9 Essential Productivity Tools for Inside Sales Teams

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    23-Aug-2014
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In 2011, inside sales eclipsed outside sales by an astounding 300 percent (source: InsightSquared.com), and became the dominant means of business development. Companies had to adapt to a changing dynamic to keep up with the increasingly competitive marketplace. Improving inside sales efficiencies allows companies to better manage, nurture, and convert leads while improving productivity and delivering actionable insights. Today, inside sales success requires a software-based platform that: *Simplifies how inside sales teams work and collaborate *Makes it easier for sales managers to set goals and objectives consistent with future growth VanillaSoft is an industry leader in lead management and phone sales. It is intuitive, simple to use, and easy to manage. At its core is a simple concept: empower management and sales to work together to improve productivity, obtain higher contact rates, and increase sales.

Transcript of 9 Essential Productivity Tools for Inside Sales Teams

  • 2 of 9 Executive Summary: In 2011, inside sales eclipsed outside sales by an astounding 300 percent (source: InsightSquared.com), and became the dominant means of business development. Companies had to adapt to a changing dynamic to keep up with the increasingly competitive marketplace. Improving inside sales efficiencies allows companies to better manage, nurture, and convert leads while improving productivity and delivering actionable insights. Today, inside sales success requires a software-based platform that: Simplifies how inside sales teams work and collaborate Makes it easier for sales managers to set goals and objectives consistent with future growth VanillaSoft is an industry leader in lead management and phone sales. It is intuitive, simple to use, and easy to manage. At its core is a simple concept: empower management and sales to work together to improve productivity, obtain higher contact rates, and increase sales. The Shift from Outside to Inside Sales Companies formerly viewed business development entirely from an outside sales perspective. More customer face time equated to higher revenue, increased customer retention, and improved account penetration. The goal was to spend as much time in front of the customer as possible in order to maintain that all-important position as the incumbent supplier and keep competitors at bay. However, the landscape has changed.Companies no longer focus solely on outside sales to increase marketshare. Todays companies increasingly rely on inside sales as their primary revenue-driven activity. Inside sales is better aligned with todays business reality, where customers are always mobile and distracted. Selling today requires a tech-savvy salesperson who understands the importance of remaining in contact with a constantly moving, constantly connected customer base. In order to manage the sales team and ensure a steady flow of leads, inside sales managers need appropriate tools and strategies. The ability to identify inside sales approaches most likely to produce consistent returns is critical in moving prospects forward.Managers must manage the sales teams activities, provide timely guidance, and ensure that the companys value proposition is properly conveyed. This often involves listening in on live conversations and reviewing calls with salespeople to ensure quality.
  • of 93 It's About Quality of Conversations - Not Only Quantity Far too many companies place the greater emphasis on the number of conversations. This is largely due to their reliance on both leading and lagging indicators. While both are useful key performance indicators for inside sales teams, relying too heavily on these numbers can be misleading and counterproductive. Lagging indicators dictate what actions were taken by inside salespeople in order to hit their sales targets from the previous quarter or year. These define the number of actions inside salespeople need to make in order to close new business. Lagging indicators might include the number of cold calls, warm calls, repeat calls, customer discussions, quotations, and sales as a result of these actions. Each action is critical to ensuring the next one is properly completed. For example, X calls need to be made in order to reach X discussions, quotations, or sales. Lagging indicators are used to define future leading indicators. The company then defines the number of daily, weekly, and monthly activities that must be completed in order to duplicate and or improve past results. The focus is either to maintain or grow market share. However, one critical aspect of inside sales success is missing from lagging and leading indicators: conversation quality. The quality of customer conversations is what determines success not the number of conversations. This means companies must eliminate manual approaches that do little to improve the quality of conversations while allowing salespeople to pick their own leads based on individual preferences. In fact, the company should determine the next-best lead based on a series of predetermined qualifiers, not the salesperson. Only then can the company be assured that leads are being managed, worked, and reworked at the appropriate time and manner. Fortunately, real-time productivity tools exist that ensure the companys value proposition is communicated, remove human error, and counter the natural tendencies of salespeople to cherry pick their next calls. So what are some of the critical tools todays inside sales teams must have in order to properly manage these leads from initial contact to final close of sale? Below are nine must- have inside sales tools for the modern inside sales team.
  • 4 of 9 1. Fresh Leads Keeping the sales funnel full isnt merely a question of reworking the same strategies with existing customers. Its about having a continuous flow of leads worked by multiple levels within your sales organization. However, the focus must be on working those leads using a consistent and proven process. Control, speed, and efficiency are critical to success. Companies cant afford to let salespeople decide which customers to call, which customers to follow up on, and which opportunities are most important to them personally. After all, individual bias as to who, when, and how to call a lead will drive the salespersons decisions rather than solid criteria such as customer readiness, demographics, customer behaviors, or other factors. Relying upon a consistent number of leads isnt just essential to increasing sales, its a critical part of reaching your target audience. List companies like ListGiant, ZoomInfo, and InfoUSA provide a steady stream of leads. However, any list you buy must be focused on your ideal target prospect, one with whom you can have high-quality discussions that are likely to lead to repeat sales. 2. Queue-Based Contact Routing The surest way to eliminate any preferences or biases on the part of salespeople is to rely upon queue-based contact routing. VanillaSofts platform puts an immediate end to cherry picking calls. Sales agents can no longer fallinto a position of convenience where they continually call contacts that they have a rapport with and already know. The platform revolves around a customizable workflow. VanillaSoft software focuses your inside sales teams efforts on leads that meet your specific qualifiers. Your salespeople will automatically work on the next-best lead the lead your company has defined as the all- important priority at a particular time. Rather than relying on a list-based lead platform where salespeople select comfortable leads from a nondescript, random call list, VanillaSofts queue-based platform puts the power of choice in the hands of management. With queue-based contact routing, the focus is on increasing productivity and improving how and when customers are called based on predetermined variables. Management sets the order and salespeople follow. Salespeople no longer spend time searching for the next call to make. They no longer show preference to one contact over another. Instead, management defines the criteria for the next-best call. A queue-based lead platform removes personal preference from the equation. It forces salespeople to prepare for the next call based on the companys predetermined criteria.
  • of 95 3. Preview or Progressive Dialing Deciding between preview and progressive dialing platforms comes down to your target audience, the type of sale your team is pursuing, and the length ofyour companys sales cycle. Long sales cycles that involve a series of repeat calls or steps require a preview dialing platform where notes are retained and reviewed prior to the next call. Consider this a stage- gate process where your dialing platform takes your companys long sales cycle times into consideration by feeding your salespeople with essential data and notes from that last call. No call can be made until the inside salesperson has properly read and understood the notes from the previous call. Progressive dialing is better suited to inside sales teams where multiple list calls need to be made and where prior notes on calls arent a prerequisite to moving forward. However, its important to note that progressive dialing doesnt assume that the person answering the phone is an immediate qualified lead or involve making random calls to any prospect, anywhere. Qualified leads have been preselected. 4. Email and Call Integration In todays multichannel world, we communicate using a variety of technologies, including email. VanillaSoft combines email capabilities with voice calls, making it possible to extend the conversation electronically as well as respond to and summarize customer discussions in a timely manner. Management can create email templates containing predefined attachments, sender CC/ BCC fields, and messages. These messages can be sent automatically based on the result of the call or in response to an incoming web or trigger lead.For example, if a call results in a request for a price sheet, an automated email could easily satisfy that request. Rather than waiting around for the salesperson to gather the requested information, compose, and send the email, the customer receives exactly what was requested automatically. Because a prewritten template was used, the message will also be professionally written as well as potentially contain a relevant call to action or links for additional information. You can also integrate drip and mass email campaigns. Drip campaigns involve sending multiple messages over a period of time to educate prospects, build your brand, qualify leads, and follow up in a timely manner. Mass email campaigns involve selecting a target audience (such as prospects interested in particular pro