Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Inside Sales Delivers Efficiency and Customer Intimacy Needed in Challenging Markets

As the role of selling has become more complicated, inside sales has shifted from a simple overlay designed to assist outside sales to a force in its own right. Inside sales is now on equal footing with outside sales and playing a pivotal role in maintaining current customers and driving new revenue. According to a new study from IDC's Sales Advisory Practice, inside sales reps are generating both higher sales efficiencies for vendors as well as increased customer intimacy.

The IDC study shows that the efficiencies offered by inside sales are compelling. For example, an inside sales rep can conduct four to eight professional interactions to an outside rep's single interaction, delivering significantly higher customer satisfaction and sales productivity. Moreover, most mid-market buyers are not interested in seeing a sales rep in person more than once or twice anyway, leaving inside sales in the ideal position to manage the relationship or opportunity in a highly efficient manner, in a way that many buyers actually prefer.

Inside sales has also become highly consultative in its approach, reaching fragmented markets and bringing new views on both accountability and capability. As inside sales has evolved, it has taken on the characteristics of other successful sales organizations. Many best practice organizations have torn down the boundaries of salary versus leveraged compensation between inside and outside sales, although the issue of accountability - which person is actually driving the business - remains a point of contention in some organizations. Management's tracking of the pipeline, this study finds, is the answer.

Although the role of inside sales is expected to continue its evolution, the study uncovered an interesting point regarding the inside sales employee’s classification and its particular lack of evolution. The study reveals that although an inside salesperson may play a role similar to that of an outside salesperson, the inside salesperson is required to be classified as a non-exempt employee by the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). While this classification may have made sense when the typical inside salesperson worked in a call-center environment, it is outdated and limiting.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

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