Tag Archives: inside sales

Do: Speed Dials… Don’t: Speed Talk

by: Patrick Morrissey, Sales Manager, ConnectLeader

I’m sure many of us have unsuspectingly picked up the phone only to be ambushed by a fast-talking sales pitch. Despite making our best effort to extend professional courtesy, we simply don’t have time to listen to a sales pitch most of the time. The result is that we will typically do our best to end the call as quickly as possible so we can get back to work. Whether we are “in a meeting,” “late for our next meeting” or we simply choose to hang up, we will rarely feel any guilt about our narrow escape. We need to get back to work and the person on the other end of the line does not seem concerned about our time. So why should we feel any guilt about ending the call? Otherwise, we are stuck on the call waiting until the salesperson unwinds, often making a sales pitch that has nothing to do with us, our problems or our role within the company. Continue reading

How to Avoid Losing The Inside Sales Team When You Miss Your Goals

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WrongDirectionIn an ideal world, your inside sales team would never miss their monthly and quarterly goals, but anyone who has ever run a sales department knows, that is not possible. Between summer slowdowns and just occasional ‘off’ months, every company will have months where they do not reach their goals.

Image: bigstockphoto.com

 

Although occasionally missing sales goals will not be completely detrimental to the company, you want to make sure that one bad month will not turn into two or three. You can do this by ensuring that your sales team remains motivated and enthusiastic about their jobs while also determining what exactly went wrong in the last month. Here are a few sales coaching steps you can take to avoid losing your team when you miss your sales goals.

Diagnose the problem

You should begin by breaking down the month and determining exactly what went wrong. This services two purposes. First, it will help the inside sales professionals learn from their mistakes to avoid making those errors in the future. Secondly, it can help keep sales professionals from becoming too discouraged. When people have an identifiable reason why their last month went wrong, they can be inspired to do better in the future.

The key to making this process a success is creating a positive, collaborative environment. There should be no accusations about who made mistakes. Instead everyone should work together to learn what the problem was and try to motivate each other to succeed next time.

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Give people concrete areas to work on

Once the source of the problem has been identified, you then need to give people concrete directions about what can be improved. Vague instructions, such as “be more helpful when making initial contact with qualified leads” will not be beneficial. Instead, give your sales team ideas that they can easily implement as they begin contacting new leads. For example, guidelines about how to identify the customer’s pain points and examples of the types of assistance and offers that will resonate most with that customer will help them close more deals.

Celebrate small goals

Every sales team has something to celebrate, even when they did not reach their overall goals. Maybe someone new to the team managed to close their first sale. Perhaps the team was able to close a sale with a very big name client that had been nurtured for some time. Whatever the victory may be, find a way to celebrate it. Having a small party, luncheon or other fun gathering can help your team take their mind off the past disappointment and get them ready to tackle the next month. This type of recognition of hard work will also help them feel appreciated and therefore motivated and inspired.

Look for ways to improve

Part of the sales manager’s job is to provide the tools and training to help their team improve. Look for ways to improve your sales productivity. Are there ways to generate more leads? Are you optimizing your IT systems by using a CRM system and marketing automation? If you are looking to grow at a faster rate, there are a number of sales acceleration software applications available. Many of them integrate with popular CRM systems like Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics CRM, and Oracle CRM (aka Siebel).

Key your eyes on the target

When the inside sales team does not reach their goals, it can be disappointing for all the professionals involved. As the leader, however, it is your job to get everyone excited and ready to succeed in the upcoming month. Use the above ideas to let your team know that they can reach their goals and that you believe in them.[/fusion_text]

The 3 Qualifying Questions Inside Sales Reps Must Ask

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3 qualifying questions inside sales reps must ask

One of the most critical and challenging jobs of an inside sales rep is to ask the right qualifying questions.

Every business and sales executive has a different objective and process, but these three basic qualifying questions apply to any B2B sales situation.

Question 1: What is the unmet Critical Business Initiative (CBI)?

Why are we talking? For instance, the ConnectLeader inside sales team wants to know if their prospect wants to grow faster, increase productivity, or increase sales without adding headcount.

  • How is this measured? In dollars, numbers, percentages?
  • What would be the impact if you could do more at the same level?
  • How fast can you make a difference?
  • What was your past performance?
  • How much do you want to improve?

Pro Tip: This is a great point to add a sense of urgency. “If you can increase revenue by xx% in just xx days, how will that help your organization grow?

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Question 2: What is the buying process?

How can you avoid delays and best prepare for successful on boarding or installation? Your goal with this question is to know who needs to be involved in the buying process and if there are any barriers to closing the sale.

Are there IT, legal, finance or other risks? 

Pro Tip: Moving the deal along. There are often competing priorities within an organization. You need to get your project on the fast track and treated as a top priority. Be careful not to expect this priority. Act as if you’re second in line.

Question 3: Who are the key buying personas involved in the buying process?

In my experience, there are at least two people involved in any sale. For a technology sale that usually means the business driver (sales, marketing, HR) and technical/administrative (IT/Legal/Finance).

Who else will benefit from the solution your product or service provides?

Often buyers have both personal and business motives for making decisions. Understanding those motives will help move the deal along.

Pro Tip: Typical Buying Motives by Function:

  • Sales Team = Better quota attainment
  • Sales Management = Increase revenue
  • Finance = Higher margin, better return
  • Marketing = Better campaign lift

Bottom Line

Asking the right questions when qualifying will help smooth the way to a faster and more profitable sales process.[/fusion_text]

Inside Sales Management Debate: Sales Lead Assignment

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Image: Bigstockphoto.com

You’re a new inside sales manager and one of your first jobs is to to set-up a sales process. How do you structure your inside sales organization? Do you use a traditional sales territory process or do you use a round robin process. There are pros and cons to both methods. So we did some research and received input from industry experts. You can decide which system works best for your organization. Of course, we would love to hear your thoughts. You can share your comments on this blog and we’ll share them via Twitter at #salesterritorydebate.

Personal Insights from Patrick Purvis, Director of Sales, DiscoverOrg

As far as our no territory/round robin system, I’m a fan and have us holding on to it for as long as possible. I see the pros as:

  • Even playing field for the reps performance (for us anyone who got the Bay area would automatically become our top rep by default)
  • This creates better morale and healthy competition
  • Even distribution of leads so no one has too many or too few leads in their pipeline
  • Quick reaction to inbound leads, if our SDRs get a hot inbound lead they have 18 Account Execs they can put on the phone right then

There are some cons of course:

  • The biggest challenge is handling lead distribution in systems like Salesforce & Marketo, which aren’t set up for a round robin system, especially when you start putting exceptions in (i.e. we have a major account list that actually IS assigned to our most senior reps).  It gets pretty messy and we’ve had to create a fair amount of custom workflows
  • You could also argue that we lose out on becoming specialists in a territory/vertical.  i.e. if we had one guy always handle Information Security companies, he would become really knowledgeable about that space
  • Our SDRs aren’t paired with AEs, and you might get better communication if they were paired up by territories.  At the same time, you lose out again on the even playing field – a bad SDR or bad AE could screw the other member of that team

We’ve debated the strengths/weaknesses of no territories for a long time and will undoubtedly continue to do so, it may become unmanageable at some point, but until then I’m a fan.

What are the pros and cons of round robin lead assignment?

Posted by Steve Richard on Thu, Nov 15, 2012

After reading our article in the Washington Post, Lanham, MD based PR and communications software juggernaut Vocus invited us in to see how we could help them with lead generation sales training.  During the conversation, they told us about an interesting process that they use to ensure that each of their inside sales reps are equally fed intro sales meetings by the separate lead generation team.  I asked them if I could share it with our community and they said OK. Here are the details:

  • Each member of the lead generation team calls into their territory of accounts to generate qualified sales meetings.
  • Whereas most companies pair a lead generation rep with one or more sales reps, Vocus has no such pairings.  Each lead generation rep is independent.
  • When a lead generation rep schedules a phone meeting, it simply goes to the inside sales rep ‘closer’ who is next in line.
  • The inside sales rep ‘closers’ are simply in a rotating queue ensuring that each rep is well fed with qualified opportunities from a rotation of lead generation reps.
  • They use a snazzy implementation of salesforce.com to ensure that this rotation continues without a glitch.

So I sat back and thought about the pros and cons of this process:

  • Closers no longer feel short changed if they get a weaker lead gen rep.
  • Everyone gets meetings from all of the lead gen reps.
  • Everyone gets the same number of meetings, so from closer to closer, every calendar is balanced with the same number of meetings showing the true sales skills of the rep.
  • Because of the rotation, the inside sales reps have no territory. This eliminates every issue and complaint commonly associated with sales reps and territories — It’s not possible to complain!
  • Lead generation reps and inside sales closers never get the chance to develop that chemistry that, at its best, can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • – I could see the closers getting frustrated over the lack of continuity.  For example I’d be willing to bet that the notes on how the meeting was scheduled vary wildly from rep A to rep B.

 From B2B Lead Blog

2. Match leads based on product or industry vertical expertise

People sell from different backgrounds, giving them unique talents based on their past experience, current and past customers, personality and motivation. Leverage this. The more you know about your salespeople, the more you can use that information to match them with leads they’ll have the most success with. This is why round robin lead distribution can be deadly to conversion. It assumes every salesperson is the same.

 

How to Create a Round Robin Lead or Case Assignment Rule

Posted on  by shellblack

First off, what is a “round robin”? Simply put, it’s a rotation through a group. In the context of Salesforce.com, the term round robin frequently comes into play when assigning Lead or Case records to users. For example, you might have five sales reps working new Leads and, as an administrator, you want to divvy out all new Leads equally among the five reps. So if you had a 100 new leads, you would want each rep to get exactly 20 Lead records.

NOTE: This example will be for Leads, but the same concept applies to Case Assignment Rules

A round robin assignment rule allows you to equally distribute new Lead records without having to manually assign them using a rotation.

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Tips for hiring a senior inside sales rep (Part 2)

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Note:

This is part two in a series on tips for hiring inside sales reps. This article focuses on hiring senior reps.

View Part I: Hiring a Junior Inside Sales Reps.

 

 

Image: bigstockphoto.com

Senior B2B Sales Rep Expectations

Drive – Why are they interviewing?

Senior sales candidates often have a myriad of motivations when they are looking for an inside sales job. They may have family, financial, or other concerns. Often determining their true motivation can help you better understand the candidates goals and motives.

Another factor is energy and work-ethics. Is the sales rep. willing to constantly do outbound prospecting or are they waiting for leads from marketing or personal networking? By definition, an inside sales rep is doing the bulk of his selling on the telephone. This can be a challenging environment if they haven’t done it before. Has the candidate previously worked in an inside sales team or is their experience primarily in channel sales or outside sales?

Skills – Relevant experience

  • Do they have skills that can immediately be put to use in our industry?
  • What types of b2b sales environments were they exposed to? Transactional? Enterprise?
  • History of six figure earnings
  • What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
  • Do you want to be king, or rich?
  • Understanding of business sales cycles
  • What size opportunities have they FOUND, MANAGED and CLOSED.
  • Understanding of enterprise sales forecasting models
  • Can they take you through a funnel using percentages to calculate activities?
  • Have they performed in a metric-based environment

Creativity – What can you teach me what I don’t already know?

  • Have they developed or refined any sales processes in previous jobs that can be re-purposed?
  • Do they think creatively when presented with problems, or blame failures on process?

humble-inside-sales-candidateCoach-Ability / Humility – Are they able to take direction?

  • Have them sell you something during the interview.
  • Ask them what they thought they did well and what they could improve.
  • Then ask them to do it again.
  • Defensiveness tells you they can’t be coached.

Image: bigstockphoto.com

 

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What I look for when hiring a junior inside sales rep

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Before you make decisions based on your gut instincts,take a look of some of the questions I like to ask and what answers I should be hearing.

 

 

Questions for Entry Level Inside Sales Reps with 1-2 years of selling experience

Initiative – Have they started a company, club, or organization?

  • Is there a pattern of stepping in to offer solutions where need is going unmet?
  • Is there a history of competing at a highly competitive level? (organized sports)
  • Do they have basic inside sales experience (aka worked at Enterprise Rent a Car)?

Drive – Can they sell themselves?

Ask them to present themselves.

  • Is there a concise beginning middle and end?
  • Confidence/Quick thinking – Can they sell me our company?
  • From what they understand, can they think on their feet well enough to make a pitch?
  • If interrupted how do they react?

Coach-ability / Humility – Are they able to take direction

  • Have them sell you something during the interview.
  • Ask them what they thought they did well and what they could improve.
  • Then ask them to do it again.
  • Defensiveness tells you they can’t be coached.
  • How much “unlearning” will have to take place ?

Expectations – Can they sustain sales activities when there is no perceived positive outcome?

  • Are they wired for activity rather than analysis?
  • Is the default state to take action?

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Oh No! You didn’t make your inside sales quota! Now what?

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Image source: www.positiveimperative.com

Imagine this….You are an inside sales rep and you have to sell $1 million dollars this year.  If not, that’s it. You are history. No second chances.  Either make your quota or lose…  (you fill in the blank).

 What would you do to make this goal?

Would you make a plan? Set more appointments? Work smarter? Work harder?

If you were given a year,  would you develop a plan? Make as many dials as possible? Would you try EXTREMELY hard?

or would you just try a little, wait for inbound leads  and referrals and hope for the best?   Would you watch the clock, research accounts, surf the net, look at your tweets? Not pick up the phone?

So here are some statistics to think about courtesy of CSO Insights:

  • 58% of sales reps make quota (down from 63% in 2012)
  • 25.2% of leads are generated by marketing
  • 45.9% of leads are generated by sales reps

What can you do now?

Stop depending on marketing and work harder to generate your own sales leads

Create a personal sales plan, don’t wait for one to be created for you.

Take control of your inside sales process.

  1. Use a CRM to manage your sales process.

Do More

  • Make more phone calls
  • Send more emails
  • Get more referrals
  • Set more appointments
  • Make more demos
  • Generate more proposals
  • Close more deals.

Work smarter, not harder

Use sales acceleration tools to generate more leads, faster

Final Thoughts:

My first question is… what prevents sales reps from pushing the envelope without this type of motivation?  What holds you back?

If you can isolate this and figure it out,  you’ll achieve success.   Give it some thought and leave no stone unturned!

If you want to turn stones over faster…check out connectleader!

 

About the Author: Rick Hussey is an Inside Sales Rep for ConnectLeader. The comments included are Rick’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the company. Although we totally agree with him.

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10 Bad Habits that Destroy Inside Sales Productivity (Part 2)

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Inside sales is a competitive field where professionals need to bring an incredible work ethic to the job each day. Unfortunately, some find that their habits can hurt their sales productivity and their careers.

Here are the second 5 bad habits that every sales professional should focus on eliminating. Continue reading

How to reduce stress and stay healthy in an inside sales job

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A job in inside sales can be very rewarding. However, the environment in which sales representatives must work is often stressful. Likewise, because inside sales representatives must spend most of their time sitting at a desk, staying healthy can also be difficult. Below are some tips inside sales representatives can follow to reduce stress and stay healthy while on-the-job.

Reducing Stress

Organize your workspace.

Organization can go a long way toward relieving stress. Keep your workspace as clean and clutter-free as possible to reduce your anxiety and promote productivity.

Set a realistic schedule.

Setting goals for yourself is an excellent way to increase your effectiveness as a salesperson. Develop a practical schedule for each day you spend on-the-job and follow it as closely as you can. Not only will you be more productive, but you will also experience less stress.

View stress as an ally, not an enemy.

Although you can take steps to reduce your stress at work, you will never be able to eliminate it entirely. However, a mild amount of stress can be positive in some cases. According to Time Magazine, people who saw stress as a beneficial, motivational force performed better at work and experienced fewer psychological symptoms than those who saw stress as debilitating.

Staying Healthy

Learn about office ergonomics.

One of the most common problems experienced by inside sales personnel is soreness and/or stiffness resulting from remaining in a seated position for most of the day. To reduce soreness and stiffness, make your workspace as ergonomic as possible by:

  • Using good posture.
  • Adjusting your chair height so that your feet rest comfortably on the floor.
  • Using a wrist rest.
  • Using a telephone headset.

Be active on your breaks.

As an inside salesperson, most of your day involves sitting in one place. Use your breaks as an opportunity to walk around, wake yourself up and burn some calories.

Bring a nutritious lunch.

One of the worst things you can do when you work a desk job is to eat a vending machine lunch or order fast food. Instead of settling for these quick, unhealthy alternatives, pack a nutritious lunch at home and bring it with you to work. If you work long shifts, consider bringing some healthy snacks as well.

Be healthy outside of work.

To improve your overall health, make sure that you continue to take care of yourself outside of the office as well. Eat a wholesome diet, exercise regularly and enjoy your favorite leisure activities to reduce stress and stay in shape.

Staying healthy while working on the phone.

Staying foruces on your daily goals can make you feel better with yourself and provide a sense of accomplishment. Since inside sales reps must spend much of their day on the telephone, using productivity tools and ergonomic tools. A good headset will avoid muscle cramps in your neck and keep your hands free for making notes in your CRM system. A sales dialing automation program can reduce the amount of time you take dialing the telephone and navigating voicemail trees. Pre-recording voicemail messages will also help you save time and have a better chance at making your monthly sales quota. That’s the best stress reducer!

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169

http://business.time.com/2014/01/22/5-scientifically-proven-ways-to-reduce-stress-at-work/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/

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ConnectLeader Makes 50 Best Sales Management Tools/Software List

[fusion_text]docurated_best50salesproductivityIf you are looking to  improve sales productivity with your inside sales team, then you should take a look at the latest blog from Docurated, a leading provider of content managment solutions. They’ve compiled a helpful collection of sales productivity tools titled 50 Best Sales Management Tools/Software. ConnectLeader was among the list for the first time (# 45). The list featured a number of prominent CRM solutions including Salesforce.com and NetSuite. It also featured a number of less well-known applications that could really help your sales productivity.

Interesting Sales Productivity Solutions


I scanned through the list of solutions and found some pretty cool and new (at least to me) solutions. Let me know what you think of my choices or if there are other apps that you have used and would like to gloat about. Below are a few of my favorites.


WiseStamp Email SignatureWiseStamp-Screen-Shot

Raise your hand if you’re tired of the old basic email signature. WiseStamp is a simple app that allows a company to create a unique brand across the organization. This app also has a lot of horsepower behind it including central signature management, professional templates, and you can even customize legal statements.


 

 DemoChimp Automated Demos

demochimpscreenIf you sales team is like our sales team, they are making lots of live demos every day. However, being able to automate and customize demos is really interesting. DemoChimp allows you to ask your prospects a list of questions which you can use to customize the demo. Then the demo can be shared by the client team. You can check out their own customizable demo on their website.


 

Bunchball Nitro Gamification

NitroScreenShothoopla and other gamification platforms are helping motivate sales teams and increase their sales productivity. What I like about Nitro is their ability to also engage customers, loyalty programs, and channel partners in order to drive revenues. They offer lots of analytics and technology to improve the customer experience.


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