For too long in too many organizations, inside sales has been seen as a stepping stone to working in the field, rather than a career in and of itself. As such, it’s often perceived as easier than some other sales roles when, in fact, it can be more difficult to connect with someone without the aid of non-verbal cues and less time to build a rapport.
This is something field reps would be good to remember as more organizations curb travel and bow to executives’ preference to do business online instead of in person. Like their inside sales counterparts, field reps now frequently introduce themselves and interact initially using phones, email, instant messaging, social media and web-based conference software. This makes the distinction between inside and outside sales slimmer than ever.
To succeed in today’s sales environment, both types of sales professionals need to be excellent communicators to get buyers’ attentions, quickly establish credibility and lead them to a sale.
Regardless of where or how you work, here are some basic ways to do just that.
Make your message stand out. If you’re making cold calls, it’s most likely you will be leaving a voice message rather than talk to a live person. Make sure you have a carefully crafted message that is succinct and shows you’ve done your homework on the industry, company and executive. Same with follow-up calls. There should be a note of competence in your delivery that comes from both practice and a passion for the goods or services your company provides.
If you are using email to initiate contact, practice the same succinctness but infuse your messaging with brief, compelling stories that demonstrate past results to entice someone to hit 'Reply' rather than 'Delete'.
Listen carefully. One of the most difficult aspects of virtual communications is the lack of non-verbal cues that can drive conversations. Without these gestures, today’s sales reps need to listen carefully to both understand and accurately reflect what is being said. When someone feels “heard,” they are more inclined to continue the talk. They also are more apt to trust your recommendations to their issues.
Active listening also has another obvious benefit: You’ll more quickly uncover a business’s needs (including those unrecognized by the executive you’re communicating with!).
Use technology effectively. Sales reps working from their desks need to quickly prepare, execute and follow up on sales calls. Schedules can quickly get out of control if you don’t have adequate tools to create a sales cadence and stay organized. Whether it’s CRM software or technology like the eValuePrompter, sales reps need to best leverage what’s now available to remain productive and competitive.
The sales cycle has accelerated in recent years, leaving less time to move prospects through the buying process. Everyone must ramp up their research, build credibility quicker and respond in a timely manner when a potential client does return the call or reply to an email.
If you’re a seasoned sales professional struggling to meet today’s challenges, take a look at how inside sales teams manage to win the trust – and business – of prospects without the benefit of face-to-face meetings. Far from being a step back, it may be just what you need to move your sales career forward.
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