Tips for Managing a High-Performance Inside Sales Team

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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. Then 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 under-performing sales reps, and 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.

Whew! That’s exhausting. 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? Research shows that fifty-five percent of salespeople would rather be doing something else than working on the sales floor. So hiring the right candidates is half the battle. As for the rest, sales managers need to be on point in managing the team to create a positive sales environment, meet quotas, and increase revenue. Managers need to think outside the box, conduct discovery sessions, and get creative. Below are five strategies for managing a high-performance inside sales team.

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 reps up to date with the latest industry trends. 

  • Create a resource library. 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. 
  • Leverage online learning platforms. Due to social distancing regulations, it’s the only way to organize training for your team. But, even when things go 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. This doesn’t 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

sales organizations

According to CSO Insights, a sales and marketing research company, sales organizations that effectively align their internal sales processes to the customer’s journey saw quota attainment rates of 58.5 percent; that’s an increase of 8.9% compared to the study’s average.

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.

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 program is nothing without the right inside sales solution to ensure that it’s followed and runs smoothly. A conceptual model called Technology-Task-Fit (TTF) has been used for many years in IT for evaluating the impact of technology on companies but has only recently started being applied to sales technology. TTF looks at the suitability of the technology for the actual tasks to be performed and is particularly valid when you consider the difference between outside and inside sales roles.

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. 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 has 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.

sales performance

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. 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. 

That’s why it’s important to keep the lines of communication with your inside sales reps open and frequently check on them. 

But when I say “check on them,” I don’t mean “micromanage.” 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. 

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 percent 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.

Outside the Cubicle

You can relax, breathe, and even smile as an inside sales manager after you’ve done your homework, conducted discovery sessions to determine what works for your team, and implemented your best practices. 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.

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