Inside sales refers to remote or virtual sales and it is an essential skill to master whether you work in B2C or B2B. The term first popped up in the 1980s and referred to telemarketers. Over the last few decades, it evolved as e-commerce and internet sales became more prevalent.
Today, inside salespeople use a variety of technology-driven mediums to find leads and engage customers such as Skype, emails, websites and, yes, even phones. Inside sales are one of the fastest growing models out there and one worth understanding.
What is the Difference Between Inside and Outside Sales?
It’s a pretty straightforward concept. Inside salesperson work in a static environment. It might be an office or some work from home. They utilize technology to communicate with current and potential customers without ever leaving their desk.
Outside sales do just the opposite. These representatives travel to the customer directly for face-to-face engagement. Outside salespeople create expenses that you don’t see with insides sales like travel costs and even entertainment. Outside reps tend to have higher salaries, too.
What Companies Benefit from Inside Sales?
Inside sales are becoming the new norm for businesses of all sizes, especially for companies looking for efficient ways to sell their products or services. It works well, however, for small to medium-sized enterprises that don’t have complex buying strategies. In other words, the product or service doesn’t require onsite visits.
Some companies start pulling in leads and engaging customers online before converting to an outside sales program. The inside sales team does the prospecting and lead generation and then passes the ball to the outside representatives who close the sale.
Businesses who want to expand their reach without added expenses can turn to inside sales, as well. A company with their headquarters in New York can generate interest in California using inside sales techniques without incurring travel costs.
What Skills are Necessary for Inside Sales?
Inside sales teams do require some specialized skills. For one thing, they need a good understanding of the product. This is true for any sales plan, but inside sales reps don’t have the advantage of the show and tell like outside teams do. For example, a person selling brushes from door-to-door can show the potential buyer how well a brush works. An inside sales person needs to be able to tell someone everything there is to know about that brush without physically showing it off. Other skill requirements for inside sales include:
The ability to prospect leads — They need to be able to recognize an opportunity and know when they are wasting their time. Efficiency is key in inside sales and that only happens if you know how to manage time and multitask.
Build rapport — The ability to relate to the customer is a big part of lead prospecting. Since all interaction is done through virtual communication, they need to find a way to engage customers and keep them interested. They need to be proficient in active listening, as well, to find out what the customer needs and use that information to close a sale.
Effective post-sales strategy — Sometimes it’s what you do after the sale that matters the most. Inside salespeople often do follow-ups with thank you emails or check-in phone calls. A positive after sale communication can lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising.
A good sense of marketing — Inside sales and marketing are very closely related, so an understanding of marketing techniques is a powerful tool.
4 Tips for Successful Inside Sales
You know what skills are necessary for effective inside sales, but how do you get there?
- Follow the numbers — Learn to use metrics to help improve sales techniques and recognize customers with potential.
- Take a minute to celebrate the wins — And analyze the losses. Look for trends in both to figure out what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments as needed.
- Align sales with marketing — They really do go hand in hand, so team them up to better utilize both.
- Understand sales cycles — Understanding at what point a prospect becomes a customer will help you map out the journey. Taking the right steps at just the right time leads to conversions.
An inside sales team is a powerful asset for most businesses, but it can be challenging. Done right, though, an inside sales team is an effective force to ramp up revenue.
Contact us today for more information on how to jumpstart your sales goals and to learn more about the next steps of growing your business with an outsourced sales team.