Your Customers Are Telling You to Reconsider Inside Sales

August 20, 2012 at 7:00 AM

This article is written for the Sales Executive who believes that listening to Customers is a great way to drive revenue growth.  SBI conducted over 12,500 Buyer Surveys last year across 19 different industries.  We’ve synthesized the output into our Annual Research Project. This research yields compelling insights into how Buyers want to engage with your sales force.  The results are clear: your Buyers do not want to see you. 

Inside SalesMany companies investigated Inside Sales a few years ago and decided their product or service was too complicated or specialized to sell without an expensive direct sales force.  However, your Customer is evolving faster than you are, and they are time starved.  From software to business services, the message is clear: re-evaluate your Sales Force Structure by piloting, expanding, or reconsidering your commitment to Inside Sales.

Here’s why:

  • In almost 75% of sales situations, your Customer would prefer not to spend time meeting face to face.  Our research shows they want to engage virtually.  Why aren’t you making it easy for them?
  • By eliminating travel time, your sales force can become up to 150% more efficient
  • You are no longer a slave to geography, and can re-align your team by vertical, by tier, or by type of product sold
  • Inside Sales drives Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) out of your business model, which increases your profitability and may even allow you to re-evaluate your Average Sales Price (ASP) so you can gain entry into the marketplace at a more attractive point.  How much does your outside sales force add to your costs?
  • When you receive an inbound lead, Inside Sales allows you to engage the lead instantly.  The data shows that if you do not contact an inbound lead before it is 30 minutes old, the likelihood of converting it to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) plunges to near zero.  Reaching out to leads at the end of the day does not work.

Here’s a simple Inside Sales Assessment tool.  Use the questions and thoughts as a starting point as you frame up this discussion within your organization. 

There is a disconnect today between how Buyers consume your product and how you sell.  It exists because of tradition and because of familiarity with the status quo.  Change invites disruption.  It’s hard.  It involves risk.  The end result?  Misalignment and expense. 

In the case of one client, our survey showed 27.9% of their Buyers preferred to buy face to face.  How was the client’s sales force structured?  100% of the sales representatives were trying to sell face to face!  Imagine this degree of misalignment and the dollars wasted on this incredibly expensive resource.  Just as disconcerting, imagine the frustration level of the sales professionals seeking face to face meetings while Buyers avoided them.

 Prospect Survey

 

If you are not convinced after hearing about our research, why not conduct your own?  Start by conducting Buyer Research.  Here’s exactly what to do:

 

  1. Batch buyers into three groups: current customers, lost customers, and prospective customers who chose a competitor instead of you.
  2. Ensure the sample size is statistically significant and diverse.  Avoid the temptation to simply call the 3 big customers you’ve become friends with.
  3. Work with your team (or engage outside experts) to develop insightful questions about how they make buying decisions.  This is a great time to add in other questions to help you understand their “Buyer Persona” better.
  4. Convene a meeting with your chief marketing people, Sales Ops, and other influencers in your organization.  Use the research as the starting point for a healthy discussion about how your Sales Structure could be modified to better match your Buyers’ purchasing style.
  5. Assuming you have several different types of “ideal” Customers, recognize that Inside Sales will work better for some Customers than others.  The answer will not be “one size fits all.”

 

Not convinced that your Buyer would purchase with the assistance of an Inside Sales Force?  Your competitors are.  In fact, 44% of companies surveyed last year by Simply Hired, Linkedin, and The Bridge Group said they planned to increase the size of their Inside Sales Force by 11% or more.

The single lever of Inside Sales is so powerful because it affects 3 critical areas: productivity, expense, and speed.  Fight the urge to ignore Inside Sales because you piloted it 5 years ago and it didn’t work.  Today’s Buyer is more comfortable in the virtual world.  Don’t risk market share because you are reluctant to listen to your Buyer.  Reach out to me if you’d like to talk more about how to be sure you are listening to your Customers in a way that allows you to drive revenue in 2013.

Mark Synek

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Topics: Sales Force Structure, Sales Leader, VP of Sales Resources, Inside Sales

Posted by Mark Synek

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