Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking to a phenomenal group of Inside Sales Senior Executives in Dublin, Ireland. It was the first International Leadership Summit hosted by the AA-ISP and it was fantastic. The energy and participation were amazing – and that was before the Guinness! I covered the top ten blunders I’ve seen in our industry this year and did my best to advocate for sales manager and rep development. Many organizations represented at the conference were absolute innovators. I loved hearing about how Intel Security is a top company to work for in Ireland and how IBM is enabling the social and digital aspects of selling (really, how do I get a wall I can roll AND write on!?).
Believing In Inside Sales
Most of the folks who sought me out afterward, however, were facing the same very big challenge: Senior Leadership doesn’t really believe in Inside Sales. “Our product can’t be sold over the phone. Now be a good VP and go fetch me some leads.”
It was so frustrating to them, and rightfully so! Any of us in this profession has faced this at one time or another. I’ve literally ridden this wave for the past twenty years through IT hardware and software to distribution & industrial companies, to big-box retail and pharma today. And now the wave is crashing hard on the shores of Europe, and I’m here to tell you to jump in and swim.
Here are a few reminders of why the Inside Sales wave is righteous (and why it cannot be stopped):
- Your customer demands it. It’s not OK to get back to them a few days later. We want NOW and that means folks perched by the phones.
- There is no faster way to attack a new market – be it customer set, product set, our geo. I can talk to 20 people a day. If you got your field rep a jet pack, he’ll max at five (but how cool would that be).
- The one-two punch. Let field take down the big game and let inside pick off the rest of the herd. You know your field reps aren’t calling anyone but their top three contacts at that account, right? And how about the bottom 20% of their book?
- Three little letters: S M B. It’s not efficient or cost effective to tackle this massive market with field resources.
- Product maturity: Margins and complexity decrease as the product lifecycle moves to the right – you’ll need to lower your cost of sales.
- Accountability and scalability – there’s a reason you don’t see many field reps successfully transition to Inside Sales. It’s harder, it’s faster, and there’s no “appointment” where you can hide on a Friday afternoon.
Ride The Wave
Surely one of these can serve you as you fight for your piece of the wave. Obviously I’ve also picked a fight with a pretty large and mobile group of sellers, so I say game on. If you have a comment about why this is wrong or how you’ve proved one of them right, please leave it! No argument is quite as strong as your own success story about a big deal uncovered or won by the Inside.
Hey, history has proven across the globe that this wave is real. You may be paddling a bit longer, but you’re on the board and you’re in the water, and the Wave. Is. Coming. So get your house in order because it will be fast and furious when it does. Today you’re proving the value, but mark my words that in a year or two you’ll be asked to grow 10x. Will you be ready? Enjoy the ride; you’ll be running the place in no time if you time it just right.