cats_fighting_102006_5In too many sales organizations, the relationship between inside sales and outside/field sales is strained at best. In some cases, they literally compete with each other for accounts. In other cases, inside sales is treated like an administrative and support function.

And even if the role of inside sales is to qualify leads and opportunities for their field counterparts, that’s no reason to allow, foster or support an adversarial relationship.

World-class sales organizations do a number of things well to ensure these two arms of the sales effort are working at optimal efficiency and success.

1. Complimentary roles & definitions
If explicit roles aren’t established up front, and then both enforced and celebrated ongoing, it’s easy for inside sales to feel inferior, and field sales to do long-term damage to morale and productivity by pushing too far. Instead, set up explicit job descriptions for each group, and make it clear that neither can succeed without the other.

2. Meet & build actual relationships
It’s easy to treat an inside sales counterpart like an admin if they’re little more than a name and email address. Take the time to ensure inside/outside sales partners get to meet, or at minimum spend time together more often via phone or video chat. Encourage them to get to know each other. The more they do that, the more they’ll care about one another and work together more organically and successfully.

3. Alignment around goals, metrics and dependencies
Job descriptions are one thing. And I’m sure each group already has measurable goals and quotas. But do they match? Are they dependent on each other? Do comp plans require successful collaboration? Alignment around goals & metrics alone isn’t going to force successful collaboration, but it’s a requirement for ensuring day-to-day compliance and success.

4. Ensure leadership is on board
Every level of the organization must support proactive, mutually-respectful collaboration between inside and outside sales. This includes sales leadership as well as executives who are interacting with sales on a regular basis.

5. Daily management and reinforcement

This is the sales manager’s job, to look beyond the metrics & quotas to ensure each group is maximizing active selling time and minimizing time spent on politics, personalities and inefficiencies. Following these best practices isn’t a guarantee that you won’t have problems pop up, which is why day-to-day management & leadership is so important.

Curious to hear what others have done to ensure more effective, successful collaborations between inside sales and field sales.