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Building An Inside Sales Team Is Actually Extremely Difficult!


Some people think they can just build a telesales/qualification team on a whim, as if it’s the same as building a sandwich at the local sub (spukie, hoogie, grinder, blimpee) shop. “Hey I’m gonna run out and build an inside team, maybe grab a coffee from Starbucks. You need anything?” There is a reason why an entire industry has been built on inside sales improvement and augmentation; because it is extremely hard work with a lot of expertise required. Too often the thought process seems to go something like this, “Person we don’t have to pay too much (because they’re getting experience of course)…CHECK…phone…CHECK…computer…CHECK…ok guys let’s turn it on and wait for the leads! Wait a minute, let’s not half ass this. I just got the rep a subscription to database service! Oh boy we are in the money.”  Some basic things to consider:

Do you have a full grasp of the costs? Be sure to find out what it takes to hire and retain good talent in inside sales. A lot of people think that entry level salaries will cut it. Underpay and you’ll have trouble bringing in good talent, even more trouble retaining good talent and you’ll end up paying out the nose in attrition when these people leave and you have to replace them. Also be sure to factor in things such as benefits, taxes, training, spiffs, lists, CRM licenses, marketing support and of course the goods you need to provide to allow the reps to do their job. EG: Phone, Desktop, office supplies. It’s like taking kids to a movie. The entry cost is ok, but by the end you’re nervous about getting mugged and not knowing by whom.

There are a lot of reps that don’t work out. Even with a good pay structure and a good work environment you are going to have people leave. The first issue is people that don’t work out for bad reasons. There are the people that just end up stinking and in sales they are a dime a dozen. There are also the people that leave because they thought inside sales would be easy money until they had their, “holy sh*t” moment and realized it’s actually very demanding. The big killer you have to factor in is the great reps that you are going to lose. Great reps know they’re great and they will look at other jobs, even if they love their current job. You’re constantly competing with the job market to keep the all-stars on your team. In addition to that, great inside reps are usually great because they work hard, they are intelligent, highly motivated and love big paychecks. These are the same attributes that you look for in an outside sales rep. This is where a lot of them will try to go if they are successful for what they see as an extended period of time.

Do you have a process? Please don’t put a rep in front of a phone, give them some product training, a list of people to dial, unlimited coffee and expect them to deliver gold. You need to have a calling methodology and maybe even more importantly, a proven call plan. What is the purpose of each of the calls that the rep makes? If you don’t get what I’m asking or if you say, “to pass the lead of course”, then you probably don’t have a process. How often should they call different titles? When should they look to get referred down/up? What times are the best to call? How do you get past the nasty admin that blocks your calls like an NHL goalie? These things need to be worked out if you want a top notch call team.

In addition to these there are dozens of other major points that you need to account for, but in the interest of brevity I won’t go into all of them. A sample list includes: What is the process to integrate with marketing and sales? Should this be a marketing or sales function? What support will be needed? Who will manage the team? Do they know how to manage a team? Do they have enough time to manage the team? What is the cost of all of these things? What level of qualification does sales want? How much product training is needed? What is the “pass process”? Who will follow up on the leads?

Building an inside team is a great thing when the time is right. Just don’t be in the group of people that think they can build a team MacGyver style with a tooth pick, an elastic and a stick of butter.  A great inside team is built and maintained like a race car. Don’t build something more equipped for a soap box derby. 


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