Inside sales is a popular high-growth sales model used by companies in a variety of industries. In 2017, the Harvard Business Revenue reported that 46% of high-growth tech companies are growing through inside sales versus 21% using outside sales teams. The reasons for rapid growth of SDR/BDR sales teams vary but one thing is clear, buyers are fine with alternatives to face-to-face meetings. From an efficiency point of view, buyers prefer phone calls, video or web conferencing meeting options to minimize waste on their already over scheduled calendars.
The evolution of technology has made the inclusion of inside sales teams a core component of organizational sales strategies, as companies look for ways to decrease costs and improve their own operational efficiencies. PointClear reported that an outside sales call costs $308 versus an inside sales call cost of $50 making it clear how much more cost effective it is for a company to leverage an inside sales team to its fullest.
With growth comes challenges.
Though there is rapid growth in inside sales, there are also challenges facing inside sales leaders in achieving their sales objectives. Ongoing research confirms that core challenges faced are reducing churn among the sales ranks, hiring the right talent to fill inside sales roles, speeding up the time it takes to ramp new hires skills, reducing deal forecast slippage, improving opportunity qualification and ensuring that salespeople are adept at having business conversations versus pitching product features.
Today’s buyers expect more.
They want to work with salespeople who understand their business, industry trends and competitive challenges. They don’t expect to be the on-the-job training vehicle for your inside salespeople. Or any of your salespeople for that matter. If there isn’t a solid plan to get salespeople fully competent quickly, you are leaving them at the mercy of learning by trial and error on the buyer’s time dime. Few executives I’ve ever spoken to have the time or the patience to be educating your sellers in how to sell to them.
The 1st buyer experience usually happens on the inside sales front lines.
Given that SDR’s and BDR’s are often the first personal experience a buyer has with a company, without proper training, coaching and reinforcement of basic selling skills, these front-line sellers are impeding sales progress, or worse, doing damage to the company brand. And, if has been reported by CSO Insights that sales leaders see lead volume/quality as more important than skills training and process, I think there is a disconnect. Could this be a factor in why only 46% (2016 Sales Comp Survey, Alexander Group) to 67% (the Bridge Group) of inside sales reps are achieving quota?
Lack of training and outdated sales approaches lead to a steady stream of no’s, the frustration that breeds, along with the inability to achieve sales objectives has a domino effect. Higher turnover among the sales ranks. Some reps will choose to leave on their own. Others will be asked to move on, which hardly seems fair if they haven’t been given the training, coaching and tools they need to succeed in their role.
Training and coaching remain areas of opportunity and competitive advantage.
In July 2019, Gartner released the results of their newest survey that showed 24% of inside sales reps are actively looking for a new job. That statistic is alarming on its own but what is more alarming is that reps in SDR/BDR roles are leaving for reasons that are easily fixable!
While compensation - including benefits - is a factor, it is not THE factor! More than ever, reps want skilled managers who coach them and invest in their skills and career development. Unfortunately, many inside sales managers either never received the proper training to coach, develop and guide their people, OR they believe that reps will leave in a year or so anyway, so why bother investing in them? That is some short-sighted thinking right there.
Shift the mindset.
When you invest in the development of your salespeople, they want to stay with you. They will resist advances from recruiters in other companies looking to scoop them up.
Matt Dudek, vice president in Gartner’s sales practice summed it up nicely when he said, “Leaders responsible for inside sales face a high turnover risk with reps today. To avoid this, sales leaders not only need to craft a compelling employee value proposition to attract high-quality candidates to inside sales roles, they must make sure they are delivering on the proposition to retain talent in a competitive labor market!”
By the way, investing in your salespeople positively impacts the bottom line and your prospect buyers will thank you too!
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