What is Inside Sales and what results can B2B companies expect?

by | May 14, 2019

The business context is changing, and the speed in which it changes has never been faster, and due to the internet, we have never been more connected across the globe. It is safe to say that the world is becoming more complex.

New technologies are emerging and changing the way we live, and with that, the way we do business; the way we are buying is changing which naturally is affecting the way we sell, but somehow B2B sales haven’t caught up, despite having all the tools necessary. We are here to change that. Inside Sales is here to accommodate that transition.

In the following blog post, and the first entry to our blog series Getting the Basics (where we introduce the basic concepts of what we find important), we here at Kvadrant attempt to give a simple introduction to Inside Sales. The purpose of this post is to define Inside Sales in the context of B2B buying and selling, try to explain the reason for its rising popularity, name a few benefits and finally touch on a few results B2B companies can expect from adopting Inside Sales.

1. The main idea

As the world is changing and becoming more technological the way of buying changes as well. This means that sellers need to adapt their way of approaching and communicating with their potential buyers. By implementing inside sales the seller is able to reach out to the buyer at the right buying stage and with relevant information to the potential buyer, thus increasing the chance of a sale.

2. Supporting facts

According to Harvard Business Review, Inside Sales can reduce costs by 40-90%. Additional research shows that companies that are able to structurally nurture prospects see 451% increase in qualified leads.

3. Key take-away

Implementing Inside Sales requires marketing and sales alignment to be successful. If implemented correctly businesses are likely to see an increase in win rates while being able to cut costs significantly which consequently lead to higher profits.

The definition of Inside Sales

Open any normal dictionary, and you won’t find the term “Inside Sales” defined, it is highly niched business term that hasn’t been adopted yet, so we will try to give you an answer by mixing other sources and our experience. Simply put Inside Sales is the act of “identifying, nurturing and turning leads into customers remotely.” In other words Inside Sales means “handled from inside your company” and therefore done remotely through phone or online via email, video conferences & chats, which contrasts the more traditional type of sales we know as Outside Sales which is done in person and outside your company, often by visiting your prospects and clients in-person. But there is much more to Inside Sales than having to hang your sales reps’ coats primarily in your office and simply have them call your clients.

Before we dive into the topic it is essential to understand that Inside Sales isn’t related to telemarketing in any way; on the contrary, it is the opposite. Inside Sales is about knowing your customers better than ever, being productive with their time and supplying them with the right information at the right time as they move through their buying process and hopefully your marketing and sales funnel. This means that the people undertaking Inside Sales need to be highly knowledgeable and skilled about their products, understand their clients’ pains and needs, as they move through their buying process. On top of that Inside Sales reps working in Inside Sales need to be able to work both on a strategic level and an operational one. Inside Sales is not only about doing an online demo remotely, that’s only a small part of what we know as Inside Sales.

You can’t simplify Inside Sales to a single action: It’s multiple activities. Inside Sales is a non-linear sequence of events, people & processes structured in your sales organisation, that, demands new procedures, a new mindset, a re-skilling of existing employees, hiring of new ones and embracing technology – that is if you haven’t embraced this paradigm yet.

In other words, it is a commercial transformation of parts of or the whole organisation towards becoming a more efficient sales organisation and creating more value for the customer.

Why is Inside Sales gaining popularity with high growth companies

The simple answer is that it works and is financially beneficial: Sellers are cutting costs and becoming more efficient, and for many companies, that’s good enough of an argument to transform their sales structure from a more traditional Outside Sales structure towards an Inside Sales structure.

Technology has arrived at a level where we can now create enough online intimacy and establish trust between our buyers and us, without being there in person.
B2B buyers are less worried about buying remotely, which is changing their habits and needs, directly impacting B2B selling.

Before we dive into some of the benefits and the numbers supporting our claims, let’s take a more in-depth look at what is causing successful B2B companies to adopt Inside Sales.

Technology is the primary driver of change

Inside Sales is directly correlated with the technological advances being made, it’s the main driver and its reason of existence. Tech has impacted how we live and work more than anything in the last 25 years. In selling it has now equipped sales teams with technological advancement for connecting with clients remotely, 24/7, automatically and through customized messaging, gaining real-time analytics and much much more.

In a traditional Outside Sales model, you have limited outreach and methods, and you are basically working one-to-one; in Inside Sales, you and/or a machine is working one-to-many, the benefits are obvious.

The way we live changes the way we buy

Combine the technological advancements with a shift in the job market, and you have a recipe for a changing landscape.

As almost the majority of the job market now consists of Millenials, there is a larger group of people than ever who have embraced hardware and software technologies due it being a mainstream tech commodity with a low barrier to entry. Broadly speaking Millennials have been embracing technology as it and they matured and we sensing the tremors in the B2B world.

It is expected that within the next year nearly 50% of the American job market will consist of Millenials and in 2025 almost 75% of the global workforce will be Millenials. As the generally less tech-equipped Baby Boomers are leaving the job market, and the Gen Z’ers (also known as the iGen) will be entering the job market in the coming years, we are seeing a generation who have been born with computers and internet and who know of nothing else and who navigates seamlessly with tech and who expects a different way and higher standard of buying. To exemplify, Millennials’ smartphones are less a phone to call on as Baby Boomers perceives it, and calling unannounced can even be considered as rude. As an article in the Guardian states “More than three-quarters of all adults in the UK own smartphones, but 25% don’t use them to make calls.” The same article goes on to explain how speaking on the phone is seen as an event by Millenials, not something to avoid – but something both parties should have a chance to prepare for. Calling someone unannounced might come off a plain rude as you are prioritizing your needs over them, before checking in on an email. If you are wondering why Cold calling isn’t working out as it used to, here you have the answer.

One of the core ideas in Inside Sales takes this change into account. We have to accommodate our buyers on when they want information, and in the formats they request, and that might be Sunday 9 PM after they have tucked the kids to bed.

The benefits and results you can expect from implementing Inside Sales

Implementing Inside Sales can benefit your organisation in several ways. Below we present a few of them but it is worth mentioning that there are plenty of other advantages of gearing your company for Inside Sales.

It is efficient: it is less time consuming, as you don’t waste so much time on travel. As mentioned earlier one person’s work can be multiplied and be spread to many. Rather than working one-to-one. Expect to increase sales productivity. Research shows that business’ that use marketing automation software to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads.

It is insightful: By implementing more digital sales tools (CRM etc.), you will gain more insights and analytics into your sales machine, which will provide you with data that will ease predictability and forecasting, which enables you to adjust on reliable data as you go. Expect to be challenged on your data analytics but anticipate a much firmer grasp of your business analytics.

It is effective: we tailor content (sales & marketing material) over time to provide the most value at the right time thereby delivering more impactful and valuable content. Expect your sales and marketing to become more acquainted and collaborative and have more significant ROI on your marketing production. 82% of B2B buyers viewed a minimum of 5 pieces of content from a winning vendor and 34% of B2B buyers that have limited engagement with their vendors do so because the marketing material they receive is too much irrelevant content. In other words you better have enough great AND tailored content.

It is cost saving: As stated in Harvard Business Review Inside Sales can reduce costs by 40-90% in comparison to field sales – without taking a cut in revenue, expect your business to grow long term.

To be successful in Inside Sales it is vital to promote collaboration between sales and marketing teams, doing so will benefit your customer and your company. In fact, research shows that these types of organisations on average achieve 27% faster three-year profit growth.

The soon-to-be-expired salesperson

As the job market changes with its different generations entering and exiting, so does our understanding of what tools we should use to do business and how we do business. Inside Sales embrace what is now but take into account the future. Are we saying Outside Sales is dead? No, absolutely not. There is always a time and a place for face-to-face meetings, and a combination of both Inside and Outside Sales is a potent combination, but the old conservative salespeople who steadfastly roars that the only real way to sell is face-to-face meetings are unknowingly tagging themselves “soon-to-be-expired.”

There is simply a different kind of trust, mentality, and priority of today’s younger B2B buyers, which the “insistent conservatives” won’t get. If we as an organisation can embrace a new way of selling, we will increase our chance of thriving.

The tremors we are sensing originates from what could be best described as the Steam locomotive blasting into a rural and young 19th Century American town. What is entering now will change the landscape forever.

The only question left is to ask yourself if your organisation will begin prospecting gold – or watch from the sideline?

Thomas Børve

Thomas Børve

Managing Partner at Kvadrant

+45 40410043
tbj@kvadrant.dk

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