I spoke to 500 inside sales managers at a recent American Association of Inside Sales Professionals  (AA-ISP) conference. They were there to learn how to make their ever-increasing sales quotas with a small to non-existent headcount growth allowance.

One question I asked at the start of my talk, was “how many of you are getting confused between the role of marketing and the role of sales”.   Not surprisingly a large number of them raised their hands.  Are they serious ?  Are they really getting more, not less, confused about their role as a sales manager ?

Selling Has Changed – A LOT

What sales managers  now have to respond to is the increased role and responsibility that inside sales reps have for a “helping and assisting”  approach rather than “selling” in the “traditional way”.  It is a far cry from the usual straight line selling process based on qualify-sell-close on-a-schedule measurement that they are used to.

What’s Going On ?

Customers are now in the driver’s seat MOST of the time.    Salesmanship has a lot less to do with success than facilitation – – objection handling has a lot less to do with moving the process along than informing.  ”.    (I covered these trends in three earlier articles – Sales Prospecting at the Speed of Trust, Selling at the Speed of Trust, and  Checklist for Launching a Time-to-Trust Sales Campaign. ).

Micromarketing – the New Selling

 The most effective Inside Sales organizations I am working with have changed their selling approach to use Micromarketing techniques.   I see our Inside Sales customers at TimeTraderoutinely increasing their close rates by 30% and their time-to-close by 40% . That’s an extraordinary increase compared to small, single digit improvements with incremental techniques aimed at improving funnel yield.

Here’s what a Inside Sales people in high performance Inside Sales groups using a Micromarketing approach are now doing:

  1. Providing materials on their product or services, and their value proposition.
  2. Helping prospects find customer reviews
  3. Using social media for relationship building and management
  4. Playing a strong facilitation role during the process
  5. Selling ONLY at key “pivot points” in the process – – the product demo, the quote, the contract discussion.

Doing all this requires a new   for the Inside Sales group.   It is a combination of sales skills, product advisor, social marketer, and content creator.    The online tools to use for this go way beyond Salesforce.com, and I’ll cove these in my next post.


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