Are you building your inside sales team?
You’re not alone, across industries and markets, new inside sales teams are growing and outside teams are shrinking or accepting completely new roles.
Undoubtedly, there is some friction between the old pros, the traditional outside sales people, and the new inside team and their management. After all, the old pros got you where you are. They’re the ones that brought home the big account that took you from tiny start up to established player. They have relationships with all the big players in your industry and referrals and big new opportunities sometimes just seem to appear in front of them.
How can a bunch of kids sitting at computers duplicate what they’ve done? Your top producer is probably an old pro and you’re having trouble teaching him new tricks, much less getting him on board with the new inside sales team. This is not an easy task. Sales Dog recently published an eye opening article about some of the fundamental challenges that come up when sales management tries to teach the old pros new ways to do things.
One powerful way to get the old pros on board AND give the new inside sales team the greatest chance for success is to make the old pros the model for the new inside sales team’s processes.
“How can that be possible?”, you ask… The old pros thrive by shaking hands, buying lunches, looking people in the eye, spending evenings out wining and dining with customers. How can your new inside sales team do that?
This is where sales managers can miss a crucial piece. Whether conscious on not, the assumption is that the new inside sales team will thrive through efficiency and volume. They’ll make more calls, use CRM software and marketing automation tools and just touch more customers in a given day. Often management fully intends to carve out the big customers and leave them in the old pros hands because they just don’t believe they can possibly get the attention they need and expect from an inside salesperson.
New Inside Sales Teams Can Excel At Relationship Building
In the end, strong relationships are based on trust. How can your new inside sales team establish the same level of trust without looking customers in the eye and spending thousands of dollars on lunches and beers?
Break Down the Old Pros Process
What’s their process? What are the steps they typically take? What is the purpose of each step? How can your inside team accomplish the same things without face to face contact?
For example, taking a customer to lunch is a common step in a big deal. What is the purpose? What does it accomplish?
- Gets the customer outside of their work environment allowing more open communication.
- Demonstrates that you value the customer.
- Facilitates more personal conversation, getting to know the customer as a person. Hobbies, background, etc.
- Creates a comfortable opportunity for the salesperson to ask the hard questions.
Can your new inside sales team accomplish these things on the phone? Yes, they can!
Duplicating the Effect, Not the Process
Sending valuable information or even gifts demonstrate the value you see in the customer. Are there educational books, whitepapers or videos that would be helpful to your typical customer in their job? These don’t have to be created by your company and they don’t need to be about your products at all. In fact, its best if they are completely unrelated to your product or service but, highly valuable to your customer in their job and will help them advance in their career.
One technique is to ask a prospect if they read much. If they do, have 2 or 3 books that you like to recommend and then offer to send them a copy. If they say they don’t read much, have videos or TED talks or something produced by an industry trade association that you can offer.
You can also send invitations to industry events. If your organization has local representation, one approach is for the new inside sales team to tee up appointments for the local reps for a sporting event, industry function or just lunch.
By analyzing your old pros’ process and coming up with creative ways to duplicate the effect of these steps on the customer, you’ll find that two very powerful things happen:
- The old pros enjoy being the model for the new inside sales team’s process and become very supportive of the initiative.
- The new inside sales team works closely with the old pros from the outset and are better able to leverage their relationships and add value for the old pros in return.