revenue by focusing on these opportunities, allowing field sales reps to keep selling to their regular accounts without any drop-off in productivity or attention to focus on low-priority ones.
Increased effectiveness by specializing inside salespeople
Specialization enables reps to focus their efforts on specific areas, allowing them to develop exceptional expertise in specific industries, products, account sizes or activities. The key to specialization is that it allows reps to do what they do best.
In order to truly gain sales effectiveness from specialization, sales managers need to first be able to drill down and filter by the aforementioned categories, such as by industry or account size. This report above shows that Andrea Matlin is a great sales rep, closing nearly 170 deals in the past year.
But look at how different his performance looks when filtered by the largest accounts, worth more than $20,000. Joe Smith has booked more of these types of deals than Andrea. Perhaps his manager should assign him to work only on the largest accounts, as he clearly shows some proficiency at this.
Better coaching and development for inside salespeople
The close proximity of inside salespeople to their managers – as opposed to their counterparts in the field – naturally promotes increased sales coaching. Sales coaches can have a first-hand view of what their reps are going through and have a better understanding of where their reps might struggle to sell. Additionally, they simply have more time – since travel considerations and other logistics aren’t involved – to dedicate to coaching their reps.
Sales coaching involves more than just spending the necessary time, however. It’s incumbent upon sales managers to dive into the data and find meaningful insights and actionable coaching points in order to drive more salient and productive coaching sessions. For instance, sales managers can gain a lot of development insight by studying the sales funnels for individual reps, compared to the company average. Look at the sales funnel report above. Josh is substantially below the company average between the Present Solution and Trail stage. This is the area where he needs more sales coaching.
Inside sales is the hottest wave in the sales industry, with tremendous gains in maximizing productivity and optimizing sales processes. However, inside sales truly thrives when it is mixed with a healthy dose of sales analytics and reporting. The combination of inside sales with a data-minded approach is sure to drive any sales organization to greater success.