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Do Your Inside & Outside Sales Communicate Well?


My first real job out of college was as a supervisor at the front desk of a business hotel just outside of Boston. It was not the most glamorous position but it did teach me the importance of open communication from department to department, as this particular hotel was quite chaotic.

When I “stepped up” into my first Jr. Inside Sales role I thought things would be different, but within a week I was struck by the lack of communication I had with the sales team. My cube was placed smack dab in the middle of the marketing department with 5 other Jr. Inside Sales reps that were lacking as much direction as I was. We were tasked with following up on web hits, attendees to webinars and any other cold lists of target companies that marketing felt fit the profile of company we should be calling on. Anything that needed to be communicated to sales from the inside sales reps usually went through our sales operations manager or through marketing. Since our salaries were funded through marketing budgets, and we were perceived as "telemarketers", we were only allowed communication with marketing. Another challenge was that the sales team didn't have time to do any hand holding since they were too busy traveling and attempting to close business.

It seemed so foreign to me to not be allowed to communicate directly with the outside sales reps. At the hotel we would simply call or walk down to the department we needed answers from. Even if it wasn't the most pleasant conversation, we eventually found some common ground which allowed the team to work more seamlessly from that point forward.

Over the next few months we were able to pull down meetings with some of the low hanging fruit, but we struggled mightily to navigate through the target accounts. Having no direct access to the outside sales team, we were not provided with the subtle tips and compelling statements that could have increased our chances of uncovering a pain. The marketing material was always very helpful to send when we actually got a prospect live, but if we didn't define the pain we usually never sent the appropriate collateral to get them interested.

After a few quarters of banging ours heads against the wall, we were eventually able to convince management that we needed full access to the outside reps. We aligned 1 inside reps with 3 reps in the field and had regular weekly check-ins to review questions and progress made on our target list. This helped to accomplish a few goals for us:

1) Allowed the inside reps a much better sense of how to navigate through an organization

2) What to actually say when you do get a prospect live

3) The best collateral to be sending out post conversation

4) Outside reps developed more confidence in the opportunities the inside team uncovered

5) Allowed us to be more forward thinking about how to attack the territory quarter after quarter

Running an inside team I've found that I have become relatively adept at playing the role of peacemaker. It could have much to do with trying to corral the wide range of colorful personalities that I worked with in the hotel industry. While I know marketing and sales may not always have the best relationship, they need to put their egos aside and recognize that we are all working together toward a collective goal. Let us put down those egos, find some common ground and make the company a boatload of money working as a unit.

How about in your organization - do your Inside and Outside Sales teams communicate well? Would be interested to hear how others have helped bring these teams together.



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