Trish Bertuzzi and The Bridge Group have been doing some great research on what makes inside sales tick. But they've taken it a step farther and produced a really useful tool for comparing your company's metrics against benchmark metrics.
Because this is such a cool tool, I asked Trish to share a few insights salespeople can extract from the information in the table and apply to their company's inside sales efforts.
Ardath: Can you tell us the basis for the Periodic Table of Inside Sales?
Trish: The Periodic table is a summary sheet based on the data we collected from our Inside Sales and LeadGen Metrics and Compensation reports. They are the result of surveys with 125 technology companies in North America. The reports are 30 some odd pages long and executives often prefer the short version and that is what this is - a cheat sheet so to speak.
[You'll find both the reports available for download on the same page as the table.]
Ardath: There's a lot of meaty information in this table. Can you highlight what you see as the top 5 challenges facing inside sales teams today?
Trish: Here's where I see companies struggling in today's selling environment.
- Productivity - Companies are being forced to do more with less. Reps are caught in the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. Farmers are forced to hunt and hunters are forced to prospect more than they ever have before.
We no longer have the luxury of specialized sales teams and are forced to have our teams become "jack of all trades". This is impacting productivity dramatically as the reps fumble to acquire skills they either don't have or have not used in a while.
- Performance - 64% of all inside sales teams and 72% of all leadgen teams achieve quota. Doesn't sound bad BUT you have to remember...these are averages and there are quite a number of reps that perform below acceptable rates.
The real question is why and there are two possible explanations - either the goal was wrong to begin with or the reps are not being provided with the tools and training they need to adapt in this selling climate. Each company has to figure out which it is and make changes and investments accordingly.
- Motivation - Selling is not for sissy's - now more than ever. How do you keep your team motivated when they not only suffer massive rejection every day but also lose deals because of layoffs and budget cuts? It is not an easy task especially with limited funds for traditional spifs and contests.
What you can do is get creative. All reps want to learn - invest time in mentoring and coaching. You have the skills to share so take the time to do so and it will pay off in spades.
- Training - What is the one thing that gets cut when times are tough - training. What is the one thing that shouldn't get cut when times are tough - training. Need I say more?
- Systems - Implementing your CRM used to be a daunting task but with the advent of SAAS, it has become a non-issue, well almost anyway. But what has emerged as a problem is integrating your CRM with all the great Sales 2.0 technologies that are out there.
The tools that are meant to increase productivity are starting to impact productivity because of lack of integration. On a daily basis, our team uses: salesforce.com, InsideView, Zoominfo, Jjigsaw and LinkedIn just for pre-call planning!
Each and every one of these tools is amazing, but how do you seamlessly link them and develop a process so that your reps are efficiently selling and not spending too much time in research mode? That is the challenge. Add to it all the back office systems that need to be integrated and you can see the problem.
Ardath: I can see how each of these challenges plays off another. If you had to choose, what would you say are the top metrics that inside sales should start focusing on to improve their outcomes?
Trish: I'd suggest starting with these three metrics to increase productivity:
- Make sure your reps are using live conversations with your prospects to drive the sales process. Email is not a substitute and does not allow for effective qualification or closing to take place.
- It takes multiple touches to move a suspect to a prospect and a prospect to a win. Not all of these have to be "human" touches so make sure sales and marketing have developed an integrated strategy for getting it done.
- Pay attention to your conversion ratios. If you don't have a grasp on the numbers detailed in the Periodic Table then you can't control your results.
Ardath: That's some great information for us to use in conjunction with your Periodic Table for Inside Sales. Any final words for my readers?
Trish: Inside Sales is not magic...it's not art...it is science. You need to create the formula that works for your organization and then execute flawlessly!
Go get your copy of the Periodic Table for Inside Sales. And, while you're there, get copies of the research reports that go with the tool.
After you review it, let me know your thoughts.
Did you find metrics that surprised you?
Are there any your company is beating?
Which ones do you find the most challenging to address?
Thanks to Trish for the great information!