Inside sales” are attracting more attention during the corona crisis, but how should we tackle them? Also, what methods and types of inside sales are there?
Even if you work blindly, inside sales will not produce the desired results. It is important to set clear goals in advance and work on them while cooperating within the company.
In this article, we will introduce how to do inside sales, tips, and the characteristics of companies that are suitable for it.
Table of contents
- What is Inside Sales
- 5 steps to inside sales
- Step 1. Clarify your purpose
- Step 2. Define the scope of work for inside sales
- Step 3. Develop an operation system
- Step 4. Set detailed numerical targets (kpi)
- Step 5. Design your scenario
- 4 patterns of inside sales initiatives
- (1) New prospective customer acquisition type
- (2) Potential customer development type
- (3) Inside sales stand-alone type
- (4) Shared work with field sales
- Companies suitable for inside sales
- Companies with well-established IT systems
- A company that can handle non-face-to-face communication
- A company with extensive sales and marketing know-how
- Inside sales tips
- ① Is inside sales hard? Taking care of your organization is also important
- (2) Strengthen cooperation within the company
- ③ Make the most of sales tech
- ④ When in trouble, consult a professional
- The key to successful inside sales is careful review and improvement
What is Inside Sales
Inside sales are sales activities conducted with prospective customers using non-face-to-face communication tools such as telephone, email, and online conference systems .
The role of inside sales is to understand the customer’s issues and needs, introduce the features and benefits of the company’s products, and increase the customer’s willingness to buy. When the customer’s willingness to buy increases, we shift to full-scale face-to-face business negotiations.
In inside sales, it is important to carefully nurture the acquired prospective customers, and to extract customers who are particularly motivated to purchase .
5 steps to inside sales
I will introduce how to do inside sales in 5 steps.
- Clarify purpose
- Define the scope of work for inside sales
- Develop an operational system
- Set detailed numerical targets (kpi)
- Design a scenario
Step 1. Clarify your purpose
First of all, let’s clarify the purpose of working on inside sales. If you think from the perspective of “why do you work on inside sales”, “what you want to achieve through inside sales, and how many new customers you want to increase”, it will be easier to set goals for working on inside sales.
If you blindly work on inside sales without a clear purpose, you will not be motivated and it will be difficult to know where to start. Identify the issues your company is facing and the goals you want to achieve, and think about what kind of measures you should start with to achieve them.
Step 2. Define the scope of work for inside sales
Inside sales are primarily aimed at acquiring and nurturing prospective customers. In some inside sales, full-scale business negotiations and contract closing are conducted non-face-to-face.
Discuss in advance with the field sales (face-to-face sales activities) department and decide to what extent the inside sales department will be in charge of sales activities. For example, if the inside sales department is in charge of acquiring and nurturing prospects, it is necessary to firmly share the basic information of prospects and information obtained through conversations with the field sales department.
Coordination between the inside sales department and the field sales department is essential when sharing the work content.
Step 3. Develop an operation system
Before launching inside sales, it is necessary to secure the necessary tools and personnel, and establish an operational structure. For inside sales, the use of sales tech (marketing and sales support tools) is effective.
For example, by using SFA (Sales Support System), the progress of sales activities can be collectively managed, which is useful for information sharing between inside sales departments and field sales departments. In addition, if you have a CRM (customer information management system), you can record not only the basic information of customers but also the content of conversations and share customer information within the company. Introduce sales tech as needed and share how to use it with inside sales personnel.
Also, setting up an inside sales department will be smoother if there are people with expertise in sales, marketing, and IT tools. Personnel with specialized knowledge can create inside sales strategies and operational plans based on their wealth of know-how.
If you’re short on staff in-house, don’t give up on setting up inside sales. If you entrust it to an agency service, you can have the operation of inside sales performed on your behalf, and you can develop human resources within the company and improve your sales capabilities.
Step 4. Set detailed numerical targets (kpi)
After clarifying the purpose of inside sales and establishing an operation system, set specific numerical targets. This time, we will introduce KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as an example of numerical targets.
KPI is an indicator for evaluating the business of a company or organization . Since it evaluates the degree of achievement of initiatives, set numerical targets for the items that your company emphasizes.
For example, inside sales KPIs include:
In this way, you can visualize the degree of achievement by setting numerical goals.
Step 5. Design your scenario
Once you have completed the preparation of the inside sales operation system and set goals, and you have a certain outlook, let’s design the scenario. Scenarios in inside sales show the overall flow of inside sales, such as the timing of approaching prospective customers and moving to business negotiations.
When designing a scenario, make it easy for anyone to understand, such as “provide this information when the customer reacts in this way” or “move to business negotiations when the customer reacts in this way”. Show the flow of inside sales.
It is important to always watch the customer’s reaction in order to take an appropriate approach and lead to business negotiations when the prospective customer’s willingness to purchase increases.
4 patterns of inside sales initiatives
The diagram below shows the flow of inside sales.
As shown in the diagram above, inside sales can be broadly divided into the following steps. First get a prospective customer, then reach out to the customer via phone or email.
Then, among the prospective customers, we will extract customers who have a particularly high willingness to purchase. Once you have extracted customers who are particularly motivated to buy, you can approach them further and connect them to business negotiations.
The approach pattern will change depending on how far inside sales (non-face-to-face sales activities) such steps are performed and from where field sales (face-to-face sales activities) are performed. This time, we will introduce the following four initiative patterns.
- New prospective customer acquisition type
- Prospective customer development type
- Inside sales stand-alone type
- Shared work with field sales
(1) New prospective customer acquisition type
We will introduce a pattern that emphasizes acquisition of new prospective customers.
- Main methods used to acquire new prospective customers
Enhancing your website content is a must when you focus on acquiring new prospects. With the widespread use of the Internet today, there are an increasing number of cases where information is collected on websites, and information requests and inquiries are made.
Increase the content on your website and let potential customers know about your products. It is also very important to use pop-up displays and notification functions to encourage requests for materials and submission of inquiry forms.
MA (marketing automation) is useful for displaying content tailored to customer interests and forms for information requests and inquiries.
If you introduce MA, you can understand the content viewed by prospective customers on the website. By analyzing the customer’s interests and concerns based on their browsing history and displaying content that matches them, it becomes easier to lead to information requests and inquiries.
By focusing on new lead acquisition, companies with few leads at the moment can also work on new customer acquisition. If there are few prospective customers, inside sales will not go well because there is no target to approach.
By acquiring a certain amount of prospective customers, it becomes easier to extract customers who are highly motivated to buy. For companies that currently have few prospective customers, focus on acquiring prospective customers first.
- Important point
If you receive a document request or inquiry on the website, do not miss them. Customers who request information materials or make inquiries are interested in your company’s products to some extent, so if you carefully nurture them, they may lead to the purchase of your products.
It is important to appoint a person in charge of handling document requests and inquiry forms, and to ensure that the information obtained from those forms is immediately shared and recorded within the department.
(2) Potential customer development type
Here are some patterns that focus on nurturing prospects.
- Main methods used to develop prospective customers
If you’re focused on prospect development, you need the ability to listen closely to your prospect’s information, challenges, and needs. Based on the information obtained, listening skills and proposal skills are required in order to provide suitable information to customers and propose product purchase plans.
A talk script that outlines what to listen for and what to say can help your conversations with prospects run smoothly . In the talk script, include what you want to hear from the customer and information you want to provide to the customer (product features, case studies, etc.), and roughly determine the flow of the talk.
Focusing on nurturing your prospects will gradually increase their willingness to buy and increase the chances of them moving to a deal. Furthermore, by approaching a large number of customers at the same time and assessing their reactions, it will be easier to extract customers who are particularly motivated to purchase.
If you take the time to motivate your customers to buy, and move especially high-potential customers to field sales (face-to-face sales activities), you will improve the closing rate of business negotiations and improve the efficiency of your sales activities.
- important point
When approaching customers, be careful not to force sales. Don’t try to force a deal when prospects aren’t ready to buy, and determine how interested your customers are in your product.
By conducting full-scale business negotiations only with customers who are highly motivated to purchase, the closing rate increases and the efficiency of sales activities increases.
(3) Inside sales stand-alone type
We will introduce a non-face-to-face pattern for everything from acquiring prospective customers to full-scale business negotiations.
- Main method of doing inside sales alone
The inside sales stand-alone type is characterized by conducting all sales activities non-face-to-face.
In addition to acquiring and nurturing prospective customers, business negotiations are conducted non-face-to-face, so it is necessary to establish a system that allows non-face-to-face communication. In addition to establishing a telephone and email system, prepare an online conference system to be used for business negotiations.
Online conference systems that can be used for inside sales include “Zoom” and “Microsoft Teams”. If you want to use the online conference system, you must also secure an internet connection.
It takes time to set up tools and an internet connection, so be patient.
There are two major advantages to conducting all sales activities non-face-to-face.
The first is that it does not take time to travel. There is no need to go to the customer’s company to talk to the customer by phone, email, or online conference system. If you don’t spend time traveling, you can do more business negotiations in a day and spend more time approaching customers.
The second is that you can take measures against infectious diseases. You can prevent the spread of infectious diseases by talking to customers without face-to-face contact.
- Important point
The point to note when conducting all non-face-to-face communication is that if you are not good at non-face-to-face communication, the operation of inside sales will not go well. If you don’t meet face to face, you won’t be able to read the other person’s expression and true intentions, making communication difficult.
If you have someone who is accustomed to communicating via e-mail, telephone, or online conference system, ask them to take charge, and if that doesn’t work, consider using a proxy service. The agency service is introduced under the heading (Inside Sales Tips) below.
(4) Shared work with field sales
I will introduce the pattern of sharing with the field sales (face-to-face sales activities) department.
- Key techniques for sharing with field sales
Information sharing is essential when sharing with field sales. Using SFA (sales support system) to record the progress of sales activities, or using MA (marketing support system) to record conversations with customers and customer behavior histories facilitate smooth information sharing. will be
Sharing the information you learn from your conversations with your customers keeps the conversation moving as you transition to face-to-face business. After sorting out what information the customer needs and what points to focus on when purchasing the product, let’s move on to business negotiations.
If you analyze customers with high purchasing intent with inside sales and then move to field sales, you will increase your chances of closing deals. Customers can also feel at ease because they can feel the actual texture and feel of the product first hand before signing a contract.
- Important point
Poor information sharing with field sales can lead to poor communication in the final deal.
Share not only the basics of your customers, but also details such as phone conversations, email open rates, and content viewed on your website. In particular, analyzing what kind of content customers browsed on the web makes it easier to understand what customers want to know about.
Companies suitable for inside sales
What kind of companies are suitable for inside sales?
Companies with well-established IT systems
In inside sales, it is necessary to develop tools such as an online conference system to converse with customers non-face-to-face. It is recommended for companies that have already secured a line or have a culture of using tools.
Furthermore, it is important to utilize sales tech (MA, SFA, CRM) for inside sales. Therefore, companies that have knowledge of sales tech and can utilize it are also suitable for inside sales.
A company that can handle non-face-to-face communication
In inside sales, you talk to your customers without looking at them. The main communication tools are e-mail, telephone, and online conference system.
Therefore, it is recommended for companies that are familiar with these tools and can handle non-face-to-face communication. In particular, it is reassuring to have personnel with telephone sales skills.
A company with extensive sales and marketing know-how
In inside sales, simply approaching customers will not produce results. In conversations with customers, it is necessary to clarify the issues and needs of customers and work out sales and marketing strategies that suit each customer.
If you have sales and marketing know-how, you can work out strategies suitable for customers and efficiently operate inside sales.
Inside sales tips
Here are four tips for working with inside sales.
- Is Inside Sales Hard? Taking care of your organization is also important
- Strengthen internal collaboration
- Make the most of your sales tech
- When in doubt, consult a professional
① Is inside sales hard? Taking care of your organization is also important
Even if you launch inside sales, there are many cases where results do not appear immediately. If results are not visible, the motivation of the person in charge may decrease.
When launching inside sales, keep in mind that it will take some time to see results. Lowering the KPI standards a little and setting goals that are easy to achieve will lead to increased motivation.
If you are in a position to organize inside sales, check regularly to see if there are any problems or issues with your employees. Employee care is one of our most important tasks.
(2) Strengthen cooperation within the company
When operating inside sales, be conscious of working on the entire company.
When setting up an inside sales department, it is necessary to secure human resources and share work with the field sales department in advance. Establish an information sharing structure and be sure to share any information you have about your customers during the inside sales phase.
③ Make the most of sales tech
The use of sales tech is essential to produce results in the operation of inside sales.
For example, if you use a CRM (customer information management system), you can manage while sharing basic customer information between the inside sales department and the field sales department. In addition, MA (marketing automation) can be used to track behavior histories, such as what content customers have viewed on your website and how many emails they have opened.
Use SFA (Sales Katsudon Support System) to record how much you talk with customers at the stage of inside sales and how much sales activities have progressed. If you can see the progress of sales activities at a glance, it will be easier to decide when to shift from inside sales to field sales.
④ When in trouble, consult a professional
If you are setting up inside sales for the first time, you may not know where to start, you may not have any prospects to approach, or you may stumble. Furthermore, if you do not have the know-how of sales activities, there is a possibility that the talk will not be successful.
In such cases, we recommend an inside sales agency service. In the agency service, a professional with a wealth of sales know-how will act as your company’s inside sales operation.
If you use the agency service, not only will a professional work together with you to create an inside sales operation plan and goals, but you will also receive support for acquiring and nurturing prospective customers and moving to business negotiations. In addition, if you can hear tips for sales talks from them and get feedback on your company’s efforts, you will be able to strengthen your sales force within your company.
The key to successful inside sales is careful review and improvement
In this article, we introduced the steps and patterns of inside sales, as well as tips for success.
When launching inside sales, decide which stage of sales activities will be handled by inside sales and where to shift to field sales. In addition, it is necessary to prepare the necessary tools for inside sales and the Internet connection.
If you get stuck in inside sales, review your company’s efforts, and if you can’t solve it within your company, consider consulting with a professional. Third-party opinions are also necessary to improve inside sales.