A Reflection on “Outside In: The Rise of the Inside Sales Team”

Recently I had the pleasure of reading a blog post by Kyle Heller of ZS Associates titled “Sales is (Becoming More of) an Inside Job” and ZS Associates’ (partnering with Reality Works Group) corresponding executive summary titled “Outside In: The Rise of the Inside Sales Team”, in which they discuss how sales organizations at many companies are moving from a heavy focus on field sales (or outside sales) to more of an inside sales game. For many large established organizations this is a massive shift in how they have done and will do business, but for younger more forward-thinking organizations inside sales has always been a big piece of their overall sales strategy.

Reasons for the migration:

Reducing the cost of sales – I agree with Kyle and the executive summary. With many companies’ margins shrinking due to increased completion, organizations are constantly looking for ways to sell more for less. Moving from having a majority of outside sales professionals (with higher base salaries, expense accounts, auto allowances, etc.) to having an efficient and effective inside sales team, organizations are realizing tremendous cost savings while creating production at the same level if not higher.

Rise in technology – with the rise of the internet, this has caused a power shift in the selling process. Before if an individual or organization wanted information about a product or service, they had to speak with a salesperson. Now prospective buyers can get 85-90% of the information they need online. Through YouTube, the company’s website, review sites, etc. this has really shifted the power in the buyer’s court. Also it has made buyers more comfortable interacting online through tools like GoToMeeting or video conferencing as opposed to the traditional face-to-face meeting.

Roll specialization – If Henry Ford was alive today, I believe he would be happy to see that his idea of the assembly line has moved out of the industrial age unto the information age. In today’s sales environment, companies are relying on role specialization (sales development representatives (SDRs), Closers (both inside and outside), demonstration specialists, customer success managers (i.e. account managers), etc.) in order to create greater efficiency and sales results. There is a good book entitled Predictable Revenue written by Aaron Ross that preaches this concept. In the book it discusses how Salesforce.com used role specialization (specifically with inside sales/SDRs) early on and it attributes much of its success to this change in methodology.

Cover More Ground – It is simple, you can cover more “ground” on the phone than you can out in the field. At the end of the day, sales has always and will always be a numbers game. This lends itself well to the ever growing need for inside sales presence.

I would like to say we knew this shift in sales methodology was coming and that is why we built an outsourced inside sales company for that reason, but that would be a lie. We are excited to be in a position to help companies increase their deal flow, help them create roll specialization and inevitably lower their cost of sales through helping them establish their inside sales teams.

Happy Selling![/fusion_text][/fullwidth]