15 inside sales statistics from last week’s AA-ISP Front Lines Conference

insidesalesphonesThere are many benefits to attending events like this in person – the leads, the learning, the networking.  Another is great speakers, especially those that root their points in hard data.

Below are 15 of the most important statistics I heard last week, along with their sources.  Feel free to use these in your organization to validate and drive real progress towards you own inside sales, pipeline management and sales acceleration efforts.

  • Your buyer gets 100+ emails a day, opens just 23% & clicks on just 2% of them (Tellwise) Tweet this
  • At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. 56% are not ready, 40% are poised to begin (Vorsight) Tweet this
  • Automated & enforced sales processes generate 88% quota attainment (vs. 78% with merely “well documented” processes) (Velocify) Tweet this
  • 93% of converted leads are contacted by the 6th call attempt (Velocify) Tweet this
  • An outside sales call costs $308, an inside sales call costs $50 (PointClear) Tweet this
  • 46% of high-growth tech companies are growing via inside sales (vs. 21% using outside sales) (Harvard Business Review) Tweet this
  • Positive emotional connection is the #1 predictor of whether a millennial will buy (bad communication is #1 reason they won’t) (Harvard Business Review) Tweet this
  • Only 33% of inside sales rep time is spent actively selling. (CSO Insights) Tweet this
  • 44% of inside sales pipeline comes from marketing, and inside sales average dials are down 20% year-over-year (Bridge Group Inc) Tweet this
  • Sales leaders see lead volume/quality as more important than skills training & process (CSO Insights) Tweet this
  • 82% of buyers viewed at least 5 pieces of content from the winning vendor (Forrester) Tweet this
  • 71% of sales reps say they spend too much time on data entry (Toutapp) Tweet this
  • 37% of high-growth companies use inside sales as primary sales strategy (vs. 27% for field sales, 23% for internet sales, 8% for channel sales) (Pacific Crest) Tweet this
  • Texting after contact leads to a 112.6% higher lead to engagement conversion (Velocify) Tweet this
  • 78% of decision makers polled have taken an appointment or attended an event that came from an email or cold call (DiscoverOrg) Tweet this

“How I Work”: Brian Hansford, Director Client Services, Heinz Marketing Inc.

Brian Hansford“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m really excited to feature our own Brian Hansford, who runs our marketing technology practice.  He’s a jack of all trades – marketing and otherwise – managing our growing tech practice and a wide variety of amazing clients while also contributing consistently to our blog, staying active with several marketing tech platform user groups and more.  He’s a father of two, and an avid photographer and hiker.

Suffice it to say (and I know from first-hand experience!) Brian gets a ton done.  Here in his own words is how he does it.

Location: Redmond, WA

Current computers: Toshiba Portege

Current mobile devices: iPhone 5s and Amazon Kindle

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?  LinkedIn, Twitter, Evernote, Box, Paper.li, Google Alerts, Newsle, Gmail, Instagram and VSCOcam (I’m a photo freak). I use a lot of apps and services to help me discover and share content with people I work with, clients, and my social network.

What’s your workspace like?  Really simple. A glass top desk and a small rolling file cabinet. I have a small good luck bamboo plant and a basic desk lamp that adds some interest. The less clutter I have, the better.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Saying ‘no’ in order to focus on priorities. For about 8 years of my career I took on way too much and it had a significant impact on my family life and health. I’m honored and flattered at the professional and personal opportunities and projects that come up. But in the end it’s only fair to all involved to politely decline if I can’t engage the way that’s needed. Simple is good.

What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else? Professionally, I’m adept at designing business process workflows for marketing teams, which is why I love consulting for companies.  I can envision how people, content, technology and data must all work together for successful customer engagement. Personally, I’m a fairly solid pistol and rifle shooter and photographer.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Evernote and my Moleskine notebooks. Writing tasks in my notebooks helps me focus. I’m using Evernote more and more to help with task management.

What do you listen to while at work? I listen to everything. If there’s a good beat and strong bass line I’ll listen to it.  In a past life I was a band geek drummer and classically trained percussionist. My iTunes library is loaded with everything from alternative, classic rock, heavy metal, country, rap, classical electronic, and lots of 80’s songs.

What are you currently reading? “Beyond Pleasure and Pain – How Motivation Works” by E. Tory Higgins. I’m interested in the psychology and science behind human motivation. Fascinating read so far.

What’s your sleep routine like? I try to be asleep by 10:30 at the latest. Up at 5 am to go workout. I need my 7.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  “Be the hero at the end of the year, not at the beginning.”  My father shared this business advice with me early in my career. The idea is that plans don’t mean squat without execution and effort.

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. Beth Comstock, CMO at GE.

The most thoughtful set of core values & principles you’ll read this year

jordanritterJordan Ritter may be one of the more thoughtful CEOs I’ve ever met.  He’s certainly one of the most intentional, and devotes more time to considered, constructive feedback to those around him (employees, investors, peers, job candidates, etc.) than most executives who have achieved his resume.

Ritter was the co-founder of Napster, ran several Silicon Valley-based businesses, and now leads the Seattle-based and still-stealth Ivy Softworks.

I’ve had the pleasure and honor of getting to know Jordan a bit over the past year.  When he recently shared with me his company’s core values, principles & traits, it was no surprise how deep and meaningful each line was, and had for the make-up of his company.

With permission, I’ve included this single page of culture-defining content below.  Whether you’re running your own business, your own department, or simply want to manage your own perspective and approach more intentionally, I recommend the read and reflection.


  • Craftsmanship: Insist on the highest standards. Strive for excellence in everything
    you do. Take pride in building meaningful things that last ­platforms, products, teams
    and cultures.
  • Experimentalism: Be opportunistic with learning, be fearless about the unknown,
    be willing to fail and try again. Seek out ways to challenge yourself and each other.
    There’s no instruction guide ; always be iterating and trying new things. [freedom,
  • Inclusion:­ Listen with humility, speak with conviction. Be open to influence, nurture
    and invest in each other, dream and deliver together. [Empowering, tolerant,
  • Obsession: Be obsessive about everything: technology, innovation, reinvention,
    each other and our community. Obsession is the rocket fuel of our creativity.
  • Adaptability: Strive for agility in thought and versatility in action. Befriend change
    and embrace it warmly; it is the only certain thing.
  • Bias towards Action: Insist on decisiveness and execution.  Doing is the engine
    of Done, and Done is the engine of More.

Ethos, Mindset & Principles

  • sooner is better, now is best
  • own it, make it work, get it done
  • done well > done correctly ­style is the difference between accomplishment and excellence
  • be fearless of failure, deliberate with risk
  • always be advancing
  • clean hands make you wrong; ­ get dirty and lead by example
  • challenge the normal, reject the mediocre, embrace the unknown
  • seduce the user
  • shipping is the most important feature
  • work hard, work smart, work together
  • leave things better than when you found them
  • celebrate everything
  • don’t forget to smile; you’re not having fun if you’re not smiling
  • adversity breeds ingenuity, exposure encourages positive progression
  • dirty your hands with endeavor, not speculation


  • authenticity and transparency
  • self­ sufficiency
  • organized and disciplined
  • critical thinking > problem solving
  • ownership mentality, – accountable & responsible
  • comfortable with ambiguity
  • high capacity for mastery, velocity of learning

How do I know if when my social media activity is “working”?

Guest post by Greg Meyer, customer service champion for Rival IQ

Many companies look at social media as a tool for conversations only. Why try to measure it when the results of an individual Tweet favorite or Facebook share might be hard to analyze in the context of your business? Reframing the question of measuring social media activity helps. First, ask: “what’s the overall goal?” for this activity and then measure with an eye toward reinforcing the overall goal.

tl;dr: there are some brands who tweet a lot – and many of them also produce results. Measuring the end goal will help you to understand if more results came from a particular social media channel.


as bank robber Willie Sutton apocryphally answered when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Here are a few ideas that will help you to measure your social media activity and better understand where you should be investing your time and energy. I used Rival IQ to make a landscape of social media experts – a group of companies that should be an excellent example to model the use of social media to drive business and not just conversation. If you’d like to use this list for yourself in a Rival IQ account, try it out here.

Start with what you know, and expand from there

So, how do you find out whether your social media activity is working? You might consider taking an approach you know is working already and try it out on social media to see if the results are similar.

For example, if you knew that a particular piece of blog content converted to leads/signups/paid customers, you might try:

  1. setting up specific short URLs for distribution on different services
  2. use Rival IQ to measure the frequency and engagement rate on a service
  3. use the Channel Overview (or on Twitter, use the Top Mentions Report) to confirm whether the URLs that were posted frequently or which got high engagement also resulted in better than average improvement on the other metric you’re tracking on the bottom line.

Social media is not a panacea. It’s a channel to use to build audience (who is the potential audience that might listen to what I have to say), activity (in which channel should I post to reach that audience), and engagement (when I posted, did anyone have anything to say about it and did they notice?).

If you don’t know how to start, measure what you’re doing

If you’re not sure what content you’re already producing that is making a difference in your business, start by taking a look at your activity and whether it’s gaining you any engagement today. A common question you might ask is: how much is too much when posting on Twitter? You’ll probably want to look both at the Engagement Total, or the total number of engagement actions in a channel (for Twitter this would be retweets and favorites), and also the Engagement Rate, or the same engagement actions divided by a multiple of 1,000 followers – using this rate normalizes the number a bit and makes it easier to compare the engagement response for both larger and smaller audiences on a social channel.

Here’s an example I built using a graph that shows the Average Engagement Total per Tweet graphed with a secondary metric of the Average Tweets per day for the ten companies in our example landscape. The point of doing this was to determine whether there are diminishing returns in a noisy Twitter account that posts very frequently. This is what it looked like over the period of one week:


(Try this graph yourself.)


Take a look at the same landscape using instead the Engagement Rate metric:


(Try this graph out yourself.)

What’s the Takeaway for Tweeting A Lot?

Using this graph gave me visible and actionable information about the use of social media in this landscape – specifically about the use of Twitter. I believe the graph demonstrates that for the past 7 days, tweeting more than 40 times day had diminishing returns, and that the social media types in this small sample generally get higher engagement at a rate of about 10 tweets per day.

Even if you think you are Tweeting a lot by tweeting once an hour during the work day, you probably have room to run. Adding more Tweets to your day simply increases the odds that some of your Tweets will be seen by your audience.

My Brand Doesn’t Tweet that Much. What should I do?

You might look at a group of Twitter accounts belonging to so-called Social Media Experts and think: “my brand doesn’t do this. I’m not sure this applies to me.” You should be paying attention, even though you don’t have that much content or engage that much on Twitter. It pays to share the same content – you might prepare several versions of single tweet – and use that variety to hook the people who are on Twitter by sharing the same content in different ways on Twitter.

Industry brands that follow “Best Practices on Twitter”, which is simply an observation of “brands that seem to do a good job by staying on brand, engaging with their customers, and getting a good response to the things they post” do an even better job of this practice. I switched Rival IQ landscapes and used a “Best Practices for Twitter” group of companies to see if the activity and engagement remained the same for brands with a large audience.

Even though these brands aren’t tweeting as much for the most part as the social media experts, many of them tweeted up to 20 times a day while still maintaining a high rate of engagement. In fact, the engagement rate for this best brand practitioners in this group averages 20-30x the engagement rate achieved by the social media experts. Having a large audience alone is not the secret to social media success – it’s creating great content and maintaining a strong emotional connection with your audience.

Here’s what the graph looked like for this group of companies who are doing a great job on Twitter:


What should an individual account do to increase their activity and engagement?

What does this mean for an individual account, especially if you’re not part of a big brand? Put another way, how does the average person on Twitter increase the effectiveness of their activity and build engagement for their desired audience in their desired channel?

Let’s take a look at Anthony Iannarino (https://twitter.com/iannarino), one of the social media experts in our first list. To answer the question for Tony and whether he’s getting good engagement, the principles are the same as those for a big brand.

Here’s what brands should focus on to increase their engagement:

1) Optimizing the engagement rate or total per day. Whether you are tweeting just a few times a day or very frequently, use an analytics tool to measure your results. When you see the accumulated results over a 30 day or longer period, it’s time to analyze the data. Look at each day, view the content for that day, and notice if there are patterns, e.g. as in this graph:

The high points in each graph are the places where you’ll want to start taking a closer look. They represent successes in engaging more than the other target companies in that landscape on a particular day, and also give you the tools to look at larger weekly or monthly trends.


2) Once you find a peak in engagement, look at the content that drove that success

The graph above has links to review the content for the day that had a high engagement total. Whether your analysis is based on setting up content links and measuring on which day and with which treatment they drove the best engagement total or engagement rate, or simply looking at the content produced and finding the peaks of engagement, finding the content matters.

Then, review what you see. Tweets do best when they include short, well-written content and use either a strategic hashtag or reference a timely content link (or both). The specifics for other channels and for your audience will vary, so if you start from a baseline and then seek to improve you’ll find the right mix for your brand.


What does “is my social media working” really mean?

Answering the question of “does it work” is a custom answer for each brand. Getting the right data to answer the question starts with some exploratory questions, e.g.

  1. what metric are you trying to move?
  2. are you able to tie a move in that metric to activity in a particular social network?
  3. if so, does engaging more often or less often negatively affect the metric?
  4. if there is a positive impact or neutral, consider adding this practice to a regular analysis or connecting this analysis to another, broader campaign of content production.

Greg Meyer is the Customer Champion for Rival IQ – when he’s not talking to customers, he’s likely to be sharing thoughts on Twitter at @grmeyer.


In a world where every day is a holiday…

racing_presidents_nationalsMost of us are privileged to live in that world right now. For some, President’s Day is an actual holiday – work’s closed, stay home, do what you want!

For others, President’s Day is still a regular work day – but you didn’t exactly punch in right at 8:00 a.m. today, did you?

Many jobs (and I expect this is true for a higher percentage of those who might be reading this blog) aren’t as structured as they once were. You’re not required to show up at a specific time, stay until another specific time, take your lunch for exactly 45 minutes at the same time every day, etc.

Some companies go so far as to have eliminated vacation time. Take what you want, when you want. The work needs to get done, otherwise do it where and when you like.

That’s an incredible amount of freedom. And responsibility.

Today’s a holiday. But tomorrow could be too.

And yet, you’re busier than ever. You have more work to do than ever.

Managing those two realities takes unprecedented discipline, organization, coordination with your colleagues and regular triage of what’s most important.

Not that different from nights and weekends, right? Technically your office is closed, but the work never stops. Saturday is a holiday every week. But also an opportunity to get caught up, check your email every 30 minutes, get ahead, start something new, etc.

The difference between Saturday and Tuesday is blurring. What all of this means is that – to be successful, to maintain our sanity, to work hard but also devote time to family, fun and recharge – being intentional and focused is more important than ever.

Know your priorities. Know your limits. Know what’s important AND urgent. Know when you need to buckle down and put in the extra time to get something done. But also know when you don’t.

Happy President’s Day!

Matt’s App of the Week: nixplay

appoftheweek-300x284This is the latest in a series of weekend posts highlighting a wide variety of applications we think are pretty cool. Most have to do with sales, marketing and productivity. Check out past featured apps here.

This recommendation is a mix of hardware and software.  Over the past two months, I’ve bought both my mom and dad a digital picture frame from nixplay.  They come in a variety of sizes, connect to their wifi network, and allow me to basically manage the frame’s database of photos remotely.

But it gets better.  I’m not the only person sending pictures.  My sister can do so as well.  Using their mobile app, it’s one-click easy to add new photos to their frames right from y smartphone.

My mom’s more active now on Facebook, but my dad’s not.  And there are plenty of pictures I want to share with them (mostly of their grandkids) that just don’t make the Facebook or Instagram cut.  That’s where nixplay comes in and saves me a ton of time.

Worth checking out.

B2B Reads: bloggers, buying & the golden age

best-blogsIn addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week. We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we’re reading:

4 promotion strategies used by the best business bloggers
Not only does drafting your blog posts take a lot of time and effort, but the distribution can be timely as well. Great tips for blog promotion from Michael Gerard.

3 Google Analytics reports to help you find blog post ideas your readers will love
Finding the topic can be the hardest part to writing blogs. Using Google Analytics to see what your prospects and customers are talking about is the perfect solution. Good stuff, Andy Crestodina.

“I’m too busy to prospect”
One of the biggest excuses is people saying they are too busy when it comes to avoiding something they don’t want to do. Good point, David Brock.

How high-performing sales organizations differ from others
How do you think they differ? A study was conducted to see where the line separates these two categories. Interesting highlights. Thanks for sharing, Nancy Nardin.

That didn’t need to take an hour
Scheduling things for an hour ends up wasting more time and doing more harm than good. If you had scheduled it for less time and completed it sooner, then you’d have time to actually get up and away from your desk for 10 minutes. Great reminder, Brad Feld!

The qualified lead definition: Best practices for closing business without BANT leads

Are you still using BANT to determine your SQLs? Determining qualified leads are important in your marketing and sales process. Make sure you’re using a process that works for you and shows results. Good stuff, Craig Rosenberg.

The dawn of marketing’s new golden age
Data and online technology are constantly at the forefront of all current marketing and sales opportunities. What will pave the way for the next golden age of marketing? Great read, Jonathan Gordon.

How does content marketing actually get you more sales?
Many people say that content marketing doesn’t actually drive sales. However, according to Neil Patel, it is a HUGE driver of sales. Good stuff!

A bad buying process beats a good salesperson
Once you go down the path of a bad buying process, you might be lost no matter what. Getting your prospect back into the discovery is hard for even the best salespeople. Good article, Anthony Iannarino.

Buildings do not write checks

check-writingI had the pleasure of speaking on sales technology best practices, trends & predictions at yesterday’s American Association of Inside Sales Professionals(AA-ISP) Front-Line Conference in San Francisco.

The panel focused on the progression, proliferation and increasingly complex landscape of sales & marketing technology tools, platforms, apps and more.  Key on everyone’s mind wasn’t how many there were, but how we make sense of them.

Which of these tools really help me sell?  How can they make me more efficient?  How can they do the work for me?

Technology already available today can predict behavior.  Automate activity and actions.  The machines appear to be taking over.

But on the other side of that argument is that there are real people behind that technology.  There are real buyers inside those buildings, behind that predictive algorithm, between the lines of code and cells in your spreadsheet.

Buildings don’t write checks.  People do.  Those people are selfish, irrational, emotional.  They don’t always act predictably.

Automating more of the sales & marketing process is producing fantastic results for organizations worldwide.  Sales professionals can manage bigger pipelines and territories.  Marketers can deliver better leads at a lower cost.

But between and behind all of that is, and will always be, your buyers.  The story you tell them is, and will always be, central and critical to making all that technology and automation actually do something.

Prospects aren’t responding to your technology.  They’re responding to your message.  Your story.  Scratch that – THEIR story.

It’s exciting to know that sales & marketing will always be both art & science.  Balancing those, in the face of increasing technology advancements and innovation, will separate the companies that attempt to sell to buildings, and those who succeed at closing business.

“How I Work”: Greg Alexander, CEO Sales Benchmark Index

Greg Alexander

“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

Today’s I’m exited to feature Greg Alexander, CEO of Sales Benchmark Index. These guys are a machine.  Every single day they produce not only a meaty, thought-provoking blog post (seven days as week mind you), but each is accompanied by a downloadable asset that is also highly valuable.  Greg and his team are constantly on the road coaching Fortune 1000 organizations.

Suffice it to say, Greg gets a ton done.  Here in his own words is how he does it.

Location: Dallas, TX.

Current computers: Lenovo ThinkPad

Current mobile devices: IPad Air, iPhone 5s

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Uber, Ritz Carlton app, American Airlines app, Open Table

What’s your workspace like?  1- Client’s office, 2- seat 4A on American Airlines flight from DFW to somewhere.  I don’t have a workspace.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Listening to podcasts.  I used to spend 2-3 hours reading every day.  Now I spend 2-3 hours listening every day. This turns unproductive time, i.e. commuting, working out, standing in line, etc. into productive time.

What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else? Serving CEO’s of large companies in the area of sales and marketing strategy.  To serve the CEO of a large company requires a full suite of offerings, a large team capable of global implementations, and a deep understanding of how to translate board level strategy into functional sales and marketing strategy.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? My executive assistant.

What do you listen to while at work? Sinatra, Ray LaMontagne, Lyle Lovett, Van Morrison.

What are you currently reading? International Private Equity by Eli Talmor

What’s your sleep routine like? Lights out by midnight, up at 5:00 AM.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Why do people go out on a limb? Because that is where the fruit is.” The great 20th century philosopher, and my Dad, Rennie Alexander

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. I’d love to see Dominic Barton, Managing Director of McKinsey & Co. answer these questions.


Simplicity is supremely undervalued

simplicityComplicated isn’t better.  Complexity doesn’t imply greater sophistication, nor does it predict greater success.

In fact, oftentimes, the exact opposite is true.

Is your sales process better because it has six stages instead of three?

Does your landing page generate better leads because it has 10 questions instead of two?

Is your lead scoring more impactful because it takes into account 50 actions instead of 20?

There’s a point of diminishing returns in pretty much everything, not to mention the increased margin for error and decreased consistency of execution when you make things more complicated.

Complexity in theory can actually make implementation far more difficult to achieve.

Not to say complex isn’t necessary in some cases.  Just make sure you’re not making success harder instead of easier, more difficult to comprehend vs. easy to understand, translate and convert.