The shift from using outside sales forces to inside sales forces has been going on for years. A 2013 study by InsideSales.com revealed that inside sales positions were growing 300 times faster than outside sales positions. Industry leaders know why: maintaining an inside sales force typically costs less, and the constant introduction of new technology allows inside salespeople to achieve results similar to those realized by outside salespeople. Communication technologies such as Voice over IP, CRM, email, and even videoconferencing bridge geographical barriers and allow inside salespeople to build personal rapport close to that enjoyed by outside salespeople.
In some instances, the more frequent interaction between inside salespeople and clients results in even stronger relationships than those developed by outside salespeople, whose large territories often mean they visit clients infrequently.
Social selling is the newest trend in sales. The Aberdeen Groups reports that teams using social-selling techniques exceed their quota 31 percent more than teams that don’t use social selling. In a social-selling pilot by IBM’s Cloud Services group, inside salespeople increased lead generation using Twitter and LinkedIn. The pilot resulted in a 400 percent sales increase, compared to a similar product launch, which did not employ social-selling techniques. It resulted in a decision to move forward with a roll out to all 1,700 inside salespeople.
Here are four reasons why inside salespeople make great social sellers:
1. Inside salespeople are at their desks. In this era of smartphones and iPads, outside sales reps are more connected than ever, but they still burn more hours in meetings, flying in airplanes with no Wi-Fi, or driving (no texting!) than their inside-sales counterparts. It is simply easier for inside salespeople to participate on social networks.
2. Inside salespeople are skilled at building virtual relationships. With onsite meetings, lunches, and golf outings removed from their schedules, inside salespeople have learned how to use the phone, email, and social media to communicate effectively. Imagine an inside sales rep in Seattle whose sales territory is Ohio. The rep can build a network of Ohio contacts and a good reputation by contributing valuable information to local LinkedIn Groups in which customers and prospects are members.
3. Inside salespeople are used to juggling many activities. Often, inside salespeople are responsible for a larger number of smaller prospect or subscription renewals. They are used to quick phone and computer interactions with many contacts throughout the day. This rapid-response skill is the ideal personality trait needed to succeed in the 140-character world of social networking.
4. Inside sales reps are more likely to be “digital natives.” For many companies, the average insides sales rep is younger than his or her average outside-sales counterpart. That is because inside sales is often the training ground for a career in outside sales. Salespeople who have grown up in the digital era are comfortable, not only with the mechanics of social networking, but also with the philosophy of being transparent and sharing information online.
As more buyers spend more of the sales cycle online, it will be easier to engage them on social networks via an inside sales team. Can you think of any other reason why inside sales reps make great social sellers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.