Inside sales refers to any form of selling that isn’t done face-to-face.
Unlike outside sales (or field sales) reps, inside sales reps connect with potential customers remotely through phone, email, and web conferencing. This is especially useful for companies that can deliver and support their products regardless of their customers’ geographical location.
Among B2B companies, the use of inside sales reps has exploded in popularity. According to one Salesloft study, inside sales reps are hired more frequently than outside sales reps by a ratio of 10:1. It’s where the tide is turning, due to higher productivity and the ability to reach more prospects.
What that means for field sales reps is that they’ll likely find themselves moving to inside sales at some point in their careers, resulting in a transition in their workplace environment and lifestyle. Transitioning from outside sales to inside sales is a major move—but it can be much less disruptive by following these practices:
1. Familiarize yourself with the technology you’ll be using
Sales reps use an average of six enablement tools, according to Sales for Life. That number is naturally higher for those in inside sales. Included in this category are CRMs, intelligent dialers, social media selling tools, messenger programs, web-conferencing programs, etc. Obviously how many and what exact tools are going to vary from company to company.
Also important to note: Even if you think you’re already familiar with the technology you’re using from your time as an outside sales rep, relearn it when you move to inside sales. The reason for this is because in outside sales, you were most likely using a mobile version of the program or app. As an inside sales rep, you’ll probably using the desktop edition.
In many cases, the desktop version of a software tool is much more robust in its features and ability to do things because of the greater processing power. And even in instances where the features are exactly the same, the layout and arrangement of mobile-optimized formatting is going to be significantly different from their desktop counterparts. So there’s a learning curve for figuring out where to do something on the computer monitor versus the wheres and hows you’re familiar with on your phone or tablet.
Video conferencing tools are particularly important, given that many sales teams today utilize them as the primary means of making final presentations to save time and money on travel costs. Related technology includes screen-sharing for product demos.
Keep in mind: Not only will you need to learn this technology, but how to create a smooth-flowing online presentation/webinar/etc. around it. After all, being able to use video conferencing is one thing. Being able to use it to deliver a succinct, polished product demonstration in a 30-minute window (as an example) is something else altogether.
For more on sales technology strategies:
How to Use MailChimp for B2B Sales
4 Ways to Use Slack to Motivate Your Sales Team
9 Simple Tips for Using Personalized Videos in Your Cold Emails
2. Learn to play well with others
While teamwork and collaboration are definitely important in all aspects of sales, the outside sales model affords some degree of autonomy and independence. Not so with inside sales, where alignment between sales and marketing is critical for the creation of effective collateral and messaging. As a field sales rep, your personality and in-person presence did a lot of the work of creating impressions and credibility. With inside sales, the content you’re using becomes far more important, necessitating the fusion between sales and marketing.
Related to the theme of teamwork: the transition period of adjusting to have people constantly around you. In outside sales, you’re alone on the road a lot, and just like going from living by yourself to having roommates or moving in with a partner, there’s give and take in the sharing of space and communicating with people therein. You’ll also have to become acquainted with company culture much more intimately than you did as an outside sales rep, and part of that is dealing with the possible bugbear of office politics. The latter is a potential stressor, so it’s something to keep an eye on.