Just what are inside sales? It’s an interesting question, because the answer is so simple. Inside sales are sales made entirely remotely. An inside salesperson does not interact with potential clients or customers on a face-to-face basis. Instead, they engage sales leads using technology ranging from telephone and email to online chat and CRM platforms.
At one time the technology facilitating inside sales could only mean the telephone, but inside sales are not the same as telemarketing, which generally involves lower-ticket items and more simple communication. While a telemarketer contacts a lead one time and usually presents an at least partially scripted sales pitch, inside sales usually involve multiple contacts, higher-end products or services and highly-skilled salespeople.
As inside sales tools have evolved, more companies have adopted it as opposed to traditional field-based or outside sales for four primary reasons:
- Inside sales are more cost-effective than outside sales. Acquiring customers through inside sales costs 40-90% less than outside sales acquisitions.
- Inside sales are preferred by many customers. DiscoverOrg found that 78% of decision makers have responded to a cold call, and 70% of customers are not interested in in-person sales meetings, according to the Sales Benchmark Index.
- Inside sales enable greater collaboration. Closing multiple sales requires multiple people— salespeople, marketing teams, sales managers, etc.— and cloud-based sales technology like CRM platforms allow entire teams to work on the same account.
- Inside sales tools boost productivity. Because inside sales calls can be handled in less time than in-person visits, inside sales reps make about seven times more contacts than their outside sales counterparts.
“The shift to inside sales has been transformational, enabling managers to provide reps with better data, track their performance in real-time and help them be more successful,” RingDNA founder and CEO Howard Brown said.
Prior to the global pandemic, about 47% of professional salespeople in the United States worked in inside sales. Thanks to quarantines and stay-at-home orders in 2020, that number drastically increased.
What is the inside sales experience like?
So, just what does an inside sales rep do? According to Snagajob, “Inside sales representatives work with customers to find what they want, create solutions and ensure a smooth sales process.”
Inside sales reps might be handed leads from their marketing team, or they might spend part of their time searching for sales leads in business directories, client referrals and website visits. A successful inside salesperson should be well-spoken yet friendly, flexible, dedicated and resilient, while remaining knowledgeable of their companies’ products and services.
Of course, in today’s competitive market, companies don’t just hire sales reps and set them loose to follow leads and close deals however they choose. Through sales enablement strategies, sales managers empower their teams by consistently providing tools to promote each stage of the sales funnel. Companies now use sales enablement strategies for both inside and outside sales.
How does sales enablement for inside sales differ from outside sales enablement? Inside sales reps rely more heavily on online technology to engage their potential customers, whether that be cloud-based software, CRM platforms or instant messaging apps. Outside sales professionals, on the other hand, might rely on physical equipment such as product samples, on-site demos, physical imagery and portable tech like notebooks and laptop computers.
Examples of sales enablement collateral and strategies common to all sales include software platforms, data analytics, market insights, training materials, product details and engaging sales deck presentations.
What are inside sales enablement best practices?
Almost eight in 10 executive buyers surveyed by Forrester said salespeople don’t have the right materials to share with them in calls and meetings. A variety of inside sales enablement tools and best practices are available to empower sales teams and maximize results, including:
1. Conduct recurrent training and coaching
It’s simply not enough to provide onboarding and training materials to newly hired salespeople. Effective sales teams are exposed to continuous coaching and training, helping them to better understand their products and customers, sharpen their pitching and closing skills and learn about new technological tools to boost sales. Hold weekly meetings for sales teams, as well as periodic individual coaching sessions.
2. Identify and share successful strategies and sales pitches
What is working for your most successful inside sales reps? Encourage an environment where sales team members share their own best practices and successful strategies. Is there a certain pitch that is attracting more interest, or can one team member share tips to help the rest of the team close more deals?
3. Compile and provide access to sales enablement content
When Bill Gates said, “Content is king,” back in 1996, he might have been talking about the online marketplace, but the same can be said about sales enablement. Content not only helps salespeople better understand their products and the companies they serve, it also helps customers make informed decisions. In fact, one 2020 survey found that 67% of people rely on content to inform their purchase decisions.
Examples of inside sales enablement content include case studies, white papers, blog articles, product data, email templates and sales decks. Other forms of sales enablement content are competitor battle cards, customer testimonials, demonstration videos and price comparisons.
How do presentations play a role in inside sales enablement? Engaging slide decks can be designed to both train sales reps and inform customers. Beautiful.ai is a popular choice for creating sales collateral. The PowerPoint-alternative presentation software saves users time and improves their overall designs thanks to artificial intelligence that automatically adjusts the format and design of each Smart Slide as content is added to it.
4. Utilize tech tools
Is your goal to improve your overall sales enablement structure, or are you hoping to provide your sales teams with more effective and efficient solutions to reach customers and close more deals? A variety of tech tools are available to meet your objectives, including:
- Contact management software that automates workflows and reduces repetitive data entry tasks. Tools like Apollo.io, Chorus and Cloze analyze contacts and interactions, while providing valuable AI-generated insights to help refine sales activities.
- Cloud-based quote and contract management tools like ConnectWise Sell, DocSend and Conga help inside sales reps manage accounts, share content, track views, identify potential customers, and some even organize and report outcomes.
- Sales content creation and delivery tools offer various ways to create, publish and organize sales enablement content. Cloud-based presentation software like Beautiful.ai helps users design professional-quality sales decks in less time and with far less effort than traditional choices like PowerPoint.
Meanwhile, Consensus helps users experience customized interactive demos, while it collects data on who in the company is exploring each product, what content they’ve viewed, and what options they have shared. Seismic, on the other hand, helps inside sales reps store, organize and share their content from a central location.
- No modern-day inside sales enablement strategy is complete without data analysis. Insights based on data and metrics help sales teams make better decisions and focus on the most effective strategies. Who are your customers, what are they buying, and what was their sales journey?
Tools like Highspot help teams analyze and optimize their entire sales processes, while niche options like Artesian feature a web-crawling lead generator that compiles data on prospects, while Guru organizes a company’s entire knowledge base with a system that predicts what sort of information each sales rep needs when they need it.