Who’s leading important conversations with customers about your business, and how can you make sure it’s the right person?
Let’s talk about inside sales representatives: how to identify them, how to train them properly, and how to provide the necessary, ongoing support they need to thrive. Below you’ll find:
- 4 essential qualities to be (or find) a good inside sales rep
- 4 ways to help employees be good inside sales reps
What is Inside Sales?
“Inside sales” refers to the sale of goods or services via remote methods, including phone calls, email, texts, and other forms of virtual outreach, rather than traveling to meet customers. Inside sales reps’ jobs also differ from telemarketers. Whereas telemarketing is a scripted process of single calls to potential respondents, inside sales involves multiple “touches” by trained, professional staff able to extemporize from general talking points.
In recent years, inside sales surpassed outside sales to become the dominant model for sales reps at B2B, tech, SaaS, and various B2C industries.
Inside reps provide cost-effective models, especially for mid-sized businesses. Reps can be managed from a single location, cutting down on travel expenses and allowing the reps to make more calls per day from a single office.
Despite the advantages an inside sales rep can provide in a rapidly shifting marketplace, defining the qualities you need to become a successful inside sales rep—or to find one—can still be a challenge.
How to be (or find) a good inside sales rep: 4 essential qualities
The inside sales rep role is no simple task. But whether you’re a manager in pursuit of the ideal inside sales rep, or an employee trying to learn how to be a successful inside sales rep, we’ve narrowed it down to 4 must-have qualities for any inside rep. To improve inside sales, teams need reps who:
1. Are internally driven and motivated
In a competitive market, teams need reps who will seek out new sales goals, pursue new clients, and not get down when faced with rejection. A candidate with drive, who can speak to experiences overcoming obstacles and finding success has a strong chance of helping a business, and will need less managerial reinforcement.
2. Can build rapport through engaging conversations
Successful inside sales reps don’t typically lead with their pitch straight away. Instead, they should be able make the client feel comfortable and engaged, building a rapport through simple but effective conversational techniques. Having a pleasant, opening question about the client’s work or world (rather than the product they’re pitching); knowing details about the client’s business that they can make light conversation about; being able to politely “turn around” a client’s resistance or refusal to purchase (“I understand. Had you thought about…?”); and most importantly, being able to listen and build on the client’s questions or concerns—these are all abilities that make for good inside sales reps who can build relationships and close deals.
3. Are optimistic and goal-oriented
Ask yourself or an inside sales rep candidate: Do you thrive on competition? Do you see incentive practices as motivation? Do you smile at challenges, show resilience in the face of adversity, and have examples of overwhelming situations you have overcome? In a competitive marketplace where “no” is heard often, a good inside sales rep should stay positive and offer results, not excuses.
4. Are trainable and always willing to learn
Limited sales experience isn’t necessarily an indicator that someone isn’t fit for the role. Sales guru Mike Brooks notes that it is often easier to train a new inside rep with limited experience—but with lots of enthusiasm and drive—than it is to teach an experienced person stuck in their ways. What’s important, especially given changing technologies and sales techniques, is that an inside sales rep is coachable and open to learning new things.
4 ways employers can help their workers be good inside sales reps
And even with the right people in place, a good company still recognizes the importance of providing inside sales reps with the necessary support.
1. Talent Problems: Finding the Right Inside Sales Personality
A good inside sales rep should possess internal motivation, personableness, optimism, a goal-oriented viewpoint, and strong conversational ability. Seems simple, right? Think again!
Just because someone has succeeded in “outside sales” doesn’t mean he or she is going to be successful at managing the multitasking world of inside sales. What seems like a pretty straightforward list of personality traits can be difficult to find in the real world—and the last thing you want to do as a manager is set someone up for failure. That’s why improving your inside sales team starts with refining your talent search process.
Finding the right talent requires a multi-pronged strategy of different recruitment options (using referral services, partnering with campus career or recruitment departments, and using online media like LinkedIn) and in-house training, but it starts with determining: a) what you want from an “ideal” candidate, and b) what kinds of questions can provide insight into a person’s strengths and weaknesses.
The right questions often hinge on what career services professionals describe as “the question underneath the question.” A manager or HR rep might be asking the person about a time when something went wrong in a professional setting, but what they really want to know is, how would this person handle stress or adversity? How well do they work with others to find solutions?
A good interview can reveal a lot, from how someone processes failure to how much they know about your industry. (Beware a candidate who has no response to “Any questions for us?”) You can also discern within an effective interview how enthusiastic and trainable they might be.
“It’s all about having the best system in place. And if you don’t have the right technology, nothing else matters.”
– David Stodolak, President, Solar Direct Marketing
2. Systems Problems
Even with the right people in place, certain technology problems can’t be overcome. The right technology will maximize lead performance for your team. Ask yourself these questions to set your inside sales reps up for success.
- Do you have a fast, powerful dialer solution that connects your teams with leads while avoiding wait time?
- How is your CRM system operating in relation to your sales staff?
- Is it providing accurate lead information?
- Does it have a user-friendly interface for day-to-day administrative tasks?
While CRMs are designed to get everyone on the same page, a slow, unwieldy CRM can be counter-productive for sales staff.
Meanwhile, managers need to be sure who is using the CRM and how much. Some might use it extensively for communication and organization of materials, while others do the bare minimum, like logging in to record commissions.
But you should work to understand the root causes of these disparities in adoption across your team. For instance, there may be multiple systems within the company, with different departments utilizing different interfaces. The CRM might have numerous steps required for entering leads or gathering the approvals needed for sales. There are also psychological factors: Is your interface visually appealing? Does it register as relevant to the sales staff? Does it build on what they already do, or does it force them to spend time learning a new technology when they could be making a sale?
Enlisting the input of your staff to improve your CRM and organization can prove invaluable. With their direction, you can ensure that you have a helpful system, one that builds on the tools that the sales staff is already using and is an extension of what they’re doing, rather than an unhelpful intrusion. Finally, even long after initial uptake, providing consistent and targeted training to your inside sales team is essential.
3. Matching the Right People with the Right Role
Hiring the right talent is the first challenge for building an inside sales team, but matching the right people to the right jobs is also critical. After all, payroll is one of the biggest costs for call centers. Having agents spend time in the wrong role for your team can be a drag on your business’s ROI.
Training can be helpful for determining team roles, providing you with answers to questions like: Which members of your team thrive on the multitasking of inside sales? Who’s strong in management and mentoring? Situational exercises can reveal helpful insights about personality, sales style, and experience that can help match the right people to the right roles.
Here are important questions any good manager might ask:
- Are you providing regular inside sales “best practice” sessions for your staff?
- How clearly have you defined the goals and methods of your sales practices?
- Are reps asking the right questions of clients?
- Do reps have up-to-date information about products and services?
- Are your reps comfortable with new technologies, and are you providing the training sessions they need to stay up to date?
- Is each rep on the right account?
4. Providing Consistent Barometers for Success
As the saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” This holds true when it comes to improving your inside sales teams. Providing consistent inside sales performance metrics and performance evaluation for your reps—around sales activities, results, and pipeline management—can motivate them to meet goals. Not only that, but robust reporting and analytics capabilities can help both reps and managers understand what kinds of training and mentoring support they might require to improve. We feel the three important general areas you should focus on are number of conversations your reps are having, the quality of those conversations, and the overall rate of lead-to-sales conversion.
Building the best inside sales team—or becoming a successful inside sales rep yourself—is a task that’s always ongoing. However, by knowing what makes a good inside sales rep and the places to provide or seek support, you’ll be well on your way to inside sales success.
Find out how your team can improve sales performance and boost morale with the right strategies and solution. If your team is 20+ request your customized demo today.
My veteran agents see a major difference in Convoso over any other dialer we’ve used. Their sales, their commissions are higher than they’ve ever been. When you see sales go up by a third, that’s a huge number, …and the morale in the room and the energy in the room is just better than it’s ever been.
– Jesse Daniels, VP of Sales, One Health Direct