Size Doesn’t Matter: 6 Tips for Leading the Inside Sales Teams at an SMB
Your business might fall into the SMB category, but that doesn’t mean your sales goals are small—or even mid-sized. Plus, if you’re the sales manager of an inside sales team at a small- to mid-size company, you have just as many responsibilities managing that team as your counterparts at the conglomerates and corporations. And…you get results! According to Salesforce.com, smaller high-tech companies and startups generate 55% of their sales from the work done by their inside sales reps.
If you’re not yet managing inside sales reps, chances are you will be soon, as companies switch from outside to inside sales. Since 2009, inside sales roles have grown at a 7.5% rate annually. That might not sound like much, until you compare it to the 0.5% growth of outside or field sales roles. And one reason for this switch is customer preference. According to the Sales Benchmark Index, 75% of your buyers actually prefer not to meet in person.
Are you ready to manage an inside sales team?
With inside sales growing and becoming increasingly common, even at smaller businesses, it may be difficult for you as an inside sales manager to know how to make the switch. Our advice to you is to invest in your inside sales team. Spend the time necessary to ensure your people are successful and productive—and poised for long-term growth along the company’s trajectory.
6 ways to be a better sales manager at an SMB
Just how do you go about making that investment? In some ways, it depends on the rep. Not all of your inside sales reps work the same way and in SMBs, it’s easier to get to know each one and give them the help they need in a productive way for them. We recommend that you do so, but we also suggest putting these six techniques to work for your whole team–for everyone’s benefit, including your own:
- Motivate your sales reps: In smaller organizations, inside sales reps are much more driven and focused in their selling processes. They are the leading driver behind keeping the business going and have a lot riding on their efforts, and they know it. Their motivation is key. Make it a priority.
- Align marketing and sales: With a smaller sales and marketing team, it’s easier to align the two. Marketing has a much clearer idea of where the sales team needs help to close deals, for one thing. Sales also has a better understanding of where the leads are coming from so they can make smarter decisions on how to approach the prospects, plus they are more likely to give feedback to marketing on the kinds of leads they are getting.
- Analyze wins and losses: Your CRM should be your best friend. Use the reporting to keep an eye on what’s happening, and to give kudos when appropriate and make changes when needed. Also make sure your sales reps are consistently using it too, by investing the time necessary to be sure they are fully trained on it.
- Coach your team: The size of your company doesn’t matter. Everyone benefits from coaching. Find time to coach your sales reps so they are continually learning. You don’t want to take away from the time they can spend selling, but without coaching, they will never improve. Think of it as a short-term investment for long-term gain.
- Define the structure: Set up your inside sales team with a defined structure, utilizing best practices and KPIs. Inside sales reps should be able to follow a clear path right from the time they engage with a prospect for the first time until the time they close the deal. That said, some smaller organizations have structured their sales in such a way that a sales rep hands off leads to a higher up team member to close. Don’t have awkward hand offs. Have a set process in place to handle these situations—and all others!
- Respond rapidly: Sales acceleration is a big deal, and your reps need to stay on top of their prospects and leads. Keep the prospect or lead moving forward through the funnel by responding to their questions and needs right away. Remember: The prospect or customer always comes first. (And having good processes will help!)
Managing an inside sales teams at a smaller organization comes with unique challenges. One of the hardest things sales managers have to do, especially in SMBs, is let their sales team do the selling. Yet you will be more successful, and so will your team, if you take a step back and put these six techniques to work. Be a good leader and you’ll have a top sales team—no matter the size of the business you sell for.