Across industries, inside sales is growing. Modern inside sales is well beyond the days of dialing for dollars. For startups, taking advantage of email, telephone and video conferencing is a good way to get started quickly. For large businesses, bringing outside sales back in-house to use the latest technology can be a huge cost saver.
Today’s top performing inside sales reps combine sales ability with tech savvy to turn leads into customers. To successfully navigate this shift, a different set of skills is needed. Here are the skills I think are most important.
1. Play the Numbers Game
The key to successful inside sales is in the numbers: the more calls you make, the more sales opportunities you generate. I am not saying that you have to work 24/7, but you should maximize your calling time to when prospects are most likely to answer the phone. Insidesales.com has done some great research on this topic. Take a look at this informative infographic.
2. Research the Prospects
Inside salespeople have excellent research tools at their fingertips. LinkedIn , Twitter and Google can give salespeople who embrace these tools current and sometimes very detailed information, so there is no reason not to be well-prepared before speaking with a prospect. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing the prospect’s business, which means knowing the latest industry news and trends. Ways to stay on top of the latest news is by researching your prospects’ news releases, as well as their company followed by “.PPT” in Google. This type of search will pull up presentations performed by the prospect and give you more details of the organization. If customers think you are on top of things, they are more likely to want to continue the conversation.
3. Ask the Hard Questions – and Listen to the Response
Being successful at sales requires reps to have meaningful conversations with prospects. Whether over the phone or using video conferencing, customers must feel that extra-special something that tips them in your direction. Every prospect knows the difference between when they are being heard and when the speaker is just running through a script. Success in sales means asking questions that are pointed and are based on the previous responses of the prospect, not on a script or prior knowledge. A mentor told me that if you are not hiding behind your computer then you have not asked all of the hard questions. If the interaction feels personal — if prospects feel that you understand their situation and can provide something of value, even if it is only information — then the relationship is going somewhere.
4. Social Selling
Many companies are missing the mark with social media. Yes, you should use publicly available information on social media to gather data on prospects before making the call. However, you also shouldn’t forget that your leads are researching you, too – and it’s likely that they know a lot about you before you even have your first conversation.
Therefore, I recommend surrounding yourself with an outward-facing social media presence that will be working for you 24/7. Beyond the company page, this includes your own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. It should also include being active on industry discussion pages.
5. Have Empathy for the Prospect
I think this is one of the most important points for sales success. Prospects are trying to get their problems solved, and when you take the time to listen and learn more about their business challenges and needs, you instill a feeling of being understood. Prospects buy because they know that we — as salespeople, but more importantly, as fellow human beings — get it.