Many mid size companies in India have good calibre sales men. In some of the older companies, these sales people acquire technical capabilities and are long timers in the company. They are pretty good in talking the customer’s language and closing deals. Unfortunately, 70% of a sales reps time is spent scouting for leads and in trying to get an appointment. They just don’t seem to have enough of them. The common complaint I hear from senior management is that the sales team is warming the seats. These expensive resources should be out there with clients, closing deals. But we need to enable them. There are two ways to do that. Build good marketing capability that will cast the net wide and obtain leads. Second is to build an inside sales team. This is a team of highly skilled lead researchers, who will choose a target segment, identify companies and the right decision makers. The leads thus obtained need to be enriched by gathering further information. The team then connects with the lead and qualifies them. A lot of communication and exchange of marketing content happens with the lead. The inside sales team manages to influence the lead, and almost converts the lead to a customer. Once this milestone is achieved, the lead is handed over to the sales team for negotiation and closure.
Here is a real story of a customer (a senior and well known consultant) on how a solar company sold him their solution without even meeting him. It demonstrates what alignment of marketing and inside sales can actually achieve. The consultant reached home in the evening and found an envelope in his mailbox. He opened it, to find the website of the company on a slip of paper, in bold letters. That’s it! Curious to know more, he typed the URL and went to the website. A classic instance of how a customer is taken from the physical to the digital world of marketing. It briefly told him about the solar solution that was offered. He then gets a call from the company ( It now gets engaging). The inside sales person who has called, already knows all the details like the house address, the area of the roof (which they have calculated from google satellite maps) etc. Then they start to talk and tell our friend, how many panels he would need, the amount of energy it would produce, they knew his current bill amounts, so they also worked out the cost benefit analysis and told him about break-even etc. All this was done while sharing a screen with him, while the inside sales rep talked and ran him through the decision making journey. A classic case again, of mapping rich marketing interactive content with the customer’s decision journey, and taking him through the process. The deal was done. No sales person ever stepped out of the office. This to me demonstrates the power of combining effective marketing with inside sales to grow business, and this is where we help our clients build capabilities as well. Often, in marketing we get carried away with social, mobile, lead scoring etc. But core content that helps a customer make a decision is neglected. And then, inside sales is of course about process and diligence. So, while a lot of solutions will still need a direct sales presence, much of the initial stages can be done with marketing and inside sales. It is a combination of technology, process, intelligence and creativity, which when combined and implemented well, will lead to great results.