A reader writes, " I am the CEO of a traditional, non-technical company. The sales staff consists of six reps covering a four-state region. For several years, I've considered hiring an inside salesperson to call on accounts below a certain dollar volume and to prospect for new business as well. What can I do to ensure the success of this new position?"
You're wise to think this through. Inside sales positions now involve a lot more than a script and a list of accounts. To answer your question, I spoke with two colleagues, Trish Bertuzzi, President of The Bridge Group, Inc. and author of The Sales Development Playbook and Victoria Nessen, President and founder of NK&A Marketing.
Both Trish and Victoria mentioned this first. Trish says, "Invest in a CRM with the ability to track the entire sales process and to measure success and failure. One hundred percent you have to have it. It's a critical success factor."
Victoria adds, "Managers and company executives need to be able to see where each contact is in the sales process."
Prior to hiring, Victoria advises companies to map out the sales process and create the marketing materials salespeople will need.
Trish agrees, "Be able to completely articulate the entire sales process. Even if you hire experienced reps, lay it out by stages: pre-call planning, introduction, objections, outreach, and buyer personae. Give them a playbook and a roadmap."
Lead Gen Campaign
"The company leader and marketing department need to decide who they want to go after," says Victoria, "What's the series of communications that go out to prepare the customer for the inside salesperson's call?" She then suggests that inside salespeople be provided with tailored scripts for actions taken by the prospect such as:
- Opened email
- Downloaded white paper
- Read blog
- Completed survey
"Never hire just one rep, always hire two," says Trish. "You have a 50/50 shot of making a good hire out of the gate. There's a high burn-out rate in the profession. One rep has no one to talk to or ask, 'What's working? What are you doing?'"
Victoria suggests implementing a scoring system to track and evaluate the rep's progress. Attach points to outreach efforts: proactive phone calls to decisions maker: four points, sending introductory emails: 2 points, contacting a survey responder or white paper downloader: 1 point. "Assign weekly and monthly point quotas," she adds.
In addition to the suggestions made by Trish and Victoria, you'll need to: write a job description, develop an on-boarding plan, assign territories and accounts, set minimum performance standards, and create a suite of sales reports, sales contests and performance reviews tailored specifically to the inside team.
Companies utilizing both field and inside salespeople properly maximize their outreach potential. Take the time to put together a comprehensive inside sales plan, rather than just "putting someone on the phone." Everyone benefits.