What is Inside Sales (And Why Do You Need It?)

What is Inside Sales (And Why Do You Need It?)
While the power of inside sales has been discussed for years, over the past few months, all field sales teams have been grounded.

At this point, there is no more discussion about inside sales vs outside sales and which is more optimal in terms of a company’s growth strategy.

Based on the 2020 pandemic and corresponding lockdown measures, overnight, everyone was transformed into an inside sales or digital selling role. This is the next normal. No longer are businesses “experimenting” with the idea of inside sales — this method of selling is the new reality.

The Rise of Inside Sales

Last September, we published the white paper, The Rise of Inside Sides, which is now more relevant than ever. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of inside sales was a fast-growing trend. In the United States, inside sales grew 15 times faster than outside sales, creating jobs and immense business opportunities.

Although this growth was expected to continue, as more and more companies invested in inside sales, no one was anticipating the unexpected series of events ahead. While all field salespeople were moving in this direction, we were all basically pushed into the future much more quickly than anticipated.

“The clock-speed of business has now gone up an order of magnitude. We’re just seeing everything happen way faster now. I think you’ll see more progress in digital transformation over the next one to two years than you’ve seen in the past decade.” — Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.

If you’re a sales professional in today’s new norm, then welcome to digital selling. This is a new way of life.

Inside Sales vs. Outside Sales: It’s Time to Adapt

While there are a number of key differences between inside sales and outside sales, the primary difference is that inside sales reps work from a home or company office remotely; communicating and selling over the phone, through email, or other online avenues. In comparison, outside sales reps go out into the field to meet with clients.

Based on these different approaches, these models impact variables such as scheduling, software use, sales environment, etc. For example, outside sales reps close deals the old-fashioned way, typically face-to-face. These field sales teams tend to travel often, attending trade shows and conferences in order to schmooze prospects over a meal or round of golf.

In contrast, inside sales reps spend the vast majority of their time at the office, or more recently, in a work-from-home environment, relying on remote-friendly channels to sell. While many businesses focused on inside sales vs outside sales prior to COVID, the overall approach has completely shifted. It’s no longer about if inside sales are more beneficial and when changes to your business should be made — this is currently happening. The anticipated future of inside sales is here, and it’s here to stay.

If you want to continue to close enterprise accounts, the type of accounts that used to require boardroom meetings and fancy dinners, then you will need to find a new way to sell. The end result of that process is still very much attainable, and it will happen, but you’ll need to implement remote strategies to do so.

As stated by Tom Siebel, CEO of C3.ai, “Unless companies reinvent themselves and apply AI to their processes, they’re not going to exist.” At the end of the day, AI does not exist to replace sales reps, but to act as a supportive assistant in regard to automation, analytics, and overall productivity. For example, by implementing Salesforce and Dialsource, you can take your remote sales strategies to new heights.

Related: KPIs Sales Managers Should Use to Track Field Agents Right Now

The goal is to drive efficiency and automate the entire sales processes while ensuring personalization and compliance.

Inside Sales Is Here to Stay — Here’s Why

The differences between inside and outside sales were always fairly black and white, and upon recent reflection, we don’t really need field sales to come back. This is simply because there are so many advantages associated with inside sales vs outside sales, including the following.

1. Lower costs and higher profits

At the root of it all, the complete switch to inside sales can significantly decrease your costs. Inside sales have one big advantage over outside sales — you don’t have to spend money on travel, conference tickets, and business lunches in order to close a deal. Outside sales is a high-risk, high-reward activity. If a potential lead doesn’t pan out, there’s no recovering the cost of the plane ticket and the hotel. With inside sales, on the other hand, sales reps can make dozens of calls per day without leaving their seat.

It’s all about the numbers, and when it comes to a less cost-prohibitive form of selling, inside sales is the clear winner. According to an estimate by PointClear, the average outside sales call prior to COVID would cost over $300, while the average inside sales call would cost just $50. When combined with greater efficiency and higher productivity, the cost savings can be immense.

Bottom line: It’s time to invest in strategies, tools, and resources that expand your capabilities as an inside sales team. Here’s how to crush your quote and escape the sales productivity trap.

2. Greater scalability and flexibility

Inside sales offer a much more flexible and scalable sales model, it’s as simple as that.

In the past, one core reason why outside sales reps typically focus on big deals is that this selling strategy doesn’t scale very well. Selling to prospective customers in person can only be done one-on-one. Whereas inside sales teams can be easily scaled up without the associated expenses and inconvenience of relocation.

It’s much easier to scale inside sales operations since pitching to another client is just a matter of picking up the phone. Adding another inside sales rep to your team simply requires another Internet connection, a laptop, phone, and the right software. Inside sales can also benefit from a level of automation that outside sales simply cannot. For example, an inside sales rep can send a follow-up email or leave a voicemail for many prospects at once to generate renewed interest from leads that have gone cold.

What’s more, as the current situation has revealed, businesses that are highly flexible and agile are more likely to thrive during new and uncertain situations. Being able to instantly digitize your workforce is a major advantage of inside sales — which many businesses have recently discovered.

3. Greater insight and smarter decision-making

Aside from the obvious costs associated with outside sales, a lack of visibility into outside sales activities has always been a barrier in terms of long-term growth strategies. As Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake said, “COVID-19 has catalyzed the importance of data as everyone is looking for real-time analytics to make sense of what’s happening to them.” The goal is to see and understand the bigger picture so that you can adapt. Call data, for example, is extremely valuable — but only if it’s captured, measured, and then acted upon.

By studying historical trends and making more accurate forecasts, sales analytics can help organizations dramatically improve their sales strategy. However, according to McKinsey & Company, 57 percent of organizations say that they struggle to make effective use of their sales data.

Inside sales give you more data to collect about your sales operations, making it easier to adopt a robust sales analytics program. When you integrate your CRM and CTI solutions, for example, you can automatically record information about each sales call. This includes the prospect’s identity, the length of the call, the topics discussed, the content sent to the prospect, etc.

As more information is collected over time, you can start to make smarter data-driven decisions. Good sales analytics programs can help you generate better leads, manage your sales reps more effectively, earn more revenue through cross-selling and upselling opportunities, reduce customer attrition, and more.

4. The majority of customers prefer inside sales models

Back in 2017, Sales Benchmark Index conducted more than 12,500 buyer surveys, across 19 industries. They concluded that buyers do not want to see you. In nearly 75 percent of sales situations, customers would rather not spend time meeting face-to-face. Customers and clients want to engage virtually — which is now more true than ever before.

It’s Time to Welcome the New Norm

In just the past few years, inside sales has risen to become a highly viable alternative to the traditional outside sales model. The benefits are clear and the transition towards inside sales has already taken place. Now, it’s up to you to implement the

If you’re scrambling to make necessary changes, be sure to check out the following resources:

Want more information on how Dialsource can optimize your inside sales strategy moving forward? Request your live demo today!

 

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