Businesses may live or die, prosper or fail on the strength or weakness of their entire sales team. Motivated–sometimes pressured–to succeed and grow, companies are always exploring and utilizing various strategies to compete and add to their bottom line.
One business approach that is continually gaining ground is the employment of inside sales teams, at times to complement or even serve as an alternative to traditional outside sales.
A report by the MIT Lead Management Study even reveals that inside sales hiring is significantly outnumbering that of outside sales with a ratio of 15:1.
Inside sales has come a long way from its basic telemarketing predecessor to become the force that it is now for business goals and purposes. Not all inside sales teams are created equal, of course. There are those who struggle to make an impact, and there are those who make their presence felt and bring in the crucial results.
How to be on the side of the winning sales team then? Here are a number of proven inside sales tips, companies and inside sales practitioners should always remember and emulate:
Let’s start off with the virtues that make for outstanding inside sales people.
Traits that make inside salespeople winners
Practically anyone can go into sales. But to be effective and valuable in inside sales, personnel should possess remarkable characteristics that not everyone possesses or has the potential for. Here are some of the essential traits that make great inside sales persons a special breed, and a cut above the rest:
Motivated, competitive and passionate
Inside sales is not for faint-hearted people, more so for those with weak fighting spirit. Performing for mere compliance or task-completion is never enough. Inside sales reps should always aspire to excel and be among the best. They have high aspirations and the right gung-ho attitude to set clear goals and achieve them!
They never rest on their laurels, so to speak, and many times, not rest at all while working, not while the targets and goals remain unreached. They always strive to keep on improving their performance. They go to work in high spirits every day as any day is another new opportunity to make a head- start and advance their objectives.
Competent and knowledgeable
There’s no better way to prove motivation, passion and competitiveness than showing you have the game to back it all up- and this can best be seen through competence. Elite inside sales persons work hard to be competent- combining both intelligence and diligence to be deeply knowledgeable about their business and products in order to be credible and trustworthy to their potential customers. They learn all they need to know about their work and even go the extra mile to master what they can in all aspects and dynamics of their companies and the products and services they are offering. With these traits, inside sales reps will have the acumen and confidence to take on all questions and concerns from customers- and appropriately and adequately address them.
Productive and efficient
Great inside sales persons have the game; they do the time and bring in the numbers. In order to achieve these, they know of the need to do more calls, exert more effort than their typical counterparts. They prepare for a high volume of prospects and make efficient use of their time making more productive calls with high success potential during their shifts compared to other reps.
Analytical and diligent
All-star inside sales reps do not just work hard, they also play smart. It’s not just about going on a calling spree, but while they exert the most effort, they do so with a guided approach. They are critical and analytical, they are not just familiar with numbers, they also know which numbers matter. They can establish patterns and trends. From their calls, they can detect which ones can turn into successful conversions or make for possible follow-up call appointments. They make use of available research and data to adjust their approaches, such as the best days of the week to call prospective clients and the best times on those days to call to ensure more productive conversations with their prospects.
Imagine this scenario for inside sales reps: working at a busy office yet needing to stay very focused, with their headsets on and talking to clients or prospects. And it does not end there. Most of the time, excellent inside sales persons often need to look on their computer screens, clicking through their CRM, with multiple windows open including the company website of the client- all these to further guide the reps’ calls and bring more desirable results. Many times, their notebooks are close-by as well for easy reference, while making fresh notes about the conversation, too. In order to do all these simultaneously and do them well requires nothing but a mastery of multi-tasking, a new standard for productivity and efficiency.
Effective habits of successful inside sales reps
Aside from the qualities every successful inside salesperson must possess, there are also some effective habits they need to enhance as well. Here are a few of them:
Giving value to teamwork
Important as they are to the goals of the company, inside sales persons do not work in isolation. They can also tap into their company’s other resources to enhance their work and their targets, including working with other employees from outside their departments. For instance, they can take good advantage of marketing efforts like promotions, creative content, emails, talking points, and other stuff to align these with their own approaches when reaching out to their prospects. After all, clients and prospects might just find the creative strategies cooked up by the marketing team to be compelling- and be instrumental in cementing a “yes” from them.
Having a game plan when sales prospecting new contacts
Successful inside sales reps have a clear game plan when reaching out to new contacts and stick to it as much as possible. By knowing their objectives, they make it easier to map out their calls, focusing on what they need to learn and the information they need to relay to contacts to make quality conversations.
Some of the most fundamental elements in the game plan when calling a new contact are:
- Why the contact was chosen
- Purpose of the call
- Information already at hand about the contact and the company
- What information and message that must be relayed to the contact
- Should the contact prove receptive, what’s the next step to push your sales further
- Importance of doing research
An essential habit to hone to become an effective inside sales rep is a universal virtue for all jobs- the diligence to do prior and adequate research. Inside sales reps know they are operating within very limited time and each call eats up on contacts’ precious time, so they should not waste moments asking for information they can easily learn from online research and other methods. Such basic information may include contact’s employment updates including company, job title, company website, presence in such relevant sites as Linked In, among others.
After the right traits and appropriate habits that separate the winner inside sales persons from the rest of the pack, we delve into some specific useful tips to improve sales chances with contacts and clients, and build stronger relationships with them.
Winning tips for inside sales
Speed matters; respond immediately
For every new web leads, inside sales reps should waste no precious minutes in reaching out to contacts immediately. Ideally, it should come to within five minutes of the web lead submission. The five-minute rule greatly increases the opportunity for reps to successfully contact leads, and make progress with their calls. Their chances of reaching the leads drastically drop the more minutes they let pass without calling.
Persistence pays; don’t give up
Average sales persons may devote only a call or two to each lead, but the determined and winnable inside sales rep will not think twice doubling or tripling that effort. Six attempts will certainly not hurt. Just keep trying, keep calling.
Focus is important; strive to get direct numbers
Because of huge productivity targets and goals, successful inside sales persons are efficient with their time. It would be helpful to get right to the source by knowing which direct numbers to call. Having to deal first with gatekeepers may delay the process. However, as much as it is more desirable to get straight to the target, in cases where gatekeepers get in the way, wise inside sales reps will use the opportunity to learn more about their prospects by asking the gatekeepers such as secretaries and administrative personnel more helpful information about their contacts or prospects.
Communication is key; build rapport with your contacts
The last thing successful reps want is to sound exactly just that- sales persons because that’s also the first thing that can alienate or turn prospective clients off. Contacts receive many sales calls as it is, and that can be very annoying for them. Inside reps who introduce and position themselves as salespeople early into the call can put the prospects in a defensive and guarded mode, and that can spell disaster for reps’ objectives.
Smart inside sales persons are sincere, too. They earnestly want to build a connection with their prospective clients, and with the aid of research can find common ground by banking on shared interests or hobbies, same circle of friends and acquaintances or schools previously attended, among others.
Respect is essential; listen well
Inside sales reps as we have established earlier work with a game plan in mind, map out their strategies before making the call, and have ready notes nearby- all these ensure they will remain focused on their objectives. All well and good- only that this should not make them too focused only with what they have to say that they fail to listen well to their contact on the other line. Nothing can be more irritating in any conversation than the other party not paying attention. By listening well, reps can understand their contacts better while clients have more appreciation- and respect- to good listeners. This can pay off a great deal later on in the relationship.
Encountering resistance is not automatic defeat; prepare to prevent objections well
Objections from contacts will 100 percent surely come to all reps regardless of their skills– from people expressing disinterest with the call, cutting short the conversation or outright saying no to any further talks involving sales. But this should not deter the determined and effective inside sales persons. The best ones know how to prepare to not just handle but prevent objections by doing extensive research, anticipating the possible objections and strategizing on how best to respond to such and in the process, be able to turn things around.
End on a high note
Finally, the only way to end a call to any contact is to end it well, on a high and graceful note. Great inside sales rep never forget to thank their contacts for their time. They also do not just mouth off generic goodbye greetings but favor the most effective goodbyes that resonate with the contacts be it a simple but sincere “ take care” to a more resolute “ I hope we can have another great talk same time next week if you are free” that bring results.
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