5 Critical Steps to Managing an Inside Sales Team That Drives Predictable Revenue

We hear it all the time from Sales Leaders and C-Level Executives alike: “I just hired a veteran IT sales rep, so we’ll just be tapping into their relationships for sales”. If you’re being sold on a fat rolodex of names from some senior sales executive, you can pretty much be sure that the names are going to run thin and you will not create something repeatable. Sirius Decisions’ Jim Ninivaggi said it best: “Hiring rolodexes or senior sales people when you’re a small growing company is the biggest mistake.”

If you are trying to create a predictable revenue model you need a team that is dedicated to outbound prospecting. There are dozens of studies and reputable sales leaders that speak to this – Aaron Ross, who wrote the book “Predictable Revenue”, created a $100M sales team inside of Salesforce.com in the early 2000s using a true outbound prospecting / inside sales method. ExactTarget, a company that sells software to optimize your INBOUND marketing strategies and was just bought for $2.5B by Salesforce.com, started an outbound prospecting team in 2005.

So how do you create a repeatable, predictable sales model?

Here’s my top 5 list of things you’ll need:

  1. Hire dedicated outbound / inside sales reps whose sole job is to set appointments daily for the more senior or field reps.
    • This is not an easy hire – these people are the face, or should I say voice, of your company to hundreds of people every month. You count on them to build a key element to your company’s success – pipeline growth. They need to be articulate, smart, coachable and hard working. I highly recommend athletes; they understand the importance of practice, repetition and following the game plan.
      • Here’s what we do:
        1. Review resumes: does the candidate have some type of sales experience, whether that be retail, dialing for dollars in college etc. – check. Next step, schedule a phone interview.
        2. Phone interview: we assess some very important qualities. Are they engaging over the phone, their intellect, what drives them and why DiscoverOrg. All important attributes for sales reps in today’s selling environment. Check. Next step, we schedule a technology/knowledge test.
        3. Technical / Knowledge test – each candidate is given a test of 10 questions about DiscoverOrg, industrious candidates can find answers on the web and within our platform (we set them up with a limited user account). Our goal is 2 fold: 1) is the person applying serious about the opportunity to work at DiscoverOrg and willing to put forth effort for this opportunity, we’re forgoing an hour of revenue generation potential to have the sales teams interviewing them, so we need to see the same level of commitment out of each candidate; 2.) Successful sales professionals need to utilize all their resources to prepare for the opportunity. Their responses give us a baseline understanding of their intelligence, research skills and ability to articulate their findings effectively. Check. Next step, we schedule the group interview.
        4. Group Interview: here’s where the rubber meets the road, we put the candidate thru a panel interview with 3-5 of the Senior Sales members – the group setting creates a high-pressure environment that really shows how people perform, their confidence, and their ability to think on their feet. From our perspective, getting multiple reactions to a candidate helps us hire better talent. Check. Last step, schedule our written test.
        5. Job fit Test: this test matches the candidate’s personality & thinking style criteria against a known profile of DiscoverOrg’s most successful salespeople. Check. Meet with the VP of Sales for a final sign-off in case we’ve missed anything, then we offer them the job.
    • Now that you’ve hired your dream team, make sure you are regularly spending time training, mentoring and coaching on your company’s sales methodology.
      • Invest in a phone system that lets you “barge” in on calls and listen for those coachable moments, role play all the time and adapt your strategies based on what the sales team is telling you.
  2. Understand your ideal target. You need to understand your ideal company and your ideal buyer within that company – there is no sense in letting your expensive new hire loose on bad fit companies or bad fit prospects – clearly identify your ideal company and prospects FIRST. Ensure they stay focused.
  3. Create a compensation plan that rewards results, not just activity. It’s not good enough that they called 200 people today if they set no appointments; it’s also not good enough that they set 100 appointments today if none of them convert into opportunities or revenue. Make sure the team is compensated to achieve the end goal and help them build the right habits to that goal.
  4. Invest in competitive intelligence tools. Whether you buy it from us or a competitor – for the love of God invest in a sales intelligence provider. If you get everything above right but you don’t have good data for your team to be calling on, then you might as well pack up your bags and go home. Give your team Direct Dial Phone Numbers (studies show just doubling Direct Dials that a rep has access to TRIPLES the meetings they set), with IT Org Charts (IDG found the number of B2B purchasing influencers for IT purchases at SMB organizations averages 5 people, identifying key Decision Makers is crucial) and Real Time Initiatives taking place within the target companies (no-brainer) and you effectively eliminate any excuses or hurdles in the way of true success.

OpenView Partners – a Growth Equity firm based in Boston – has a great and much more comprehensive list here as well: http://blog.openviewpartners.com/what-really-matters-an-inside-sales-guide

Henry has over 11 years of experience managing the sales and marketing activities of fast growing Information Technology ..read more