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.

It’s not your father’s sale anymore…

Dear Leaders,

My letter to you this week has to do with a major paradigm shift in how buyers buy, and sellers sell.  This trend is certainly not new as it has been evolving for years.  However, I believe that inside sales has crossed into a Digital Selling World and there is no looking back.  Where is your organization on this new revolution?

Let’s explore 3 key trends.  My normal short blog will be a little longer this time, so please get a large cup of coffee ready as you sit down to read this :).

#1 – Sales have become Digital

There is no mistake about it…today’s buyers require immediately accessible information and sales interactions on their own terms.  They want the option of a comprehensive and valuable sales engagement without the need for face-to-face interaction. Research indicates 60% of the buying cycle has been completed digitally by decision-makers before they reach out virtually or even in-person to a sales rep.  It also indicates that more and more complex, big ticket sales are completed through a virtual sales exchange. The days of the face-to-face “dog & pony show” are long gone.  Hear what a Sr. VP at IBM has to say about the digital sales phenomenon.

“The digital revolution is changing the way buying decisions are made and commerce is transacted. What individuals are experiencing as consumers is changing what they expect from IBM as an enterprise client. They want us to know them and understand their preferences, and get value from our expertise in new ways and on their own terms…In other words, digital is central – not secondary.”

Bruno Di Leo

Bruno Di Leo, Senior Vice President, IBM Sales & Distribution

Simply put, in many if not most cases, decision-makers prefer engaging virtually when making purchasing decisions. Whether it’s research on the web, a demonstration through screen sharing and/or video, or the use of social, busy buyers want information quick and easy…in the comfort of their office or via their smart phone as they commute.

#2 – Virtual becomes a Primary Sales Channel

In the late 80s and 90s and through the early 2000s, inside sales was deployed predominately in a team model supporting the field sales force.  Today senior sales leaders know what inside sales knew many years ago.  The digital and virtual way of doing business has arrived and is here to stay.  In fact, traditional field salespeople have adopted some of the very same strategies and tactics that inside salespeople have been using for years. This is because buyers are demanding it.  Extensive AA-ISP research in 2013 and 2014 indicated a significant shift from inside sales simply supporting field reps, to carrying a discrete quota and responsibility over a set of accounts. From 2010 to 2014, companies moving inside sales from a teamed support role into a “discrete” quota-carrying model rose from 32% to over 50%.  It is forecasted that this “discrete” model will overtake the time-tested “team selling” model in the next few years.  Research by ZS Associates and Reality Works in the fall of 2014 indicated that 40% of large companies (greater than $1B in annual revenue) in the technology space are specifically shifting headcount from the field to inside sales.  Simply stated, virtual sales is alive and thriving.  Face-to-face is on the decline.  In fact, Inside Sales now has a global association dedicated to advancing their profession in addition to a formal accreditation for both inside sales reps and leaders.

#3 – The Next Technology Boom

Those who earn a living selling virtually know only too well how technology has improved their sales results.  SaaS companies have been launched in recent years to cater specifically to this digital/virtual sales revolution. These cloud-based service providers and their software applications help put an already efficient virtual process on “selling steroids”.  The potential for inside sales to produce revenue continues to grow, due in part to the advent of these tools and technologies. The 2014 study by ZS Associates and Reality Works Group indicates that the mean inside sales quota responsibility is $2.1M for large enterprise companies and just over $1M for SMB…clearly up from only a few years ago.

There are literally hundreds of apps designed specifically to aid virtual selling.  Take ConnectAndSell for example which helps inside-based lead generation specialists connect live to as many as 10-12 decision-makers each hour, as compared to the normal industry standard of 1-2.  InsideSales.com helps virtual reps make 3-5 times the number of dials, connections, and e-mails as compared to traditional methods. Numerous screen sharing companies such as ClearSlide and Glance are on the rise, enabling reps to connect with prospects instantly with the option of pushing out live video, enhancing their digital engagement. Velocify, transforms the traditional CRM into a lead management and sales development engine which improves lead conversion rates.  Firms such as ToutApp give reps real-time feedback on who read their e-mails and when they were read. Noble Systems provides inbound and outbound enterprises with a comprehensive list of services and apps to help improve the overall digital customer experience. Their voice analytics tool automatically recognizes words and speech patterns, helping uncover ripe sales opportunities.   Data analytics has also found its home in this digital selling world. Companies such as InsightSquared, Valgen, OppSource and others provide tools to help organizations harness their data and sell more.  Hoopla, Bunchball and others provide real-time gamification as a way to keep money- and status-motivated players always on the hunt and always engaged.  Rep development has changed too!  Firms such as VorsightBP, FRONTLINE Selling and Factor8 are providing once unavailable deep tactical training on the how-to’s around the new set of virtual selling standards such as enhanced pre-call research, e-mail, social, remote presentations, and more.  As mentioned earlier, the AA-ISP administers the profession’s only online training and accreditation for both front-line virtual reps (the CISP®), and those who lead them (the AISM).  The AISM (Accredited Inside Sales Manager) is the only accreditation program focused solely on inside sales leadership development.  And the list helping virtual/digital sales goes on and on.

It’s not your father’s sale anymore…how buyers buy has changed. The digital sales revolution will continue to adapt to meet the requirements of today’s virtually connected decision-makers.

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