How to build successful inside sales team - tips from inside sales guru Josiane Feigon
Dmitry Davydov 13 July 2014
Josiane Feigon is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. She is the founder of TeleSmart Communications and the author of Smart Sales Manager and Smart Selling on the Phone and Online. We caught up with her to discuss what's been going on with the inside sales industry and asked her to share a few tips about building a successful inside sales team.
What are some of the typical mistakes that companies do when they decide to create inside sales department or team for the first time?
They don't take a stand on inside sales. They only bring in a few people (under three) and give them tons of responsibility and basically set them up to fail. When leadership teams understand the power and potential of inside sales, they invest more in the headcount, the tools and their management.
For a long, long time inside selling was equated with telemarketing. That is no longer the case. What other means and channels should reps be using now? Obviously, each industry is different, but is there a golden ratio of how much time one should be spent on the phone vs other tools?
Inside sales is anyone who is spending 40+ hours per week reaching out to prospects via phone, email and social. Telemarketing used to be just the "smile and dial" type of calling and now inside sales has become a lot more sophisticated. One big result of these changes is that inside sales teams and their managers really need to get on the same page when it comes to social media and social selling, especially around LinkedIn. I wrote a post about that just recently, in fact.
What are the best places to hunt for inside sales team talent and what should you do to retain people so that you don’t end up with 200% turnover rate?
Finding good talent for inside sales is becoming increasingly difficult. That’s mainly because the skill sets are much more complex and not that easy to find, onboard, or retain. Here’s a list I created on the 25 traits that make an inside sales Superhero and the interview questions that reveal them—kind of a master list for those hunting for top inside talent. Another thing is that the era of dropping a bulky, long job description off with HR and having them throw it up on Craigslist is dead – that’s definitely not an effective way to get yourself the best talent today. Instead, sales organizations need an active pipeline of prospects. They can get them by marketing their company on social media, on the company blogs, and on sites like Glassdoor as a great, fun, productive, and social place to work.
Millennial talent is also flooding the inside sales workplace right now and they actually have all the right qualities for a strong, digitally savvy social salesperson (other than hating the phone, that is J). So college hires are actually a strong area right now.
In-house sales team vs remote or distributed sales team, does this make a difference?
It depends on your sale model. Remote teams are becoming more popular but I wouldn't recommend this unless they have been on board for a while. You’ll want the opportunity to observe them at their desk and in their workflow before deciding whether they’re good candidates for a work-from-home deal. In that respect, setting up remote working as a privilege that’s earned by good performance is a great incentive.
What software and services other than CRM you’ve seen dramatically increase efficiency and productivity of inside sales reps and teams?
Salesforce is the primary CRM tool that most of our clients use and many of the apps are Salesforce friendly. This is a tough question for, since most of the dramatic improvements I’ve seen coming from a software tool are coming from a good, easy to use CRM. On the other hand, a bad, clunky one can really kill your inside team’s efficiency and motivation.
Sales prospecting is very laborious, time consuming and costly process. What can companies do to go from zero incoming leads to, say, 25% of all leads incoming within 6 month?
Investing in a marketing automation process and strong web site (SEO enhanced) are essential. Blogging is also big – build yourself a content system with a theme for each month and then blog 3 times a week and always attach a Call to Action that reminds readers how to act on what they just learned. Integrating content (like infographics, video guides, ROI calculators) will also be a big factor in upping your digital inbound leads. Creating a newsletter can also be a huge boost to inbound leads, but it can take a while to build up. Creating all this new digital content (if you’re starting from zero, that is) can be a confusing process, so the biggest piece of advice to go along with it is to try and focus your new-found web traffic into landing pages that encourage visitors to reach out, join a newsletter, connect on social media, etc.