It’s no secret that inside sales have exploded over the last 5 years. Every day, more and more companies are moving away from the typical method of knocking on doors and playing golf to make connections, and more towards picking up the phone and doing it all via the internet with the help of sales technology and tools. New automated tech tools, CRM systems, smart assistants, and more are all helping to lead the way in this era of sales transformation.
Sales veterans probably didn’t imagine a world like this. You can work in Munich, Germany, and make sales in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, and more. Sales expanded to more than just your local neighborhood, even beyond your country of operation. It is now a global activity.
Many people have adopted this evolution and rolled with the punches. Even the introduction of the CRM system has made a huge impact in recent years. Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, for example, said in an article that “as a former salesperson who began in the profession before the internet or the idea of CRM came into being, I whole-heartedly welcomed the software announcement. The comparison of before and after is light-years apart. Most of all, the new efficiencies were almost startling.”
Can you even remember what life was like before the CRM in your sales tech stack existed?
An important driving factor in the explosion of inside sales is the connectivity of sales tools. A dialer wouldn’t work if it wasn’t connected to a CRM system and vice-versa. Then, there is a content management system, a sequencing tool, conversation guidance, and more. The ability of these tools to work together is key in helping grow the capabilities of inside sales teams.
Many sales teams have a plethora of tools. It’ll be the teams that can get these tools to work together that will succeed. Although many of these are connected or integrated, many don’t work or have inherent data discrepancies.
The ability to make everything work harmoniously will be the real test of the longevity and success of sales tools and teams everywhere. It also affects the productivity of a sales rep.
How inside sales will look in 5 years
Now that we reflected a bit on what sales looked like in the past, and into today’s day and age, and let’s look to the future. First, there was a shift from offline to online sales. Then, sales teams incorporated interconnected sales tools. So, what comes next?
Better, smarter, efficient, and connected digital tools for inside sales teams. They will need to ensure that their sales tech stacks are efficient, lean, and do exactly what they need them to do – help them sell more and close more deals, faster.
It isn’t sufficient anymore to just have a CRM system and Google Drive. Sales teams can also no longer just throw new sales reps into the job unprepared and expect results. The stakes are higher now, and the game is harder.
Even with those known challenges, Ciara found in a recent survey that 54 percent of salespeople/respondents said they suffered from a lack of training, 57 percent said it was difficult to onboard a new employee, and 1 in 2 said they were overwhelmed with tools.
The goal is sales technology today, and for the next 5 years, to continue to become smarter, more developed, and more helpful.
There are many reasons for this, but for us at Ciara, we see three main change agents influencing inside sales that include:
- More guidance on what to do and say next
- The automatic capturing of data
- Higher level of automation in sales processes
Let’s dive into these three areas more.
More guidance on what to do and say next
Many companies are equipping their sales reps with tools and playbooks that guide them on what to say next. Sequences, for example, are one method of doing this. A sales rep can pre-define a list of tasks to complete and assign specific prospects to these lists.
Another example is using digital playbooks to help structure sales calls. Historically, playbooks have been a large PowerPoint document or binder of papers with sales motions buried in them. Now, you can access playbooks interactively online, so sales reps can tailor their pitch in real-time on sales calls.
Imagine taking a sales call and not knowing what your product is capable of, or even how to start the conversation. Lack of product knowledge is the reality for many new sales representatives. A sales tool that can guide them on what to say and how to say it will be essential in the future of inside sales. Customers are more knowledgeable than ever before, and it’s the job of the sales rep to be one step ahead of them. Guidance will help them get there.
The automatic capturing of data
Before, it was entirely up to the sales rep to record notes and capture any information discussed during a sales call. The sales-call process is quickly changing. We now have functions like transcription, note-taking directly within a call, and historical call data directly recorded in a CRM system under a specific contact person.
With all this data handy, sales reps can easily analyze their calls, understanding better what leads to success. With transcripts, it’s easy to remember what step a particular contact is on or what they personally like to talk about (sports? coffee?). The automatic capturing of data allows sales reps to work more hands-off and save time.
These kinds of tools (think Gong, Chorus, or Ciara) are becoming more and more available. It won’t be long before every sales rep has their information and data automatically captured and stored. The storage will make processes like onboarding and training sales reps much more comfortable, as they will be able to learn and practice based on real data from previous conversations.
Higher level of automation in sales processes
The last area that will influence inside sales in the coming years is automation. Sales reps have thousands of mundane tasks to complete and spend hours working on these tasks that don’t add value to their day. Adding value is where automation comes in.
Programs and software that can listen to understand and complete administrative tasks without manual input from the sales rep will soon become the norm. Some examples of tasks that can be automated are writing emails, scheduling appointments, and generating call summaries. All of this will be able to be done in real-time, giving sales reps more time actually to talk to prospects and close more deals.
The ability to close more deals is already starting to happen with some sales tools. For example, when you create an email in Gmail, Google can already suggest what you should start typing. These kinds of automated recommendations will be the future of inside sales integrated within smart sales tools. The future is bright for inside sales reps!
The world changes at a fast pace.
Inside sales are no different. These next five years will not look like the past 5, or for the next 10, 15, and 20 years. With every year comes innovation, new tools, and new ways. Remember that your tools work better when they are connected and work together.
It’s important to stay on top of new technology and use it to your advantage. Always make the most of the opportunities available to you, they may disappear before you know it.
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