Creating an Inside Sales Team: How to Set Yourself up for Success
There’s more to just building an inside sales team than looking for a great hire.
The switch from field sales can seem a big task, but it’s no doubt a decision that is helping businesses across the globe to reach new markets, increase engagement and offer a better customer experience.
In this blog, we’ll explore the basics that should inform your sales strategy, and how you can make the right decisions to reduce risk, successfully hire and maintain your team for long-term sales success.
Why do I need an Inside Team?
In today’s market, businesses need inside sales to be competitive. Modern buyers have become self-sufficient in researching buying decisions. There’s no longer an expectation for the face to face ‘travelling salesman’. Modern buyers expect a seamless, digital, customer experience-first approach, that’s entirely on their terms. Phone, email, social selling. This digital approach to selling has become almost second nature in the B2B world, just as e-commerce has boomed for B2C.
Now, with a range of modern outreach and deal management tools, teams can prospect, qualify, nurture and close far more freely and effectively. Closing deals more efficiently and generating a greater return on both effort and investment.
In fact, companies with sales teams primarily made up by inside sales have a 10% higher quota attainment than those relying on outside sales teams, according to a Spotio report.
Creating an Inside Team: The Essentials
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building a winning team. Often, the biggest mistake sales leaders make is just ignoring the importance of time, agility and strong decision-making. Building a team of people with the right abilities is only one side of the coin. As a leader, you need to build an environment that allows your people to succeed, rather than just relying on their skill sets or experiences alone to grow pipeline that generates revenue.
While there isn’t a plug-and-play formula for building. There are some aspects every business needs to prioritize. We’ll now break down four elements you need to consider before looking to build a team from scratch.
People are the heart of any good inside selling operation. Before looking to hire the best talent for your business, you need to first know the role of each person in the team. No to mention, how this person supports the objectives and goals of the business – and can achieve personal growth.
It’s not just about hiring to hit activity targets, book appointments and reach sales goals. The sales hiring market is more competitive than ever. First outline how you intend to incentivize and motivate your sellers through compensation plans and career progression that presents your team as an attractive opportunity to the right candidates. This will support your business in terms of talent acquisition, but also long-term retention. You need to build an engaging culture where sellers understand the part their role plays, and equally understand that it is respected and recognized by the business.
Metrics offer crucial insight into the performance of your inside sales operation. Both on a macro and micro level. They help leaders to understand how the work they’re doing is converting into their business’ goals and objectives. To run a successful sales team, you need to be able to quantify performance, monitor progress, analyse data, and define the role of each member involved in the sales funnel. Identify the metrics that matter to your process, with benchmarks that offer clear targets for your sales team and the wider community.
An open conversation about expectations for each seller helps to increase return on effort and ensures team members are always working in the same direction, whilst also know their purpose in the process. There are dozens of metrics that, when correctly integrated, support great decision making. However, by monitoring trends in real-time, leaders can effectively pinpoint high-attention risk areas, both one by one and strategy-wide. This enables healthy goal-setting that drives performance, team morale, and accountability.
Activity to Connection Rates
Connect to Conversion Rates
3. Technology & Integration
Technology can be the secret weapon or Trojan horse inside every inside selling team’s arsenal. For your team to sell in the most dynamic and proficient way, you need to enable individual team members to understand how to maximize their tools and the impact of their actions in the sales cycle, so they can manage their own performance and behaviours.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A centralized storage of interactions – and the master record of customer data. These systems help businesses to store and track conversations and nurture efforts with all outbound and inbound leads, offering a 360-degree view of all prospect and client interactions in the funnel.
Sales Enablement & Automation
Sales enablement tools increase relevance and the quality of interactions with prospects or clients by providing visibility across the sales cycle. Sales enablement improves rep performance, generating a better buyer experience and increased revenue growth. Through automation, sales enablement platforms also allow leaders to take care of the mundane, freeing up precious seller time to actively work towards increasing revenue.
Sales prospecting tools ensure all outreach efforts are directed at the right Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and buyer persona. These tools support salespeople in rating a prospect’s ideal “fit” for their offering. On top of this, they also provide sales representatives with gold-dust customer data at their fingertips, which can be used to gauge prospect intent before engaging with them one-to-one.
Sales Intelligence Tools
Sales intelligence tools help inside salespeople to sell smarter, rather than harder, with quality insights that enable them to engage with buyers in the most impactful way. The term “sales intelligence” is broad, but can cover everything from lead-scoring, to call recording software that helps to identify top-performing keywords and call tonality.
Reporting and Analytics
Full integration of reporting and analytics across the entirety of the tech stack gives a clearer view over sales performance on a process and rep-by-rep basis. This technology provides crucial insight into historical benchmarking data, supporting leaders in setting well-balanced KPIs, whilst also offering the visibility to track team engagement, productivity, and performance levels.
The value of team communication is often overlooked. Now, it’s not just about inside sellers communicating between themselves; it’s communicating to the field, to product developers, and product owners, to enable sellers to ask questions in real-time. Get answers. Get direction. Get respondents.
Communication in today’s landscape doesn’t just mean setting up Microsoft Teams, social media or Slack channels, it’s about using those tools to support sellers in achieving exceptional interactions with prospects and buyers. Remember, your salespeople are on the front line for your business. Offer them the opportunities to ask specific questions to those more knowledgeable about the product or service and in return, they’ll be able to hold more memorable, engaging and relevant conversations with prospects at a fast pace.
Building Training & Maintaining the Right Team
Onboarding and training are essential to the success of your inside sales operation – but not just for new hires. If you want your team to be constantly engaged, connecting, converting and closing, you need to be constantly training them on the most impactful and effective way to do so.
Training shouldn’t just be about how to use your technology, processes and procedures to make appointments. Training has to be about who you are as a company, what your history is, its place and positioning within the industry, what your objectives are, your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and where your product fits in the market.
As a leader, you need to be extremely clear on the objectives and goals of the business from the onset, and acutely understand (and explain!) how the role of each member in your team contributes to those targets. It’s easy to lose long-term visibility by focusing on cold calling activity metrics, but for a true return on investment from your sellers, they need to feel incentivized, recognised and stimulated.
It’s not just about the money; it’s about the contribution they understand they’re making – to themselves, to their teams, and to their business. You can’t understand what you bring to the table and therefore feel a sense of responsibility, accountability and ownership for your business if you don’t understand how your business operates. The more this understanding becomes diluted, the greater the apprehension and the lower the motivation for salespeople to perform outside of their own commission and earning potential.
How Long Does it Take to Build an Inside Team?
At InsideOut, we believe that it takes one year to build a successful, winning teams. We break the creation process into four 90-day sections – quarter by quarter.
90 Days: After establishing the requirements, at a strategy, capacity and planning level, physically building a team should be possible within 90 days. This will include creating a job specification, a person specification, and selecting the relevant sales tools for your business. During the first 90 days, we aim to be delivering results, based on a 33%, 66%, 100% ramping model.
180 Days: Within 180 days, focus should shift to building the outside infrastructure for team growth; delivering training and nurturing and engaging with new team members on a one-to-one level. It can take up to 90 days from hiring or transition for a seller to be completely comfortable with the tools, technology, products, services, expectations, and intricacies of the organization.
260 Days: By 260 days, you should have established a solid run-rate, and evidence of building effectiveness taking shape in terms of sales funnel progression. At this point, organizations should be able to understand the individuals within their new inside teams, making more informed decisions on their best suited roles.
360 Days: The final 90 days should be reflective. Evaluate your data and understand the learnings from the creation and sales process up until this point. What have you learnt? What do you need to change? Where should you invest? Gauge team engagement and data analysis to help you make better informed decisions for your team.
A successful inside team can be the backbone of your business. In fact, a proactive sales rep can maintain a 30 to 50% lower cost of sales than a field rep while still growing sales productivity, according to Distribution Strategy Group.
Although, as we’ve established, you can’t just put weight behind weak resources. Set your team up with tools to excel and watch your business and pipeline grow exponentially. Companies need to be aware of the realities – both in terms of timescale and costs – that go into building and ramping up a successful inside sales organization, making sure they have the tech stack, processes, and culture needed to deliver results for your company.
At InsideOut we can help you in building your own team, leveraging our knowledge and expertise as inside sales specialists. We can reduce the time, cost, and risk of building this team from scratch, by designing sales programs for you that are data-driven. Or, if you are looking to fully outsource, we can manage your company’s entire inside sales process, from beginning to end.
Get in touch with our experts today to discover what we can do for you.
Originally from Iver in the United Kingdom, which she will proudly tell you is near where the Queen lives, Christina moved to the U.S.A. in the early 2010s before founding InsideOut in 2015. Fast forward 12 months to 2016 and InsideOut had 150+ employees and a 7,500 square-foot facility based in Florida! With 25+ years in sales and operations, the majority of which has been at board level, those who have met Christina would agree that she strives for operational excellence on a daily basis, consistently working to develop the individuals at InsideOut and help them unlock their full potential.