Marketing automation gives inside sales an edge

Today’s guest post is from Shawn Naggiar, Chief Revenue Office of Act-on Software.

Inside sales has historically been viewed as something of a red-headed stepchild: challenging, dynamic, vigorous, and ultimately (unfairly) less favored than its “outside sales” compadres.

But that’s changing.

According to Dr. James Oldroyd, inside sales has enjoyed a steady 7.5% annual hiring rate the past few years, gangbuster growth when compared to the flat 0.5% hiring rate of outside sales during the same time period.

inside sales, telemarketing, marketing automation

Inside sales is becoming the new trend, shifting from under-appreciated to preferred. Even essential. While it’s true that the global economy and changing customer expectations have been definitive drivers of this transformation, inside sales’ renaissance is thanks in large part to marketing automation. Here’s why:

Marketing automation empowers inside sales reps to make genuine, personal connections with their prospects and leads, both generally and also earlier in the sales process.

Make no mistake, the job is still hard and will continue to have unique pressures:

  • Meeting quotas – Inside sales is under much more timing scrutiny to meet aggressive numbers, from initial contacts to closed deals. And these numbers are constantly being measured and monitored, meaning inside sales can’t cheat. Monthly measurement is the norm with inside sales, and measurement isn’t just  revenue – it also looks at the sales person’s activity.
  • Rejection – Hearing “no” is the nature of the beast. Though it’s generally not personal and we quickly learn to take it in stride, it can still wear a rep down.
  • Unknown engagement – When you’re selling over the phone or via web conferencing, you can’t tell if your audience is paying attention or if you’re making a positive impact.
  • Hostile prospects – It’s always easier to pepper reps when they’re not right in front of you, face-to-face. We’ve all encountered the “phone tough guy.”

But marketing automation can help level the playing field.

The new equalizer: Helping inside sales people more effectively engage with buyers

Inside sales is a volume game: the calls you make, interactions you have, appointments you set, deals you close. Unlike outside sales, an inside sales rep’s success doesn’t hinge on closing one or two “big” deals each quarter. It hinges on volume. Day after day. Week after week.

And therein lies the rub, because volume is the result of efficiency and speed; namely phone calls and web conferences, which are often faceless. With studies showing that 90% of communication is non-verbal, the disadvantage is obvious:

Are they paying attention to your presentation or demo? Are they on mute playing Angry Birds, tossing out an occasional “uh-huh” to feign interest?

It’s hard to know.

So the takeaway is that inside sales must always work harder to keep a potential customer’s attention. For this reason, it’s critical to amplify your knowledge, expertise, and problem-solving passion in every interaction. Marketing automation gives you the tools to do precisely that by delivering insight into the customer’s journey across all channels: web, email, and social.

By understanding where your prospects and leads are in their process, you can more effectively deliver valuable content and information that matches their unique needs while building a trust-based relationship.

And that’s important because more often than not, buyers make a purchase decision based on their trust in their salesperson. Face-to-face or over the phone, people still buy from people.

Marketing automation, inside salesOur Guest Blogger:
Shawn Naggiar, Act-On’s Chief Revenue Officer, is responsible for everything related to creating, managing, and growing revenue at the company. He joined Act-On in early 2008 as employee #7, and was a key architect in creating the company’s go-to-market strategy. Shawn built the revenue and service sides of the business from the ground up, helping to make Act-On one of the hottest SaaS companies in the online marketing technology space.

Prior to joining Act-On, Shawn spent six years in sales and business development at WebEx Communications. In addition, Shawn has held various sales management positions with RedCreek Communications (acquired by SonicWall), WorldTalk Communications (acquired by Tumbleweed), Finjan Inc., and Rainmaker Systems.