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What’s booming in technology sales right now? Inside sales teams.
A recent study, “Outside In: The Rise of the Inside Sales Team,” conducted by Reality Works Group and ZS Associates, found that 40 percent of large technology companies plan to increase their inside-sales head count by 2016. What will this mean for the sales profession? Here are three key points from the study that sales leaders can use as action steps for growing inside sales teams.
1. Reduce high turnover rates.
Research revealed that the standard turnover rate for inside sales professionals in technology companies is 19 percent. Organizations should begin to think of the inside sales role as equally important as outside sales. Companies need to consider retention strategies, competency models, coaching, and career progression for inside sales, just as they do for their field sales teams.
2. Nail down policies for overtime pay.
A full 65 percent of organizations surveyed indicated that they classify inside-sales staff members as exempt and, while the Federal Labor Standards Act offers clear guidelines for classification of outside salespeople, the details for inside salespeople are not as clear cut.
Unfortunately, this vagueness has left some companies to find out the hard way that overtime laws don’t always apply to inside sales teams as they do to field salespeople. It is critical that sales leaders understand exemption laws and create transparent policies to ensure compliance with them. When you don’t know how to properly compensate the sales team, revenue suffers. As inside sellers gain more responsibility for generating profit and engaging clients and prospects, tying an inside salesperson’s quota and commission plan to an outside salesperson may no longer make sense. Organizations need to rethink their approaches to the drivers of sales force effectiveness, including motivating and rewarding their inside sales teams through sales-compensation programs.
3. Leverage the social skills of inside sellers.
The Reality Works Group/ZS Associates study cites research, published by ZS in 2013, illustrating how IBM helped its salespeople leverage social channels to generate leads and manage account relationships. Early results included a 55 percent increase in Twitter followers and a significant increase in the number of high-quality inbound leads.
The lesson is clear: B2B buyers are increasingly becoming comfortable with collaborating, researching, and even completing the purchase cycle through online channels. That puts inside sellers in a powerful position to influence decision makers. With today’s tools, salespeople don’t need to leave their desks. They can usher prospects through the sales funnel virtually and create new clients.
As opportunities to reach, engage, and influence prospects increase, the number of touch points will increase, as well. Savvy sales leaders are enabling their inside sales teams with tools to engage clients and prospects via the channels that prospects prefer.
Want to learn more about the rise of inside sales teams? Download the full study, “Outside In: The Rise of the Inside Sales Team.”