With the maturation of the Software as a Service(Saas) market, a growing percentage of corporate sales are being done by “inside” salespeople that never meet the actual customer. The phenomenal success of Salesforce.com can be largely attributed to their army of reps that use the telephone and the web to close up to $100K deals without ever leaving the hip confines their offices. Jigsawworks with scores of consulting sales groups that do everything from contact discovery and lead verification to complete outsourcing of the sales function- and the demand for their services is sharply increasing.
What kind of people are making up these teams? In speaking to managers that run internal efforts and executives who have started outsourcing companies I have heard countless opinions on the topic. Much to my surprise, many of these findings run counter not only to traditional assumptions (which I would expect), but also my own (which I am way too arrogant to have expected). I will share what I have found, first the myths and next week the truth about the profile of the perfect inside sales person.
1. Top of the funnel tasks (like contact verification) can be offshored. Wrong. Spirit crushing experiences with the support lines of large telephone or software companies has beat the standard person’s expectations down to the point where they will accept a time delayed, talk-through-a-wind-tunnel experience that they get when they are a customer. The days of someone named “Mike Smith” with a thick Indian accent asking questions about anything other than where to buy your product are unwelcome in today’s B2B world.
2. Inside sales is for entry level employees. Actually, this is contradicted particularly by the consulting groups. Even when the goal is “simple” contact discovery, or finding out whom at a company might be the person to call, there are specific skills and experience necessary to complete the task. With all the information available on the web, your first contact with a potential customer has to be from a person very familiar with the market, the prospect’s company, the seller’s product, etc., or the target simply will not engage. My advice is to match what most companies do and stick the newbies on the customer support line.
3. Lead generation is simply the first stop on a path to outside sales. That’s great if you want to run a glorified temp agency with turnover like Starbucks. Oracle can afford to run a boot camp for future sales monsters with a 50 per cent attrition rate per month, but small companies need to invest in people that have figured out that they are good at, and more importantly satisfied with, a career on the phone.
4. Young professionals make the best salespeople. See #2 and #3, and factor in that older people have a better sense of what they want to be when they grow up (which seems to be around 40 years old now). This means fewer Facebook crisis moments at the water cooler and more cold calls. Also, married people (hopefully) don’t come to work hungover twice a week and don’t travel so much that every other weekend is book-ended with a PTO day.
5. Teams have to be on premise. Every sales manager, particularly ones that follow the above myths (as well as Jigsaw), think that there needs to be a “bullpen” at your office so you can “crack the whip” on your inside teams. Again, particularly in the case of the consultants, there is consensus that quality people make up their own motivation. You still hold everyone’s feet to the fire with metrics - but the babysitting isn’t necessary when you get the right fit.