Sales is a demanding, yet ultimately rewarding, career, no matter what type of sales you engage in and what segment your product fits into. However, inside sales professionals face a unique set of challenges in their day-to-day activities. These obstacles are inherent to the very processes of inside sales, so leaders and reps must learn to recognize these potential pitfalls and counteract them to build an effective operation.
Not getting to speak to the right leads
It’s no surprise that generating a high volume of valuable leads is a vital concern for people in all levels of the sales unit. Sure enough, a 2016 study of inside sales managers found nearly 24.3% of respondents cited “lead quantity & quality” as a major challenge.
To reliably bring in more and better leads, sales and marketing must work together to agree on what kinds of content will effectively inbound and nurture high-quality prospects. Additionally, they must decide at which point it’s appropriate to hand off a marketing lead to an inside sales rep and, at a more fundamental level, they need to define what a qualified lead is. It’s up to salespeople to take the initiative and insist on collaborating during certain stages of the marketing process, so that each unit can better learn from each other in the service of the leads.
Standing out in a crowded field of competitors
One of the key differences between field sales and inside sales is that field sales representatives almost always have the opportunity to make a physical impression when they meet prospects. Inside sales professionals don’t have this luxury, meaning they often have to find a way to stand out through a phone call, social media interaction, or a cold email.
Aside from getting more qualified leads, the best thing a salesperson can do to stand out is to ask their prospects the right questions, and let them tell you about their pain points with specificity. Then you can use these insights to demonstrate you intricately understand why your solution is ideal for their problems.
Getting the most out of technological tools
Almost every organization now has access to innovative sales acceleration technology and robust CRM programs. However, employing these platforms is not the same as making sure every sales professional in the company knows how to fully utilize them; that requires initiative from multiple different parties.
First, IT management and even technology vendors must be committed to making sure the solution is accessible and compatible with existing programs. Sales leadership also has to ensure their employees understand the importance of the technology, and how it will help them better serve their customers and exceed their goals. Finally, sales reps must take an active role in training programs so they know how various technological tools can be used optimally for their duties.
Staying motivated in a structured environment
Unlike field sales — which typically involves frequent changes of scenery, meetings outside of professional settings, and so on — the average day in an inside sales office is usually quite structured. You come into the office and answer emails, make sales calls, log data into your CRM, perform customer research, and get ready to do it again the next day.
Many workers thriver in this type of environment, but plenty of others can find it difficult to stay motivated if things become too predictable. Rather than viewing their schedule as a series of repetitive tasks, reps must learn to see each prospect interaction as a unique experience, and an opportunity to find out what they can do to make each individual client’s life better. When every action is performed in service of this goal, the inside sales process is far from monotonous; it’s a new, value-added experience every day.
Finding time for adequate coaching
Every inside sales professional understands that hitting certain numbers is vital. You can have the best sales strategy imaginable, and be a rep who instantly connects with your prospects no matter what the medium is; if you don’t contact enough people, and have the right data on hand, you simply won’t have enough conversion opportunities.
So, obviously, you have to find time to do the work. The issue is meeting these obligations often cuts into your time to accomplish peripheral tasks, such as coaching and professional development. Maybe your manager is content to let this slide, because they have a lot on their plate as well. The key is for management and front-line reps to come together and understand how important coaching is to everyone involved: managers, reps, customers, and company stakeholders. It’s actually not a peripheral activity at all, and each party has an obligation to notify the other if expectations aren’t being met.