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.

New Project: Inside Sales Studio

Dear Leaders,

It’s been a few months since I last wrote to you, and I hope you have all been well!  My extended leave from writing allowed me to focus on an exciting new video communications project called Inside Sales Studio.  The AA-ISP officially launched Inside Sales Studio on January 27th, and the response from our community has been amazing.  The “channel” as we call it, provides an easy-to-view platform covering a wide range topics related to Inside Sales. Since we firmly believe that sales learning is a life-long process, we created the Inside Sales Studio to provide our community with digestible content that can be used in everyday sales and personal development situations.

Inside Sales Studio Logo

Here are the goals for Inside Sales Studio:

  • EDUCATION: Providing our community with on-going, relevant, tip oriented, and easy to view videos on a wide variety of topics related to improving as a sales rep or leader.
  • COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION: Interview slots are open to members of the community who have experience and expertise in an area which can provide valuable learning to reps and leaders.  Please contact the AA-ISP for more information.
  • COMMUNICATION: With all of our other communication methods, Inside Sales Studio is always accessible on your terms.  Select and view whatever topics that interest you, and at a convenient time and place that works for you.

Here is a summary of the programs that are being broadcasted out to the entire Inside Sales community.

  • MONDAY MORNING SALES MINUTE – This brief, 2-minute video, is designed for anyone involved in selling or leading sales teams. Monday Morning Sales Minute goes live early Monday morning so it’s available before the work day gets underway. The idea actually came from Mike Pierce (an AA-ISP speaker, Chapter Officer, and amazing person) when he and I were filming a sales tip right here in our studio in Gold Canyon, AZ.  Mike thought that leaders could actually take the tip into their “Monday sales meetings” as a way to keep reps trained and learning new ideas.

TIP:  BE SURE TO REGISTER HERE to receive all new episodes of Monday Morning Sales Minute and other studio episodes directly to your inbox.

  • EXPERT INTERVIEW SERIES – These one-on-one or small group interviews will be on specific topics and challenges facing Inside Sales professionals and leaders. Our first interview series will run for about 4-6 weeks and will be on the topic of “Women in Sales and Leadership”.  Guests will include prominent women leaders including Lori Richardson, Amy Appleyard, Megan Dahlen and Sharon Frame, just to name a few.  The first interview with Staples VP of Sales, Amy Appleyard, is now available by going to the AA-ISP Inside Sales Studio home page.
  • SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS & EPISODES – From time to time we will produce short videos announcing special events and happenings within the AA-ISP community. These and all other videos can be accessed by REGISTERING HERE to receive updates as the programs are produced.

We look forward to hearing your feedback on Inside Sales Studio and all of the episodes that will be produced in 2016.  Please drop me a note with feedback and suggestions as we look to make this a valuable resource for our members and broader sales community.

 

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

Daily Sales Minute from Dreamforce – Day 3!

Dear Leaders,

Back at Dreamforce for Day 3. Great tips and trends from Trish Bertuzzi and Jill Konrath.

‘Til next time!

Bob

Daily Sales Minute from Dreamforce – Day 2!

Dear Leaders,

Another great day at Dreamforce where I was able to pick up some great tips from Social Selling evangelists Jill Rowley and Koka Sexton.  The video below offers up some excellent take-aways you can put to use with your teams right away.

Good (Social) Selling!

Bob

Daily Sales Minute from Dreamforce – Day 1!

Dear Leaders,

It’s nice to be sitting on the other side of the fence for a change here at Dreamforce where I get to listen to some outstanding speakers and soak in new great tips and gems.  Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Aaron Ross’s presentation where he discussed several key points about driving consistent revenue through a repeatable inside selling process.  Aaron and I caught up later in the day and I was able to drill into some of the points he shared in his session.  Here is my interview with Aaron.  Stay tuned for two more updates live from Dreamforce!

PLEASE STOP SELLING!

Stop Sign

Welcome back readers!  After a nice break from the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in Chicago, I am recharged and ready to help make 2014 a year dedicated to Training and Development.  On that note, today’s tip to leaders has to do with time they spend listening to and coaching their reps on the demos and presentations they do virtually to their prospects and customers.  Although there are a number of areas we could address which will help your reps make these presentations more valuable and memorable, today we will focus on only one. STOP SELLING – START LISTENING That’s right. Stop selling!  If you’re selling, you’re not listening.  And if you’re not listening, you’re not hearing and understanding what’s important to your prospect. Here is a story I will share to make my point.  The other day I got home after work and my wife seemed upset.  When I asked her what was wrong she went on to tell me about her friend who offended her during a conversation they had over lunch.  She went on to explain the situation and how it made her feel really bad.  I knew what could help her so I offered up a solution and approach she could take next time they spoke.  Unfortunately, it was the last thing my wife wanted me to do or say!  RATHER, she wanted me to just listen and fully understand and feel the depth of her pain and concern… without saying a word. All too often we as sales people do this very same thing with our prospects.  We ask a few open ended questions, hear some pain or concerns, and then can jump right into “solutions mode”.  After all, we are supposed to be solutions sales people right?  But think about it this way… why in the world would a sales rep want to try and move a prospect away from focusing on and discussing their pain or challenge, only to hear us start talking about our product or solution? Here are a few brief tips you can have your reps implement to avoid the above, especially when doing a demo or presentation:

  • TAKE TIME TO LISTEN. Be sure to allocate ample time either on an initial, pre-demo call, or on the demo call itself for listening to your customer’s concerns, issues and ideas.
  • BE ALL EARS.  I suggest reps actually using the term “I’m all ears” in the beginning of a call when allowing the prospect to fully describe their situation.  By saying something like… “I’d love to better understand your team’s biggest challenges… so I’m all ears” sends a big signal that you have every intention to shut up and listen to the prospect, and have a keen interest in what they have to say.
  • TIME YOUR TALK. Have someone actually time the amount of time your rep speaks vs. the time the prospect speaks during a demo.  Even when you need to explain and present something, having a rep who speaks 70-80% of the time is way too much.
  • KEEP IT IN THE BAG.  See how long you can keep your product or solution “in your bag” before offering it up in conversation.
  • FOCUS ON THE NEED.  The worst thing that can happen during a demo is for the sales rep to cover areas that aren’t necessarily important to the prospect.  I once was given a presentation on a CRM software add-on.  The sales rep asked me what was important and what I wanted to see in the beginning of the call.  I told them I really just cared about one particular issue to see if their solution addressed it or not.  The rep then launched into a canned demo covering every feature of their software.  Twice I tried to tell them I didn’t need to see that but rather wanted them to address my specific question. Finally, I had to rudely stop the call and not let them speak unless it was about my initial need.  Don’t let this be the way you present your solution!   Thinking you have to introduce a feature/benefit just because “they might not know they have this issue” is very risky and not advised by me.

Want to have your reps demo become more productive, memorable, and effective?  Try some of these tips above.  I would love you to share some other tips about giving effective demos so please comment below.

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