If you are like most inside sales managers, handling the day-to-day operations and achieving your goals is a battle.
First, you have to hire the right salespeople and make sure that sales reps are trained properly, performing well, and accurately reporting information. In the meantime, you’re constantly dealing with the pressure of replacing underperforming sales reps.
Plus, in the middle of all that you need to ensure you’ve got the right sales strategies and the right tools in place so that your inside sales organization runs efficiently.
So when you’re managing an inside sales team, how do you find time to breathe but still ensure that your team is achieving maximum productivity and running efficiently?
Below are five strategies for managing a high-performance inside sales team.
- Set Up an Effective Onboarding and Training Program
- Define Your Inside Sales Process
- Use the Right Technology and Tools
- Reward the Actions that Drive Sales
- Keep Your Sales Reps Engaged
- Review Inside Sales Performance for Higher Returns
- Outside the Cubicle
Set Up an Effective Onboarding and Training Program
This is the most important step of the process, and it’s what the success of your inside sales team depends on.
It’s true that you have probably picked the right candidate for the job, but if you don’t break them in properly and show them your work processes, the odds are that your new sales rep won’t be able to live up to their full potential and your expectation.
Long story short, having an effective onboarding process is a must.
It’s a good idea to assign a mentor to every new hire to help them navigate your work environment, culture, and procedures.
Even if you’ve hired an experienced inside sales rep, it’s not a guarantee that they will be able to pick up on how things work in your company without guidance.
Similarly, it’s crucial to help your sales team grow and acquire new skills. Continuous education is a must if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
There are a couple of things you can do to facilitate this process and keep your inside sales team up to date with the latest industry trends.
Create a resource library
It’s a good idea to collect relevant blog posts, reports, e-books, and other resources about inside sales techniques and tactics and store them in one place so that your sales reps can always easily find and access them.
This is a convenient self-serve tool that allows your team to learn and specialize on their own.
Leverage online learning platforms
Online learning platforms became popular during distancing regulations when it was the only way to organize training for your team.
But, even though things have mostly been back to normal, you should think about implementing e-learning platforms in your training strategy.
That way, all your sales reps will be able to educate themselves in their own time and at their own pace no matter where they are.
Establish regular feedback
It’s crucial for your sales reps to know how well they’re performing.
By no means does this mean that you should criticize them if they don’t do something right.
Use their mistakes to help them learn something new instead. This approach is challenging, as it involves talking about sensitive issues such as mistakes and failed attempts.
But, if your attitude is positive and helpful, then you can transform their mistakes into valuable sales lessons.
Define Your Inside Sales Process
Aligning your internal sales processes to the customer’s journey is the factor that hugely contributes to increasing quota attainment rates.
So how do you define a successful sales process that’s aligned to the customer’s journey?
Get in the trenches with your sales reps to discover what works best for your customers and prospects.
Not only is it always a good learning experience, but it increases your credibility on the sales floor. Also, get active on social media, especially LinkedIn for B2B, to see what issues your customers are discussing.
You may hear something about their buyer’s journey that you didn’t previously know.
Think “Customer Experience” (CX)
According to Gartner, “over 80% of organizations expect to compete mainly based on CX.” That means your sales goals will be met or lost based on your ability to deliver a superior customer experience.
Here’s how to make sure your customer experience is on point.
Get feedback from everyone involved in the process
To create a superior customer experience for your prospects, get feedback from your team, and everyone involved – from accounting to sales executives to the marketing team. Get their perspectives on what prospects and customers like and expect.
You can also send surveys to collect information. Over time, you will know the desires of satisfied prospects and customers, and deliver an experience that your competitors can’t match.
This also helps your company get more word-of-mouth referrals.
Once you develop your sales program, teach managers so they can train and coach sales reps through role-play, cold call reviews, social selling training, and other exercises.
Also, ensure that your sales reps are following the sales program daily.
Use the Right Technology and Tools
A great inside sales team is nothing without the right inside sales solution to ensure that it’s followed and runs smoothly.
For example, using a sales engagement solution like VanillaSoft ensures that your team is using sophisticated technology to automate and streamline the process, and makes implementing your sales program easier.
What features and functionalities to look for?
Before you pick the right inside sales solution, you need to identify what your sales team struggles with as well as what consumes the most of their time.
Auto-dialing, reporting, lead distribution, call activity, and scripting are just a few of the functions that can be improved through technology, saving your company both time and money.
Standard scripts for widespread distribution to sales reps have been underrated by many inside sales professionals.
Many companies allow sales reps to make up their sales pitch on-the-fly. You can duplicate the success of your top performers by letting all sales reps use their expert sales skills in a successful script that has proven responses to overcome objections.
For example, VanillaSoft’s logical branch scripting provides all sales reps with the right thing to say at the right time to close the sale.
Other important technology tools to manage your sales team include prioritizing lead distribution with queue-based routing, and the ability to carry out accurate sales performance evaluation through reporting and monitoring to gauge your sales team’s success.
Reward the Actions that Drive Sales
To boost sales rep success, you want to create a winning culture.
Keep your sales reps happy with rewards and compensation. Let’s face it, top performers know how good they are, and if they don’t feel appreciated and compensated, they will look for other opportunities.
As a manager, you can’t afford to lose your best.
Salary vs. Bonus?
So which compensation plan is best to retain your top performers who are succeeding as an SDR: salary or bonus?
How much should you pay?
If you pay too little your sales reps won’t be motivated to sell; pay too much and you harm your chances of driving sales increases, as reps will feel too comfortable and have little sense of urgency.
There isn’t a standard sales compensation plan that works for every company, as the thousands of books and blog articles on sales compensation will attest.
At a minimum, make sure your compensation at least meets the industry average for your area, and keep in mind the total package.
Introduce non-monetary incentives
In addition to monetary rewards, include fun rewards, like prizes, a free lunch, salesperson of the month parking space, etc. – get creative.
For example, maybe the top-performing sales team for the week gets an afternoon team-building field trip.
These types of rewards motivate and challenge individuals or teams to do their best and increase revenue, and they’ll love being in your work environment.
So, when a competitor knocks, they won’t answer. It is all about satisfaction.
Keep Your Sales Reps Engaged
Incentives and bonuses are cool, but they’re not enough to keep your reps engaged.
We shouldn’t forget that being an inside sales rep can be a very lonely and stressful experience.
Talking to a slew of prospects every day, trying to engage and nurture them until they finally say “yes” is exhausting and mentally draining. Let’s not forget that these people aren’t friends, but business partners, so it’s not like salespeople are shooting the breeze with them in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
It’s hardly comfortable when you have to keep your guard up all the time out of fear of saying something inappropriate and ruining a sales opportunity.
If we add that your reps are focused on hitting their quota and driving revenue, it’s easy to conclude that they need all the support they can get.
Check on your sales reps
It’s important to keep the lines of communication with your inside sales team open and frequently check on your reps.
But “checking on them,” doesn’t mean “micromanaging.” Lend them your ear as much as you can, and talk to them about all the challenges they face in their work.
You should bear in mind that sales is a highly competitive field and that sometimes your reps will have a hard time opening up and sharing their problems with you.
They don’t want to come off as incompetent, so it’s up to you to initiate conversations and encourage them to tell you if there’s something that they need help with.
Encourage Collaboration and Healthy Competition
Encouraging collaboration and healthy competition among your sales reps can help keep them engaged and motivated.
You can organize team-building activities, group projects, and friendly competitions to promote teamwork and camaraderie.
For example, you can set up a leaderboard to track individual and team performance and reward top performers with bonuses, recognition, or other incentives.
Foster a Positive Work Culture
Fostering a positive work culture is also critical to keeping your sales reps engaged and motivated. You can promote open communication, transparency, and respect among team members.
You can also create a fun and engaging work environment by organizing social events, celebrating milestones, and encouraging creativity and innovation.
When your sales reps feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated.
Review Inside Sales Performance for Higher Returns
You’ve done everything within your power to help an underperforming sales rep succeed: from training to coaching, to the right technology, to retraining. Yet, the rep still fails to thrive and doesn’t improve.
If retraining does not work and there’s not another suitable position available, then the sales rep needs to be removed from your team.
This sales rep most likely fits into the 55% of sales reps who are more suited to do something else. You are doing both parties justice by cutting ties.
Replacing sales reps is difficult, but it’s necessary to maximize revenue for your company.
But before you reach that point, there are several proactive steps you can take to keep your sales reps engaged and performing at their best.
- Analyze Performance Metrics: To identify the underlying causes of a sales rep’s underperformance, analyze performance metrics like conversion rates, sales cycle length, and average deal size. By identifying trends and potential problem areas, you can focus on improving those specific aspects and help your sales reps perform better.
- Provide Ongoing Feedback: Continuously provide feedback to your sales reps, whether it’s positive or negative. Encourage open communication and ensure that reps are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Regular feedback helps reps understand where they stand and what they need to do to improve.
- Offer Additional Training: When a sales rep is facing difficulties in a particular aspect of the sales process, it can be helpful to provide them with supplementary training or coaching to enhance their performance. Such support can be offered through various means, including online courses, personalized coaching sessions, or group training programs.
- Plan for Succession: Develop a succession plan to ensure that you have a pipeline of talented sales reps ready to step up when needed. This can include identifying high-potential employees and providing them with additional training and development opportunities.
Outside the Cubicle
Keeping a close eye on the performance of your sales team is of critical importance. But before you can expect any improvement, you have to make sure you’re on the same page with them.
The bottom line is to step outside of standard operations to evaluate and communicate your sales process. This will always keep your sales team running efficiently, with quality sales reps, the right tools and rewards, and a winning sales program.