Practice Does Not Make Perfect: 7 Hard Truths about Building an Inside Sales Team

Editor’s note: A version of this guest post from Mike Brooks originally appeared on his Inside Sales Training Blog.

Inside sales — already an important component of many companies’ sales efforts — is expanding as more businesses develop or add to this valuable channel. Here are seven facts you need to face head-on to ensure your new sales team is effective and profitable.

1) First, You Have to Define the Team’s Role (tweet this)

Defining your new team’s role will guide every decision you make, including who to hire, how to compensate, and how much training and supervision will be needed. Ask yourself: Is your inside sales team going to take only inbound calls, or will they make outbound prospecting calls as well? Will the majority of their calls be to existing customers — as in either growing accounts or upselling — or will they also be responsible for bringing in new business? And what part of the sales cycle will they contribute to — appointment setting, qualifying leads, or closing sales? All these considerations will not only help define the role of your inside sales team, it will make other decisions more straightforward, as well.

2) Without a Clearly Defined Sales Process, Performance Can Drop 33% (tweet this)

CSOinsights.com reports that you can improve the performance of your inside sales team by as much as 33% if you first define your sales process. Surprisingly, many companies overlook this crucial step. Developing a defined sales process, or “DSP,” simply means that you’ve identified each step a successful sale goes through, and you’ve identified the best practices of achieving conversion at each step.

Knowing exactly what needs to happen at each step in the sales process will better enable you to teach best practice sales approaches, as well as monitor both adherence and effectiveness.

3) Yes, You Need Phone Scripts (tweet this)

Effective phone scripts that are rehearsed, internalized, and delivered in a natural way often mean the difference between a team who regularly hits their sales targets and those that don’t. Because sales is a set of skills that can be taught, learned, and repeated, it’s important to give your team the tools they’ll need right from the start. Since 80% of the selling situations they run into are the same day after day, teaching your team the most effective responses to these stalls and objections enables them to stay positive, empowered, and win more sales.

4) Repeat After Me: Record Your Calls (tweet this)

This one tip is the essence of all successful inside sales teams. Every major company uses recordings to train, measure improvement, and help coach their teams to better performance. Sales reps find recordings especially helpful because it gives them the awareness they don’t have while they’re on the phone and in the heat of the sale. By stepping back and listening to opportunities missed and areas that can be improved, they’ll be much more effective at making adjustments and getting better faster.

For tips on reviewing your recordings see “How to Improve Sales Presentations with Call Listening”.

5) If You’re Not Focusing on Onboarding, You May As Well Not Bother (tweet this)

Many companies spend more time on their products, services, and procedures than they do actually preparing their new phone reps for success. Several things you can do include intensive role-playing sessions to help prepare new reps for the selling situations they’re about to face. Also, playing recordings of other sales reps successfully handling common objections can teach them not only to expect these objections, but how to overcome them. This builds confidence and helps them experience success quicker, which increases their chances of becoming a productive, long-term hire.

6) New Managers Often Get Set Up to Fail (tweet this)

Most managers have risen through the ranks of a company, and it’s not uncommon for top producing sales reps to find themselves promoted to sales manager. The thinking is if they can sell well, then they should be able to teach others to do what they do. Unfortunately, successful sales management involves many other skills in addition to a knowledge of how to close a sale. People skills, leadership skills, management skills, etc. — all are important components in helping a sales manager be successful at hiring, training, and growing a successful inside sales team. To prepare your first manager for that daunting task, you’ll need to provide him or her with the proper sales management training.

7) Remember, Practice Does NOT Make Perfect (tweet this)

Practice only makes permanent, and the problem with most inside sales teams is that they are practicing, day in and day out, ineffective responses to the same selling situations they get over and over again. This is why such a large percentage of sales reps fail to make their revenue numbers each month.

The answer to improved and consistent sales — and to a confident sales team that does not experience call reluctance — is to equip and train them with proven call scripts which they can practice, internalize, and then deliver naturally. Once an inside sales rep learns how to respond effectively to the selling situations they face most often, they will be freed from
thinking about what they are going to say next. And that will allow them to focus on developing the most important sales skill of all — listening to the needs and wants of their customers.

Bonus: Never Waste Time on a Bad Hire Again

Download our free Sales Interviewing Quick Guide to make sure you hire the best reps and get the best results.


Photo by: Billy Brown

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