What’s the biggest change in sales from the past five years? Is your sales organization stronger today than it was five years ago? I believe the largest change I’ve seen in sales is the growing impact inbound sales teams have on growing a more profitable business. It never fails to amaze me when these inbound sales teams work so well together.
I’m a very challenging client. Not because I want to be, but because of the conditions my clients have me representing them under. Most times I’m an added step in the sales process. Successful sales teams work very hard to get me the right information to help them get in front of my clients. Inbound sales people are very good at getting the right people on the call at the right time.
Today, many of these great inbound sales teams are very good at finding out the right information to make their initial call turn in to successful business very quickly. Many times they call me when I’m still on their site so they can make sure I have the right information to move ahead. The quality of the questions they ask provides them a strong understanding of where and who might be the right connection to make. They are well scripted, but are flexible based on how the initial conversation goes.
I’m so impressed with the quality of many of the individuals on inbound sales teams. I’m talking with many of my longer term clients about adding a more robust inbound sales capability to their business development efforts. The productivity gains for both inbound and outside sales teams certainly makes a good investment. Here are several key ideas to consider as you begin building your sales teams. Having great inbound sales teams can help you attract great sales talent throughout the year.
Inbound sales teams are only as good as their weakest link. This means that if an organization wants to gain from developing more robust sales teams they should spend time recruiting great talent for their roles. Maybe in the past you would spend time recruiting on campus for outside sales professionals. Today, you would be well served in recruiting the newest members to your inbound sales teams, as well.
Inbound sales teams are only as good as the training they receive. This means that you should invest money to train and develop your inbound sales people the way you used to develop an outside sales team. Successful inbound sales professionals have different training needs than outside sales professional. I also believe that the results you get from training should be monitored more closely.
Here’s why. Your inbound sales teams will be talking to many more people more quickly than your outside sales teams. Real time coaching can provide a great education for both team members and coaches. I’ve seen great coaches quickly roll out something they learned in a coaching session to help disrupt their markets. Watching your high performer excel can provide you with great insights into how to hire more great people for your inbound sales teams.
Inbound sales teams require better managers than do outside sales professionals. Since many of these sales teams work together in a location, a successful sales manager needs to know how to work with a larger group of sales professionals. To make sure this manager is not overwhelmed, they should look for different ways of developing their people talent. I’m a huge fan of coaching and mentoring to help bring these inbound sales professionals up to speed.
From my experience, I would also include more daily activities and contests to help build more cohesive inbound sales teams. This could also include bringing in outside sales professionals to help the sales teams get to know each other better. The more your sales teams know about each other, the easier the handoffs go when dealing with clients and customers.
Finally, if you want stronger inbound sales teams, create career paths for your people. Everything we talked about today seems easy to do, but it’s also easy to not do it. If you want to keep your high performers, you need to provide them with great career options. I’m not talking about an outside sales role, but many other roles that should be available for a great contributor to your organization’s success. I’ve talked with several inbound sales professionals who got significant sales training and development, but chose to leave the organizations they were working for. They told me it was because they didn’t see a career path in the large organization they were with.
Even though they were part of a great sales team, all their former organizations saw was that the inbound sales team was expendable. Now let me ask you “Would you invest your life in an organization who didn’t provide you with a career path and promotions?” There are too many great smaller organizations that are very good at providing a career path to their newest sales team’s member.
Friday, we will talk more about how quickly outside sales is changing and how you can take advantage of these trends to grow your organization. See you then!