Inside Sales Teams: A Shift In The B2B Sales Paradigm

Sanju Pillai, CEO, movingDneedleWith a diverse experience in marketing domain, Sanju is the Founder and CEO of movingDneedle (mDn), one of the fastest growing firms, that produces sales qualified meetings exclusively through personalized email marketing

Over the past decade, the B2B buying and selling process has seen a lot many changes and drifts. Before the growth of the internet and social media, when a buyer had a need, they would turn to various sellers, request for information and match their requirements with multiple sellers, and then make a decision. Sales teams were involved early in the buying process, and served as the primary source for influencing the buying process. Today, B2B buyers are educating themselves from the digital media, comparing vendors, and qualifying needs and requirements before they agree to engage with a sales team. Just like the buyers, the Marketing and Sales professionals have started leveraging the digital ecosystem in no small measure. Be it SEO, SEM or appointment setting and sales through direct e-mail and calling, it is in this perspective that the Inside Sales Teams have gained huge currency. Many companies large and small, are today appreciating the value they can get from an Inside Sales Team. Some of them choose to build it on their own while many enterprises do not see this as their core-competence and choose to outsource the function to experts. The reason for this is the proficiency of managing the teams and campaigns from soup to nuts starting from setting up the team (account manager, researchers, campaigners and analyst), database research and designing the campaign cadences, campaign re-porting, insights and analytics, and others do not exist internally in many organizations.

Firms too have shifted their inside-to-outside sales ratios significantly in the recent years. There is such a dynamic shift that people in positions defined as field sales or outside sales are now spending nearly half their time at their desks working the phones and emails to qualify and close. Increasingly, these
two roles are uniting. This has led to increasing job opportunities for the inside sales and young professionals who are MBA graduates specialized in Marketing. Inside Sales is growing 15 times faster than outside sales! There used to be a time not too long ago the Inside Sales was entirely dependent on calling. The last couple of years saw a nice blend of the right amount of calling and emailing. Now, the inside sales function is gravitating more towards personalized emailing as it is seen as less intrusive than phones and above all prospects find it a lot easier to say no to an email than phone, thereby significantly increasing the quality of the meetings being set up. Additionally, personalized email marketing is a non-intrusive form of communication (compared to calling) where prospects may choose to respond or not, or may respond at a later point of time if not immediately or simply reply `leave out'. The email campaign provides clarity on the context with the trail mail and all the written communication available in the email threads. This proves to be efficient and effective over the calling campaign. The number of touch points is higher and with every touch point, some information related to the company offerings is left with the prospects which helps to associate with the brand and create awareness in addition to generating leads.

The number of touch points is higher and with every touch point some information related to the company offerings is left with the prospects which, helps to associate with the brand and create awareness in addition to generating leads

Like I mentioned before, with all these processes and disciplined approach, building and managing an inside sales team is not easy. Considerable time and effort is needed to plan and train; attract talent; manage; identify and install technology; develop operations structure, and all of these many organizations believe are best done by companies that do only this. While both large and small organizations prefer outsourcing their Inside Sales, the inside sales team structure for the larger companies are generally complex, as they prefer running campaigns on multiple dimensions. The campaigns are designed based on the line of businesses, target geographies, offerings specific to installed base, criteria set on revenue, employee size, and department and job roles. The team setup is quite large as there may be 1:1 pairing between inside sales member: field sales or 2:1 pairing between inside sales member: campaign. The monthly requirement based on this structure varies from campaign to campaign and the inside sales team. However, small and medium businesses may prefer to consume a definite number of sales meetings based on the generic campaigns or specific campaigns being run at a given point of time. Be it a large, medium or small enterprise, a lot of time, money and effort is saved with the outsourcing of Inside Sales and the companies apart from a huge lift in sales, get additional benefits like visibility to the ecosystem, enterprise reporting & KPIs, sales pipeline visibility, historical trends & forecasting and forward-looking business intelligence insights to manage their business more efficiently and plan out the strategies.

Future calling - With significant benefits, more than just cost-savings, the Inside Sales function, in-house or outsourced is here to stay and significantly contribute to the growth of organizations that embrace it.