18 days ago, I wrote another article on Inside Sales.  Why am I burning up valuable time talking about it again?  Because if you don’t have an Inside Sales force, you are losing revenue every day.


Inside Sales

How can I make such a bold statement?  In the last week, I “Mystery Shopped” five companies.  The smallest was around $6M in revenue, and the largest well over $10B.  They were in diverse industries, from data management to managed services.  (To learn more about SBI’s Mystery Shopping methodology and Inside Sales, click to register for our Make The Number Research Project.) 


Mystery Shopping means engaging your company (and your company’s competitors) as an outside Buyer would.  It allows you to see how your current Sales Force Structure accommodates (or hinders) your sales effort.  Below is a fishbone diagram example of some basic insights we gained conducting a Mystery Shop for a client:



Inside Sales


A critical element of SBI’s Mystery Shop involves going to the company’s website and requesting more information about their products and services.  Can you hear the crickets chirping in my e-mail Inbox?  This simple fact ought to stop you cold:  Not one of the five companies I Mystery Shopped last week responded to me.  If you’re a CEO or SVP of Sales, there’s a good chance you have a problem that will contribute to you missing your revenue number.  And you may not even know it. 


Before you think to yourself “customer service handles that” and snap your phone shut, let’s dive a little deeper into what I mean by “Inside Sales.”  Then I’ll show you some statistics that will make it very clear to you that Inside Sales needs to be redefined, reconsidered, or fortified in your organization.


Inside Sales in the year 2013 means:


  • web and telephone-enabled, high caliber individuals
  • tied virtually into your company’s CRM application
  • chatting in real time with your field sales force
  • supported by a thoughtfully designed company website.


The negative bias you might have towards Inside Sales stems from the fact that until a few years ago, “Inside Sales” translated as “junior sales people selling low revenue stuff.”  Or worse, Customer Service “handled” inside sales by trying to upsell inbound phone calls.  It was the backwater of sales. 


Not anymore.  As soon as everyone got online, the world changed.  Now studies show that upwards of 57% of the Buyer’s Journey occurs before they contact you directly.  Today Inside Sales may be:


  • the Buyer’s first moment of truth as they decide whether or not to buy from you
  • the first way they reach out to you
  • the first time they hear a human voice
  • the first opportunity to judge you on how easy you are to work with
  • a totally separate strategic channel for you.  As I’ve shown in past articles, 75% of Buyers would prefer NOT to meet face to face with your sales rep.


If you doubt this, just think about the last time you, as a consumer, interacted with a new company online or over the phone.  Your entire perception of them (and your decision to purchase) rested on how they took care of you…And in this environment, five companies last week didn’t respond to my requests for information?  Amazing.


Remember the statistics I promised you earlier?  Check this out:  One activity performed by Inside Sales is lead follow up: 


Inside Sales


This information is from www.leadresponsemanagement.org.  This represents visitors to a company website.  It shows conversion rates in five minute increments for two types of conversion events.  First, from visitors dialed to visitors successfully contacted.  Second, from visitors dialed to leads that were successfully qualified.  Look at the speed of the drop in successful conversions!   You need to try to contact leads within 5 minutes of them coming to visit you.  After half an hour – you’re chasing a ghost. 


I spoke with one VP of Sales at a large company who confessed that when a lead came to his company’s website, the information was printed off by an admin and placed in the sales rep’s box at the office.  This individual knew there was a problem, but didn’t know where to start to fix it.


Leads are like milk.  They spoil quickly.  Speed is king.  I am talking directly to the top sales leader in the organization – what impression does Inside Sales give your Buyers?  There is a limited amount of time left to dig into this before the New Year is upon us.


If I can help, drop me a note or call me.