Five focus areas for inside sales improvement in 2011


The folks at Focus wondered what inside sales managers will do in 2011 to improve sales & revenue results from their organizations.  You can see (and contribute to) their discussion here, but here’s my quick take on five specific areas inside sales managers should focus on in 2011:

1. Qualification:  How well and how quickly can you determine if your prospect is qualified and ready to buy?  Inside sales teams in 2011 need to become far smarter about asking the right questions up front, understanding the priorities and organizational dynamics of their prospects, to quickly separate those who represent near-term sales opportunities from those who need further nurturing.

2. Operational Efficiency:  Inside sales managers in 2011 need to help their teams eliminate distractions, reduce manual steps that take time away from the phone, and automate tasks that take up too much of the rep’s day today.  This includes everything from CRM updates to email/communication templates to how the phone is dialed.

3. Diagnostic Selling:  Inside sales should be asking questions that the prospect hasn’t thought to ask, hasn’t been able to answer, and hasn’t yet quantified – questions that increase the quantifiable understanding of the problem and increase the urgency with which the customer wants a solution to deliver their desired outcome. 

4. Marketing Automation:  Inside sales managers need to mandate that their marketing teams actively and dynamically manage the bulk of their qualified-but-not-ready-to-buy pipeline of leads.  This means understanding exactly where in the decision and buying cycle each prospect is, and providing them with content and calls to action appropriate to that stage.

5. Metrics:  Know what to measure, narrow the list of metrics you manage daily to a small number, and prioritize those measures based on proximity to a revenue event.  Every step of the lead creation, development and conversion process needs to be understood, reviewed and optimized more dynamically in 2011.