Why inside sales is shaking up the entire sales industry

by Steli Efti
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When you think about traditional sales, you might picture a bunch of people wearing ties in a scene from Boiler Room or two guys in country club getup shaking hands on a golf course. When you think about inside sales, the picture that comes to mind is probably a little less glamorous, a little less old-boys club—and hazy at best.

That’s because inside sales is changing the industry.

According to a study conducted among VPs of sales, 46% of the VPs surveyed reported a shift from a traditional field sales model to an inside sales model, while only 21% reported a shift from inside sales to field sales. The shift toward inside sales has swept the sales world—starting with the tech industry—and continues to impact industries ranging from manufacturing to real estate.

The field approach that many organizations have used for hundreds of years is still worthwhile at its core. We still need to understand the psychology of our buyers, the factors that go into their decision-making and how to deal with rejection. All the strategies for closing a deal in the ’90s pretty much hold up today in terms of building a relationship, nurturing that relationship, and demonstrating value.

But what’s different is the way the relationship evolves. And that’s exactly where inside sales comes into play. You see, inside sales is the act of identifying leads, nurturing them, and turning them into customers remotely.

No golf course.

No fancy dinner.

No cigar lounge.

Today's sales professionals have to move beyond the lobster dinners and golf outings. Wining and dining is no longer the key to closing a deal as the world has become smaller and industries have become more transparent thanks to review sites, social media, and a borderless, ever-growing network between buyers.

Inside sales is changing the industry

Many sales professionals are holding onto classic sales tactics, but the best organizations realize that times are changing and their approach to sales has to evolve too. Here are a few key reasons why some of the top organizations are investing in inside sales:

More cost-efficient than traditional sales

In the study mentioned above, inside sales teams were found to generate new customers at 40–90% less cost than traditional field salespeople. The gap in cost is directly linked to the inefficiencies, large salaries, and expenses that come with traveling to in-person meetings with prospects from all over the world.

Some reports suggest that the average cost of an outside B2B sales call is $215–$400 while an inside sales call ranges from $25–$75. Figures like these demonstrate why CEOs and executives are starting to scratch their heads and look for opportunities beyond the traditional field reps. Good organizations have always been believers in lowering costs and maximizing productivity, so gaudy stats like these drive action amongst forward-thinking sales leaders and company executives.

Technology makes managing relationships easier

Over the last few years, technology has played one of the biggest roles in making inside sales more attractive and feasible for organizations. Sales professionals no longer have to rely on face-to-face meetings when they can leverage services like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Uberconference for video calls. Furthermore, technologies like Close.io have given sales professionals the ability to do things that were nothing more than a pipe dream years ago.

Tech features that are helping to propel the growth of inside sales include:

  • Built-in phone calls: The development of CRM software with integrated calling has been a game changer for sales professionals and teams. Sales reps never have to worry about missing an opportunity or struggling to make an awkward transfer. Built-in calling increases productivity while allowing sales reps to be in complete control of their relationships.
  • Text messaging: If you asked someone six years ago what they thought about sending an SMS to a potential client, you may have gotten a few strange looks. Today, we know that buying behaviors are changing, and so is the definition of professional. People want convenience, and many people view texting as exactly that. Inside sales CRM tools like Close.io even offer SMS functionality directly in the app!
  • Team transparency: Sales leaders now have the ability to see exactly what sales reps are getting done on a daily basis. Signing new contracts, answering missed calls, leaving voicemails, and watching leads become customers—no one is left in the dark about the team’s progress.
  • Smarter and better emails: The latest sales software arms sales professionals with the ability to contact and nurture leads in bulk. This flexibility gives inside sales professionals a significant advantage over their traditional sales counterparts.

The growth of SaaS tools, CRM software, social media, and productivity apps is changing the world of sales. Inside sales teams who embrace this new technology have established a real competitive advantage over the other players on the field.

More aligned sales leaders & sales teams

It's more and more important for sales leaders to be aligned with their reps on priorities and accounts. Inside sales software gives everyone a transparent look at what's happening within a sales organization, which ultimately allows sales leaders to spot issues before they arise.

As an example, if a sales leader notices that their reps are spending two-thirds of their time on a potential client that is considered tier 3 vs. nurturing a recent lead that was identified as tier 1, the leader can jump in and adjust the sails.

Wrapping things up

We all know that buying behaviors have changed. In many cases, the majority of the research for a product is conducted before a sales professional is ever contacted.

As a result, the approach that sales professionals take to selling their products and services must evolve as well. It’s our hope that these insights show you the value of inside sales and how it could not only benefit your organization, but also be a threat to your bottom line if your competition embraces inside sales strategies before you do.

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