In the past few months, I have come across several articles that say that Inside sales is either dead or is on its death bed. A gazillion industry experts have talked about this subject. There have been exhaustive debates, extensive articles and conclusive opinions.
As the CEO of a 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 have started bringing up the subject with us. I have also heard so many extreme opinions that I finally thought it might be worthwhile sharing our experience in doing this for more than 50 companies over the last 3 years.
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 voice mails 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 sales person and purchased something?I am guessing, never!
This is especially true of 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.
So, you tell me, with even field sales people spending about half their time on these activities, how could Inside sales be over?
The average inside sales person is probably using these methods to generate leads for the field sales people, but more and more over the last few years, it is also being used to perform all activities right up to sale.
3. So, if we were to expand that definition a little bit.
Inside sales people are highly skilled professionals who use multiple touch-points to generate leads, make demos or presentations, assess needs and fitment, understand and overcome objections and make sales.
It may not be possible to do all this remotely for every 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.
Technology makes Inside sales your most efficient as well as cost effective option for improving your sales numbers.
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 (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 what you expect.
b) You are an SME, 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 is typically purchased by 1-3 decision makers/influencers in an organisation, which means that you could do almost all your selling remotely.
If you check 2-3 of the points above, you should definitely invest in Inside sales, at least to generate leads, even if not for closing deals.