• 3 Things to Prepare When Building An Inside Sales Team

    About a year ago I competed in one of those 10-13 mile obstacle course geared towards testing the participants’ physical and mental limits. A buddy of mine had asked me to do it with him and I thought, “Hey I’m in good shape. I run, cross train, lift weights …. no problem.” I was fairly confident that I was going to finish pretty easily and then I’d probably hang out and drink beers while the out of shape slobs struggled to get through the course, crying until they eventually quit. Pansies.

    Then the race started. I’d say it was about 2 miles into it when I had my “Oh sh#t” moment. I was unprepared. It wasn’t due to lack of effort. I trained 5 days a week for 2 hours a day running long distances and lifting weights. The problem was that I trained for the wrong things. I wasn’t prepared to run 2 miles uphill, jump in 40 degree water, run back down and then run back up with a log over my shoulder. The same thing happens with a lot of companies that build out their own inside sales team. They think they are prepared, but there are certain things they may not think of until they are in mile 2 and then it’s too late (cue the Oh sh#t moment). Here are a few of them.

    Who needs a stinkin’ process? You do. The problem I most frequently see is the lack of a best practice processes. The call plan you drew on a napkin while eating a “Bloomin Onion” and drinking a beer at Friday lunch is not best practice. What is the call methodology? Is it an evolving call plan? How many times should you call someone? How many people in a company should you call? What qualifications are you looking for? Your calling process is the single most important factor in building a repeatable and sustainable inside sales team.  Getting lucky and finding a rep that gets it will make you good now. Having a great process will make you good for the long haul.

    Wait…it costs how much? It is amazing how much it takes to keep an inside sales team humming. Make sure that you factor in the fully loaded salary (pay/commission/benefits/taxes), managerial time, money for a good list, additional CRM licenses, recruiting fees to find new reps (2 year avg. tenure for good reps and there are LOT of bad ones out there), computers, phones, paper, pens, consultant fees to build out a process for you (see above) and a travel mug with the company logo when they start (aka Pen holder).

    Whoa, whoa…we have to work together? Some of you may have heard this before, but if you haven’t this may blow your mind. Recent studies have shown that there is often a divide between sales and marketing. Make sure the 2 teams are aligned when it comes to the details/expectations of the inside sales team. You will lose a ton of value if you don’t have both teams on board and on the same page. I’ve worked with companies where as much as 60% of the leads passed to sales didn’t get ANY sales follow up. In addition to making sure leads are being followed up on, there should also be a closed loop process between the team passing leads and the team receiving the leads. Closing the loop on each lead shows what leads are moving forward, which ones are dead and why. It is the best formula to keep both groups accountable and fuel continuous improvement. We actually use our closed loop feedback as one of the kickers in the inside sales rep comp plan and it has driven lead quality way up.

    When it comes to new ventures your biggest obstacles are often the things you simply don’t know about. If you’re building an inside sales team make sure you talk to people that have done it or possibly even hire an expert. If not, you could end up 2 miles in saying, “oh sh#t, I’m not ready for this!”

    (Oh and yes, I finished the race. I just swore a lot and cried a little until it was done. I’m doing another and this time I’m preparing the right way.)

    Chris Lang is Sales Director at AG Salesworks.  To view all company blogs go to AG Salesworks blog site.

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