What Really Matters? An Inside Sales Guide
When it comes to inside sales, two things are true:
- Many expansion stage companies have tried inside sales and failed or were unable to scale appropriately
- Many expansion stage companies are unable to correctly assess their inside sales team and have not reached maximum productivity within it
What are the most important factors/elements to avoiding or correcting these pitfalls?
Before I answer that, a few caveats:
- Assessing and understanding your sales process from identification to closure is critical
- EVERYONE in the organization must invest in the inside sales team
- Does your culture support your inside sales expectations?
What follows is a guide I built to get the most out of your organization’s inside sales team. (Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like a copy in a guide format.)
The critical elements for a highly productive inside sales team:
Culture & Team Structure
Tools & Resources
- Automation Systems
- Scripting & Content
Hiring & Recruiting
Setting the right culture and structure in the inside sales team:
Hire a very committed manager
- Someone who drive metrics and feedback
- Proactive mentality
- “Lead by Example” Philosophy
- Holds everyone accountable
- In before everyone out after everyone
- Campaign Driven
Set up a “Model Day for Success”
- Expect 8 hours of productivity
- Assess best time for activities to take place
- Two types of activities
Drive productivity through campaigns
- Assess “sweet spot”
- Define resource to make successful
- Reference material
- Run contests around them
- Evaluate success quickly or change course
- FEEDBACK…let everyone know how they are doing
Establish the correct sales metrics — and USE them!!
Obviously…REVENUE IS KING!!!
- Set realistic revenue targets and drive over-achievement
- True sales people will gravitate to good comp plans
- Revenue results are a “lagging” indicator to performance
Set good metrics around “LEADING” indicators to performance
- “If an Inside Salesperson does XXXXX weekly, we can say that we had a good week and our pipeline is moving correctly.”
- Call activity
- Number of outbound?
- Number of Inbound?
- Email activity
- Is the number of them important?
- Is a demo critical to my sales process?
- Is a download important?
- Net new opportunities added to the pipeline
- Define what a “net new” is
- Example: “A new opportunity is an opportunity where we have spoke to the correct person, identified pain, have a definitive next step(download, call , demo) and confirmed the prospect is truly interested.”
Set expectations for each
- Competitive salespeople want targets and challenges
- Each metric should have an expectation or target
- Present these expectations to the team in a written format and confirm that they are understood
- Post results on white boards in your office
- Send results out weekly to entire organization
- Discuss them at weekly meetings
- Use them to praise, reprimand, or (if not understood) redirect the focus
Use metrics to scale your team
- Assess a “day in the life” of your salesperson
- Are they following your “Model Day for Success”?
- Are the number of reactive activities taking time away from proactive ones?
- If so, it is time to scale
Use metrics to act on low performers
- By only evaluating revenue numbers, you risk investing too long in an underachiever
- The 90-day factor
- If in 90 days, a salesperson is not hitting your “leading” indicators, you must act quickly regardless of revenue numbers
- Blue birds and ramp up quotas can allow underachievers to hide; productivity metrics do not
Tools and resources — You cannot expect high productivity unless you are supporting it!!
- Don’t just focus on product training
- Focus on:
- Sales Training as it relates to your methodology
- Buyer profiles
- Who buys our product and what do they do all day?
- Who are they?
- How do they sell against me?
- How do I sell against them?
- What pain is a prospect suffering that will lead them to buy?
- What gain does my solution provide?
- Technology landscape
- Train on the environment your product works on/in
- 101 stuff….the history of
- This will allow you to hire less-experienced, highly motivated people if done right! We will talk about hiring in a minute…
Invest in a good automation tool
- There are many out there
- Map the automation to your sales process and expectations
- This will allow you to track metrics effectively
- It will allow your salespeople to maximize productivity if they are not working through various resources
- Example: Calling out of spreadsheets or Excel files, searching the Internet for names and numbers, tracking activities manually or even not having a database of customer information.
Scripting & content
- Provide your team good scripts
- Scripts should be written for each scenario the team will have:
- Objection handling
- Cold Calling
- Customer Calling
- Good email templates
- Follow-up emails
- Prospecting emails
- Clarifying emails
- Provide the right material
- Reference docs
- Objection handling guides
- Sales literature
Recruiting and hiring
Hire commitment over competence
- If you have a good 90-day ramp-up program, you can invest in competence. You cannot, however, coach commitment.
Focus on behaviors
- Motivated in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to hire out of college
- Experience is costly
- Many experienced inside sales people have learned bad behaviors
- Invest in your team’s development and it will work; if you can’t, it will not
- Attrition will happen no matter what you do
- Use metrics to know when to hire
- You can hire low-cost individuals to start by focusing on proactive activities with a career path to deeper sales roles and more reactive selling activities
Set culture in motion from date-of-hire
- Entry testing
- Set expectations while interviewing, when making an offer, and on the first date of orientation
- Communicate investment in the individual’s competency development
Invest in recruiting
- Use the obvious:
- Social Media ( i.e. LinkedIn)
- Partner with local colleges
- Work with career departments:
- Co-op programs
- Business schools/professors to source the best talent
- Prospect the interviewing candidate for more talent
- If you are going to hire the person, ask for more names
- Offer a referral incentive program
- Sales people will generally recommend only talented individuals
- The right culture
- The right metrics/expectations
- The right feedback
- The right investment in tools and resources
- The right hiring and recruiting program…
A HIGHLY MOTIVATED, HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE INSIDE SALES OPERATION!!!!