Sales Models, Metrics, and Motions Blog

Inside Sales Executive Interview - Q2 '08

by Trish Bertuzzi on Fri, May 16, 2008

What follows is the first in a series of quarterly interviews we will be conducting with Inside Sales executives.

To qualify, you must be at the Director or Vice President level and manage 6+ reps. If you are interested in being interviewed for future postings, please send an email to Trish Bertuzzi at


Featured Executive:
Silvana Sears
Director of Inside Sales
FAST Search and Transfer, a Microsoft subsidiary

Silvana, how long have you been with FAST?
2.5 years

How long have you been in Inside Sales and what was your background?
I have been in the technology space for over 20 years. All of my experience was gained through real world inside sales implementations at various companies.
- Monster
- TeleSales, Inc.
- Corporate Software

How many people do you manage and what is their charter? I manage 13 Inside Sales Reps. They are responsible for qualifying leads for the field. They uncover and nurture opportunities and when the time is right, and the prospect is well educated, they set up a meeting for their field partner.
To be clear, these are not introductory meetings. We educate and qualify the prospect before we set up a meeting. Before the field is involved the prospect has seen a demo and truly understands our value proposition.


How much of your team’s effort is spent following up on marketing inquiries and how much cold calling?
Like so many other companies, our strategy evolves. We used to spend most of our time on inquiry follow-up but now I would have to say we spend 90% of our time on very targeted outbound cold calling.

Our target contact varies but typically we focus on the Chief Compliance Officer, the Chief Technology Officer or the Vice President of Interactive.

Do you have any metrics you can share with us?
We make 55 calls a day
Connect with 8 – 10 contacts
Have a quarterly team goal of 350 meetings

Of these …
68% make it to pipeline
44% close

What technologies are in place to support your team’s efforts?
CRM: We have used but now we are moving to Microsoft CRM.
Marketing: We use Eloqua as our email marketing platform and most importantly for lead scoring.
Contacts: To research and find contacts we use Jigsaw, Hoovers and OneSource.

What metrics do you capture and how do you use them to measure performance or make business decisions?
- Typical things like dials and connects.
- A certain percentage of their meetings have to enter the pipeline.
- Also, a certain percentage of their activity must come from target accounts.
Closed loop reporting is a challenge. Inside sales uses and the field uses Siebel. Using two systems is not easy as you can imagine.

What percentage of your team makes goal?

How do you motivate your reps?
We have contests where we give away Red Sox tickets or ipods. We also have team retreats. Many of our reps are self motivated. We offer a great compensation plan! Six of my reps are going to Presidents Club this year!

We also offer a great career path. Two of my reps have moved in to field sales positions. Combine all of the above and it adds up to a challenging and motivating sales environment.

What does the hiring landscape look like for you? How are you finding the candidate pool?
The applicant pool is pretty good. I get lots of candidates through referrals, both internal and external. I think our compensation plan combined with our career path has a lot to do with it.

What do you look for in a candidate during the hiring process?
- Someone who is articulate but also possesses excellent writing skills
- Their mind has to be technically wired
- Consultative approach to selling
- 5+ years experience
Even though we don’t close deals, I like to hire someone who has closed before. I think this skill helps them do a better job on the front end of the sales process because they know what has to happen on the back end. I think it contributes to our high conversion and close rate.

If you had one piece of advice to give an inside rep on how to improve their performance what would it be?
Really understand the message and have a great elevator pitch. Make sure you know all about the competition and how to sell against them – many times Inside Sales doesn’t think this is their job but the front end of the sales process is just as important as the backend when it comes to positioning your value and setting the vision of the prospect.

What is your biggest challenge when working with the field, marketing or channel?
Field – Trying to get them to communicate and engage on a regular basis. How was the meeting, what are next steps, what can I do better? Their view can be unrealistic if a great communication vehicle is not in place…you have to be sure they don’t assume that every lead should close without any further education.

Marketing – You have to be careful or they can be out of alignment with sales. For instance, sales wants vertical messaging and marketing goes horizontal. Quite often Inside Sales can get caught in the middle of this situation if the inquiries they are working (which were created by Marketing) do not fit the expectations of the sales organization.

What issues would you be interested in brainstorming with your peers about?
How to ramp new hires more quickly! Even though I did read your posting on this topic, and I agree with you, I would like to talk to other executives about any methodologies or techniques they employ.

Topics: inside sales management, metrics, ask the experts

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