SalesHow to recruit, build and retain an Inside Sales team

August 18, 2021
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Whether you’re a startup or a fast-growing company, you need inside sales.

With buyer behaviors continually changing and advances in communication technology, we’ve seen more organizations shift away from the traditional field sales in favor of an outside/inside hybrid model. Some have even made a full pivot to inside sales. In order to grow your business and stay competitive, you need to adapt to this increasingly digital landscape. But how?

How can my organization create its own inside sales team? How easy is it? What steps do we need to take and how long will it take?

This blog explains everything you need to know about recruiting, building, and retaining an inside sales team. We also discuss what we can do here at InsideOut to expedite this process while helping to mitigate risk, seamlessly plugging into your organization with our industry-leading inside sales knowledge and expertise.

What comes first?

Capacity planning should be your first priority. This will determine what type of team you need and how you need that team to work.

By assessing your capacity and aligning your sales force in this way, you’re limiting your risk, and also increasing the bandwidth of your field sales team.

The structure of your sales team and the ratio of field sellers to inside sales reps will also depend on the type of product or service you’re selling.

For example, if you are selling a very high value product or service, that process may take months to go through and could demand multiple meetings, in-person demonstrations, proof of concepts, etc. As such, your ratio between inside sales reps and field sellers will favor the latter.

However, inside sales reps still have a vital role to play in these deals. There needs to be a tight relationship between field sales reps and SDRs, talking regularly every day, sharing accounts, and building decks together. When building an inside sales team you need to understand the organizational framework and how these relationships work.

Timeframe: how long does it take?

Building an inside sales organization doesn’t happen overnight.

You’ll need to recruit this team first, train them, and ramp them up before they become a truly effective asset to your business. This all takes time. If you’re operating in a dynamic, fast-moving market then you may not have that luxury.

Once you’ve committed to building your inside sales team, how long will this process take if performed internally? Most companies won’t have the experience, methodology, or specialist personnel, which results in figuring out how the process works through trial and error.

You could be looking at six months or more to establish an inside sales team. That’s compared to the 45 days when outsourcing your inside sales to our experts at InsideOut. This provides enough time for us to induct our sales reps and give them the specific training they need, learning everything from product and process to systems and tech, engaging them with you as an organization, and analyzing the value they could bring to your team.

During those 45 days, a tech stack will be developed to help this inside sales team in their daily activities. This isn’t as simple as buying the software and systems online and plugging them in – you need to ensure that everything is mapping and reporting consistently throughout your organization.

This is something that organizations can often miss, falling prey to one of the many pitfalls of building an inside sales team internally. Organizations will go out and buy a tech stack for their inside salespeople without thinking about how it should integrate with their marketing and field sales reporting tools.

So, overall, you’re looking at around 45 days to have a team of people ready, making sure they know the procedures and methodology while also having an adequate tech stack to support them and targets in place.

Where do I looks for inside sales reps?

Finding the right people is essential to building an inside sales organization. To ensure you are sourcing the best candidates, you’ll need to leverage a mix of job boards, referrals, and headhunting.

Those candidates who are employed via referrals from individuals already working within your organization are incredibly valuable. They will already understand your business, your culture, the job requirements, etc.

Your employees will only refer someone they believe will also make them look good. It is unusual that you would refer someone to your organization who isn’t a good fit and would ultimately show you in a negative light. This has the bonus factor of reducing recruitment time and costs.

While there are definitely positives, make sure that you don’t have too many referrals. If you’re not a company/employer of choice, there’s always a chance that if reps leave, their referrals may follow their lead. In other words, referrals can be a double-edged sword.

Job boards are of course a natural destination when building or expanding your inside sales team, using platforms such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed.

This will create an initial viewing and an awareness that you have an opportunity. This should be used to push candidates toward employee sections on your website and LinkedIn to really understand what others are saying about your organization, understanding the culture, and seeing how they develop people and move them through the company.

Finally, we have headhunting. This can be time consuming and resource intensive. There is a higher dropout rate because you are attempting to connect with candidates and create a need/desire in them instead of them coming to you looking for an opportunity. Headhunting can produce great people but at a much lower conversion rate.

It's time to ramp

Your inside sales team won’t be delivering at full efficiency on day one.

There’s a steady ramping process you need to build into your timeline as reps settle in and increase their productivity.

At InsideOut, we have a three-month roadmap. In that first month, new reps are expected to achieve 33% of their 100% goal. As an example, if you’re wanting them to eventually book 12 appointments a month, expect them to book 4 appointments in month one, 8 in month two, and 12 by the end of month three.

However, if building your inside sales team internally, this ramp up period will be longer. As we’ve also touched on, you may not have that time to spare in your go-to-market, and could be missing out on valuable opportunities.

Instead of hitting 33% efficiency, they’ll only achieve up to 25% in their first month. This will then advance to 50% and 75% over the next two months. However, once reps have hit that 75% mark, many stop there.

Why? When you have an inside sales team built internally, it’s usual for organizations to shift focus away from them before they’ve attained 100% effectiveness. Once they feel that sales reps are adequately ramped up, their attention will shift to supporting field sellers, marketing, the product, and other elements. This presents another argument in favor of outsourcing.

How to retain your talent

Thanks to the rapid growth of technology-led industries and the ongoing shift away from making deals face-to-face via field selling, the demand for inside sales reps is on the rise. Naturally, this has a knock on effect where employee retention is concerned as you attempt to ward off headhunters.

Making sure that your organization offers an attractive base salary, uncapped commissions, and comprehensive benefits are all basic requirements. However, your company culture is also hugely important when it comes to retaining inside sales reps and ensuring your team has the best opportunity to thrive.

What makes culture such a notable factor is that it doesn’t materialize instantly. It’s created organically and collaboratively and has an everyday impact on everyone working at your company. Having a positive working culture means empowering your inside sales team. Reps don’t want to be micromanaged. They need development and engagement: an environment of growth where they can hone and develop new skills is key. Don’t underestimate the importance of culture. Being an inside sales rep is an incredibly difficult job. You have to maintain constant motivation, you have to engage in C-Level conversations with key decision-makers, you have to deal with negativity and rejection. The list goes on. Having a positive culture helps to keep reps on track, keeps them replenished, and will help with retention in the long term.

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If only there was an easier way…

By exploring each stage in the process of building an inside sales time, it’s likely this blog has underlined some of your worries. That’s only natural – this is a huge undertaking though one that is vital in your go-to-market and the long term success of your organization.

You should now have a clearer understanding of what it takes to build your own inside sales team internally, what is required in terms of planning and timescale, and what you can do to help retain reps once they’ve been ramped up, keeping them motivated, giving them ownership, and allowing them to develop.

Still, there are common pitfalls you need to stay clear of.

The biggest one is assuming the process is easy. It’s also failing to realize that inside sales reps have the same needs as everyone else in your organization: wanting to train, needing regular reassurance, and being able to see positive transformations to their working evironment. Your inside sales team isn’t a machine you simply plug into your organization.

There will always be an argument for creating an inside sales team internally though you could have one ready to elevate your organization in a fraction of the time, mitigating risk by leveraging the knowledge and experience of our sales experts at InsideOut. Whether building an inside sales team, creating sales messaging, developing strategies, or partnering on a full range of initiatives, we will help you unleash revenue growth.

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