5 struggles every inside sales rep feels (and how to overcome them)

by Steli Efti
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There’s no question that inside sales can be a challenge.

But once you get it, and know how it works, you’ll realize that the struggles you deal with are the same struggles that other inside sales reps have dealt with and ultimately overcome.

Like people in just about every profession, the majority of inside sales reps will struggle at some point with some aspect of their job. In today’s world, there are a number of forces making it more challenging to be a successful inside sales rep—but there are also free sales tools that can help you get through those challenges.

Today I’m going to share with you five common struggles as well as tools and strategies to help you conquer them. I’ll also give you some clear examples of how you can get your prospects’ attention, plus other tips that will help you succeed as an inside sales rep.

Want even more sales tips? Get a FREE copy of Your Growth Hacks Aren't Working, Steli's latest cold calling guide! 

Let’s get to it.

Struggle 1: Fighting an increased level of competition

It’s easier than ever to start a business. As a result, we’re seeing a plethora of new brands coming on the scene and competing with one another—and with existing brands.

For an example of the explosion that is taking place in the world, you don’t have to look much further than the recent growth and fragmentation of SaaS products. This is what that growth has looked like in the martech space over the last few years:
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Crazy, right?

And that’s just one industry.

So, given this kind of growth across so many sectors, inside sales reps are met with constant questions about competition and feature differentiation. In fact, your customers are spending more time looking at competitors’ products than ever before. Conversations with customers who are shopping around can be difficult to have, but at the end of the day, it’s on you as the sales rep to understand the core value of what you’re offering and what your competitors are offering.

Yes, that’s right: You need to understand what your competitors are claiming as their competitive advantage. That’s why we recommend taking the time to actually learn what your competitors are selling and then pitch it back to your target customers.

Here’s what we mean:

That’s just one approach.

If the idea intimidates you, another effective tactic is simply picking up the phone and calling competitors. Position yourself as a potential customer, conduct market research, gain insight into how they onboard prospects and learn the ins and outs of their business.

Struggle 2: Overcoming outreach fatigue

While automation can work wonders for an inside sales rep, prospects are starting to see through—and become weary of—the personalized *First Name*.

Rather than constantly sending out generic emails, we recommend that you take the time to personalize your emails to show that you’ve done a bit of research. At the very least, take the time to compile data that allows you to customize your outreach a bit more than the recipient's first name.

When setting up emails in Close.io, you can customize your email templates using tags, including organization name, title, phone number, URL, city, state and my favorite, custom fields. A custom field allows you to get creative with your personalization and add details that are specific to your outreach. Here’s a sample of what a personalized sales email could look like:

sales-email.pngStruggle 3: Getting through to key decision makers

It's far from easy to get to a decision maker as an inside sales rep. More often than not, you're initially met with a gatekeeper, who only seems to slow down your chances to close. So what can you do to get by the gatekeeper and in front of the decision maker?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Stop calling them gatekeepers. Seriously—the term needs to die. I don’t even want to have a moment of silence for the term because it’s so bad. The folks you meet along the path to the key decision maker should be seen as allies and opportunities. You can learn from them. You can get intros from them. You can turn them into internal cheerleaders for you and your brand.
  • Be personal all the way through. Whether you’re talking to an intern or a C-suite executive, keep in mind that you’re talking to another person. Don’t do outreach with an email that says “To whom it may concern,” and always make the person you’re talking to feel like they’re your No. 1 contact.
  • Understand how to manage objections. We’ve already talked about how to manage a prospect’s objections relating to your competition. You’ll also need to manage price-related objections and learn how to sell against the industry incumbent.
  • Don’t do it all behind your computer screen. You understand that it’s a digital world and that people are obsessed with email, but so do your competitors. If you want to break from the norm and be remembered, try something different. Tools like Close.io allow you to not only make calls from the CRM but also to send text messages to prospects.

Struggle 4: Finding the time to get it all done

If there’s one thing that I hear time and time again from sales reps it’s this:

There’s not enough time in a day.

Between nurturing leads, following up with prospects, scheduling meetings and making cold calls, the days go by quick and the quarters go by quicker. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any tricks that will slow time down, but I can give you some pointers on what you can do to be more effective with your time.

First and foremost, I recommend that when you’re plugged in and working, you turn off social media notifications on your cellphone.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No Snapchat. No Instagram.

For that period of time, it needs to be just you, your CRM system and your prospects. No distractions from your personal life fluttering in to disrupt the nonstop calling, emailing, texting and following up that needs to happen so you can meet quota. It’s why we’ve built our inside sales CRM as the one workspace that unifies ALL your sales communications.

My second tip for maximizing your productivity is to ensure that you’re in an environment that gives you a chance to execute. If you’re in a loud office but do your best work with quiet surroundings, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you’re a remote inside sales rep working from home but get energized around people, find a co-working space. Strive to create an environment in which you can thrive rather than a place that you’re struggling to survive.

Struggle 5: Ensuring that leads are high quality

One big mistake that inside sales reps make (especially early in their careers) is thinking that leads are solely the responsibility of marketing. In reality, you play a role in the quality of the leads, and it starts with alignment between sales and marketing.

Sales and marketing have to be on the same page when it comes to who you’re trying to connect with and their needs. If you’re in a large organization, this may need to be a larger discussion within your company, but don’t be afraid to bring it up.

Take the initiative to share your concerns with your manager and request that marketing and sales spend some time together to better communicate which types of leads are converting and which are not.

Wrapping things up

I really hope that these ideas will help you when you’re feeling the strain. We know firsthand that inside sales isn’t easy—but it’s not impossible. We think that with the right technologies and the right training, anyone can become a great inside sales professional.

It just takes work.

The fact that you’re reading this article shows that you’re willing to take that step. So I’m going to give you one more thing: I want you to check out the latest book from Steli on cold calling for founders. Whether you’re an inside sales rep or the founder of your own business, the book is filled with sales gold.

Check out Your Growth Hacks Aren't Working, my latest book on how to win with cold calling today! Click below for your free copy:

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