Advancements in technology are revamping all industries, bringing more options for enhancing productivity and sales. Businesses have been benefiting from solutions such as back office outsourcing that provide easy access to the latest technology and trained professionals, which in turn improves efficiency and ROI. The sales sector especially has been heavily affected by the many changes modern technology brings. From finding prospects to closing, technological innovations such as big data, mobile, social, and cloud technologies are revamping the sales process, whether inside sales or outside sales.
Let us examine the inside sales process and how it can be managed well to improve overall productivity and sales.
Though inside sales involved only those made over the telephone, the internet has made it cover sales made via email, Skype, and other cyber communication methods provided the salesperson is working from behind a desk. Ken Krogue, a Forbes contributor, calls inside sales by the name remote sales. This is the dominant sales model for reps in B2B, SaaS, tech, and a variety of B2C industries selling high-ticket items. With the enormous advances in communications technology, now inside sales reps can give presentations, conduct demos, and carry out most functions traditionally handled by field representatives. It is estimated that the inside sales industry is growing rapidly – 300% more than field sales. However, business leaders must overcome numerous challenges and balance multiple priorities to achieve the desired results.
A study by InsideSales.com labs show that over 200 sales reps spend more than 25 out of 40 hours a week on non-sales generating activities. It is estimated that non- revenue generating tasks take up 63.4 percent of reps’ time. The study included field and inside salespeople and concluded that phone agents were on the low end of the spectrum. Field reps outperform them in generating more revenue by 17.5 percent.
Some of the activities that take up a fair share of inside sales reps’ time are administrative tasks, dealing with corporate policies and researching accounts and contacts. These activities are very time-consuming, and sales reps would like to spend this time on account planning, sales follow-up, forecasting and pipeline management etc that are effective in generating sales.
Finding the balance between efficiency and effectiveness is the key to improving a team’s sales productivity. There are many solutions available in modern technology that can prevent mismanagement of time. The research suggests that it is time for managers to find ways to minimize administrative responsibilities of reps, streamline corporate policies and facilitate efficient prospect research.
Some of the tips for inside sales time management are:
- Reducing admin tasks
- Marketing automation: Marketing automation makes it easier for sales reps by providing access to a central marketing database and insights on how people are interacting with your organization. It also takes over the work of conducting phone, email and other marketing campaigns. Marketing automation also enables managers to track and test campaigns and optimize them to increase efficiency. Sales Force Automation (SFA) is a technology that automates many tasks and helps sales employees to focus on revenue and sales generating activities. With SFA, managers can also have instant access to activities of individual reps, sales figures, opportunities etc., and with this information managers can take action and make adjustments quickly to optimize efforts.
- CRM: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a powerful solution. Sales reps spend 18 percent of their time in CRM and it can be frustrating. This is because it is jam packed with features and not easy to use. So, to encourage sales reps to use the CRM system, usability is essential. Data entry should be intuitive, and the reports should be easily accessible. CRM solution along with marketing automation system, will help you avoid miscommunication and ensure consistent messaging.
- Email templates: Email is an important tool for inside sales reps and it helps in personalizing communications. So, create a series of email templates for use in different situations like responding to new leads to following upon phone calls. Sales reps can select from these messages and customize if needed, to add a personal touch.
- Do not make reps dial the phone: Use an auto-dialler as it rapidly dials phone numbers and connects reps when a person or voicemails answers. This prevents reps from wasting time and there will be no stalling between calls. This in turn helps in improving productivity.
- Review Internal Policies: Organizations’ internal policies ensure that reps comply with the ways of the business, but it can slow down the sales process. So, review policies to ensure that they are necessary, or to decide whether it is possible to manage the policies more efficiently.
- Make prospect research easier: Reps can easily seek information for prospect research using Google or LinkedIn. However, with market intelligence software you can get information about markets, companies and their associates. If you need business data based on categories like industry or location, a business directory like Hoover’s is useful. It has company names, key personnel, number of employees and phone numbers.
Increasing the productivity and bottom line of an organization is not an easy task; among other things it requires proper inside sales time management. It would help immensely if managers talked to their inside sales reps to find out how they are using their time and what aspects of their job are frustrating. Then, prioritize what must be tackled first by identifying significant time wasters. Ensure that all administrative tasks that take up too much time are identified; find out how long it takes your reps to research prospects, and whether any internal policies are acting as bottlenecks. You can also consider utilizing outsourced solutions for all or part of your inside sales activities. When the best inside sales time management strategies are successfully implemented, you can benefit from a higher return on investment, increased sales, and an optimized sales process.