How to Transition from Traditional Inside Sales to Digital Sales

The B2B sales game is changing at breakneck speed. Gone are the days of interruptive selling tactics like cold calls. Today’s inside sales teams are focused on meeting customers where they live – online – and they’re finding success with this transition.

But how? What are they doing to be so successful? Here’s a list of strategies and tactics that B2B companies of all sizes are using to increase the productivity of their inside sales teams.

1. They’re focused on the customer – not the product

In traditional sales, reps are trained on the product. They can spew a litany of product features and benefits. But, often times, they don’t understand their customers, and as Forrester has noted, potential customers have noticed.

For digital sales transformation to take place, reps have to change their focus. They must replace phrases like “My company” and “Our product” with the magical word “You” – “Your company” and “Your industry” and “Your customers.”

2. They’re ceasing to spend money on tactics that don’t work

It takes 6,264 cold calls to make 4 sales. So, why are firms continuing to spend money on legacy tactics that are ineffective? Why are sales teams worried about auto-dialers and call centers and cold calling scripts?

“It’s what we have always done” is not a good excuse.

If you’re guilty of this kind of sales spend, consider doing some spring cleaning. Free up some budget for sales investments that are more effective.

3. They’re striving to engage potential customers earlier in the buying cycle

When sales reps wait to engage buyers, they have fewer chances to shape potential customers’ evaluation criteria. As a result, they’re more likely to miss quota.

Sales Benchmark Index’s research shows that sales teams that focus on the first part of the journey (i.e. the “Discover” and “Learn” stages) rarely compete on price and often win deals with zero competition because “they got in early” and were able to influence the buyer’s purchasing criteria. In fact, proactive teams are 56% more likely to hit their numbers.

How do inside sales teams engage buyers earlier? By meeting potential customers where they are – online.

4. They’re committed to using content

In the digital space, earning someone’s trust and interest is all about content. This does not mean that sales reps are writing their own blog posts and ebooks. Rather, reps are learning how to use the content and messaging that marketing has supplied for them.

Content positions sales reps as go-to resources for information. Through content, sales reps are able to tell prospects something that they didn’t already know. As a result, customers feel less like they are being closed and more like they are being helped.

5. They’re getting social, and they’re budgeting resources accordingly

We’re seeing more and more companies incorporate social selling into their budgets. This shift is happening because buyers are using social to learn about potential vendors. 84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (IDC).

As a result of this shift to social, sales teams are thriving. Top social sellers have 45% more opportunities per quarter than social selling laggards (LinkedIn). Social sellers realize 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional selling techniques (Sales Benchmark Index).

So, what are you waiting for?

6. They’re relying on new technologies to support contextual engagement

In the past, sales reps relied on one-size-fits-all messaging. Sure, there were some signs of personalization (e.g. changing the prospect’s name in an email). But generally speaking, sales reps didn’t tailor their messaging to fit the customer’s situation.

Now, through technologies like CRM and marketing automation, sales reps have more information about their customers. They know what content their buyers have read. They know how their buyers found their website. They know whether a buyer thought about signing up for a demo, but didn’t fill out the form.

Good sales leaders are teaching reps how to interpret a buyer’s digital footprint and turn that knowledge into meaningful interactions.

7. They’ve updated their key metrics

Inside sales metrics have revolved around the phone call for decades. How many calls did a sales rep make? How many of those calls became an opportunity? How many calls became a deal?

As the effectiveness of cold calling wanes, inside sales leaders must update their metrics. Instead of focusing on call volume, sales leaders need to concentrate on engagement metrics. They need to ask themselves how they can measure salespeople’s multi-channel interactions with buyers. Each channel (email, phone, and social) must have its own set of metrics.

8. They have the support from other departments, especially marketing and sales enablement

Most marketing departments have already experienced the digital revolution. They understand how to adapt to the modern buyer, and their tribal knowledge is an excellent resource for sales teams. As Peter O’Neill of Forrester writes:

Making the Change

Making a change in your sales program can be tricky because it requires aligning budgets, departments, and employee mindset. But prospects are changing how they look for solutions to their problems, and as long as buyers are evolving, sales organizations need to evolve with them.

The first step in this change is moving from a traditional inside sales strategy to a digital sales strategy. Good luck!

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