Inside sales isn’t new. But it’s gained a lot of popularity in recent years.
The term was coined during the late 1980s and early1990s to differentiate common telemarketing or “telesales” techniques from this more complex and meticulous sales approach. The term was used to describes sales done remotely via telephone, email or the Internet.
Dramatic increases in the reliability and availability of remote communication and meeting tools have caused businesses to switch from face-to-face and field sales techniques to those of inside sales. A recent study shows that 37 percent of high-growth companies prefer inside sales as a primary strategy over field sales (27 percent) or other sales strategies. What makes inside sales so appealing is its cost-effectiveness (video conferencing versus traveling), which results in at least six times less expenditure than outside sales campaigns.
A decade ago, a salesperson flew to a conference somewhere in the world to network and connect with prospects. Now, that rep can connect with leads via LinkedIn or follow them on other social channels after an online webinar or event. One way or another, almost every type of sales today is done remotely. Research estimates that between 2013 and 2020, 750 000 new job opportunities will emerge in the inside sales industry (three times more than field sales.)
CRM tools, cloud technologies, new telecommunication gadgets, and much more – the digital disruption in sales has arrived, and it is quickly evolving. Now that distance is a problem of the past, what inside sales trends should you look out for throughout the second half of 2017?
3 inside sales trends to follow
1. Artificial Intelligence
This isn’t an Isaac Asimov story. Just last year, Salesforce launched its own AI platform called Einstein. And by 2020, it’s estimated that at least 1 million people working in sales will be replaced by artificial intelligence. That last part might sound terrifying, but it can actually be a great leap forward for inside sales professionals.
The rise of AI doesn’t necessarily mean that millions of reps will go unemployed. On the contrary, this will introduce new and intriguing positions in the field of inside sales since routine tasks will be performed by robots and computers.
For instance, modern buyers seek direct interactions through support chat windows on websites and social media. This task is already being performed by realistic chatbots, allowing customer success and sales reps to focus on key tasks such as nurturing leads and managing customer relationships.
Moreover, data-driven sales via machine learning will enhance the role of sales reps, turning them into highly knowledgeable individuals capable of closing much more deals in less time. Large amounts of collected data processed by computers will improve various sales fields such as coaching, training, metrics-driven selling, and sales efficiency.
2. Better sales-marketing alignment
This trend, itself, isn’t new, but many organizations are taking a different approach. At least 44% of the inside sales pipeline comes from marketing. The gap between the two teams is narrowing, as demonstrated by hybrid business roles like a Business Developer or sales-oriented chief marketing officer. What’s new this year is emphasizing this alignment throughout go-to-market strategies.
Inbound marketing and automation have become the norm for many sales organizations. CRM tools enable a parallel process, where sales and marketing nurture leads jointly to ensure lead quality. Estimates show that businesses using marketing automation to nurture prospects experience at least a 451% increase in qualified leads. And B2B marketers say the top benefit of automation is the ability to generate more quality leads. In addition, sales accelerations software helps rapidly convert those high-quality leads. Combined, these tools allow reps to spend less time prospecting, cold calling and entering data.
Right now, we’re seeing an intensive increase in collaboration between marketing and sales in order to guide customers adequately along the sales cycle (instead of just bring them in at the top of the funnel). Marketing, sales and customer support/success are working together more than ever before so that customers experience a smooth journey from lead to close and beyond.
3. Sales reps as subject matter experts
Subject matter experts (SMEs) have a vast knowledge about an industry, business or suite of products and services. They play a vital role in acquiring new customers, since they can guide them from different perspectives, demonstrate the various solutions to diverse needs, and communicate advantages in comparison to the competition.
In the future, businesses will not only be on the look for out for experienced sales reps. They want subject matter experts who can sell. Diverse technologies will help those reps connect with ideal customers, then SME reps can identify pain points and align them with solutions provided by their product or service. The result will be an overall more valuable and efficient sales process, supplemented with educational and thought leadership content from the SME rep.
2017 is the year of sales velocity and integration. Reducing the boundaries between different business departments and experts, automating routine tasks and focusing on key aspects of the sales cycle will help revolutionize the way sales is done in the present. The carpet is now set for more efficient, accurate and profitable inside sales to take place.
Are you taking part in these trends? If so, let us know in the comments below. Happy selling!