Last week, the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) met for their annual Leadership Conference, which was held this year in Chicago. Sales leaders and sales experts from around the world showed up to share the latest best practices, statistics, stories, and ideas to help Inside Sales gain even more credibility and professionalism.
I wrote about my experiences on Day 1 which you can read here. Most of the smartest folk on sales leadership were there, even though there were a number of other sales-related conferences going on that week. See below for a list of great folks to follow if you want to learn the best that there is about what veteran Inside Sales writer, analyst, and researcher calls “Remote Professional Selling”.
Remote Professional Selling – Can We Start Using that Phrase?
It is a fantastic description of what Inside Selling has become, and my hope is that people start adopting this RPS phrase over “Inside Sales” which still carries some stigma of being less than what outside sales professionals do. The teams we are working with are all remote sales teams. They do what I used to do as an outside sales professional, except now they talk with buyers and prospects using video chat, webinars, video email tools, and social tools. Once good, solid webinar platforms came along, they were a game changer.
Outside sales teams are still driving and flying to prospective buyers all over the country and the world at a huge cost – especially when the visit was premature or the buyer was never qualified.
Company leaders should look into reps traveling only after initial contact has been made by video conference or webinar and then only if they are qualified potential buyers. The single exception I’d give is if a sales rep is already visiting a geographic location where a less qualified but promising prospect is located.
No more wasted sales calls. While you’re at it, why not get more accountability in the form of some of these ideas:
Having a meeting agenda
Having goals in advance of the meeting about outcomes
Creating next actions and following through on them
Recording notes in the sales rep’s CRM within 24 hours of the meeting
Let’s show the other departments that the sales team is more streamlined and accountable than ever.
Marketing is Not Immune, Either
Can we also get Marketing to be more accountable as well? What would happen if the marketing department had revenue quotas to hit, right along with their sales counterparts? I wonder how that might shift those discussions from sales that they are receiving poor leads, and marketing not creating the right messaging and materials for sales to bring business to closure. Just ask Hubspot - their marketing department does have revenue numbers to hit. It would be great to see more of that. Who else has modernized marketing?
The Discussions are Just Beginning
I asked Bob Perkins, President of the AA-ISP, what statistics stood out for him at the conference - there was so much to see and hear.
Bob shared this:
You can’t dismiss the fact that in 2013 alone, 110K inside sales jobs will be added…and over 1M in the next 6-7 years! Wow! Couple that with the AA-ISP research on top challenges pointing to the fact that leaders are struggling with hiring and training, and you see we have a huge challenge in front of us!
I asked him about the handful of really large corporations who are supporting and embracing remote selling and the AA-ISP association.
Bob told me the AA-ISP is very pleased with the support and commitment of a handful of major companies in terms of the overall advancement of our profession. Bob went on to say, "IBM, for one, has been very progressive in adopting many association and community best practices such as local Chapter support and volunteer efforts, corporate wide association memberships, and the CISP. We applaud them for being a global leader in advancing the inside sales profession both internally as well as among other corporate thought leaders."
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2012 and 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips.