Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or inside sales expert, we can all agree on a few things.
One; sales is no longer just about high pressure, ‘won’t take no for an answer’ pitches. Today, it’s more of a different dynamic where sales reps listen, empathize, and even kill pitches early if they sense the prospect isn’t interested.
And two, sales tactics are not just learned in the classroom – it’s a never ending journey of ‘sales-education’.
New sales strategies, practices, approaches, and techniques are always springing up like wild shrooms, not to mention the new virtual office environments. If you don’t keep up with the changes, it’s easy to get left behind. When it comes to inside sales, becoming a master takes time, repetition, and a willingness to adapt on the fly.
Good thing you found your way here!
Here is a list of our Top 15 Inside Sales Secrets:
1. Thrive in the Discomfort that is Inside Sales
According to Zendesk’s Account Executive, selling is an inherently uncomfortable activity for most. If you’re not cautious, it’s easy to allow insecurities, fears and a natural desire to be liked to creep into a deal. It’s this discomfort that will get in the way and cost you the sale.
Inside sales reps go through a lot of discomforts. It’s one of the more challenging sales roles. As such, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Don’t listen to the naysayers—we’re not telemarketers, we’re inside sales reps, business development reps, and sales development reps—be proud and confident in that!
For instance, be strategic. Try to take advantage of the awkward silence when breaking news on pricing. What you should do is be quiet, and let the silence sink in. Rambling on and on to justify the cost won’t really help your case. Most reps have found out that quickly glossing over important details like pricing is always a deal killer. Chances are you will lose the deal and your prospect’s trust. Instead, try and acknowledge the reality that your products are premium priced. Explain why the product is better than other options and your prospect will appreciate the honesty.
This is what makes inside sales so much fun!
2. Always Be Following-Up (ABF!)
Having grown multiple startups and sharpened their teeth in the world of sales for years now, our inside sales gurus attribute most of their success to one crucial practice.
ABF — Always Be Following-Up!
Always following up and never considering the deal dead until the prospect gives a succinctly clear no. Someone says they’re busy? No problem. Just ask them for the best time and put it in your calendar.
This tactic is among the easier ones. All you need is a persistent mindset and commitment to see every single deal through. Or at least until you get an answer either way. It’s not about closing every single deal all the time. Rather, it’s about making sure you are never in the dreaded ‘maybe zone’. But remember, there’s a thin line between following up and stalking. So make sure you keep it short, sweet, and professional.
3. Handle Objections with Ease
In inside sales, you’re likely to hit more hurdles and objections that you are to close deals. If you’re lucky, you’ll get minor cases about things like pricing or delivery. But if it’s something more in-depth, then you need to be fully primed to handle all the complaints like a professional. Objections are tough to take, so don’t be too quick to patronize the customer before you even try to overcome them.
Rather, try to sympathize with them and soften the objection while getting to the root cause. Whether it’s the budget, product, or authority, you need to be well poised to deal with any and all complaints. Take time to understand the issues and involve third parties if necessary. Just do whatever it takes to make sure the way to the deal is clear and free of hurdles.
4. Take Advantage of Social Selling
We all have that Facebook or Linkedin friend who’s always sharing insights, stats and leadership pieces on the state of the sales industry. Like it or not, social selling is definitely here to stay. Largely due to these professional networks, inside sales reps can instantly take advantage and leverage the network to find the right prospects, start conversations, and build relationships that could evolve to business partnerships.
Social selling has effectively improved the sales prospecting process and looks like it might eliminate time-intensive cold calling altogether. By positioning yourself as an industry expert, you will bring more qualified leads just by regularly showing up on all your social platforms. Regardless of your sales level, you’re already winning if you engage in social selling.
According to Forbes, almost 80% of sales reps outsell their peers who don’t use social media.
5. Customize Your Pitches for Each Prospect
Perhaps the most important rule in inside sales – you need to realize that you’re selling to people, not companies.
As such, try to treat all your prospects like real people, especially in this age of automation. Whenever reps pick up the phone, a lot of them pitch to imaginary entities with deep pockets as opposed to a real person with real needs. So before you even make the call, you’ve got some homework to do first.
Research your prospect and learn everything you can about them. Where have they worked before, where do they fit in the organizational chart? Get a feel of who they are and who else will be involved in the sales process. It’s only by putting in the work and research that you will be able to customize your pitch to the decision-makers. Once you have a deeper understanding of the prospect’s position, you can use it to uniquely sell to them.
Read More: What is Inside Sales Software?
6. Inside Sales Reps are Competitive!
In my experience as an inside sales representative, I’ve known some outstanding salespeople. Do you want to know what the vast majority of them have in common? They’ve all played and excelled at sports, and that means they’re super competitive.
Collegiate basketball, baseball, hockey, and softball players all met or exceeded their quota on a consistent basis. One baseball pitcher’s sales pipeline was always overflowing!
Now I’m not referring to sales reps competing with each other, rather I’m talking about them challenging and encouraging each other to be their best!
But how do you unlock the competitive nature of all inside sales professionals?
Like the athletes, you leverage tools like Plecto scoreboards, which display daily inside sales rep KPIs across computer or television screens. You’ll be surprised how competitive salespeople and sales teams get when using scoreboards. There are other services, too, such as Ambition.
7. Use a Data-Driven Sales Model
Sales technology has come a long way in the past few years. If your inside sales team is still closing their eyes, holding their breath, and dialing leads—you need to stop what you’re doing and leverage Sales AI (artificial intelligence).
With Sales Artificial Intelligence, your inside sales team is empowered with data-driven insights at the right time and on the right day. When your salespeople know or are alerted as to the best time to email or call a prospect, sales cycles are shortened and sales pipelines are increased.
Not only do data-driven sales tools help inside sales reps book more meetings and close more deals, but they also help satisfy customer needs. How many times have you heard a lead say, “I’m glad you called.” or “Perfect timing!” Now more than ever, customer experience is passing quota as the number one key performance indicator for sales teams.
8. Knowledgeable Sales Reps Have Confident Voices
Years ago, a company I worked with hired a few new salespeople with substantial inside and outside sales skills. The owner didn’t hesitate for a minute. The new hires were given sales scripts and selling tools, and off they went.
After two weeks and 500+ cold calls, they had only scheduled two meetings.
The owner asked for my opinion on the matter, and I replied “Knowledge breeds confidence.” After spending a few days reviewing information sheets and battle cards with the new inside sales reps, I could not only hear the newfound confidence in their voice, I could see in on their face.
Here’s a great article on how to further build confidence from the Harvard Business Review: How to Build Confidence.
9. Inside Sales Reps are Productive & Efficient
You would think the wealth of technology today would create inside sales multitasking extraordinaires. Not so. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. When empowered with disparate lead generation, sales engagement, CRM software, dialing technology, and web conferencing tools—insides sales reps can get overwhelmed.
Sales professionals have numbers to hit. For Sales Ops, this can mistakenly create the need to purchase more sales technology, when in fact Sales Ops should be consolidating sales technology into a few solutions. As I always say, “Fewer clicks, more deals.”
In my twenty years of experience, the sales organizations that consolidated their technology to the following options met or exceeded their quotas with greater consistency and sales productivity.
- Customer Relationship Management (eg. Salesforce)
- All-in-one Sales Software (eg. Veloxy)
- Dialing Technology (eg. Ring.io)
Consolidated sales technology footprints make for a happy, productive, and efficient inside salesperson.
One other tidbit of information… The same goes for industry events and trade shows—the fewer, more focused, the better for acquiring high levels of prospects, leads, and new customers.
10. There's an I in Inside Sales, but Not Teamwork
Remember when I said that athletes make great inside sales reps because they’re competitive? In addition to being great competitors on the field, they also make for great teammates, too.
While teamwork makes for a quota-crushing sales team, it also makes for a great company overall, which is why Collaborative Selling is becoming one of the hottest sales trends these days.
What do I mean by collaborative selling? Besides working with your fellow inside or field sales reps, you should also be incorporating customer service, product management, vendors and partners, and heck—even the CEO into the sales process.
We had this one sales email that we would send out to stubborn leads. It had a 40%+ open rate and 25%+ response rate. We would have the CEO send a message to the inside sales rep that looked something like this:
Hi [sales rep name],
Have you heard back from [lead name] recently? I was looking over your notes, and I’d really like to help [lead’s first name] create more wins at [company name].
We would then forward that email to the lead with a note that would create a unique sense of urgency (as well as empathy so the sales rep doesn’t get in trouble).
11. Use Email Templates & Call Scripts
I’ve worked for companies that thought three phone scripts and five email templates were sufficient. Maybe as a starting point, but definitely not for sales survival.
When it comes to best inside sales practices, your email and cold calling scripts should progressively grow and be optimized over time.
Here’s a trick I learned from a few sales leaders:
- Print out all of your templates and scripts so you can easily write notes or amendments. If you have an advanced email template builder or dialer, notes can be added live while you’re on a call.
- Track your template and script analytics, and A/B test when possible.
Tracking email and phone analytics can be amazing and a real head-scratcher at times. You’ll be surprised what subject lines and voicemails get the best response rates. Here are two for you inside sales reps (and field reps if you’re reading this) to get high response rates from:
- Email Subject Line: Should we talk?
- Voicemail Message: Hello [name], this is [your name] from [your company]. Call me back, [your phone number]. Thank you.
12. Help on the First Call (and Email)
We’ve all been there. There are 7 days left in the month, and you’re still short of quota. Your marketing director gives you a bunch of new leads that have never heard of your company before. You look above your cubicle and your boss is staring right at you, awkwardly.
What are you to do?!
Your initial emails and calls should communicate your desire to help each lead with their pain points.
Don’t include an ask for a meeting, a call—nothing. Just offer helpful content, and if their pain point is unique, tell them that you’ll find what they need and get back to them as soon as possible. Trust me, they won’t forget you.
While this sales strategy is productive for field reps, it absolutely crushes it for inside sales reps. And while I recommend it on the first call and email, don’t stop there with email, because most leads won’t respond to your email until the fifth or sixth instance (based on research).
Helping is also a launchpad for the next inside sales secret…
13. Ask Questions, Send Surveys, Offer Consultations
What if I told you that this one question netted me meetings 25% of the time:
Hello [name], how does the number 28 play at [account name]—are you saving $28 in hard costs per transaction and achieving a 28x faster approval cycle time?
I never heard a stern “No.” Open-ended questions are powerful, whereas closed-ended questions less-so—but they are powerful when integrated together.
But why stop with just one question, when you can send a lead or customer 10 questions?
To my amazement, leads and customers are very receptive to receiving and answering surveys. These research assets can help you discover trending pain points, buying behaviors, and more. Just be sure to promise your leads and customers two out of three things:
- a free synopsis report on the findings of the survey
- a free webinar invite to review the findings of the survey
- a free entry into a giveaway (Amazon Kindle’s are always popular)
Lastly, after you have helped them a few times and demonstrated your industrial authority, offer them a complimentary 10-minute consultation. This is a good trick to help reposition you as not just an inside sales representative, but a consultant, too.
14. Reach Prospects with Traditional Methods
12 emails. 18 phone calls. That enterprise-sized lead seems to have a barrier 200 feet tall—or a really good gatekeeper.
This is one of my all-time favorite inside sales secrets, and I learned it from a thought leader in Marketing who had a hard time connecting with CEOs. He sent every CEO a bright neon-green envelope with a simple invitation inside. The envelope was 9 inches by 12 inches, and would stand out from any other piece of mail on a CEO’s desk.
This marketing thought leader achieved a 42% response rate!
In addition to finding the coolest looking envelope in the world, the fact that a traditional method of outreach was used played a big part in the program’s success.
When a lead goes cold, consider using one of these traditional outreach methods:
15. Land and Expand with Account-Based Selling
With all of the sales icons shouting across social media, there are dozens of sales models for you to choose from these days.
Nothing is more prevalent in the inside sales world today than Account-based Selling. What is account-based selling you ask? Account-based selling is a sales strategy that personalizes its targeting to individual companies and contacts, rather than blindly spraying the same message to thousands of different leads.
With the increase in data set size, accuracy, and real-time business intelligence, inside sales teams are able to easily hyper-segment their leads and clients, and hyper-focus their messaging for improved meetings and wins.
If you were just hired as the sales director for a Fortune 500 company and you received a sales email a few days later that read something like, “Congratulations on the promotion! When you have 5 minutes, I’d like to hear more about your strategy for 2022.“, you would take notice over a generic cold sales email. That’s the power of account-based sales.
My favorite tool to use for account-based selling is ZoomInfo. Nowhere else can I locate account Org charts, find the ideal customer profile, and discover buyer intent than with ZoomInfo’s prospecting solutions. It’s remarkable how dedicated they are to data accuracy, as they have a 24-hour team calling into companies and mining for the most accurate data. It’s amazing how quickly they update an email address or phone number!
16. Invest in Inside Sales Training
Sales, like fashion, never stays the same. Styles change, and so do your customers. To stay ahead of this ever-shifting landscape, you can’t afford to let your skill set grow stale. Enter the world of inside sales training—the ultimate wardrobe of techniques and insights that never go out of season.
- Ongoing Courses: Keep your team’s skills fresh with weekly or monthly training modules.
- Industry Webinars: Subscribe to webinars that focus on current sales tactics, technologies, and trends.
- Events and Conferences: Make room in the budget for industry events where your team can learn and network.
In a world of one-click purchases and automated responses, you’re the human touch that guides a prospect from “just looking” to “take my money!” An inside sales training program isn’t just about mastering the art of the deal; it’s about evolving as communicators, negotiators, and above all, as people. Keep your ears to the ground, your eyes on the prize, and let’s slay those sales quotas together!
17. Emotional Intelligence is Key
Feeling the vibes yet? In inside sales, you might not see your prospect’s eyes squint or lips curve into a smile, but oh, you can feel it. Emotional intelligence isn’t a fluffy, optional skill; it’s a cornerstone for succeeding in a remote world. It’s your guiding star in navigating conversations, in recognizing when to push and when to pause. Because let’s face it, nobody likes a tone-deaf pitch.
- Reading Digital Cues: Learn to interpret text-based communications or tone of voice to gauge a prospect’s mood.
- Adaptability: Customize your approach in real-time based on the emotional signals you receive.
- Building Trust: Know when to nurture the relationship rather than pushing aggressively for a close.
As an inside sales rep, you are part jazz musician, part psychologist. You’re improvising and adapting to your audience’s reactions in real time, all while keeping the rhythm of the sales cycle. All of this starts with an inside sales training program focused on cultivating emotional intelligence. With a high EQ (Emotional Quotient), not only do you enhance your ability to sell but you also foster meaningful relationships. It’s like your mom always said, “It’s not just what you say; it’s how you make people feel.”
18. Adapt and Evolve
Here today, gone tomorrow! The ground beneath the world of inside sales is as stable as a seesaw in an earthquake. Yesterday’s golden goose could be today’s lame duck—don’t count your sales before they hatch! To thrive in this environment, you must be more adaptable than a chameleon at a tie-dye festival. Stagnation is the mortal enemy; evolution is your closest ally.
- Tech-Savvy: New sales tools are being launched every day. Don’t just know them; master them.
- Script Revisions: Your script isn’t set in stone. Carve out a new one when the old starts to fossilize.
- Sales Approach: If you’re not meeting quotas, don’t double down—pivot.
What’s the secret sauce to not just survive but flourish? First off, keep one eye on analytics and the other on emerging trends—think of it as your very own business peripheral vision. Secondly, build in regular intervals for team reviews and strategy overhaul. Take it from nature: it’s not the strongest species that survive, but the most adaptable. Keep your finger on the pulse, tweak as you go, and be prepared to change course like a pro sailboat racer tacking against the wind.
19. Build a Personal Brand within the Company
Let’s be honest: inside sales is a team sport, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be the MVP. Everyone loves LeBron, but there’s room for a Curry or a Durant too, right? You’ve got unique talents—let them shine! Maybe you’re the go-to guru for navigating the labyrinthine corridors of enterprise accounts, or perhaps you’re the alchemist turning cold leads into gold. Own it!
- Signature Skill: Make your unique skill your calling card.
- Knowledge Sharing: Spill the tea in meetings, and watch how everyone sips your wisdom!
- Document Success: Keep a record; your success is the best story you’ll ever tell.
You’ve got the flair, now share the air. Make internal meetings your stage and let your colleagues in on your secret sauce. Document your triumphs and strategies like they’re heirlooms. And hey, don’t shy away from a little coaching; today’s student could be tomorrow’s ally. Building your personal brand isn’t just a value-add to your team; it’s a career escalator. So, go ahead—be the brand you wish to see in your company.
20. Master the Art of Storytelling
A Tale Worth Telling is a Sale Worth Selling! In this age of data overload, the charming whispers of storytelling can feel like a refreshing spring breeze. Who wouldn’t want that? But here’s the twist—storytelling isn’t just for children’s bedtime; it’s a must-have arrow in an inside sales rep’s quiver. Ever tried wrapping customer testimonials or the Cinderella story of your company’s rise to fame into an engaging narrative? Spoiler: It’s a game-changer.
- Narrative Nuggets: Weave customer testimonials, company history, or even industry trends into your conversations.
- Complex-to-Simple: Break down the ‘beastly’ complex details into ‘beauty’-fully simple ideas.
- Emotional Impact: A great story can make someone laugh, cry, or better yet, click that ‘Buy Now’ button!
Think of yourself as the Shakespeare of Sales—your tales should not only entertain but also enlighten. Paint vivid pictures that turn prospects into protagonists, and complex jargons into plot twists. In the grand theatre of sales, your stories are the performances that get standing ovations, and guess what, encore sales! Storytelling isn’t just a talent; it’s a trust-builder and an all-access pass to the emotional auditorium of your prospects. So next time you gear up for a pitch, don’t just throw facts—tell a story that sticks!
Final Word for Inside Sales Representatives
If you thought inside sales would be easier because it’s online, think again. Inside sales can be a grind of a sales job. It poses just as hefty a challenge as outside sales – only with less traveling.
Keep prospecting for new customers, send out those personalized emails, follow up regularly and keep track of how your deals are doing in the pipeline. The base salary is great, and the commissions are greater, and some of the most successful reps only had a high school diploma—the world is your oyster.
Here are a few more inside sales resource with ready made tips!
Now if you’re wondering, “What’s the difference between inside sales vs outside sales?” or, “What secrets do outside sales reps have to share, and are they just as successful?”, then be sure to read our other blog post below.
FAQ about Inside Sales
What is Inside Sales?
If you chose to read this blog post because you’re interested in an inside sales career, let me first explain what insides sales is and isn’t.
Inside sales is one of two things. 1) it’s the process of generating leads or setting meetings for your sales colleagues in the field or account executives, or 2) it’s the process of selling to leads and customers virtually—via a phone, web conferencing software, email, chat, or online. In today’s remote sales world, inside sales has skyrocketed past outside sales in total sales personnel, sales technology investment, and proportion of a company’s sales plan.
For those contemplating a career in inside sales, you’ll flourish in your role if you’re competitive, you love learning new technology, you like making data-driven decisions, and you prefer an office environment over significant travel time.
Inside sales also plays closely with the marketing department, more so than the field sales team. If you’re a marketing professional looking to pivot or get your feet wet in sales, gaining inside sales experience would be a smart move.