Training the 21st Century Inside Sales Person

Clients ask us about our training all the time and what we do to train our reps. That, of course, is a very fair question as it is one of the three major things we do for our partners; recruit, train and manage their sales reps for them. As such, I answer this question a lot but reflect on it just as often. Looking back at the last 7 or 8 years, it is interesting how the way we train those same reps has evolved.

Inside sales is becoming a more accepted and best-in-class function within a sales infrastructure. Likewise, the average sale amount is increasing, average sales cycles extending and level of decision maker we target increasing. Coupled with that is an ever more intelligent and educated buyer answering the phone when we call (and on the even more rare occasion when they answer).

So, why does all that matter? Many of the sales teams and leaders I meet with are still training their inside reps with skills and techniques used by telemarketers or assistants more than a dozen years ago. Arming our modern-day inside sales reps means opening up and teaching them the skills traditionally seen as reserved for more senior or outside sales people. It also means the investment in sales training and skills development has to be reviewed and adjusted.

We use the techniques below when training our professional inside sales teams at Acquirent, with the goal of integrating our client’s inside sales team, getting them the training they need and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency with which they support our client’s overall sales goals;

  • Integrate your meetings, training sessions and all factions of the sales team. Not only can the entire team benefit from the national sales training you hold but team cohesion, integration and morale is boosted as well. Of course this is more efficient than two meetings but it also allows for all parts of your team to learn from each other, understand how prospects move from team to team and smooth the handoff if applicable.
  • Customize the approach with your managers or team leads. While the theory addressed may work for all involved, the way it is applied will vary. Make sure that the theory is backed up with practical training and breakout sessions. We know this challenge well as our sales fundamentals course while in theory works for all teams needs customized application and approaches for the 35 or so various clients we partner with.
  • Focus on and train around the customer profile. We often review how to approach the close and higher level conversations, focusing on call lead-in phrases and scripts. That does not work. Just as outside reps need a call structure or framework, inside reps should follow a similar path as they take a deal deeper into the cycle.
  • Survey your inside team on where they are having a hard time. If you get the buy in before you start and your team sees the training as a valuable investment they will focus, participate and implement. Of course, you cannot get the right results without practice (as many who have read my posts before or seen one of my trainings know, this is a particular area of focus and angst for me and training), so make sure there is a follow up plan in place.
  • Leverage the fact everyone in inside sales is in the same place. Inside sales people have a major advantage when it comes to training; you are all usually together or in groups in the same place. So practice together, use the experiences you have to do ongoing breakout sessions and review what is working and what is not. Don’t lose site of the fact that you can change message, review what is working and get the whole team in the same place at the drop of a hat… since you all hang your hats in the same place.

Overall, the tips above are self-evident in many ways but may have a new twist. They are the same messages, theory and ideas that leaders have used when training outside sales teams and enterprise sales groups in the past, just applied to how an inside sales team. When we look at the landscape of sales training and the more educated buyer, it is critical to update and adapt your philosophy and properly arm each part of your sales engine with the tools for success.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]