July 6, 2019

Is Inside Sales dead?

Inside sales is evolving, shifting from cold calling to a technology-driven approach that includes email, LinkedIn, and virtual presentations. This transformation emphasizes the adaptability and continued importance of inside sales in reaching and engaging customers in the digital era. Adapting to these changes allows sales professionals to use inside sales more effectively.

sales, sales ops, inside sales, b2b leads, lead generation

As the CEO of a software product company that helps start-ups kick-start their sales by setting up an Inside sales machinery for them, I felt, up until this point, that it was a bit pointless to talk about a subject that had been done to death.

However, more and more customers based in various existing markets have started bringing up the subject with us. Through careful customer interaction and taking into consideration their customer feedback, we've noticed an increase in queries about our approach towards market growth and market expansion.

I have also heard so many extreme opinions that I finally thought it might be worthwhile sharing our experience in product management, market entry, and targeting customers successfully. Our team has been doing this for more than 50 small businesses over the last 3 years, and we have insights that we believe could be valuable.

So, getting right into the subject;

Inside sales is definitely NOT DEAD. It is alive and kicking and is in fact, the fastest growing segment in sales. Yes, you should believe this!

However, what is true is that with consumers being able to procure information in so many ways, these roles are constantly being re-defined. A sales person today has a much more complex role than he/she had even ten years ago.

Here are a few conclusions we have made along the way:

1. Originally, Inside sales was defined as cold-calling.

Now, cold calling is definitely dead. How dead? As dead as not being able to reach a single person in an entire day of calls. As dead as leaving 40 to 50 voicemails per day and not having a call back.

‍Think about it, when was the last time you picked up the phone, spoke to the nice salesperson about a software product, and purchased something? I am guessing, never!

‍This is especially true in the US, Canada, and the UK. These markets absolutely detest being cold-called. It still works to some extent in Asian markets, especially when reaching out to middle management. But in most other instances, it is a dead end. So, Cold calling is definitely on its death bed, but then cold calling is not Inside sales.

2. If cold calling is not Inside sales, then what is?

Almost everything we do remotely to touch base with the customer, including emails, contact through LinkedIn, making presentations remotely, right up to closing deals; all of these activities fall into the Inside sales bucket that software companies often utilize.

‍So, you tell me, with even field salespeople spending about half their time leveraging customer support resources and performing software business-related activities like product demos and sales presentations, how could Inside sales be over?

‍The average inside salesperson is probably using these methods to generate leads for the field salespeople, but more and more over the last few years, it is also being used to scale market growth and expansion, perform all activities right up to the sale, thereby achieving product market fit earlier.

3. So, if we were to expand that definition a little bit.

‍Inside salespeople are highly skilled professionals, often a key human resources investment in software companies, who use multiple touch-points to generate leads, make demos or presentations, assess needs and market fit, understand and overcome objections, and make sales for products and services.

‍It may not be possible to do all this remotely for every software product or service, but it is possible to do much of the sales function remotely today. Larger value deals that require buy-in from multiple parties typically require personal involvement, but many other things, especially up to the need assessment point, can be done remotely, contributing to market validation and customer satisfaction.

‍Technology makes Inside sales your most efficient as well as cost-effective option for improving your sales numbers, customer interaction, and ultimately, your growth rate and customer loyalty.

Now, do you want to know if Inside sales is right for you? See if you check most of the points below.

a) You have field sales representatives, a crucial team member, who can negotiate and close deals, but you need more leads generated. Either your marketing efforts are not giving you sufficient leads or the quality of those leads is not meeting the market demand.

b) You represent small businesses or are in an early stage, and hence you need quicker results, or you are scaling up and/or exploring new markets.

c) Your average deal value is not in the millions of dollars.

d) Your sales cycle is not very long (3-6 months).

e) Your product or solution's product features and service offers are typically purchased by 1-3 decision-makers/influencers in an organization, which means that you could do almost all your selling remotely, ensuring the right market entry and engaging the target audience.

If you check 2-3 of the points above, you should definitely invest in Inside sales, targeting customers efficiently, even if not for closing deals.

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