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Focusing on the low-cost acquisition of customers is an essential goal for all businesses. Traditional models of selling can be expensive loaded with direct and indirect costs corroding profits. Inside sales was once a minority and clouded under customer service models and never deemed a profit centre.

Fortunately for many companies, with the shift in buyer behaviour, many of your customers will now actively purchase larger size products and services from inside sales than ever before. With consumer buyer behaviour increasing to a higher level of online and telephone purchases, this has crept its way into business to business creating a valuable income stream to companies.

Unshackling the past

When you mention inside sales, people immediately jump to either a customer service person answering inbound calls or telemarketing. In today’s market, neither are inside sales. Today, inside sales are sales that are handled remotely and requires a sales process similar to field salespeople. It routinely involves a high number of contacts by phone and email. Contrary to telemarketers who are almost always scripted, inside sales professionals are highly skilled and knowledgeable. Telemarketers focus on low dollar sales values with one touch to make the sale. Inside sales have multiple contact touches to build the value and create demand for the product or service as like their counterparts in field sales.

With the advances in communication technology and changing buyer perceptions, inside sales people can give presentations, conduct demonstrations and perform most of the functions traditionally handled by field salespeople. With time pressure a problem for most buyers, often customers are more willingly now to engage with inside salespeople than field sellers. They can purchase quickly and efficiently through a few telephone calls and emails rather than face to face meetings taking an hour or more each visit. For companies, this means more sales made per day.

From a cost point of view, inside salespeople now demand commission that is line with field sales and you certainly want to be rewarding their efforts. Your inside salespeople understand their value and look for compensation plans that rewards their efforts in making outbound calls. The cost savings come from typically lower base salaries, no vehicle costs, no mobile phones and to the great relief of the finance department, no expense account.

Should your company invest in Inside Sales?

Not all sales models fit all companies. It is essential to understand that sales models are driven by customers and not by calculations on a spreadsheet. Before transitioning in part or whole to an inside sales force, there are some factors that determine the suitability of investing in inside sales.

  1. Sales Complexity: Not all companies can prosper from inside sales. It is ideally suited to less complex products that people are familiar with purchasing. They have most likely purchased similar products in the past from your company or competitors, and are confident moving forward in a buying process for your products and services.
  2. Business Maturity: Early stage businesses require a stronger presence in the market and benefit from a combination of marketing and field sales to drive the brand and explore more substantial sales opportunities to gain traction against competitors. Inside sales typically do not have the impact required to achieve this. However, a mature business with a loyal customer base will see customers purchase large contracts, rolling them over for another term, with minimal prompting from inside sales.
  3. Growth Demand: Driving growth often requires a combination of both inside and field sales. The buyer’s behaviour will determine what degree of emphasis is placed on inside sales and field sales. Some buyers prefer the sales process to commence with inside sales exploring the value of opportunities and potential to fulfil customer needs. The buyer then feels the need to interact live with someone to have firsthand experience with the product before purchasing. The field salespeople being able to create higher value sales with their onsite presence.
  4. Sales Goals: Sales goals have increased for inside sales. In the past sales goals were often well short of a million dollars whereas today, they are often in the seven figures each year. The opportunity for a high return on investment
  5. Buyer Preference: A survey of your customers will determine their receptiveness to inside sales. In a recent study by Sales Benchmark Index, 70% of your customers don’t even want an in-person meeting. Key decision-makers are quite receptive to doing business remotely.
  6. Decision-Makers: Number of decision-makers required to purchase your product/service has a significant influence on sales models. Complex sales can have an average of five decision-makers creating a barrier to closing sales for most inside salespeople. Where a transaction has only one or two decision-makers, inside sales is well positioned to navigate the sales process and achieve a positive outcome.

If you consider each of these impact points you will be able to ascertain if investing in inside sales is right for you. To discuss the implementation on of inside sales and achieving the right balance in your sales model to minimise sales costs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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