Take Notice: AA-ISP Defines Inside Sales

Today I had the pleasure of addressing the audience at the SalesLoft RainMaker 2016 Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia. The RainMaker conference brings together sales development teams focusing on bringing a newfound knowledge base around the rising Sales Development Cloud. 

With the help of SalesLoft the AA-ISP has provided complimentary professional level memberships to all RainMaker attendees in an effort to bring together the community of Inside Sales. Below you will find an explaination and the new defintion of the word Inside Sales. The AA-ISP welcomes all titles and roles under this newly defined umbrella to join our community and together we will continue to raise the bar of professionalism and performance in our field.

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There have been many attempts to define Inside Sales, yet individuals and organizations of all sizes still ask us at the AA-ISP to narrow it down to something that could be listed in Webster’s Dictionary.  The fact remains that any definition we create will undoubtedly change over time.  As buyer preferences and technologies have evolved, so has Inside Sales.  Once called “Telesales”, today’s Inside Sales is light years ahead of a rep with a phone. Those of you who were there in the 80s will recall that Inside Sales was around well before the internet, e-mail and cell phones.  The one common thread behind this evolution is the fact that Inside Sales is “sales done virtually”.

As a respected resource on Inside Sales, the following will help to better understand the AA-ISP’s view on the term Inside Sales.

  • AA-ISP DEFINITION OF INSIDE SALES: Inside Sales is a generic, umbrella term which is widely used to describe a variety of roles, functions, and sales models, providing that these roles include a part or all of the sales cycle. The process should also be mainly virtual.
  • ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
    • Some companies and teams use Inside Sales as a title which describes a very specific role (such as an outbound, quota-carrying sales rep)
    • Other companies may use it to describe a multifunctional, multi-role organization (ie: inbound, outbound, business development, etc.)
    • The AA-ISP considers Sales or Business Development a very key and important part under the Inside Sales umbrella. SDR’s and BDR’s make up a large percentage of the overall Inside Sales definition.
    • The AA-ISP considers some inbound roles to be under the Inside Sales umbrella. (ie: where an inbound rep is actively selling or moving a sale along in part of the sales cycle)
    • Although most Inside Sales reps carry a quota, they don’t necessarily have to in order to be considered Inside Sales for certain roles and models.
    • Many, but not all, organizations have moved from the use of “Telesales” to Inside Sales for a title.
    • Some are using terms such as Digital Sales, Virtual Sales, or just plain Sales or Account Management as an overall title.

As Inside Sales continues to evolve, we will certainly see new titles, roles, models and terms emerge.  However, the term Inside Sales itself will continue to be widely used and accepted as a general description for sales done virtually.

Expect to hear more on this topic at the upcoming 2016 AA-ISP Leadership Summit on April 20th & 21st in Chicago.

Thanks to all… we’d love to hear your comments.

Bob on Stage

There have been many attempts to define Inside Sales, yet individuals and organizations of all sizes still ask us at the AA-ISP to narrow it down to something that could be listed in Webster’s Dictionary.  The fact remains that any definition we create will undoubtedly change over time.  As buyer preferences and technologies have evolved, so has Inside Sales.  Once called “Telesales”, today’s Inside Sales is light years ahead of a rep with a phone. Those of you who were there in the 80s will recall that Inside Sales was around well before the internet, e-mail and cell phones.  The one common thread behind this evolution is the fact that Inside Sales is “sales done virtually”.

As a respected resource on Inside Sales, the following will help to better understand the AA-ISP’s view on the term Inside Sales.

  • AA-ISP DEFINITION OF INSIDE SALES: Inside Sales is a generic, umbrella term which is widely used to describe a variety of roles, functions, and sales models, providing that these roles include execution of a part of, or all of the sales cycle. The sales process is also done virtually most of the time.
  • ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
    • Some companies and teams use Inside Sales as a title which describes a very specific role (such as an outbound, quota-carrying sales rep)
    • Other companies may use it to describe a multifunctional, multi-role organization (ie: inbound, outbound, business development, etc.)
    • The AA-ISP considers Sales or Business Development a very key and important part under the Inside Sales umbrella.
    • The AA-ISP considers some inbound roles to be under the Inside Sales umbrella. (ie: where an inbound rep is actively selling or moving a sale along in part of the sales cycle)
    • Although most Inside Sales reps carry a quota, they don’t necessarily have to be considered Inside Sales for certain roles and models.
    • Many, but not all, organizations have moved from the use of “Telesales” to Inside Sales for a title.
    • Some are using terms such as Digital Sales, Virtual Sales, or just plain Sales or Account Management as an overall title.

As Inside Sales continues to evolve, we will certainly see new titles, roles, models and terms emerge.  However, the term Inside Sales itself will continue to be widely used and accepted as a general description for sales done virtually.

Expect to hear more on this topic at the upcoming 2016 AA-ISP Leadership Summit on April 20th & 21st in Chicago.

Thanks to all… we’d love to hear your comments.

The Accredited Inside Sales Manager

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP® ) certification.  Today I’m talking to you as the Inside Sales leader. AISM_LogoTM

The most insightful thing I’ve heard recently about sales training had to do with who gets trained first.  Most organizations are quick to roll out sales training to the reps, but they forget the leaders.  Oh, a manager might sit in on the training and get some additional content on how to coach to it, but they themselves get very little about all  the skills and duties of the demanding role of an Inside Sales leader.  Today more than ever, we have a shortage of qualified Inside Sales managers to assume the ever-growing role of leader.  The skills and experiences required of Inside Sales leaders continue to rise as they have for sales reps.

The AISM® was designed specifically for Inside Sales leaders.  You could call it an MBA on Inside Sales leadership!  It covers topics that cannot be found anywhere in the world in terms of training.  As an example, one of the requirements of today’s Inside Sales leader is to “sell the value” of Inside Sales to senior executives.  Well, the AISM® has an actual course designed solely around selling the value of Inside Sales across an organization.  Other unique offerings include courses on compensation plan design and motivating Inside Sales teams.  Leaders are allowed to select from a long list of electives, which range from basic courses on managing performance to practicums which require leaders to implement a project at their workplace.   Completion of a final CAPSTONE project is required of each candidate to demonstrate actionable changes they have implemented based on what they have learned during their AISM® study.

Although earning your AISM® credential won’t guarantee you’ll be a great leader, it shows a personal dedication and commitment to advancing your career as a leader of people. It recognizes the fact that you are serious about your development while maintaining the highest standard of excellence as a professional.

Without strong and effective leadership, an Inside Sales team will never reach its full potential.

To learn more about the AISM® click here.

Until next time, good leading!

Bob

The Certified Inside Sales Professional

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the new Standards for Inside Sales.  The AA-ISP is proud to administer these three certifications: the CISP®, AISM®, and ISOI™.  My next three letters will drill into a bit more detail on each one. CISP_Logo

The CISP® was designed out of necessity and feedback from our members.  In their feedback, Inside Sales leaders reported struggling to manage inconsistent behaviors and outcomes in their reps.  In one cube, a rep might have been great at prospecting but lacked presentation skills. Yet in the next cube, the rep was weak at prospecting.  Feedback also indicated that while there was some good sales training available, there was not a comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for advancing the profession of Inside Sales. Furthermore, due to the rapid growth of Inside Sales, leaders reported that the bar for skills continued to rise as well.  Finally, there was nothing available that actually tested reps on their ability to effectively use all the skills required.  Lack of teaching, testing, and certification would be akin to allowing a 16-year-old to jump into the driver’s seat of a car and head out on the highway without any driving practice, and without passing a final road test to ensure their proficiency behind the wheel.

The CISP® was designed to provide a set of standard skills and competencies, a rigorous learning platform to teach and practice using them, and a final exam as proof that the rep is competent at using them in a true-to-life situation.

11 online courses cover all the skills required in today’s highly professional Inside Sales organizations.  From pre-call research to prospecting, presenting, and closing, the content is designed for new and experienced reps alike.

A live sales scenario is set up for the final exam where the rep must effectively use what they learned in order to earn their certification.

Once a rep gains their CISP® certification, the learning doesn’t stop there.  CSE (Continuing Sales Education) credits are required to make sure the rep maintains a mentality of lifelong learning.  These credits can take the form of reading a book, watching a webinar, attending an in-house training, etc.

Much like the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification, I believe that someday all sales reps will need to have a type of certification in order to sell.  After all, it’s sales and revenue that makes everything else happen.  Without an order, companies large or small don’t exist.  Not too many other professions you can say that about!

If you’re a leader of Inside Sales, strongly consider getting your team certified!

Learn more about the CISP® here.

Until next time, good leading!

Bob

Five Reasons Why Every Inside Sales Leader Should Attend the AA-ISP Summit

Dear Leaders, my note to you this week has to do with attending the AA-ISP Leadership Summit. If you have anything to do with Inside Sales Leadership, this is a MUST ATTEND event. LS15-LogoTall

Here’s why:

  1. IT’S FAMILY: Time and time again we hear feedback that going to the Summit each year is like a family reunion.  People give hugs to new friends that haven’t seen each other all year.  This is a testament to the very fabric of the association and our community.  People genuinely care about others. They toss aside all personal differences and simply enjoy being around like-minded, passionate professionals.  Attendees all share a commonality of devoting their careers to inside sales.  Who wouldn’t want to attend and be around friends who share such a common bond and kinship?
  2. IT PROVIDES PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The reason we have never hosted a Summit in Las Vegas is because our members thrive on learning and getting better… and they are serious about it.  They could care less about all the entertainment you might see at other conferences.  Look inside the main room or any breakout session and you will see a room filled with hundreds of pens taking notes.  If you want to learn, this is the place to be!
  3. IT SUPPORTS SHARING OF IDEAS: In addition to great learning, you will find great sharing of ideas at each AA-ISP conference.  Our members are passionate about trying new things and learning from others.  You will hear ideas that never occurred to you.  And the best part about it is you can go back to your team and try them out.
  4. IT SHOWCASES THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES: The 2015 AA-ISP Top Challenges research had Tools & Technologies in the top four!  The Summit’s Service Provider Technology Expo contains over 50 exhibits, many of whom are launching new and exciting tools that are perfectly designed for a virtual sales rep.  Take a test drive on some of the new apps and find out for yourself how they can help you and your team be more productive.
  5. ADVANCE YOUR CAREER: Those who attend each Leadership Summit are an elite group… they are the best of the best.   They know the importance of interacting with other great leaders and developing friendships and even mentorships.  They are the ones to more often advance their career.  They are the true thought leaders within our growing community.

Come join us on April 21-22 in Chicago.  Come and experience over 700 like-minded inside sales leaders like yourself.  Claim “I’m In” and join the movement…  of helping to take inside sales to yet the next level of professionalism and performance!

Who’s training who?

Dear Leaders,

My note to you today picks up on last month’s letter around developing tomorrow’s leaders.  As I spoke about, a sneak preview of the yet released 2015 AA-ISP Top Challenges Research lists training & development the #1 issue for leaders and the #2 challenge for frontline reps.

My point today is simple; we need to TRAIN MANAGERS FIRST, instead of 2nd.  That’s right… so often we see an organization roll out a training program to the sales floor leaving the managers behind… or it might include them as a participant in the same training as the reps.

4 reasons it’s critical to train your manager first:

  1. Set the development tone. What this means is a manager’s skills, competencies, and attributes are front and center, and highly visible to the entire team.  For example, if a manager doesn’t understand the importance of using “open ended” questions during the sales process, it will be difficult for them to transfer this skill to the team.
  2. Establishing a learning environment. At the end of the day, it’s a rep’s manager who holds ultimate responsibility for the development of their team.  Now, they may use trainers or other resources to actually do the training, but the successful development of a team and the learning environment they create, must come from the leaders themselves.  Thus it only makes sense to train managers first so they understand all of the nuances and requirements of leading
  3. Equip the Coach. An effective leader needs to be an effective coach.  Would you expect a brand new coach who had one year of experience as a high-school assistant take on an NFL position?  Of course not.  The same holds true with sales leadership.  You need to make absolutely sure you are developing your managers first so they have the skills required to be the effective coach that the team needs.
  4. Lead by Example. Managers who are invested in training set an important example to their followers that training is a life-long process.  It also tells others that they would not “ask others to do that which they do themselves”.

I hope you found my letter helpful.  Please share your tips and ideas around this important topic by leaving a comment below.

For a deeper dive into this critical issue, please attend the upcoming AA-ISP Executive Briefing this Thursday on the topic of developing tomorrow’s leaders!

I’ll write you again in a few weeks!

Bob

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