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:
- Providing materials on their product or services, and their value proposition.
- Helping prospects find customer reviews
- Using social media for relationship building and management
- Playing a strong facilitation role during the process
- 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.