How to build a great inside sales system (without all the hard work)

by Steli Efti

insidesalessystem.jpgSo you're looking to systematize your inside sales process so it's easier to onboard new talent and give them the steps they need to succeed...

You’ve come to the right place.

Inside sales is the act of identifying leads, nurturing them, and turning them into customers remotely. That means no golf course, no cigar lounge, and no expensive wining and dining.

According to a survey of VPs of sales, 46% reported a recent shift from a traditional field sales model to an inside sales model, while only 21% reported a recent shift from inside sales to field sales. In other words: Inside sales is increasingly where it’s at. It’s more cost-effective and efficient, and modern technology has made it easier than ever to manage relationships from afar.

The big question you should be asking now is this:

How can I build my own inside sales system that’s optimized for results?

Luckily for you, the first step is buying into the fact that you absolutely need a documented, well-outlined process your entire team can follow.

There's nothing worse than a sales team running around with no direction and no goals. In order to optimize your sales process, you need to know what that sales process actually looks like.

Here's how to make sure your inside sales system works:

Step 1: Start with conversations

If you think you can just walk through the front door on a Monday morning with brand-new plans for your sales team to execute on, don’t expect to see the results you’re dreaming of right off the bat.

You can’t optimize your sales system with the snap of your fingers. Your team has a way of doing things already. Maybe it’s not the most efficient sales process, but it’s their sales process, and it’s what they’re comfortable with.

In order to improve your team’s sales process, it's important to talk to your team in order to learn what they like and don’t like about the way things are, and what their ideal process looks like.

Step 2: Get your team to document their process

Once something becomes second nature to you, you’re unlikely to sit down and write out all the steps. This is certainly true for your current sales process, especially if your team has been doing things the same way for a long time.

Ask your sales reps to write down their processes individually and share them with you.

Documenting everything can help you find problems and opportunities for improvement. You may not need to tear everything down and start from scratch. If you can simply improve upon the processes in place now, you’ll be up and running with version 2.0 much sooner than if you go with a full reset.

Step 3: Compare your team’s processes

At this point, you’ve talked to your team to see what their ideal sales process looks like, and your team has documented the processes they’re currently following.

It’s time to put it all together.

Using the insights you’ve collected from your team, start building a system that you believe covers every aspect of the sale and is optimized for efficiency and results. The goal is for every member of your sales team to buy into this system so that everyone is on the same page with their sales process.

As you’re creating this system, there are a few processes in particular that you’ll need to think through. Keep these six processes in mind as you build out your sales system:

1. Qualifying leads

The first step is qualifying the lead. If the lead can’t be qualified, there’s no use wasting time selling to them, as they’re either not in a position to buy or not a good fit for the product or service you’re offering.

When qualifying the lead, ask questions like: Does the lead have the financial resources to buy? Will they be a good fit for our product or service?

To make this process easier, we've created a way to integrate Process Street with Close.io using Process Street’s Run Link feature, Close.io's Integration Links feature, and Zapier. For a full rundown on how to set up this integration, check out the full post we put together here.

2. Nurturing prospects

Once you’ve qualified the lead, it’s time to start nurturing them. During this stage the focus is on providing value to the prospect, establishing your credibility, and warming them up for a sale.

Selling to a cold prospect is always going to be an uphill battle. Just because you’ve captured and qualified the lead doesn’t mean they’re walking in with an open wallet ready to buy. Skip the nurturing process and your sales system is going to be a bust.

Warm up your leads and keep them hot. There’s no such thing as an old hot lead.

3. Sending the offer

So you have a prospect in the pipeline. There’s never been a better time to send an offer their way than right now. The only question is how to actually send the offer.

What type of proposal should you send?

Is it a PDF? Presentation deck?

Should the marketing team help design it?

Is it just a basic email?

Or do you present your offer verbally on a phone call and don't even need to create a written o

These are the types of questions you’ll need to have answers to as you build out your inside sales process. The last thing you want is to let a hot prospect cool off or get away because you either waffled for too long before sending the offer, or sent it the wrong way.

4. Negotiating with prospects

The prospect is hot and the offer has been sent. If they bite right away, awesome. What’s more likely is that you’ll move to the negotiation phase. They’re going to have questions, and they’re going to try to get more for less.

What’s your negotiation process going to look like? How much are you willing to bend to close a deal? What’s the absolute lowest price you’re willing to offer?

Consistency is key here. You don’t want half your sales team offering major discounts, and the other half standing firm at the initial offer price.

5. Confirming the purchase

Congratulations. You brought in the lead, warmed them up, sent the offer, and negotiated the best deal for both sides. That’s a plus one in the sales column. But the process isn’t over just yet.

What happens after the deal is agreed upon? Who does the new customer get passed on to next? What does the transition look like between sales and the next department? Is sales involved in the transition at all?

A smooth transition process is key to keeping your new customer happy with their decision to do business with you.

6. Asking for referrals

If you’re not leveraging any type of referral process, you’re leaving potential money on the table. Simple as that. If you have happy customers, why not see if they know anyone else who might be able to benefit from doing business with you?

The truth is this:

No outbound lead you generate in any other way will have the same quality as a referral lead.

Your best customers likely know others who run very similar businesses—i.e., leads who are already highly qualified. You’ll be introduced by a friend, and you’ll have the advantage of trust right at the start of the relationship.

That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to ask for referrals. We put together an in-depth guide on generating referrals and optimizing your referral sales process that will teach you the best way to ask for referrals, and more.

Now over to you

There you have it: your step-by-step guide to building a sales system that fits your specific needs and aligns with your company’s goals.

If you want to actually bring it to life, each and every aspect of your new sales system needs to be documented. From generating new leads, to qualifying them, to nurturing them, to sending the offer, to negotiating, to transitioning on from sales, to requesting referrals.

Documenting the entire process is key.

Remember: To make it easier to design your ideal process, start by asking your team what they’re currently doing, and what they consider an ideal sales process.

If you’re looking to take it a step further and gather some serious insight into what makes an ideal outbound sales process for startups, get started with our free your copy of Startup Sales Success Course and learn how to turn cold leads into hot customers.