At present, the inside sales market is growing 300 percent faster than traditional sales. While the size of this growth might raise an eyebrow, the headline trend probably shouldn’t be a surprise.
Advances in technology have reshaped the face of sales. Mobile devices now enable reps to connect with prospects anytime, anywhere. Meanwhile, improvements in supporting tech can provide high-quality prospect data, enabling smarter conversations that help inside sales reps to close more deals.
So many changes in such a relatively short space of time invite the question: what’s next for the inside sales industry? Here, we’re attempting to provide a few answers where there are currently question marks.
Digital will become the main sales channel
Customers are more comfortable than ever accessing buying information digitally, over the telephone or through video chat applications. Even businesses that sell big ticket B2B products, and huge companies that have traditionally favored "face time" when closing a deal, are adopting the fully digital approach. And the best news? By giving in to customer demand for more digital sales channels, businesses are benefiting from considerable cost savings.
Digital touchpoints will become key to sales
The growth of inside sales has been fueled by digital. That said, few industry commentators believe this trend has yet reached its apex. Recent research by CEB's Marketing Leadership Council shows business customers complete nearly 60 percent of the buying cycle before even engaging with a sales rep. As such, to engage with purchase decision makers on their own terms, businesses will have to create more digital touch points across the buying journey.
Dedicated inside sales companies will continue to increase
In the U.S., between 2005-2010, there were 66 start-ups created that specialized in inside sales. Between 2010-2015, that number more than doubled. With B2B sellers enjoying cost-saving benefits and more purchasers happy to complete the entire buying process digitally, the smart money indicates that the number of dedicated inside sales start-ups will continue to increase.
Sales rep training will change forever
Although traditional sales training has by no means become redundant, new technologies have fundamentally changed the skills requirement. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses are having to invest heavily in training for digital selling strategies. These include social media training, virtual selling techniques, remote presentations and additional forms of communication that have replaced those traditionally used by reps in the field.
Inbound calls into contact centers will increase
Click-to-call buttons on mobile optimized sites are making it easier than ever for prospects to make inquires over the phone. For this reason, BIA/Kelsey are predicting that mobile search will generate 73 billion direct calls to businesses in 2018, which is up from just 30 billion in 2013. As a consequence, companies will be required to invest more heavily in inbound sales teams.
A new era of personalization
In the future, the companies that are successful will be the ones that capture prospect data and turn it into actionable insight for sales reps. For instance, Salesforce has added predictive analytics to its service offering, which consolidates data sets to provide a better understanding of customers’ preferences. As this type of tech matures, it will help inside sales teams create more personalized marketing opportunities, which in turn, will create better customer engagement rates and drive more conversions.
Social media to boost success
LinkedIn is becoming an important weapon in the armory of many successful inside sellers. For instance, many reps are using the business community and networking site to build better relationships with prospects.
Meanwhile, others are using the platform to position themselves as experts in particular subjects to improve trust signals. In a bid to create extra digital touch points for engaging with potential customers, more inside sales reps will turn to social media to boost success.
Technology will become more important
It’s no secret that some deals can be difficult to close; requiring several inside sales reps working together as a team, while coordinating with managers and other departments.
That's why most companies have turned to customer relationship management (CRM) software to ease this process and record important prospect-related data. In a bid to help support even better collaboration and close more sales, selling technology will only become more important to inside sales teams.
Abandon the script
In the not-so-distant past, inside sales reps relied on one-size-fits-all scripts to kick off the process of nurturing leads. Once a prospect was "on the hook," the lead would then be handed to a field sales rep, who would continue building the relationship face-to-face.
Now the number of inside sales reps has outgrown that of salespeople in the field, this practice has become obsolete. Therefore, to develop successful long-term relationships with prospects, the inside sales script will no longer be required.
Advance beyond CRM
To date, companies that offer sales tech for inside sales have mainly focused on delivering effective CRM systems. However, as the industry matures, you can expect to see more inside sales tech and software that incorporates features for productivity, analytics, and training. NewVoiceMedia’s Conversation Analyzer add-on, for example, is a powerful tool that gives you instant access to the insights otherwise locked away inside your customer data. Conversation Analyzer uses speech-to-text to deliver transcriptions of every single customer contact, allowing sales teams to effectively “listen” to all conversations and transcribe those, capturing that intelligence and combining it with other CRM data.
As these predictions illustrate, the world of inside sales is evolving fast. To keep up with the changes and to cultivate a winning selling team, businesses are having to adapt to the times.
For more on this topic, read our whitepaper, Inside Sales Survey: How organizations could transform sales performance with better technology investments.