30 January 2017 Category: Insider Perspective
Companies that are marketing complex B2B services and solutions need skilled and experienced sales agents who have the capacity to profile prospects, strategically communicate value propositions, and keep high-level decision-makers engaged at every stage of the account lifecycle. Nowadays, however, instead of these agents having to go on the road to generate demand – they can build a healthy business pipeline remotely.
This office-based approach, known as ‘Inside Sales’, involves a group of sales specialists who prospect, sell and nurture over the phone, using every available channel. An effective Inside Sales team has the expertise to build relationships with multiple prospects and customers across an array of touchpoints. Working in close collaboration with their clients, leading Inside Sales professionals can provide the following services:
- Pre-sales prospect research, profiling and gathering market intelligence
- Providing cleaner, more accurate prospect data and insights
- Ensuring only properly qualified leads enter the sales funnel
- Leading prospects through the buying cycle at their own pace
- Ensuring a well-organised and integrated omni-channel approach including digital and social media, as well as direct contact by phone
- Nurturing key prospect and customer relationships for the long term
Why Inside Sales is replacing field sales
One of the main reasons why the demand for Inside Sales is growing is because customer purchasing habits have evolved – in both the public and commercial landscape. Today’s influencers and decision-makers feel more comfortable about researching, negotiating and procuring products and services remotely. They are also far more responsive to social media outreach. This means that there is very little need to go door-to-door or spend all your resources out in the field anymore, especially when there are highly sophisticated tools available that give Inside Sales agents the power to build the same level of human connection with prospects, such as teleconferencing.
Furthermore, a Consumer Executive Board (CEB) survey of 1,900 corporate decision-makers found that buyers are at least 57% of the way through the buying process before contact is made . The whole sales function has had to be re-organised to respond to this new dynamic.
However, there is one major challenge: the Inside Sales function requires a complex set of skills and specialised knowledge; and many firms are finding it very tricky to identify, attract and retain sales representatives who can effectively add value in this area.
The lack of Inside Sales talent
The Manpower Group’s 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey interviews 42,300 employers and identifies the roles that are most difficult to fill on a global scale. The sales representative position was ranked third on the talent shortage list during 2016 – and this role has consistently featured in the survey’s top five hard-to-fill roles over the past decade.
This is partially due to the rapid rate at which technology is advancing, which prompts the sales role to evolve constantly, altering the skills needed for this role and reducing the lifecycle of these skills. Many firms – both big and small – do not yet have a thorough understanding of the Inside Sales function and they are therefore struggling to find and retain the right people for this complex role. Nurturing and selling over the phone sounds easy, but it is a highly specialised skill. Couple this with the new media abilities that these people need to nurture across multiple touch points; and suddenly you need a new recruitment, talent management and retention strategy.
Why develop this all from scratch yourself when you can partner with professionals who are already doing it – and doing it successfully?
Hiring in-house Inside Sales talent can be costly
Effective sales representatives are not only difficult to come by, they can also be extremely expensive to hire, on-board and train to a point where they are delivering the required value.
An Aberdeen Group study found that it takes 7 months and almost USD 30,000 to recruit and induct a new sales rep. It often takes an additional 5 to 11 months before the company begins to adequately benefit from this new recruit’s productivity.
And when the new role does not immediately satisfy the new hire, what’s stopping this individual from seeking an alternative position? Harvard Business Review reports that close to one third (33%) of new hires begin searching for a new job within their first six months on the job; and 23% turn over before they have been with the company for a full year.
Firms are also urged to consider the price of hiring the wrong sales representative. Some experts believe that a bad sales hire can set a company back by as much as 125 times their basic salary! This includes obvious costs such as remuneration, equipment and office expenses, as a well as expenditures that are more difficult to gauge, such as wasted management time and valuable prospect data that has been ‘burnt through’.
Outsourcing to an experienced Inside Sales agency can help to address these challenges. However, finding the appropriate telemarketing firm to partner with can be a challenge. A lot of groups offer old-fashioned telesales, yet very few specialise in Inside Sales. There is a vast difference between these two services.
The Telemarketing Company has 26 years’ experience of remote selling
As one of the UK's leading telemarketing, lead generation and market research companies, the Telemarketing Company offers high calibre Inside Sales agents, whose skills and experience have been developed working on hundreds of campaigns, from cold call and transactional sales through to account management with C-suite decision-makers.
Whether you’re a smaller firm that lacks the resources or expertise to establish a robust Internal Sales team or a larger organisation looking to de-risk an Internal Sales team with a back-up, outsourced Inside Sales function – here’s what sets our Inside Sales agents apart from the rest:
- Access top Inside Sales talent, as you need it:
Our recruitment process has been tried, tested and tailored for over 26 years to ensure that we evaluate, select and develop the best Inside Sales professionals for your project. We understand what the right profile is for an Inside Sales specialist and we manage to attract the best talent by providing the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading organisations.
- Our agents benefit from continual coaching and training:
Our Inside Sales specialists receive ongoing training, coaching and mentoring in line with a structured programme to hone their selling tactics, solution selling skills and relationship building capabilities. This leads to nationally recognised sales and research qualifications, including ISMM Telesales certification.
- We work hard to retain the best talent:
We have a structured career path for talented, ambitious individuals. We can offer the opportunity to work with a diverse set of clients and a variety of campaigns so that agents can build their experience and be continuously challenged.
- Strategic performance management:
Our dedicated account managers have a minimum of eight years of experience on multiple campaigns. This ensures that they are capable of proactively managing the performance of your Inside Sales agents, providing you with regular performance reports. These reports do not only focus on lagging indicators (the final campaign results). We also pay close attention to leading indicators – in other words, we measure the actions that are taken towards achieving your ultimate business goals so that we can adjust our approach quickly if these predict a warning sign. Essentially, our reports provide clarity on the quality of your pipeline as well as your sales results.
- Social media expertise:
A new range of social media skills are required to nurture prospects across multiple touch points – maximising reach and engagement. Social media is most effective when combined with other channels and supported by targeted content. Our agents know how to support social media outreach with phone contact in a way that helps to qualify leads, gain a better understanding of customers’ pain points and interests, hone your messaging, and ultimately develop trust and long-term relationships. We’re experts at creating well-integrated Inside Sales campaigns that play to the strengths of each platform, both online and offline.
- Quality assurance:
We work in line with industry best practice and standards to cover compliance and quality in some heavily regulated sectors such as financial services.
- We enhance your data and market intelligence:
Our Inside Sales teams have expert research skills, enabling them to gain a deep understanding of your market to build more meaningful and targeted connections with your prospects; and ultimately progress them through the sales cycle more effectively.
- Our agents are agile:
We have the skills and confidence to handle change and quickly get up to speed on new propositions. We offer you the flexibility you need to respond swiftly to evolving market demands; and if necessary, we can quickly bring in a large team of qualified individuals at no risk to your firm.
- Foreign language skills:
In today’s multi-national business environment, our multi-lingual Inside Sales agents give you access to global markets. We have a rich pool of languages skills at our disposal and have experience of working with a diverse set of clients across cultural divides.