Building an effective inside sales team includes finding great talent and teaching them skills such as cold calling, qualifying prospects, promoting your products and services, and closing deals remotely. Unlike outside sales reps, they often rely more on technology, such as video conferencing tools, email, and phone systems, to communicate with prospects.
Inside sales teams also usually use customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage the sales process. For example, Pipedrive offers a visual sales pipeline where email conversations are synced with each sales opportunity and a smart data search to discover more information about each lead with one click. Sign up for a 21-day free trial today.
Here are the five steps for building the most effective inside sales team for your organization:
1. Define Your Sales Process
Before you set out building a high-performing inside sales team, you need to flesh out your sales process to keep everyone on the same page and establish a process that keeps leads from falling through the cracks. This includes looking at what your inside sales process and sales cycle will likely include.
For example, you’ll want to include steps such as:
- Prospecting: This should touch on how you reach potential clients, including cold calling, email campaigns, and your social media strategy.
- Qualifying: Once you have generated leads through your prospecting efforts, you need to set up rules to qualify whether they are a good fit for your products or services.
- Pitching: Qualified leads will be invited to have a demo with an account executive to explore the prospect’s interest level and begin a sales conversation.
- Nurturing: The account executive, and sometimes other team members, will work to continue the sales discussion and convince the prospect to make a buying decision.
- Overcoming objections: At this point, the account executive (and inside sales manager, if needed) work to overcome the prospect’s objections to move them toward closing.
- Closing: Once objections are addressed and the prospect has made a decision, they sign a contract and move on onboarding.
- Onboarding: Once you’ve acquired a new customer, they are moved to the onboarding process, where they work with an account manager.
During the entire sales process, all team members should be using a CRM to track conversations and stay on the same page, so nothing falls through the cracks. Many CRMs even offer the ability to automatically qualify leads with custom rules.
2. Define Types of Inside Sales Roles
Once you’ve created a comprehensive sales process, figure out what kinds of inside sales roles you need and start making job descriptions for each one. Depending on the size of your sales organization, there are a number of inside sales roles you’ll want to consider, such as:
- Sales Development Representatives (SDRs): SDRs often work in a call center and make a large volume of cold calls to prospects and set them up for demos with account executives.
- Business Development Representatives: This role helps in building partnerships, reaching out to new markets, and qualifying cold leads.
- Account Executives (AEs): AEs are responsible for pitching product and service demos, nurturing prospects, closing deals, and smoothly transferring new customers to the onboarding stage.
- Account Managers: While AEs are responsible for closing deals, account managers take over once deals are closed by keeping a smooth line of communication between customers, upselling, and fostering an excellent customer experience while generating referrals.
- Inside Sales Managers: This is a crucial role that requires a talented inside sales professional who ensures everyone is working together, fosters teamwork, delivers training, manages performance, and helps close deals when needed.
3. Develop an Effective Recruiting Process
Now that you know what types of inside roles you need to find to create a stellar team, it’s time to recruit the right sales talent. There is no shortage of places to find qualified candidates online.
For example, you can utilize websites such as:
- Indeed: Indeed is the number one job board in the United States. As many as 3 million businesses post their open jobs on Indeed, and it has more than 200 million job seeker resumes. Visit their website to post unlimited jobs for free.
- LinkedIn: While many people go to LinkedIn to find a new job, LinkedIn Recruiter offers a great program to find qualified inside sales candidates. The program allows access to over 500 million LinkedIn members with robust search filters to hone in on the most appropriate candidates. You can also contact any candidate via InMail and create a talent management pipeline.
- Remote recruiting sites: Since inside sales teams primarily focus on selling remotely, many sales organizations choose to hire remote employees. Sites like WeWorkRemotely are a great place to post job descriptions to find the right talent.
Consider Creating an Internal Referral Program
You might be just starting out hiring an inside sales team as a business owner or convincing your boss that you need to start hiring. Don’t forget that you likely have access to a broad range of qualified talent from the people who already work in your organization. If you already have staff in other departments, you can open an internal referral program to the entire organization.
The best internal referral programs are tied to incentives. For example, if someone refers a candidate who is hired, they may be given a referral bonus of $200 to $1,000, depending on the budget and structure of the company. For example, programs like Greenhouse offer a streamlined way to set up an internal company referral program with job postings and the ability for employees to share personalized links with candidates in their network.
Interview & Hire the Best Candidates
Once you’ve identified qualified candidates, it’s time to interview them to see if they are the right fit. Learn more about the best questions to ask in our article about the best questions to ask a sales candidate.
Once you decide a candidate is a good fit after an initial interview and any other interview steps you take, such as a panel interview or trial assignment, it’s time to make an offer quickly. The best inside sales candidates are in high demand, so make a competitive offer that emphasizes your enthusiasm to have them join your team. In some cases, it can be helpful to provide incentives, such as a hiring bonus.
“In my experience, you need to have an effective hiring process in place. If you want to build a high-performing team, then you need the right talent to start with. By asking careful and considered questions, you will gauge whether the person has a raw talent for selling and is open to upskilling. If they lack either of these qualities, they probably should not be on your team. Once you have your team in place, you need to ‘set metrics’ to hold people accountable. By setting achievable goals that the entire team works to meet, you create an environment that fosters positive competition and development.”
— Ollie Smith, CEO, Card Accounts
Click here to download our customizable offer letter you can start using today.
4. Provide Comprehensive Inside Sales Training Program
Now that you’ve got the right inside sales team in place, or you’re at least well on your way to building one and have a few new hires, develop a comprehensive inside sales training program to create the most effective team possible.
Use an Outside Firm or Create In-house Training
There are many benefits to offering outside training for new inside sales hires, but they can be expensive and you can’t guarantee the training will fit your sales culture and needs. Learn more about some of the best sales training programs available online and on-site.
Many small businesses choose to create in-house sales training programs and tailor them to the individual roles, responsibilities, and skill sets of each type of inside sales role. The main goal is to make sure your new team members have a chance to learn the sales process and what is expected of them, rather than expecting them to jump in and know how to do everything on day one.
Pro tip: Training doesn’t end after the initial training a new hire gets during the first week. Commit to providing your inside sales team members with continual professional education opportunities so they can grow and develop into better salespeople.
Provide Training on Your Software Tools
Make sure to train your new team members on the specific software they use. For example, if they are used to working with one specific CRM at a different sales organization, don’t expect they will know how you use the one your team uses effectively. Remote sales teams also typically use video conferencing systems and phone systems, so ensure they are able to use them efficiently before they start official job duties.
5. Assign Goals & Quotas
Once new team members are in place and have been properly trained, hone in on each individual salesperson’s expectations by assigning goals and quotas. These goals should be tailored to each type of inside sales team member so they are assessed fairly and in line with their expectations.
For example, a sales development representative may have a quota for how many cold calls they make throughout the day or week and how many demos they set for account executives. Account executives may have quotas and goals around the number of deals they close monthly and quarterly and the amount of revenue they produce.
Account managers should have goals that reflect customer retention rates, customer satisfaction scores, the number of products and services they upsell to customers, and referrals from happy customers. Inside sales managers’ goals should focus on the overall health of team sales, how well each team member is performing, and providing accurate sales reports.
Best Practices for Inside Sales
While every sales organization is different, there are key strategies and practices you should consider when building an inside sales team. They help teams collaborate more effectively, encourage transparent communication, and streamline the sales process.
Some of the best practices include:
- Foster open communication: While each inside sales team has a variety of roles, excellent sales management involves fostering clear, open, and transparent communication between team members to build trust and keep everyone on the same page.
- Use the right tools: While inside sales team members certainly need a phone, they need more than that to be effective. Invest in a video conferencing service, task management tools, and a CRM to help keep your team organized.
- Invest in coaching: Keep your inside sales team motivated and encouraged with continual coaching. This includes one-on-one sessions with inside sales managers, team training, and third-party professional development.
- Reward high performance: When you have inside sales team members who overperform, achieve major accomplishments, or crush their quota, recognize those team members to help keep them motivated. Examples of rewards include bonuses, public recognition, extra time off, or a personal gift.
3 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Many new sales organizations are eager to launch their business, but don’t know quite where to start. For example, if you hire the wrong person, it can take a long time to recover and you’ll spend extra money on turnover. If you don’t invest in training, your team will likely stagnate. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid in developing an effective inside sales team:
- Hiring the first candidate you meet: While you may be wowed by the first candidate you interview for an inside sales manager, don’t move too quickly by hiring the first person. Have at least a few people go through your interview process for each position to give you a broad perspective on who is the right fit for each role.
- Foregoing a training program: While you want to get a quick start once you have new hires in place, it’s imperative that you don’t skip a training program. It takes a little time, but it’s well worth the effort (and much better than having disorganized inside sales team that doesn’t know what they are doing or what is expected of them).
- Not continually recruiting: Sales jobs are notorious for high turnover—it can be a stressful job. Even if you don’t have any current roles open, it’s always a great idea to have a pipeline of qualified candidates to pull from whenever you need to fill an open position—whether it’s from company growth or turnover.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between inside sales & outside sales?
Inside sales is focused on selling products and services remotely. Outside sales is centered around field sales, where sales reps and account managers typically meet with prospects and customers in person.
What is the role of an inside sales manager?
An inside sales manager is responsible for sailing the ship of the entire inside sales team. They help their team set goals and quotas, coach and train team members, and measure the performance of individuals and the overall inside sales team.
What types of skills do good inside sales team members have?
While there are several roles in every inside sales team, successful team members have a lot of the same skills. Examples include time management, competitiveness, organizational skills, teamwork, attention to detail, and a commitment to creating an excellent customer experience.
Bottom Line: Building Inside Sales Teams
Building an effective inside sales team involves a strategic approach so you can get the right people in place with the tools and resources they need to do their job well. When building an inside sales team, ensure you have a sales process in place, determine the roles you need, recruit the best talent possible, and provide optimal training and coaching. Furthermore, set goals for each individual that are reviewed and measured regularly.