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Tips For Inside Sales Success


Big ticket sales traditionally sold via field sales teams are moving to Inside Sales, and while some companies seem to be succeeding well, other are failing.


BY PAUL O'DEA of SELECT STRATAGIES

Changes in customer buying behaviours are driving this change. Availability of online information means customers are more informed and already through the buying process before they engage with a sales person.

The Inside Sales model requires more discipline, focus and rigour than field sales. It needs less friction. Done well it feels like a well-oiled industrial machine. Done badly it feel likes mayhem.  

The key is to create an Inside Sales Playbook, which should be the code for your reps success every day. Consider the following five elements when creating your Inside Sales Playbook.

1.       Messaging

2.       Sales Process

3.       Talent

4.       Metrics

5.       Technology

MESSAGING
Ensure the sales team has the marketing messages right. This is the foundation of any good Inside Sales Playbook.  Remember the sales team doesn't have the same opportunities as field sales to build rapport with the customer. Understand your customer's pain points and equip your team to deliver your message in 30 seconds or less.

Build buyer personas in the marketing process and ensure your inside sales reps understand these deeply. Equip them with questions that move opportunities forward. Make sure they are clear on your key measurable value, features and differentiators from the competition.

Get the right lead nurturing tactics in place for different stages of the sales funnel. Figure out what content and tools like whitepapers, online demos, videos, webinars, ROI calculators etc. are needed to help them deliver the right message at the right time.

SALES PROCESS
Ensure the hand-off process is clear and well documented between inside sales and marketing. Good sales performers figure out what it takes to get customers to buy. Initially, they use trial and error to work out the sequences of emails, demos, who to call, referral approaches and sales tools.

Then they settle on their own 'best practice'. Find what your best reps do (the top 20%) and codify it into best practice.

Make sure that you have clear definitions. For example: what does a qualified lead actually mean? Does that mean it has been qualified by marketing or is it a sales team qualified lead? Ensure that your sales process in totally integrated and updated with your CRM system.

TALENT
Based on experience (of good and bad reps), pick the top profile characteristics and behaviours needed in a successful rep.  Keep it to less than five that are specific to your company (e.g. competitive and focused on quota attainment, ability to learn quickly, etc.)

Build discipline into your hiring process e.g. an integrated set of questions and activities, which test for the profile you specify. Reference check thoroughly (at least five). Use psychometrics to gain additional insights into candidate fit.

Once you've selected a sales rep make sure they really understand customer pain. Rotate new reps through support for a number of days as part of their onboarding.

Use the Playbook as your tool to ensure reps know, understand and are equipped to succeed. Support them with good quality coaching that can guide them towards high performance. 

Think through your compensation package carefully. Keep it:
•        Simple
•        Variable e.g. based on the behaviours you want to incentivize
•        Motivational e.g. pay close to the behaviours and metrics you want

METRICS
Figure out the number of calls reps should be making per day. Is it 40, 50 or 60? Understand your key metrics, goals and identify best practices followed by the whole team.  Some reps may take seven calls to close a sale, others four. Figure out why. Work to establish the right quotas for your team.

Seek commitment from the team on metrics for qualified opportunities, sales closed, upsells made etc. Use external performance benchmarks to keep on track?  Think about fun competitions to engage your team.

Publish leading and lagging metrics on a clearly visible dashboard to ensure a competitive environment: e.g. key sales won, quota made, time to close, pipeline value and actual versus forecast. Analyse the key data – what sales tools are being used most? Where are clients spending time on your website? Where are the bottlenecks?

Get the right atmosphere and fast track the development of high performance with experienced managers. Ensure reasonable manager/rep ratios in small groups focused on particular market segments.

TECHNOLOGY
Work towards consistency in what you do and how you do it. Use technology to automate routine tasks and eliminate unproductive time.

Make sure all contributors have access and know how to use the right tools and training. Ensure you have:

•        A team-wide CRM system with the right application of sales process and workflows, pipeline values and forecasting
•        A good telephony system, which tracks phone performance
•        Prospect intelligence tools, like Hoovers and One Source.

Consider using technology tools, like Hubspot, to help reps focus on opportunities that are 'most likely to buy' based on scoring mechanisms, which track digital activity on your website, email open rates, social look ups, YouTube channel, Twitter activity etc. (September 2014)

+ Paul O'Dea works with Dublin company Select Strategies, which helps companies make growth happen. See www.selectstrategies.com

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