According to a 2012 Bridge Group study, from 2009-2011 the number of inside sales jobs grew 124% in the U.S. This evolution means an increasingly mature buying market that is driving new CRM-related needs for sales and marketing teams. To meet these demands, emerging technologies are proliferating and gaining traction.
One popular solution category, marketing automation, has been growing rapidly during the past few years and continues to be a very hot segment. Recent acquisitions of Pardot, and Eloqua, and rumblings of IPO prep for other players in the space validate the attraction to marketing automation. And rightfully so — these solutions are helping marketers generate an increasing number of quality leads for the sales organizations they support, in a more structured and predictable manner than ever before. But how are their sales teams capitalizing on the flow of leads coming their way? How is CRM helping them to execute?
To answer these questions, first we need to take a closer look at two different types of sales processes that are often mistakenly seen as the same: inside sales and field sales. There are a few important distinctions between the two that drive the need for different functionality in the CRM tools used. Understanding and embracing what makes the needs of an inside sales team unique can mean the difference between success and failure.
Today’s inside sales environment is characterized by rapid turnaround, a higher volume of leads, and shorter sales or qualification cycles. The key success factors in this environment are:
- Response time
In contrast, field sales teams are generally dealing with larger opportunities, longer sales cycles and lower deal volume. For the field sales team, relationships, often built face-to-face, are critical.
CRM was originally designed for field sales teams, with the core features of contact management, opportunity management, account management, and territory management, which is why you could argue that today’s CRM requires less augmentation to satisfy the needs of field sales organizations.
However, the high velocity, high lead volume nature of inside sales teams today, means that there’s a significant need for more than what traditional CRM can offer. Inside sales teams need to drive best practices via technology and process automation in the areas of:
- Lead Routing & Tracking
- Call Scripts
- Automated Messaging
- Telephony Integration
The bottom line, process is critical for inside sales teams. If you don’t have a strong contact and sales process in place for your inside sales team, establish one. A consistent process that isn’t perfect is better than no process because it can be improved. And luckily, technology exists to help make best practice sales processes that are repeatable and measurable, a reality.
How do your processes and supporting systems stack up today? To evaluate, or to simply uncover ideas to help your sales team deliver greater results, check out this webinar recently conducted with industry analyst Ian Michiels, Gleanster Research, entitled 7 Essential Tips to Boost Sales Results in 2013.